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From Eye Cancer Survivor to Master Barber: The Unique Life of Alison Scattergood

I love Salon International for any number of reasons, but one is the chance to catch up with people I hear about more often than I see. East Durham College’s Alison Scattergood is one of those. The Peterlee educator is well known for her master-level barbering, work with young people, advocating for more regulation of barbering and more recently, as a survivor of childhood eye cancer and an advocate for research into this dangerous disease.

Clearly, we had a lot to talk about.

I learned Alison discovered both men’s hair and education while very young, working as a hairdresser for men and women from 16, and getting qualified to teach at 21.

“Barbering is my baby now,” she says with a smile. “I’ve got many students, and I coordinate all the level two and level three barber courses at EDC. I also work at a barbershop in Durham City on the weekend, because if you are teaching, it is really important to be in the industry. It is a good balance to see both sides of the job.”

Her work with young students has led Alison to her strong views on standards.

“If you are a nurse you give injections and things like that, and you have to be on a register,” she told me. “Even a taxi driver needs a license.”

“With barbering, you work with open blade razors, you are doing hot towel shaves,” she points out.

“There are amazing shop-floor trained barbers out there who are really good, yet don’t have official qualifications,” she adds. “But I know some that are not (so good), and I thing that needs to be policed.”

It’s a point I grasp readily. After all, an unregulated builder may wreck your home, but a poorly trained or unsupervised barber can jeopardize your health and even your life.

“If you had an electrician or a plumber doing your stuff, it would scare me if they had no qualifications at all,” Alison agreed. “So I think it should be regulated if you are using razors on members of the public. I believe the industry needs it. “

“We are attracting over 35,000 people (to barbering) and to think that is still isn’t standardized is quite bizarre to me. That is why I push with the Barber Council, with the government, that is where we should be headed.”

In addition to representing education on the Barber Council, Alison is also hard at work with the City and Guilds, working on TechBac programs. Through EDC, her students earn a City and Guilds certificate attesting that they have passed and can earn a Barber Council certificate of registration as well.

“It is exposing the Council to students and I tell them all the time how important it is,” she said. “They are surprised to find out there is no legislation, so I tell them how important it is to be registered.”

“It’s all because clients come first,” she told me firmly. “If they walk into the salon and see their stylist, their barber is registered and you display the certificate, that’s really important and what I want to get over to my students.”

I am very proud to be consultant with City and Guilds and work on TechBac qualifications, working on grading criteria for apprenticeships,” she says. “I contribute to the latest textbooks, with a write-up on the latest level two about the industry and how to work toward what you want to be in life.”

Alison’s connection with City and Guilds is key and could have a big impact on the future of barbering education. She told me Adam Sloan, the Chairman of the City and Guilds Barbering Industry Board, deserves a lot of the credit.

“There has been a Hairdressing Industry Board for quite a few years, but there hadn’t been a barbering one, so Adam really pushed for that,” she recalls. “He got it set up, and then a year and half or two years ago he invited me on, representing education.”

“It is important to try to raise the standards, where students come out of college with the best,” she explained. “Colleges get knocked in the industry because some colleges don’t train to a great standard. I want to raise that for all colleges.”

Whew! If you get tired out listening to all that Alison’s involved in, she’s also finds time to help her students with competitions, enter a few herself, and pick up some prestigious recognition. A highlight of her year is membership in the Fellowship for British Hairdressing, the leading body in hairdressing. “They’d never had an education slot on stage” before inviting her back for membership, she told me.

Other recent highlights: she was in the boxing ring at the Barber Connect finals at Celtic Manor in 2014, was a finalist for Wahl Barber of the Year at Salon International a few years ago, and in 2015, became the first woman to be made a British Masters Barber by the British Master Barbers Alliance.

“(Nationally-known Master Barber) Chris Moon was coming to EDC one night to visit with our students and surprised me with the plaque,” she recalls. “It was such a shock, I didn’t have a clue! It was really nice, for my contributions to barbering from Antony and Toni Copeland. It’s mounted on the college salon wall!”

But she was most excited about bringing her students down to London for Salon. “I bring students to be models because the college can’t pay for professionals, and it’s brilliant because it gives the students an amazing Salon experience and they see thing from both sides. We rehearsed and rehearsed and got really good feedback when we came off stage, so we feel really good.”

I couldn’t let Alison go before learning more about her recent work with the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, or CHECT. She told me she lost her left eye to cancer (retinoblastoma) at just 10 weeks old, and for years tried her best to keep it from everyone except those closest to her.

“I wanted to be known for my work, not for having lost an eye to cancer,” she said. But her behind the scenes work with CHECT persuaded her to speak openly.

“It went massive on Facebook and I got so much response from families even in America who had children suffering from the same retinoblastoma, and it helps them to see somebody able to do what I’ve done with my career because their kids’ are still quite young and they aren’t sure what the future holds for them.”

To her great surprise, Alison’s friend Mike Taylor, co-founder of the BBA and fellow member of the Barber Council, revealed that his young daughter is fighting eye cancer.

“When Mike contacted me about his daughter,” she shakes her head as if still surprised, “I had never met anyone else who had it. It is such a rare form of cancer.”

“We decided to work together to raise awareness and money and help CHECT, because it is such a small charity,” she continued. “Having so many friends and colleagues in the same industry, it is a no-brainer to do something together, and we plan on doing it next year.”

Just add that to the list of things to do for this amazing educator and passionate barbering industry advocate. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to meet Alison, and I hope you have to. If you are interested in helping with CHECT, just reach out to Alison or visit the charity’s web site, https://chect.org.uk/

or contact Alison direct:

Alison.scattergood@eastdurham.ac.uk
Instagram: Alison Scattergood1
Facebook:  Alison Scattergood
Twitter: alisonscat@38


 

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

 

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Wahl Cordless Senior Launch Update: Availability And More

By the time they plunked down in Takara Belmont chairs for an interview with me, Simon Shaw and Julius “Caesar” Arriola were exhausted after three days as one of the main attractions at Salon International 2017 in London.

Why all the fuss over Wahl’s European Artistic Director and an American Wahl educator?

Because for the first time, Wahl was launching a major new product in the UK and chose Salon International to do it. And it wasn’t just any new product, but the long-awaited Cordless Senior Clipper. Simon and Julius had the privilege of being Wahl’s onsite reps “when the floodgates opened,” as Julius put it.

The pair had been swamped from the first moments. The new clipper took the event by storm as barbers “were running towards us when the doors opened up like it was the new iPhone,” Simon said.

That’s what happens when your reputation for excellence precedes you, right, Simon?

“We sold out in about nine trading hours, 500 units,” he said.”We have 3,500 coming in the next two or three weeks that are already allocated. We’re 1200 in the red on it.”

Even Julius, who’d been flown in from the US on behalf of Wahl especially for the launch and debuted the Cordless Senior on stage, told me, “People in the US might not believe me, but they are really strict about buying more than one – I can’t do it.”

I told him I’d had the same problem! The fact the Cordless Senior was available but in short supply sparked a surge in demand unlike anything I’ve seen. Talk about Wahl-mania!

The Low Down on the Cordless Senior

So – how does the new must-have Cordless Senior behave?

“In comparison to the Corded Senior itself, whether it is the 5-Star, the Sterling or the regular Wahl Pro, the Cordless is an impeccable machine,” Julius told me.

“(The Cordless Senior is) high-performance, high impact, it is going to mow through anything from white Caucasian hair to thick curly hair,” he added. “The performance you’ve been expecting is there, whether precision blending or clip–over-comb. I am cutting on stage with it, and it is literally effortless; the hair is coming right off.”

Worn out as he was, Julius’ high level of enthusiasm was still shining through. “In 15 years of professional barbering, I’ve always felt, ‘Man, I love Wahl Senior. I just wish it was cordless.’ And now it’s 2017, and here we are in London Town, launching.”

Cordless Senior vs. Magic Clip

Many people compare the Corded Senior to the highly popular Magic Clip, so I was especially curious about how the Cordless Senior stacks up.

“You can’t go anywhere without seeing a cordless Magic Clip. It changed the game,” Julius agrees. “But what you love about the Cordless Magic Clip, the dream has been fulfilled in the Cordless Senior.”

In testing the Cordless Senior, I couldn’t hold it with my thumb, unheard of for a cordless. What was Julius’ reaction?

“The weight of the machine is exactly what you’re looking for,” Julius enthuses. ”If you’ve got the Magic Clip or here in the UK the Super Taper, you may have thought it too light in your hand (because) you are used to the corded machine. “

“All that conversation is going to halt because the weight is there in the Cordless Senior; the aluminum body, obviously the classic five-star senior face, the surgical blade, you can’t go wrong. The battery time is enough for what you need to do, too.”

Though Julius was happy to compare the Magic Clip and the Cordless Senior, he thinks most barbers will still need both machines.

“Obviously the blades are different,” he said. “You’ve got your surgical blade on the Cordless Senior, which comes on your classic Five Star as-is. Whereas the Magic Clip has the devil in the details, and one of my most favorite things about it is the crunch blade the stagger tooth blade.”

“But anything you felt might be missing in the Magic Clip, you will find in the Cordless Senior.”

How to use surgical blades (and oil!)

I wanted Julius to talk a bit more about surgical blades and how they are used.

“It is on the scalp cutting,” he said. “The Cordless Senior is going to be the precision cutter for your bald fades and your skin fades. You have your 45° bevel blade; it curves in. Three screws compared to two screws (on the Magic Clip). A surgical blade for me, it means you cut more on the ergonomics of a 45 out rather than the classic C stroke, because the surgical blade is not beveled.”

I agree with Julius, telling people that a surgical blade should be used like a trimmer, and scooping with a trimmer cuts the client. And since it is so sharp, you can set the surgical blade on the scalp, mini-strokes and it will do the same work as the big strokes.

Julius thinks so too, and Simon adds that the high speed of the Cordless Senior speaks to the need to keep it oiled so that it stays cool and sharp.

“You will need to oil it,” he says firmly, “because of the revs.” 6400 revs per minute as compared to the 5400 (of the Magic Clip).

“You have to, because not only will it last longer, it will run cooler – feel cooler on the skin – and it will feel sharper, hair won’t bunch up and clog,” Simon said, noting that many damaged clippers he sees suffer from poor maintenance, i.e., too little oil creating too much friction and damaging the blades.

So a word to the wise: get some Wahl oil in addition to what comes in the box, and use two or three drops after every cut. I show you how in this Larry the Barberman How To Video (LINK HERE)

 

 

“You want Yeezys before Kanye has Yeezys

Back to the Cordless Senior. Anxious barbers want to know: when can we expect enough to arrive in the UK for everyone who wants one?

After the allotment of 3500 (already committed) units by mid-November, “we’ve got more coming in December and January,” Simon said. He thinks it will be February or March before the manufacturing schedules in the US catch up with UK demand. So we have to sit tight!

Julius says, “It’s like I’m Kanye West and you’re asking me for a whole box of Yeezys; you want Yeezys before Kanye has Yeezys. You guys want a Cordless Senior; I’m trying to get the Cordless Senior myself! I am humbled to say I feel you guys, I would love to have them in my hands if I could.”

“All I’m saying is patience is a virtue. It’s well worth the wait, and once you have it in your hands, it won’t disappoint.”

LARRY….WANT TO MENTION YOU WILL BE STOCKING THE CORDLESS SENIOR?

 

‘Til then, happy barbering!

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Lieanne Buckley Talks About Being a Late Starter, Her Barber Connect 2017 Debut, and Yes, She Can Cut Afro-Caribbean Hair!

Cheshire’s Lieanne Buckley (@lieanne_) doesn’t want to be pegged as just a female barber and never ever wants to be “someone that just does five, six days a week and goes home.  I want to be more than that.”

A new face on the barbering scene, just three years ago Lieanne was an increasingly dissatisfied retail worker.  At 27, this daughter of a hairdresser had taken some training in a perfunctory fashion, but felt uninspired.  “I was disheartened, stuck in a rut and obviously getting older,” she told me at Barber Connect in Telford. “I was really envious of friends who had good careers, getting their own houses, and I’m like, “’I really don’t know what I want to be. I wish I knew.’”

A combination of desperation and inspiration pushed her into the direction of men’s barbering.  Whilst working in a fitting room one day, it just hit her, she told me.  “I want to cut men’s hair,” she says. “There was a girl at the shop who was a mobile hairdresser and I just went over to her and I said, “How I can get into barbering?”

At the beginning, “I used to go home and do my dad’s and brothers’ hair, so they got butchered,” she smiles.

Fast forward about three years and Lieanne is onstage at Barber Connect, earning an excellent reputation and building an online following.

A specialty is Afro-Caribbean hair, which makes her a rarity among Caucasian barbers, especially the relatively few females in the barbering world.  Gaining acceptance was a challenge, she recalls.

“The shop I work in is very multicultural, we have a lot of Afro Caribbean hair, but I found being a white female, a lot of people would steer clear,” she said. Clients were understandably a bit surprised and somewhat reluctant to patronize someone who at first glance, seems likely inexperienced in cutting Afro-Caribbean hair.

“I didn’t see it as a big thing because I just do hair – Afro-Caribbean hair, Asian hair- in a multicultural shop, it’s just natural.”

Nevertheless, Lieanne says she shared some of her customer’s trepidation as she started her first Afro-Caribbean cut.

“I can remember going in with a trimmer, and I was really out my comfort zone.  I was thinking to myself, ‘Can I do this or can’t I do this?’  The hair is so different from Caucasian hair, so I was like. ‘Right, just do it, try it. It’s got to work!  It has to work!’”

“So I went in with a detailer back then – must have been because I use Andis now – and I remember thinking, ‘Right, what do I do next?!’

“But because I was around people that cut Afro-Caribbean, I sort of pick things up, so I was like, “Okay, so you need to go with the grain, not just against the grain.”

But the first-timer challenges continued.

“The customer just had a one on top and then a skin fade on the sides.  I remember thinking, ‘How am I gonna get this hair that clogs together?’ I learned to comb against it and go with the grain. That was a big thing, trying to get the combing; going in, comb it down, going back in, and then getting the cutthroat on it.

She learned quickly, “You can’t always use a cutthroat on people with Afro-Caribbean hair because they’re prone to bumps, rashes (and keloids),” she says.

“I’d just say, ‘Are you okay with the razor?’ And if they are, they’re okay around the front but not around the neck area, also the same with a shaver.  Never use a shaver with Afro-Caribbean hair. Ever.  I don’t risk it.  It’s just the way the hair grows out the follicle.”

Obviously spoken like someone who knows what she’s doing!

“As for people who think, ’You’re not cutting my hair because you’re a woman,’ I will say, ‘Just let me do!  Let me do it and if you don’t like it, don’t pay for it.”

Very early, Lieanne brought her honesty, determination and talent to social media. Her YouTube success has many roots, including her emphasis on quality and her drive to self-brand.

“My goal (at the beginning) was always a quality haircut over quantity, I always had that in the back of my mind,’ she said.

“And I never want to be your standard barber that you go and see for ten minutes and that’s it, so I did a promo video to see if it takes me anywhere, opens any doors.”

After posting on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, Lieanne says her inbox was jammed with messages from people “saying they wished my video was longer,” she remembers.  “They said they wanted to see how I work. So I was like, ‘OK, this can open doors!’”

She began posting Instagram cell phone photos taken in her kitchen. “This was just around the time Instagram was taking off” three years ago, she recalls.  “I was uploading onto Instagram, and I was getting people saying, ‘Why don’t you come work for us?’ when I hadn’t even worked in a barber shop before.  It’s actually really overwhelming.”

Today, her video style remains focused on brevity.   “People get bored,” she says.  “I do just short bursts of process on a taper or scissor-cut styling, what products I use.”  She still shoots most of them on her Samsung 7.

I suggested making a video of Lieanne cutting Afro-Caribbean hair to prove the doubters wrong, a definite smash hit!

“I know!” she agrees. “I wanted to bring someone with Afro-Caribbean hair today (to Barber Connect) and I couldn’t get anyone.’

This made for an easy transition to her first major stage appearance.  How did it go?

“Rather nerve-wracking,” she allows. “You’re trying to work and it’s really hot, and you can’t see what you’re doing.  I was trying to prep my model and I was just stressing out!  Then Alan (Beak) came over and he was like, ‘Lieanne, just say a few words, like where you’re from. You’ll get a head mic.’ But my heart was definitely going a little bit when you can hear the crowd behind the curtains.”

“Then the next minute it was over!” she said. “It went so quick and I was like, ‘Get me back on there! I want to go back on now!’  Once I was up there I felt really comfortable.”

Clearly Lianne is growing more confident all the time. Already a proven success as a “late bloomer,” a woman in a male-donate field, and an expert in Afro Caribbean hair when so many though it couldn’t be done, who does this inspiring figure look to for inspiration?

Her choices say a lot about Lieanne’s eye for quality.

“Nay; she’s @nayqueenoffades,” she says. “She’s from Amsterdam with Mokum Barbers. She is absolutely amazing. Her fades look as though they’re actually filtered. They’re just so blurry.  How does she do that?”

Also from the start I would have to say Dani Lewis @toastiestyles, she’s a cool barber. She’s done some really nice work.

@StayGold31 from America,’ she adds “Sofie Pok is brilliant! She’s killing it. She’s next level.  She’s different.  American barbers are, because they use different clippers.  So I’m always learning from her work and seeing what she’s doing on social media.”

“Sean from @seanbryancutandsew is a really cool guy. He’s so good not just cutting hair but the business side of it. He’s got something like four shops, he deejays, he looks after God knows how many members of staff.  His branding and what-not is brilliant as well; his apparel.”

As part of her brand building, Lianne is also getting into the apparel line with distinctive T shirts.  As for closing thoughts from this motivated and talented woman, she says something I hear more and more barbers say – there is too much negativity, especially in social media.

“I really don’t understand people bashing each other on social media. ‘That cut is not good,’ and ‘Look at that blend,’ and ‘I can do better than that.’ I just don’t understand some people’s mentality towards each other. We all need to look after one another and help each other.”

I’ve always believe tiny gestures and little steps can lead to big change. Lieanne agrees, saying she’s offered to help a young barber in Cheshire improve his Afro-Caribbean cuts, just as a service to a colleague.  We definitely need more of that!

My thanks to Lieanne Buckley, another source of inspiration for me and I certainly hope you feel the same way.  If you want to see my entire interview with Lieanne, please visit my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

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PRODUCT DEMO: THE MOBI M8 CHARGES CUSTOMER PHONES, GETS YOU OFF THE HOOK!

Today’s product demo is the Mobi M8 (pronounced Moby Mate), a unique mobile phone charging service customers absolutely LOVE!

Think about how often customers ask to charge their phone and what an inconvenient interruption it is.  You’re placed in the position of having to find a spare outlet, adding stress to your circuits. Or you must interrupt your work flow to root around the shop for a spare charger. Even worse, your customer may want to sit on the floor next to the charging phone so they can use it. Uncomfortable for you and the customer, and not the image you want!

Mobi M8 is a set of 8 mini power paks and a charging station hub. Whenever a customer requests to plug in for a phone recharge, you simply hand them one of these easy-to-use mini-paks. They select which connecting cord works with their phone – each Mobi M8 pak has two –  then plug in and charge while enjoying their stay at your shop. It’s that simple!

Offering this sleek mini power pak as an added service is a thoughtful and much-appreciated gesture.  Customers can sit back, relax and know they are getting a charge while enjoying your barbering services.

The Mobi M8 base looks fantastic on your front counter, since each sleek mini-pak features eye-catching purple lights when charging and a solid purple band when full.

I know you are thinking the paks will go missing in no time, but that’s not the case.  The mini paks’ unique charging points mean they can only be recharged at your Mobi M8 base unit. And the pak is juuuuust bulky enough that it’s very unlikely a customer will walk off with it accidentally.

The Mobi M8 says a lot about you and your dedication to customer care.  It is the kind of ‘extra’ people tell their friends about. I think no barber shop should be without one!

That’s today’s product demo; a very handy device that adds a touch of sophistication and thoughtful care to your customer service.  I hope you enjoyed learning about it, and if you would like to know more, just shoot me a message at info@larrythebarberman, or watch me demo it on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

 

 

link to the Mobim8: http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/mobim8-mobile-salon-phone-mobile-power-changing-banks/

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Love Island Winner 2017 Kem Cetinay’s Catch Up Chat With Myles At Stag And Dagger

Breakout Reality Star and musician revisits barbering roots at Myles Lewis’ new shop; reveals mental health struggles

In an amazing interview at the new Stag and Dagger Barber Shop in Basildon, breakout star, Love Island 2017 winner and #1 recording artist Kim Cetinay talked with me about coming up as a Hornchurch barber, struggling with anxiety and depression, his commitment to mental health, and his friendship with Guerilla Barbering founder Myles Lewis.

Kem also let on that he was doing cuts in the villa on Love Island, including contestant Marcel Somerville’s ever-fresh fade!

“Marcel with his Afro-Caribbean hair, everyone thought he must be getting a skin fade fresh every morning,” Kem recalls, looking relaxed in t-shirt and ripped jeans, accompanied by Stag and Dagger owner Myles.  “But it was just me doing it with one set of clippers and a couple guards.  I was giving everyone fades.  I was a little bit rusty doing the cuts and trim, but I love the fades!”

Kem was on hand to help promote the grand opening of Stag and Dagger, Myles’ first owned shop. I enjoyed the banter back and forth between the two – it was clear they share a lot of mutual respect and affection.

“Barbering was something I was massively, massively passionate about,” Kem recalls. “Myles was the one who introduced me to the industry and he was a big inspiration for me, especially with what he was doing charity-wise, with Guerilla Barbering. He was the first person to do it,” he told me.

“When I first started with him, his fades weren’t on point but his long haircuts were,” Myles laughs. “We worked in the same area of Hornchurch and we used to do a haircut called “The Forte.”

“A proper Essex boy haircut,” Kem adds. “Basically, my haircut.”

“A forte with a taper,” says Myles “Then Kem’s fades just became like a madness.”

“It became my thing,” Kem agrees. “It was just fades, fades, fades and I became obsessive about fades.  I was doing videos and everything. My fades were getting ridiculous.”

“People don’t realize Kem was coming up in the industry (before Love Island),” Myles insists. “He’d done the Great British Barber Bash, Salon International, he’d done Barber Connect.”

“I was on ‘Good Morning, Britain,’” Kem chimes in.

“I do get a bit obsessive,” Kem admits.  “I wanted to be biggest in the UK. I was getting better and better so quick. Then Love Island came up and it was the same.  I was adamant I was going to win. Now, I am adamant that I am not stopping there,” he said. “I just finished my other show, just threw out a song that got number one, and I just want to keep pushing.”

In recent weeks, Kem has used his new-found fame as a platform to discuss his struggle with mental health, another bond he shares with Myles. They each hint their difficulties are part of the motivation behind Guerilla Barbering.

“He was leader of the Guerilla gang,” Myles told me.

“I used to go to all the events, did a lot of the pop-up shops. We slept out on the street to raise money,” Kem recalls. “It is an unbelievable cause, what Myles is doing.”

“I am gonna soon be running a big campaign with Childline for kids with mental health and anxiety,” Kem adds. “Me and Myles are on the same wavelength on this. Any way I can help to keep pushing Guerilla Barbering I will, because Childline is obviously a huge, huge charity.”

Kem’s years-long struggles with anxiety and depression related to his mother’s illness are now well known, thanks to his forthright and candid interviews on the subject.  “Anxiety and mental health, it is just all fear,” he says in our interview. “You get to a point where you learn that you’ve run it way from it all your life.  It’s effect on me, well, there are a lot of thing people don’t know.  I didn’t do my GCSE’s at school and I missed out on a lot of things.”

“You stand up and you think, ‘What am I gonna do in my life?’” he continues. “And for me, I thought ‘I am either going to sit here and not have a life, or I am going to make something of myself.’ And look where I am today.”

“I think regardless of people saying, ‘Yeah, Love Island and blah, blah,’ well, you put yourself out there to get these opportunities. Part of it is luck, but once I was there it was me that won the show, it was me that done all this, putting myself out there and making these things happen.”

Myles adds, “In my specific case, I had been on meds for 5 or 6 years for anxiety and depression, and what helps me are my missus, my kids and my pals – my mates that care.”

Looking at Kem, he adds, “We can talk about things and if someone is your friend they will listen to you. I can count my friends on one hand now; I’ve got my boys, I’ve got my family. That is who I talk to, who I open up to, and there are a lot of us out there who struggle with mental health and anxiety.”

Looking to Myles, Kem says “I think that’s one thing you’ve done is you was at a stage before we was working together you was kind of giving up on it, but you’ve stood up and you said, “I’ve got a family, I’ve got kids, I’m talented and I’m gonna make something of what I can do.’”

“Really, I’ll be honest,” Kem continues, turning his attention to me. “I don’t go and promote just anything. I’m not just here to promote today because Myles is my friend. I am genuinely here because I think he gonna smash it and I think everyone needs to appreciate what he has done personally and with Guerilla Barbering.”

Myles agrees. “I know it sounds stupid, but (if you have anxiety) turn yourself into a ‘public figure,’ push yourself forward. It helps doing interviews like this one.  Me and Kem did an advert with Shell, but realistically we are anxious people and we don’t do our best with that kind of situation.”

“Riding the Tube all over London!” Kem recalls. “But when you put yourself in that situation, you overcome that.”

I asked them what a young person struggling with mental health should do.

“Call Childline,” Kem said. “They’ve got people who know what they are talking about; people who are a constant help and who understand.”

Myles agrees. “Call these people. I didn’t know about them growing up, so we need to keep telling people that there is excellent help available.”

Turning back to barbering, I asked Kem about the public perception that he is hairdresser rather than a barber.  How did that happen?

“When I went on Love Island, I’ve got long hair, I’m from Essex, and so they wanted me to be that typical hairdresser guy that does all the girls’ hair.” he relates.

“But I am not hairdresser; I have always been a barber,” he say firmly.  “When I was in there and girls asked me to do their hair, I was blagging my way through women’s haircuts. It was a joke!”

Hear that, UK?  Kem is a loud and proud BARBER. Not a hairdresser!

“Completely!” affirms Kem. “Barbering has really taken off. Everyone thinks it is hairdressing, but it is barbering that is setting the trends. Everyone has got video on it. I think it has really taken over from hairdressing.”

I asked Kem for tips to young people just starting out in barbering and he answers very quickly: “Forget the shows! Just be around good barbers. Don’t put yourself in a shop where you might feel like you’re getting a lot of time on the chair but you aren’t around good barbers. Be around a good barber who is enthusiastic who will put the time in to teach you. That was the best thing with me.

“Don’t copy right off.  Put out your own style,” Kem continues.  “The people you look up to got there because they did their own thing.  By copying them, you are only copying the crowd. Barbering is special because there is not a right way or wrong way. You see someone walking around with line in their hair, they might want that line. Three or four months later that might be a trend. There is so much experimenting, so put your own touch to everything, your own style. It’s not an office job.  Do your thing!”

So what’s next for Britain’s newest star?

“I am sleeping about two hours a night,” he laughs. “The opportunities I’ve been given since leaving that villa I couldn’t have dreamed of. I’ve got so much in the pipeline it’s just crazy to take it all in at my age.”

“But the most important thing for me is just to stay grounded, keep my feet on the ground,” he concludes. “That’s why I do things like this, where I come see my boys and I got my family. Otherwise you will lose your heard. It’s a bit crazy going from that to this, but if you’ve got the right people to keep you grounded I think you will stay successful.”

“I am trying to do it the right way,” he adds. “I’ve said from the beginning I want to be durable. I want longevity in my career. I don’t just want to snap everything as soon as I’ve left. For me, I’ve got a goal with my long term. I want to stay on TV. I want to do presenting.  These opportunities are coming now.”

And as for barbering, Kem says he is far from finished!

“I don’t think I will go back to cutting hair soon, but I’m gonna bring out a big grooming range. It’s gonna be huge. It could take a year or more, and like I said to Myles, I want him to be involved and get the shop involved in it but yeah, I’ve got some big plans with that.”

Just one more thing got watch out for in the future of a very bright, talented and focused young man! I was very impressed with Kem’s ongoing commitment to Guerilla Barbering and Myles’ work, and his openness about his struggle with mental health, plus his support of Childline.

Be sure to pay a visit when in Basildon to Myles’ newest place, the Stag and Dagger.

And be sure to stay in touch and get involved with the excellent work of Guerilla Barbering.

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

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Barber: Leroy Garcia Of Modern Shave Shop – Success Principles

One thing you need to know about Leroy Garcia from The Modern Shave in Connecticut is he will be on time.  And he expects you to be on time, too.

“An essential part of the craft is being professional,” Leroy told me when we met up in the US this spring.  I had just asked him about his principles. “Part of being professional is being punctual.”

27-year-old Leroy is a young barber with a fresh, original approach and getting well-known for his firm views on professionalism, as well as his well-tailored staff and scrupulously clean, comfortable Connecticut shop. He welcomes both men and women while offering skin care and scalp care as well as haircuts.

“When the client arrives at ten, and the sign says you are open at ten, and no one shows up until noon,” he shakes his head. “And then the next day a customer comes at ten and there is someone there, but the day after, no one is there until eleven, well,  we need consistency in something as basic as being open when you say you are open,”  he said firmly.

Leroy’s professionalism is rooted a sense of pride in barbering history and his passion to revive that pride amongst barbers everywhere.

“You see photos from the 20’s and 30’s and barbers were some of the most dapper people, guys in dress shirts and ties, and that is how I want to approach it, bringing that old feeling  (of pride and professionalism) back, which is now so rare.”

Ironically, it is the super-modern mobile appointment app BOOKSY that has been “a blessing,” in making things happen, Leroy says.  Since every customer has a unique self-made appointment through BOOKSY, Leroy’s barbers have to be prepared and on time for every customer, ready with a clean work station, sanitized tools and a personalized greeting.  Customers expect it.  In Leroy’s shop, old fashioned professionalism gets a boost from 21st century technology!

BOOKSY is also saving Leroy time and money, he says. “In starting my business, I did not want to pay for an assistant, so BOOKSY allows your phone to be your assistant.  We are reaching about 300 clients on BOOKSY now,” he said.

So what is the customer experience at Modern Shave so many are talking about?

“The first thing you will notice is a structured environment,” Leroy says, and I can tell this is a real passion for him. “There’s no obscene music playing; there is just smooth jazz instrumental.  There is a nice aroma, nice and clean. You won’t hear people hooting and hollering. You will see presentable barbers ready to attend you. You will get into the chair on time and you will see a clean environment. After a hot towel, you will walk out with one of the best haircuts of your life.  You will be serviced with the best organic products, and I repeat, organic,” he says with a smile.

That is just the beginning of the full experience, though. “There are brands out there that produce great products for your skin and for hair care, so although we specialize in all types of haircuts, it is not our only approach.  We like to service skin and scalp, we like to do dermal therapy scrubs and skin detox facials, waxing services.  All this comes from the knowledge I accrued from Todd Bernard at I Cut Pro, being part of that fraternity.”

Leroy believes gaining greater public respect for this range of professional services means barbers can’t “show up in flip flops and basketball shorts and sweat pants and think it is OK. It all starts with a presentation of what we are.”

I wanted to pursue the Todd Bernard angle, but first I asked Leroy how he got started.  He told me he’s been cutting hair since he was just 15, and “the next youngest guy in the shop was my age now, 27,” he recalls. “Everyone else was even older, my father’s age.”  What did he take away from that? “It showed me you only learn from the passage of time. If you surround yourself with experienced people who have learned through the passage of time, us younger ones can learn not to trip over the same rocks they tripped over.”

Back to Todd Bernard, Leroy says the man is a wealth of information and inspiration for barbers at all levels.  “Even with ten years’ experience, it made me feel like a new student, made me feel like I had never picked up a clipper,” he said. “People want to have strong suits and stay in their comfort zone, but when you step out of that  boundary and admit maybe your scissor game isn’t the best, maybe you don’t know how to part properly,  maybe you don t know how to talk to clients, you become a better barber and a better person.”

Leroy told me Todd Bernard’s high quality products help him build Modern Shave’s brand. He says Bernard’s “It’s Butter” leave-in conditioner sold out his initial 12-bottle shipment in two days.  “Our clients trust that what we offer and they know we aren’t just trying to take extra money out of their pocket. They know it is full of quality and will fulfill the need they have whether it is skin, scalp or hair.”

Leroy “100 percent” recommends the I Cut Pro web site, where a monthly subscription can bring all the benefits of attending live courses in New York. “It’s a blessing in my life,” he says.

As we wrapped up our chat, Leroy came back to what was learning is a favorite subject, and  I want to leave you with his main point:  the absolutely critical need for a commitment to punctuality, cleanliness, professional appearance, expanded services and a laser-like focus on the customer.

“Yes, we have urban shops and more classic shops, but these are the principles that should not be negotiated, that should not be missing in any shop,” he insists. “It is the foundation that we need to teach the new generation in events like the Irish Barber Expo.”

“We see people leaving their 9 to 5 to start barbering, but we need to lead them the right way, and if we take it upon ourselves, the new generation that is arising in the industry is going to start doing things the right way from the beginning.”

Well said by a man who clearly has been doing things the right way from the beginning, even though at age 27, he is really only beginning himself.

It was a pleasure to meet Leroy and I wish him all the success in the future.  He is an amazing soul with a great passion for the profession. I hope you enjoyed meeting him, too!

Click over to my YouTube @larrythebarberman to watch the entire video with this impressive young talent, and look for another interesting post from me in the very near future.

Until then happy barbering!

 

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How To Clean & Disinfect Your Hair Clippers, To Be Safe – Quickly & Easily

HOW TO: 100 PERCENT DISINFECT AND LUBRICATE DURING CUSTOMER CONSULTATION TIME

In a busy shop, it may be tempting to let correct disinfecting of your barbing tools slip just a bit, and that’s a dangerous position for you and your client. You do not want to risk infection or fungal disease AT ALL.  In fact, we want to avoid that LIKE THE PLAGUE!

Here are some tips on how to use your client consultation time to get your hair clippers disinfected properly and quickly, while lubricating and cooling at the same time.

I notice when I visit barbershops that barbers use Clippercide spray as an instant disinfectant. This is a mistake, since Clippercide states it take as long as ten minutes to kick in correctly, that is, protect you and your client at 99.9% against infection and fungal diseases.

Saloncide disinfectant is effective against viruses, fungi and bacteria after two minutes.

The Wahl Hygienic Spray also needs just two minutes to reach the same level of effectiveness.

When you are busy, it is impossible to keep people waiting for ten minutes to properly disinfect your clipper. NO client wants to wait that long, and NO client wants you to use improperly disinfected tools!

The way around this is to work with Saloncide or Wahl.

Technique:

  • Use a toothbrush to brush way excess hair, brushing away from the clipper.
  • Turn the clipper on, and give each side of the blade 3 or four sprays with Saloncide or Wahl disinfectant product.
  • Turn it off, and allow to dry naturally or wipe dry with a clean towel or tissue.
  • Dispose of the tissues.

These fast two-minute products mean you will have a few extra seconds to OIL YOUR CLIPPER, which you should be doing after every cut!

Technique:

  • Apply one drop of oil on each end and the center of the blade (total of 3 drops)
  • Turn the clipper on and roll it around to spread evenly
  • Turn it off and wipe off the excess with a tissue, and dispose of the tissue.

If you use this time to consult with your client about his cut, you will clean, lubricate and disinfect your clipper seamlessly, without interrupting the service flow!

Make this your habit and you will always have clean, safe clippers and customers that will see how responsible you are about hygiene.

So, when is a good time to turn to Clippercide?  It is a brilliant coolant, so whenever your clipper runs hot, give it a going over with Clippercide, let it rest a bit and you are good.  If you are in a slack time or a not-so-busy shop, a ten-minute disinfection period might be reasonable and Clippercide is an effective choice.  Finally, slow shop or not, Clippercide can be used after your last cut of the day both as a disinfectant and an anti-rusting agent.

To sum up, the best way to quickly and totally disinfect your trimmer and keep it running throughout the day is to use a fast acting disinfectant such as Saloncide or Wahl, and three drops of oil after every cut.  Use this brief but important interlude as your client consultation time, and you will be golden!

Saloncide is now available at my online store at larrythebarbeman.com.

I hope you found today’s HOW TO tips useful.  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel @larrythebarberman to enjoy videos of my HOW TO tips, as well as fantastic interviews I’ve done with successful and well-known barbers all over the world!

Til next time, happy barbering!

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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