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Barbers: Chris Bossio and Christian Perez popular with their employees and barbers everywhere

Barbers

YouTube has been a huge part of the revolution in men’s grooming and one reason I wanted to meet Chris Bossio and Christian Perez of ‘Headlines’ in Florida is their natural feel for good video.  Christian has an instinct for using the camera in amusing ways, and Chris had the brilliant idea of “Wifey Challenge,” where their wives cut the barbers’ hair, all posted on their channels, of course. Great video and hilarious fun!

But these two long-time partners are all business when it comes to business, telling me when we met at Connecticut Barber Expo 2017 that they started out as disgruntled barbers in someone else’s shop.

“We’d gather in the lunch room (that’s back room to us Brits!) to complain, and I’d always say, ‘One day, I am going to have my own shop,” Christian Perez says. “Chris is the kind of person who says, ‘There isn’t a ‘one day.’  There is only now. So seize the moment and run with it.’ He pushed me.”

Chris: “We got to the point where we were like, ‘Hey, let’s do it.'”

Seven shops, separate YouTube channels and more than 100,000 followers later, the two men are focused, forward looking, and generous, making major contributions to the industry.  More on that later.  First, I wanted to know what it was like opening that first shop.

Christian: “First shop, first day, first hour – major rainstorm. The power went out in the entire plaza halfway through a haircut. They say it’s good luck if it rains on your wedding day.  I didn’t think it was good luck on your first business day. I didn’t think we were going to make it.”

But Chris Bossio, who abandoned a full college basketball scholarship to pursue a barbering career, brought his athletic-style leadership to the situation.

“I was trying to be the strong one,” he remembers. “I was saying, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. We’re good. Don’t worry about it.’”

“Inside, I’m thinking, ‘Am I going to have to get a side job at Walmart or something?’”

To you budding entrepreneurs out there, Chris says anxiety is just a natural part of the game. ”I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to pay my bills? Dang, did we mess up?’  ‘Cuz it looks like the grass is not greener on the other side. It gets scary.”

“But six months later we opened up eight chairs,” Perez laughs, “And Chris was saying, ‘Hey, we are going to have twelve barbers!”  I thought he was crazy, ‘cuz I am trying to figure out how to feed eight families, not 12. Six months later we had to remove the pool table and add two more stations, and today, yes, we have twelve barbers in that store.”

Chris:  “There is so much a volume now, it’s just ridiculous. There is no break, there is no time at that shop.  It’s busy Monday through Saturday.”

Ah, yes, Saturday.  By Saturday night, most barbers are dead on their feet and looking forward to a little relaxation. But that’s where these two separate themselves from the pack, and I don’t mean by staying open late to hustle more clients.  I mean by being amazingly generous, even altruistic.

Christian: “For months, we would shut down the shop at the end of the day and do hands-on classes with students or whoever wanted to come in, and we would do it for free, live on Instagram.”

Chris: “We allowed anyone, regardless of what shop you worked at,  whoever you were, to come to our barber shop on Saturday nights, bring a model with you, and we will do hands-on workshops for free.”

Perez: “Not just hands-on, but networking and how to build clientele and how to set up your station correctly, how to conduct yourself.”

Crazy?  Chris says some barbers wonder way the two are so giving.  “They say, ‘It should be sold, not told,’” he says.

“I just tell people, ‘I live life like that. You guys play 2k when you get home from work because that is what you enjoy doing. I will stay after and make YouTube videos. Being in the shop, cutting hair, making videos, it’s what I love to do.”

Which brings me to the unique Headlines ethos. I’d heard the pair are very popular with employees and never fire anyone.  True?

Christian: “A  lot of people throw the word ‘family’ around but we take it seriously. When we were working for someone else, we felt like we were being held back, so we agreed we want our shops to be a collection of individual brands.  When someone wants to build up their personal brand, start a YouTube channel, reach out and grow, we are here to help.”

“We have seven barbers that have gone on to open their own shops, and we have told them, ‘We want to help you find the chairs.’ The hurdles we have gone through when you open the first, the second and third, you learn from each one and we share that. I think that creates a culture where employees want to help you, because you are helping them.”

That spirit was on full display in Hartford, where Chris and Christian rented an RV and invited any of their barbers who was interested to come along.  How many owners do that?

Chris: “We are dedicated to helping. We don’t fire people. Other barbers are like “What?”  I say ‘No, we don’t fire people. If you don’t want to be part of the culture here you are going to be miserable, and if you are miserable making more money, if you are miserable in a place that has no ceiling…”

Christian finishes the thought: “You just stick out like a sore thumb so bad, you kind of fire yourself.”

After 4-and-a-half-years and seven thriving shops, what’s cooking with Chris and Christian these days?  They are focused on their new product line, ‘245,’ an unusual name that shows their passion for barber respect.  That story starts with that basketball scholarship I mentioned near the top.

Chris:  “I had a full ride, and I quit after a year to go to barber school. That is the most depressing thing I could ever tell my Dad as far as he was concerned.  For years, he would tell my family in Columbia and Puerto Rico that I was an engineer.  He didn’t tell them I was a barber.”

“I did some research and discovered that in ancient Egypt, there was a statue of a very respected man, a barber named  Merryma’at,” he continues. “To this day, that statue is at the University of Pennsylvania museum. The man was given a tomb at a time only priests, royalty and high society had a tomb. As they were discovered by archeologists, the tombs were given numbers, and Merryma’at was Tomb 245.”

“We stayed honest to that with the name of our products and apparel, showing people that our craft has a history of respect and honor. We are bringing that back.”

Meanwhile, 245 has its own great history, starting in Chris’ kitchen as the team scrambled for a spot at Orlando Premiere.

“I asked Orlando what it would take to teach a class and they gave me an astronomical number I couldn’t get my head around,” Chris recalls. “I realized the only people who can afford it were selling products.”

The team started a Headlines legend by creating a shave (WORD?) from scratch in 30 days to make the Premiere deadline. “There is a video on his channel that documents it,” Christian says. “There was no product, no label, no bottle. We made it in his kitchen; 2500 bottles, capping by hand, putting stickers on. It was collaborative team work.”

Once they were in at Orlando, the 245 brand started to grow and quickly became a focus of Chris’ passion for legacy.

“I want to break down barriers, I want to be an innovator in the industry,” he says. “The last thing I want to do is pass away and my children’s children don’t even know who I am.  My children’s children’s children will never even hear my name. I feel life is such a great thing, we are so lucky to have life, and if you don’t live it to the fullest, how can you leave a legacy?”

There is so much more these two driven and passionate individuals have to say, such as the story of Chris’ initial terror of straight razors and their sharp remarks about the negative impact of trolls in the industry.  But you will have to check the whole interview on YouTube a@Larrythebareberman to take it all in.

I wanted to know, as I always do, what their advice is to barbers coming up.

Chris:  “Number one, you have to look at things like a businessman and put yourself out there. You’ve got to stop thinking so much and DO more.  More action. Don’t be the guy who talks. You have to DO it, and you’ve got be consistent with it. It is action over everything.”

Christian:  “I agree.  Learn from your failures. Don’t be afraid to fail. You are going to get better.”

And as for respect?  “Well,” Chris laughs. “My Dad is telling my family I am a barber, now.”

Thanks, guys!  I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did.   I can’t wait to bring you another of my conversations with people across the globe who are making barbering a fascinating, always-changing world.

Til next time, happy barbering!

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Manhattan Barber: Cassie Kurtz Of Her Chair His Hair – Fights For Female Barbers Everywhere

Since meeting up with the charismatic Sofie Pok in April, I’ve been on high alert for chances to talk with women in barbering.  So I was all over the opportunity to meet Manhattan-based Master Barber Cassie Kurtz.  Her popular ‘Her Chair, His Hair’ blog is celebrating talented women barbers everywhere, and her budding philanthropy is changing the lives of the less fortunate.

Cassie works out of a shared private studio space called ‘The Master Suite’ in Uptown Manhattan near Columbus Circle. “It’s a prime location for artists who really want to be their own boss,” she tells me in my exclusive interview. “People set their own prices, set their own schedules but still have that feeling of working with a team,” she says.

In other words, it’s a great gig at one of the planet’s best locations, right?  So what prompted Cassie to start up ‘Her Chair, His Hair’?

“I thought I needed to do something to better our industry, so I decided:  I love to travel, I love to meet new people, I love to write, and I actually like coding,” she says with a laugh.

The result:  “I created a platform for women who specialize in men’s hair; they do the beard trims, they do the shaves, and quite frankly they get a lot of pushback.”

From experience, Cassie finds the water can be a little rough for women barbers.  She saw the icebergs looming on her very first job.

“Clients were walking in saying, ‘I need a haircut,’ and when the manager said, ‘Cassie is available,’ they would say, ‘Oh, no. I’d rather wait.’  Some of them looked at me like as if I didn’t belong in the same space. That really hurt, and I could only think of how many women must feel discouraged trying to pursue this.”

‘Her Chair, His Hair’ features high-quality video interviews, workplace photos and snappy write-ups about women barbers around the US and in other countries. Last time I visited the site, Cassie was featuring more than a dozen barbers and displaying some amazing cuts, beautifully photographed.

It’s also a supportive space, where barbers find much-needed encouragement and positivity.

From a woman’s perspective, does barbering need to change?  “Any woman watching this video will scream out a loud, ‘Yes!’” Cassis replied.

She wants it to start with language. “A lot of women would like to be no longer called ‘female barbers.’ We are barbers, and we happen to be women. I’m not a women’s hair stylist; I’m not even licensed to do women’s color. So when I say I’m a barber, I’m a barber.”

Pricing is also a challenge for Cassie and other women, she said.  “Some people think my gender affects my ability to cut hair!  Now and then I get a gentleman who walks in and says, ‘Yeah, but you’re a woman. You’re not as experienced with men’s hair. How do you feel capable or qualified to charge this much?’  It just throws me off every single time.”

So which women in barbering inspire Cassie to keep going?  She immediately mentions Mariela Perez (Instagram @mariela_the_barber) as a favorite, but hastens to add most of her energy comes from barbers she meets through Her Chair, His Hair.

“Mariela has to fight for everything she has,” Cassie told me “She supports her family and now owns her own house and her own car. She is a spectacular barber. I don’t think she’s given the credit she’s due; she is very talented.  You know, I’m an only child taking care of my family, and it gets hard, you know.  We’re human. We say, ‘I need a break.’  Then I think of Mariela, and I’m like, ’This is easy!’”

Whenever you feel overworked, I recommend you think of Cassie. Besides her successful business and busy website, she also manages to organize an annual ‘Her Chair, His Hair’ Showcase in NYC.

“I started it because you didn’t see enough women on flyers, as educators, as guest judges at showcases, so I said ‘There’s a need,’ and I want to fulfill it in my own hometown in New York City,” she said.

Finding a good cause proved a great way to rally women barbers, and the Showcase is now readying for its third year. The first year was a funder for breast cancer research, the second year supported domestic violence shelters.

Cassie:  “This October we aim to helpThe Door, a safe place for gay and transgendered youth from as young as twelve. If they were kicked out, if they have nowhere to go, if they are beaten up at school and don’t feel safe, The Door is there for them.”

“They’re right down the street from where we’re going to have the (Manhattan) event,” she continued. “They now offer services to immigrant children, so they have a legal department working very hard on multiple cases a day. They also have one or two floors where these kids can learn about cooking or computers. It’s a spectacular and inspiring place.”

And does she have inspiring advice for women either in barbering or thinking of getting into barbering?

“Don’t be afraid!” she told me. “You’ve done scarier things in your life than being a barber.”

“Don’t let people get in your head,” she added. “That’s your space, where you get to cheer yourself on.  You are already your biggest critic, and if you let people get in your head, you will never succeed.”

“If you see something wrong with your skills, be honest with yourself and take that class or go to that event and ask that person, ‘How do you get your fade so smooth?’ or ‘How do you get your scissor cuts so clean?’”

“Surround yourself with like-minded individuals whether they are men or women because at the end of the day (critics) are not the ones putting money in your pocket. You are going to be the reason why there is money is in your pocket! There’s no stopping if you do that.”

Obviously, there is no stopping Cassie Kurtz.

I hope you SEE and SHARE the entire interview on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.  Then head over to ‘Her Chai, His Hair’ for some serious enlightenment, interesting profiles, and beautiful cuts. It’s a valuable web stop for all barbers, women AND men!

Until next time, happy barbering!

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The 3 Keys, To zero Gapping Any, Hair Clipper Or Trimmer, Quickly & Easily

Many customers at my http://www.larrythebarberman.com online shop ask me to zero gap their new trimmers and clippers before I send them out. I’m always happy to do it, but if you drop your device or knock it out of alignment during your busy day, you need to re-zero-gap it yourself.  Otherwise, you’ve lost that tool for the duration!

Today, I’ll show you how to zero gap and build your confidence that you can perform this important task.  But first, an explanation of zero-gapping:

Zero gapping is taking the cutting, or moving, blade (represented by yellow in the picture) as close as possible to top edge of the fixed, or comb, blade (represented by black in the picture) without going past the top of the fixed blade.  When zero gapping, you also position the cutting blade an equal distance from both the left and right sides of the fixed blade.  Again: the cutting blade goes very close to the top of the fixed blade and equidistant from both left and right sides.

This gives you sharper lines and lets you board closer.

If the yellow goes past the black, (cutting blade goes past the fixed) your client will get cut, so be sure to leave a bit of distance from the edge!

How much distance is determined by how heavy-handed you are.  The heavier your hand, the further you want the top edge of the cutting blade from the top of the fixed blade.

Barbers talk about 3, 4 and 5 hair-strands of gap (if you can imagine!), but that is how finely you will want to adjust the distance.  To test how heavy handed you are, try out your adjustments on the back of your arm before you put those blades anywhere near the back of your client’s neck!  You will soon find the gap that is right for you.

To sum up: Zero gapping is taking the cutting blade as high up or as close to the edge of the comb blade as possible to get a lower cut or sharper lines, with your ‘handedness’ taken into account.

Now, on to the Three Keys of Zero Gapping!

# 1 Take on the right tools.  You need various sizes of Phillips and flat head screwdrivers for the job. I prefer Tool Hub products for their good, comfortable grip, which gives you very fine control. You’ll need that, because zero gapping requires gentle, easy, controlled turns of the screws.

Tool Hub has a general set of combination Philips and flat heads as well as a precision set for use on smaller trimmers.  See for yourself!  (LINK HERE)

#2 Loosen screws as little as possible.  You will make it much harder on yourself if you loosen the screws too much initially. The cutting blade will slip when you retighten the screws, and you will have to re position all over again.

People make the loose-screw problem worse by tightening one screw all the way down before attending to the other screw.  This practically guarantees the cutting blade you so carefully positioned will slip!  Many people unscrew, reposition the blade, and tighten one screw all the way again, which again shifts the blade.  Rinse and repeat!  Very frustrating.

Don’t make yourself crazy this way!  Just loosen each screw ever so slightly so the blades remain braced tightly against each other.  This way, once you have positioned the cutting blade, it will stay where it is as you prepare to retighten the screws.

#3) When retightening, gently alternate between the left and right screws.  Make slight, gentle turns of each screw alternately, back and forth, back and forth. This keeps the blade, already snug, firmly in position. Once you are sure the screws are tightened and the blades are securely braced against each other, you can apply more force to complete the tightening.

If you are working with fixed blades, such as the Styliner II, it’s the same drill:  crack the screws ever so slightly, look down the blade, position it to your zero gap – depending on how heavy handed you are –  and retighten gently back and forth, top and bottom, until it’s perfectly tightened again.

Another tip: On the Styliner II blade, the flathead screw in the middle is the tension screw, which adjusts how tightly squeezed together the blades are.  If the screw is too loose, the blades will separate too much and catch or pull your customer’s hair. Too tight, the blades will not move at all.

So that’s how easy it is to zero gap your tools to the precise degree that works for you!  This is excellent knowledge to have and will make you more confident you can handle any problems that arise.

As always, you can watch me demonstrate the “How To” on video at my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

Good luck and until next time, happy barbering!

Tools:

7 pieces screw driver set
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore_1&icep_item=221755790785&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

Precision screw drivers kit:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore&icep_item=322675841934&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

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USING THE RIGHT TOOLS TO MAINTAIN YOUR CLIPPERS AND TRIMMERS. PLUS: A HANDY HACK FOR WORKING WITH DAMAGED SCREWS

Barbers frequently ask me to make videos about maintenance and repair issues, which I am happy to do!  I believe it is just as important that I share tips on how to avoid damaging your tools so that your equipment gives you the long, faithful service you expect.

Today, we will talk about your bread and butter: clippers and trimmers. If these are not performing well your work flow will be scuppered, customers may be irritated, and money will not be made!

First, it is important to have an array of screw driving tools, not just one screwdriver that you try to use on everything. Using a too-small screwdriver will destroy the pattern atop a screw, making it almost impossible to remove quickly.

One Screwdriver Size does NOT fit all

Imagine a busy Saturday when you need to zero gap your clipper, and you go with a too-small screwdriver, damaging the screw top and being unable to loosen it at all. It’s just that easy to spoil the tools that make your money, kill your workflow and kill the income going into your pocket.  This will mess up your big money-making day.

On the other hand, if you try to zero gap a trimmer, which takes a smaller screw, that same screwdriver is too big. You will damage the trimmer screws and lose the delicate touch you need to loosen the screws only lightly, so the tightness of the blade keeps them in position. It’s like trying to use your phone while wearing work gloves!

Even when you have the zero gap, you need to gently retighten the screws, first one side, then the other; back and forth; left then right; left then right. If the screwdriver is too big, you have to put too much downward pressure on it, causing the blade to move.  Very frustrating, and another reason you need the right tools.

Larry recommends

I urge you invest in quality tools, not just any tools.  I’ve found excellent ‘Tool Hub’ tools on E-bay, such as a set of screwdrivers with a broad array of Phillips and flatheads.  You need a larger flathead screwdriver for the power screw on the side of the clipper, which you adjust to get the arm closer to the motor. You need a quality flathead screwdriver to do the job.

The ‘Tool Hub’ set also has an array of Phillips heads so you can find the correct one that makes snug contact with the screw head.

You also want to ensure your screwdrivers have a good gripping handle because when it comes to zero gapping, you need a good grip as well as a snug fit with the screw head.

This set also features an array of medium screwdrivers perfect for adjusting hair clippers – a Master or Fademaster or the Senior or Wahl Super Taper.  Check it out at this link: (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)

For making adjustments on a trimmer’s smaller, finer screws, I’ve found another perfect precision kit with interchangeable flathead and Philips attachments and a telescopic handle, which helps with a host of jobs. It even comes with a magnifying glass, so when you position for a zero gap, you can look along the blade without killing your eyes. I strongly suggest you get this kit. (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)

Insider Hack: How to Remove Damaged Screws From Your Clipper and Trimmer

Back in the old days, barbers had to sharpen their cut throat razors using a whetstone and oil and a strop. We have it much easier with today’s excellent electric trimmers and clippers. All we need to know is how to tune these things with a screw driver; no heavy manual labor. It’s a relatively easy job, but it demands that you use the right tools.

Now, here’s today’s Larry the Barberman Insider Hack:  If you used the wrong screwdriver and hollowed out the tops of the screws, ordering a new one from the manufacturer is a long and expensive process, perhaps as much as £10  just for delivery – and just for one screw!

But temporarily, all you need is a rubber band.  Here’s how it works: Place the rubber band over the screw head you have destroyed and push it down into the screw with a screwdriver, using lots of pressure.  Under pressure, the rubber band will mold itself to the contours of the damaged screw in a kind of super grip, like when you can’t open a stubborn bottle with your hand and improve the grip by putting a tea towel over it.  It works!

That’s it for today’s How-To blog. Once again, based on what I’ve seen in barbershops all over the world, I strongly recommend you get the right tool for every screw in every clipper- and keep your work flow going!

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

Tools:

7 pieces screw driver set
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore_1&icep_item=221755790785&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

Precision screw drivers kit:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore&icep_item=322675841934&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

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Celebrity Barber: Popular Nobody (John Mosley) Tells His Barberlife Story…

Best known by his barbering identity Popular Nobody, John Mosley is not just an extremely talented barber, but also a world class educator, brand ambassador, and creator of his own brand. As a barber, his skills have allowed him to pick up some exceptional celebrity clients, while as an educator he has become one of the most sought-after names in North America. He has a number of barbering and lifestyle products available under his brand Popular Nobody, while as an ambassador he represents companies including Andis, Paul Mitchell and Hanzo Shears.

What barber wouldn’t want to learn from such a successful and varied career? From speaking to John, I can see that his drive and determination is an inspiration for everybody who wants to push their own career to the next stage, so let’s delve into his barbering journey and see what he has to teach us!

 

Barbering by Accident

What really strikes me about John’s journey into barbering is that it happened almost by accident – in his words, his barbering education started as a ‘joke’. Having been a college football player, he found that he needed a career to turn to:

“College just isn’t for everybody, and I was just one of the guys that college just wasn’t for. I would go just for the sports, and then I realised as an athlete that they really don’t care that much about you unless you play sports – and that’s not what I wanted my educational journey to be. I went home and said Mum, put me through barbering school, and I was just joking. I was just trying to buy some time so she would get off my back!

Two days later I was going to barbering school, and since that I have thanked my Mum every day because it has changed my life”

From that unlikely starting point 16 years ago, John has gone from strength to strength. Watching him as an educator, it’s clear that he has won over his audience, and become something of a celebrity. So how did he become such a talented educator?

“It began when I was in barber college. I was having fun as I started to find my niche. And my Mum was an educator, so she would put on hair shows, and she’d have me on stage. So that’s how it all got started”.

John quickly identified a niche for his educational material, in cosmetology schools where they would often have little education on cutting men’s hair. Offering up a men’s cutting class at these schools allowed him to practice and grow:

“Now when I’m up on stage I’m comfortable there. I want people to be engaged, I want them to learn. I want people to talk to me and I’ll talk to them so that at the end of the day they feel like if nobody else was worth watching, at least I was”.

 

The Jetsetter’s Lifestyle

John’s work has also taken him all over the world: just this year he’s racked up almost 50,000 air miles and taken an impressive 53 flights. Of course, we’d love to see him come to the UK and share his work with British barbers – so when does John plan to start thinking about travelling to the UK?

“Right now! This is the start of my journey to come to the UK, I’ve reached out to some people on Instagram and I’m hoping this interview is the start of changing the thought process on bringing this Popular Nobody out over the pond and letting him have some fun. Because that’s something I want to do, I want to bring my knowledge to the world.”

For anybody who is considering bringing John over to Britain, it’s worth noting just how many brands he’s educated for: as well as Hanzo Shears and Andis, he had a big part in writing Paul Mitchell’s educational programme. Personally, I’d love to see British barbers benefitting from such a talented teacher!

John also has his own educational team to champion, with barbers from across America coming together to create great education under his guidance and mentorship.

 

The Popular Nobody

Underpinning all of this great work is John’s brand: Popular Nobody. He’s certainly popular – among celebrity clients as well as other barbers. The famous names he’s worked with include Kendrick Lamar and Idris Elba as well as the Washington National baseball team. He has also worked with some MBA and NFL players, and was even taken on the Eminem tour with Rihanna to provide his barbering services.

So, with all this in mind, where does the Popular Nobody name come from?

“Me and my client were sitting in the chair, and you all know the barber to client relationship, we were just laughing and joking. He was going down the list of celebrities I’ve worked with and things he’s seen me do and he just said man, your work is everywhere but nobody knows it’s you. You’re like a popular nobody.

There’s now a barbering case that I have out, because I’m on the go. I was having problems with my kit, blades chipped – so I found the solution and created this case that carries five clippers in individual Velcro straps. It holds all my shears, my razors and my combs. I also have a proper set of combs coming out next week.

We’ve got socks, the hat, lapel pins; I feel like my brand is not just a hair brand. My theory behind it is that everybody is a popular nobody. It’s a lifestyle: you love what you do, don’t talk about it do it, there’s no point bragging about it.”

 

Standing Against Fakery

Something I ask most of the barbers I speak to is what they’d like to see change in the industry, and John doesn’t have to think twice about his answer: Microfibres and photoshop.

“I feel like, as men get older they start to lose their testosterone, we begin to have baldness and things happen – but I feel like the more and more you falsify and give clients false hope with microfibres and that sort of thing… it’s just wrong. My question is this: are you hiding your work because your work isn’t good? Are you trying to this guy’s confidence back up? A lot of guys I see these days are using microfibres as a crutch.

That’s not what it’s all about; it’s not about making guys look so ‘perfect’. You shouldn’t look perfect – you should look nice and decent but still be manly. It’s the same with Photoshop: we shouldn’t be fixing up photos just to get likes on Instagram.”

Of course, there are also things about barbering that John loves, including the brands that he works with. I ask him why he chose to be ambassador for Andis, Hanzo Shears and Feather Razors in particular:

“First of all, barbers have got to consider this: when you watch Nascar and you see the cars go around the track, they have a lot of different sponsors. In barbering, we’re the cars, we run the rack – so there are ways of getting sponsorship. You’ve just got to find the problem and be the solution.

So why I use those three tools. Andis just feel right for me, they fit what I like, they fit my hand, the motors are great. It’s a great company, US made – and I don’t have issues with my tools.

With Hanzo shears, it’s having the right shears for each situation. These shears cut great and leave the hair really nice and polished. I can cut wet or dry, and they’re nice and balanced with a good weight.

Then with Feather razors, when you’re working with the straight razor not every guy has the same skin type as the next guy. So being able to bounce between different blade selections gives me the opportunity to take on any challenge that sits in my chair”.

A Chance to Reflect

For the final part of the interview, I ask John to reflect back on his career so far and think about what his proudest moment has been, as well as what advice he has for other barbers looking to build their careers as he has:

“Most people don’t get to share their career with their family, it’s separate, so the fact that my Mum is my mentor and I can share my stage with her is a great feeling.

For the barber striving to be great – respect your journey. Invest. Put back into you, what someone else put into you. If you were at class for three hours then you should practice at home for four hours. Be a solution not a problem. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”

 

Wise words from a very wise man who has given us a lot of food for thought! You can follow John’s work on Instagram, as @popular_nobody, showcasing his striking work. While you’re there, don’t forget to follow my profile, @larrythebarberman, for more interviews with exceptional barbers like John – you can also see all my interviews at the Barber.TV YouTube channel – see you there.

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Harry Karolis of EGO and Kings of Tomorrow Wants You To Raise Your Prices!

Occasionally you find barbers who have come to the business through salons, breaking in by working with women’s hair.

But Harry Karolis is much more than salon artist turned barber.  Getting his start with Daniel Galvin, the current Style Director at Ego Barbers is also the most-followed Instagrammer in all of UK barbering and co-founder of the amazing Kings of Tomorrow Academy, soon to be hosting classes in its own facility.

Harry’s foundation in women’s hair informs his passion for barbering in three interlinking ways: his commitment to shape-before-fade, his enthusiasm for barber education and his strongly-stated conviction that barbers need to charge more for their service.

First, shape before fade!  “A lot of barbers will concentrate on a fade rather than the shape, and it’s vital to put a shape into the hair,” he told me when we met at Barber Connect this spring. “Otherwise you’ll find yourself getting it wrong; the wrong shape will come into the hair.”

Bringing scissor work from salon to barber shop

“We look to structure a haircut by putting the shape in before we do anything with the clipper work. It gives you precision, and it gives you the right structure. We blow dry the hair into shape because that’s now the clients going to wear it.”

A simple concept well-stated, which all barbers can take to heart. It’s that kind of advice that has caused Harry’s Instagram blow up to over 225,000 followers, which he puts down to not only posting spectacular haircuts but mind-blowing scissor work which he learned, again, behind the chair in salon settings.

“I was trained for Vidal Sassoon, and I brought my scissor work into barbering, which has really worked for me,” he said. “When I crossed over to men’s hair, I had to learn the clipper work, learn the fades, and so I combined that with scissor work because I saw it was lacking in barbering.”

“What is still lacking in barbering now people are not following shape through the haircut!” he adds with emphasis

I wanted to know if Harry felt a neglect of good scissor work could be bad for business and he definitely agreed.   Life isn’t always going to be about fades!

“You got to be ready for any trends,” he told me. “In the next few years, everyone could want long hair and your business takes a hit because you can’t do it.”

“Even today in some barber shops, when a long haircut comes in nobody wants to do it because nobody knows how to do it,” he warns.  “But when you know how to follow through a square layer, a round layer, graduation, cross graduation, finding balance in your haircut, you’ll find you’ll be able to care for all hair. That’s the main advantage.”

There’s another one of those Instagram-esque pieces of very sound advice!

“Our main focus is, we like to set the trends.”

The conversation was segueing into education, another topic I really want to pursue with Harry.

“If you’re doing the same fade and you keep doing it, then that’s all you know and you’re not catering to everyone,” Harry states. “There is a limit to what you can do with your work. The fact is, you can add to your work, get the rewards from your finishing, and you can add the fades to current styles. Then you can follow the trends and then you can set the trends.”

“Our main focus is, we like to set the trends,” Harry says firmly.

Harry’s passionate voice and outstanding work caught the attention of barbers on Instagram everywhere, and he was getting as many as 50 DMs a day from people saying they wanted to do what he is doing, wanted to know what he knows. “A lot of people always tell me that I’ve given them the belief that, ‘Maybe one day I can be that guy, that I can inspire people.’ It’s all about believing and giving people belief.”

Harry found it a bit overwhelming, and his response was to start Kings of Tomorrow, EGO Barbers’ academy. He aims to bring barbers up to such high standards no barber is afraid to charge the same as top hair salons. And there’s more, he said. “I want to show you how to showcase your work, how to how to reach people out there.  I want people to see what you deliver, something they will admire, that will inspire. That’s my main goal.”

Classes are currently available through Egobarbers.com in a we-come-to-you model.  Through a newly launched YouTube channel, Harry expects to offer even more practical advice along with self-presentation tips.  Kings of Tomorrow onsite classes are scheduled to start soon. “Just watch out for announcements,” he smiles.

Harry is clearly fired up about KOT. “I want to deliver an education that is so powerful that when you walk away, you’re gonna take something real back to your salon,” Harry said. “At the same I’m gonna give back to the barbering community, give the value into the work that it deserves.”

No more £10 haircuts!

Ah!  That sounds like a hint to bring up the topic of raising prices!  Harry’s very passionate on the subject, sharing a perspective with Ivan Zoot and others that barbers simply do not charge enough.

Salons banned clippers because owners knew there was more value in scissors work, and why compete with yourself by allowing clippers?  If barbers through education continually raise their game, Harry believes, the door opens to charge salon-level prices!

“I want us to get where someone comes in for a haircut and hasn’t got a problem paying you what you’re worth, or thinking 30, 40, 50 pounds is too much. There should be no £8 haircuts, £10 haircuts. You are worth more than that.”

“Why should hairdressers charge £40 for a fade or whatever they’re doing in there when the barber is doing the better haircut?  That value is still lacking in barbering even though we’ve grown as an industry. Great kids have long queues, but they’re charging £7 pounds! They tell me the boss is afraid to raise prices, afraid to lose clients. But salons, which can’t match the quality a barber does with their fades, are charging £40 a haircut!”

For Harry, hard work, education, and getting your work out there all combine to create a rising value market, an environment where barbers can feel safe and confident in raising prices and charging what they are worth.  It’s a positive, heartening message.

Harry has a lot to share with the barbering community on style, business, and promotion. The blend of education, pricing, style and communications skill combine to make him a unique fixture in barbering, and I believe we are all luckier for having him with us.

As he looks ahead, he believes the sky’s the limit for the barbering industry.

“You never know how far we can go,” he says in closing, “because we’re still growing as barbers. Everyone wants to become a barber! If you want to bring your talent into reality, you got work for it, and you’ve got to educate yourself.”  And now’s the time!

I want to thank Harry Karolis, Ego Barbers, and Kings of Tomorrow Academy for all they are doing within the barbering world. You can catch my entire video interview with Harry on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

 

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HOW-TO: SWAPPING THE ANDIS SLIMLINE PRO LITE CORDLESS TRIMMER BLADE WITH THE CORDED ANDIS T-OUTLINER BLADE

Welcome to another Larry the Barberman How-To Tutorial!  Today, I’ll show you how to replace the blade on the Andis SlimLine Pro Cordless Trimmer with the blade of the corded T Outliner.

You may want to do this to give you a wider cutting area, and it’s also great for boarding out, requiring fewer strokes due to the wider tooth.

This is not a difficult job but it requires a bit more precision and a few more tools than most of my how-to’s.

Head for the Toolshed!

You will need:

  • A drill with a 3.5 drill bit
  • A small and a medium Phillips screwdriver
  • A Stanley knife (or box cutter, as it’s called in America)
  • Sandpaper
  • Trimmer oil
  • My old friend, a corrugated rubber mat to hold loose screws and parts so they don’t get lost.

Remember, for clarification, you can see a step by step demo of this process on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

Let’s get down to it!

First, unscrew the two screws at the base of the blade, remove the blade and set the screws aside.

Turn your attention to the blade itself.  Remove the two screws you see on the blade assembly, and you have divided it into two. One piece is the SlimLine blade, which you can put aside as no longer needed.

Turn your attention to the remaining piece.

You will see the clamped cutting blade on the spring.  Pull the spring out and you will find yourself holding not only the spring but the attached guide plate, which is black and T-shaped. It has two square holes along the bar of the T and two smaller metal holes along the tail of the T. You need to separate the guide plate and the spring by pulling them apart, and setting them aside.

Turn your attention back to the blade.  You will see a black molding attached to it. You have to remove this, which you do by simply twisting it off.

Now the fun begins!  It’s time to modify the SlimLine Pro Lite parts to accommodate the T Outliner blade.

Turn your attention to the black molding you just removed from the SlimLine blade. You will see two pegs or studs sticking out. These match holes on the SlimLine cutting blade, but now we can’t use them; the T Outliner blade does not have holes to accommodate them.  So, off with their little heads!

Use the Stanley knife or box cutter for this job, but BE CAREFUL!  Place the molding on a surface and cut AWAY from yourself.  Cut it as closely to the base as possible, and then use sandpaper to smooth the leftover ridge to make it even with the surface of the molding.

Time for the Heavy Artillery!

Now, pick up the guide plate (That’s the black T-shaped thing with the square holes and the round holes). We need to elongate the two metallic holes that are in the tail of the T, and you need to elongate them in the direction of the bottom of the T, away from the bar of the T (where the square holes are)

To do this, it’s time for the drill with the 3.5 drill bit.

Grasp the guide by the bar of the T (where the square holes are) with thumb and finger. Place the drill bit into the bottom hole (furthest from the bar of the T) and turn it on, putting pressure on the bottom of the hole, moving the drill back and forth to wear away the metal, elongating the hole. This takes 15 or 20 seconds of drill time.

Now the other hole, nearest the T bar. You want to elongate it all the way down to the raised metallic line that separates the holes. This may take an extra ten seconds or so.

Stanley Knife, Act 2

Now that you have prepared the holes, turn your attention to the black plastic border around the tail of the T.  You will notice that the inside of the plastic border intrudes ever so slightly over the edge of your holes.  You need to shave this plastic down with the Stanley knife so that when the screws are back in pace, they will not be resting on the plastic edges. You want a nice, snug fit.

Now, pick up the molding (the small black plastic piece whose nubs we cut off) and rest it against the cutting blade, which is the rounded part.

Next, pick up the guide plate (the T-shaped piece you used the drill on) and place it under the cutting blade, resting it underneath the ledge of the cutting blade.  Hold all of this in your left hand (if you are right handed) while you pick up the spring.

You will notice a hairpin shape in the spring.  Place that hairpin over the tail of the T so that the ends of the spring rest on the grooves on each side of the black molding. Then give the spring a push forward into the grooves of the molding, and you have secured the molding against cutting blade.

Now you are in the same position you normally are with the T Outliner blade when you are ready to screw them together. You will notice as you do this that all the screws are visible. If you had not drilled and elongated the holes and shaved the lip, you would not be able to get the screws in there!

Now just put them down flat into the zero gap position, and re insert the screws from the SlimLine Pro Line blade and screw them together. You want to get this tight, but leave a little looseness so you can tighten slowly, first one screw, then the other, back and forth, so you keep the position of the zero gap.

You did it!

All you do now is secure the blade onto the SlimLine body and you are set!  You’ve zero-gapped the SlimLine Pro Lite, which has been replaced with the T Outliner blade.

I hope you find this useful to you as you continue to sharpen our barbering skills. You can also see this entire How-To Tutorial  step-by-step on video on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

I’m aiming to get a new ‘How-To’ video and blog up every week, so be sure to check back!  Until then, happy barbering!

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My Latest How To: Fixing Faulty Switches on Your Andis T Outliner

As I ramp up my how-to videos again, I want to jump on a very easy-to-fix problem that frustrates barbers who don’t know how to make this simple repair.

The problem is perceived as a ‘broken switch’ on the Andis T Outliner that is loose, or when flipped to the ‘on’ position, automatically flips back and won’t stay on.

This is almost always fixed by tightening a single screw on the inside of the machine’s housing.  That’s what we’ll talk about today.

(To see the demonstration of how to do this on video, head over to my YouTube @larrythebarberman)

You will need two simple tools: a small Phillips screwdriver and a torque screwdriver with a #10 head, which is a simple star-shaped screwdriver head you’ve doubtless seen many times, even if you don’t know its name.

I always advise that you WORK WITH A CORRUGATED MAP OR TOWEL so you have a non-slip place for screws or any other small parts so you don’t lose them.

First, UNPLUG the trimmer!  This basic safety step is surprisingly easy to forget.

The UK T Outliner has four screws on the back of the case; the American version has two – one on top and one on the bottom.

Remove the screws and gently fold over the back of the housing.  I say ‘gently’ because the wires inside are extremely delicate. Next, lift the main power supply from the base inside of the clipper, and lift out the hooking ring.

Now, turn your attention to the mainly hollow back of the housing, the part you just removed.  Bracketed against the bottom with one screw is the switching mechanism giving you all the trouble!  Remove that screw and lift off the bracket, then gently ease the switch itself out of the back of the case.

You will see one screw remains in the trimmer housing, and that is the one we are after. You can easily see that the screw is attached to the lever on the outside of the casing. In all probability, this screw is loose, which is causing the flipping, looseness or inability of the lever to hold its position.

Now, just tighten that screw with the torque screwdriver with the #10 head, turning clockwise.  Turn over the case and test the lever. You will see it now has a tight feel and will hold its position.  See? You did it!

Now, let’s close up shop.

First, we need to put the switch back into the housing. It is REALLY IMPORTANT that you focus carefully and take a few moments to get this right!

On the inside of the housing, above the screw you just tightened, you will see  two L-shaped plastic ridges which face each other, and between them two plastic pins. The switch needs to go into the enclosure outlined by the L-shaped ridges, atop the pins, nice and snug.

Next, the bracket. You will notice cutouts on the left and right side of the bracket. They align with the brown and red wires respectively, so place the red wire in place through the left cutout, and hold it with your thumb while you place the right bracket cutout over the brown wire. You have to be a bit dexterous, but when it is aligned correctly, the bracket will click nicely into place.

Now you need to pin the bracket back down, using one screw through the center hole.

As a final test, flip it over and make sure the lever is nice and tight and is making the correct clicking noise.  IMPORTANT:  If that switch is NOT locked in the housing correctly, the lever will move to the left and right without a sound, and will NOT turn the trimmer on and off!

With the brown and red wires locked in, and the lever behaving appropriately, reach for the hooking ring.  This is the first piece going into the other side, or guts, of the casing – where the armature and motor are.  Ensuring it is facing downwards, place the ring correctly into notch at the base. Then place the rubber molding that surrounds the main outlet wire snugly into the notch.

You are now ready to put the casing together again. The trick here is to make sure the wires are NOT OVER THE MOTOR before you close, so use your screwdriver to gently tuck the red wire down the side of the armature where the brown wire is, making sure the brown wire is not over the hook.

When everything is neatly packaged, you are ready to fit the two bits of casing together again. Simply line up the grooves where they fit.  WATCH OUT!  Sometimes the wires will pop out. Gently use the screwdriver to pop them back in. Now, hold the back down with fingers and thumb and turn it over gently.

You can now put in all your screws.  Start with one corner and tighten, then move to a diagonal corner to tighten another. That gives you the freedom to release the tension of your finger and thumb holding it down.

And there you go!  You’ll hear that lever merrily clicking and now actually holding its position. Plug it in, turn it on, and you are back to having a great time being a great barber!

I’ve got many more of these useful videos on the way, so please subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel to see them all PLUS my amazing and inspiring interviews with successful and famous barbers all over the UK and the world.

If there are topics you want to see covered in one of my How-To Videos, email me directly at info@larrythebarberman.com.

 

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Booksy and @barbersince98: Two Industry Dynamos Team Up to Aid Barbers Everywhere

You know @barbersince98 – also known as Oscar Torres – as the barber running one of the premier showcase sites in the business with more than a quarter million Instagram followers.  An American based in Rhode Island,  Oscar recently retired from cutting hair to blend his enormous online presence with Booksy, the powerful mobile appointment app and industry game-changer.

When I had a chance to interview him in Ireland this spring, I wanted to know the story behind Oscar’s incredible successes and his decision to go all in with Booksy.

Haircuts in the bathtub

Oscar told me he’s loved barbering since his mom plunked the kids into an empty tub for their homemade cuts. “When she said, ‘Strip down to your underwear and get in the tub,’ we knew it was haircut time!” he recalls.  “To be honest, though, I wasn’t the biggest fan of my mom’s skills.”

“When I was thirteen I found inspiration in my sister’s boyfriend, who would give me and my brothers haircuts,” he added. “I used to watch and think ‘This seems doable. I think I could try this.’”

Oscar soon talked his grandmother into spending most of his back-to-school money on his first set of clippers and trimmers, and Mom was not too happy.  “She said, ‘We’re taking this back to the store.’  But I was like, ‘Mom, I can make the money back!’  A couple of days later I had people knocking on my door for haircuts and that weekend I made all the money back.”

After being offered an apprenticeship by a classmate’s father, Oscar went to work in a barber shop. “That was 1998,” he said, “I took it seriously and it has been a blessing ever since.” It also explains where @barbersince98 comes from!

As his barbering and video/journalism skills grew, Oscar became a fast-growing fixture on Instagram. When Booksy began to take off, the two began to see a potential partnership, one based on mutual respect for innovation and skill.

“I saw the uniqueness of what Booksy is doing,” Oscar said. “There are a lot of tools in our industry, and most of them are just ordinary, but Booksy is helping people make more money, obtain more clients, represent themselves in the most professional manner.”

In my travels, I’ve found many barbers struggle with staying organized, even though doing so increases consistency, reliability and ultimately makes for a more successful career.  Oscar agrees;  one reason he loves Booksy.  “Booksy is helping barbers stay organized and helping clients communicate with their barbers,” he said.  Booksy takes the pressure off barbers to handle phone calls and walk-ins while trying to concentrate on the person in the chair, a fundamental and serious organizational problem for many.

With Booksy, customers see their barber’s schedule on their mobile device and book their appointments themselves 24/7, or even cancel or reschedule. All a barber needs to do is give great haircuts and check the calendar to see who’s next!

Meeting Obama’s barber

Oscar’s a big believer in consistency and reliability, and Booksy’s organizational tools help barbers develop both.  Oscar recently got big support for that point of view from Barack Obama’s personal barber, the legendary Zariff at Chicago’s Hyde Park Hair Salon.  After landing an Instagram interview with Zariff, Oscar told me “Zariff focuses on being consistent and reliable.  He feels skills are vital, but the first two are the most important. A skilled barber that is not consistent and not reliable, how effective can that barber be?”

Probably not effective enough to land Barack Obama as a client!

Oscar knows marketing and PR inside out, so he immediately grasped how important it is that Booksy goes above and beyond their already-innovative appointment management tool to help barbers market and grow.  Booksy can integrate a barber’s web site into the Booksy domain to boost Google rankings, and geolocate Booksy barbershops, attracting clients with practically no involvement from the barber at all.  “With Booksy a regular person like me or you can go to a different city,” he enthuses, “and if you don’t know any barbers there, you open up the Booksy app and it gives you the closest barbers. That’s bringing new clients to you.”

Oscar is so enthusiastic that he happily retired from barbering to focus on helping barbers get Booksy into their working lives.  Booksy’s power, combined with Oscar’s industry presence and marketing expertise, are a huge benefit to barbers everywhere.  “My job is to introduce Booksy to people who haven’t used it before or who are using it and need some help on how to make their page more presentable,” he sums up.  “By me dealing with so many businesses on this platform, that allows me to give people advice on what to do and what not to do.”

“I offer brand exposure,” he added. “I like helping brands who have a meaningful purpose in our industry.  My Instagram is a showcase platform.  If you have a brand that stands out and you need some help, I can help you out with that.”

“You can’t reinvent the wheel, but you can change the ride”

I always ask my interviewees for advice to young barbers and Oscar is straight up with his.

“One thing I learned is that you are never going to reinvent the wheel, but you can change the ride,” he told me.

“Social media is a big platform. You can be appreciated by people who will probably never sit in your chair because they are in another country, but I can’t stress enough, don’t lose the importance of your community.

“It is cool to get likes and follows by people you will never meet, but you need to focus on your community and the people who go into your business on a weekly and a monthly basis.”

And while Oscar agrees there is no substitute for persistence and hard work, he comes back to how important it is for barbers to be organized.

“If you think you are grinding now, tighten up your belt because it’s a long ride!” he laughs. “There are things you are going to go through, a lot of clients you will lose and gain, and at the end of the day, you need to stay organized!”

“That’s another reason I am with Booksy.  It helps barbers who are young stay organized and keep your clients,” he adds. “Focus on your clients, stay organized and good things can happen.”

My thanks to Oscar for a fascinating conversation.  You can contact him and inquire how he can help your business by emailing Oscar.torres@booksy.net

It’s amazing to me how Booksy is gaining traction all over the industry, and it is inspiring that so many barbers recognize its value and are not being left behind!

Be sure to watch the full interview on my YouTube @larrythebarberman, and ’til next time, happy barbering!

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Just a couple of months ago, in April 2017, I was interviewing the team at Ego Barbers when the tables were turned. Stell, former Head of Education at the London School of Barbering and now the head of education for Ego Barbers’ academy Kings of Tomorrow, interrupted me mid interview to find out why I call myself Larry the Barberman despite the fact that I don’t cut hair… and why I’ve never learned those skills.
As I explained, I see the title of Barberman as being about helping barbers with their needs, not being a barber myself. Stell was not convinced – and as many people are now aware, he took control of the live interview to give me a challenge: Allow him to personally train me for two hours a day over 14 days, and get to a standard where I could perform a cut on the shop floor.

Challenge Accepted!
How could I find the time to learn barbering while also running an online store, interviewing barbers, creating how-to videos and writing for BarberEvo magazine? It was a big ask – but I didn’t think twice before accepting! This felt like the logical next step in the Larry the Barberman journey, and where else would I get the opportunity to be personally taught by an educator of Stell’s calibre?
So, what was the experience like? Well, a couple of months on I have called Stell back for a second interview to find out his thoughts, and to learn a lot more about his educational philosophy.
From my point of view, though, it was impeccable. When I started, Stell had a two week training plan ready. What followed was exemplary; we covered the theory of hair, square layering, round layering with scissors, blending, texturizing… and then onto the clippers for clipper theory, graduation, fading, outlining and much more.
All of the above resulted in me performing a walk-in hair cut on the shop floor at Ego barbers in just 9 days. In fact, I performed 3 cuts on live models within 12 days, so it’s fair to say we achieved our goal 5 days ahead of schedule.
I credit this success to Stell’s methods – and he certainly had his work cut out for him considering my lack of prior knowledge. I asked him what he thought of my skills at first:
“Well, you had none. You knew about all the clippers and how to fix them, but when it comes to cutting hair you were a complete novice – no experience. So, taking on a complete novice is a little bit different to working with people who have had some experience. In your case, it was really about starting from the beginning, understanding how to work with the hair.”
I was also curious to hear what my biggest weaknesses were (and relieved to find out that my struggles were common for early stage barbers!):
“Dealing with the long lengths of hair. A lot of time people come in from working rom very short lengths and they don’t know what it’s like to work with longer lengths. Once you conquered that we started going at a much faster pace. I find that all the time though, that is always the biggest challenge.”

Cutting beyond clippers
It’s clear that as the barbering industry grows, there are certain trends that we see more and more of – and one thing it’s impossible to ignore is the explosion of incredible clipper work. In my experience, though, a lot of barbers who have mastered the clippers want to learn to utilise other tools. I ask Stell what challenges these barbers might need to overcome:
“The haircut becomes dictated by what the clippers do, because that’s their strongest point. And that means the shape is always an afterthought. A lot of the time, the clippers will work away s lot of the layers without them even realising it. So, the shape that they’re trying to build isn’t really consistent with what the head shape demands. That’s the biggest challenge: the clippers overtake what’s going on on top.
“By coming to Kings of Tomorrow, they’ll learn the way to construct a haircut. So, yes, their clipper work might be their strong point, but ultimately it doesn’t define a haircut. If you only think that a haircut is made up of one portion – say, the clipper work – then you haven’t got a completed article at the end of it. What you’ve got is one fantastic piece, which is your bottom half, maybe with a quite standard connection, but then a very flat and uninspiring top half.
“What we can guarantee is that the construction of the haircut will be a tailored finish for every single client. Because each client’s hair type and head shape is different.”
Luckily, the fact that most of the barbers at the Kings of Tomorrow academy will have a solid base of knowledge to work off means that they’ll be able to put what they learn into practice very quickly, identifying problems to work on after just one or two days. Then, as time goes on, they can enhance and refine.

A full philosophy
One of the things that I’ve really grown to respect about Stell is the deep level of thought that he puts into his educational process:
“It’s all about understanding the philosophy of the possibilities that you have with hair. Just because you’ve cut a great haircut doesn’t mean you’re great at cutting hair. Understanding the possibilities that you can get from doing certain techniques or building certain shapes will give you the ability to do more styles and not just copy certain trends and master one haircut.
“You don’t want to be a one hit wonder – or you want to be a trendsetter yourself. You need to know why you’re doing stuff – what is the reason, what is the knock-on effect? Then that confidence grows”.
He adds that when barbers get the approach wrong or don’t focus on building their skills, they end up doing the same thing every day and the same haircut for every client. That’s not good for the clients, and it’s not good barbers either as it stops their progression. And, as Stell says, you might think your clients are happy, but most of the time they won’t tell you if they’re unhappy – they’ll just end up going elsewhere, making education all the more important.

A bright future for barbers
With people like Stell on the scene helping our barbers to really hone their skills, it’s hard not to think that things can only get better for this industry which is already growing and beginning to thrive. Stell seems similarly optimistic, adding some words of advice:
“A lot of people are doing fantastic things with education at the moment, and it can only do us good as barbers because why shouldn’t we be charging more money? But with that comes the responsibility of delivering what your charging, and if you can’t deliver for whatever reason then you need to look and think how can I grow, how can I get better results.
“Whether it’s education or YouTube videos, wherever you need to be to grow that’s where you need to put yourself.”
Whilst training with Stell I was blown away by his passion and dedication to barbering education, as well as his vision for all barbers to be able to learn every aspect of barbering and charge what they’re worth. If you want to be part of that vision then keep an eye out on the @EgoBarbers Instagram page, or head to egobarbers.com. To find me on Instagram and see me put more top talent like Stell under the spotlight, search for @LarrytheBarberMan.