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Angel Raws: The Florida Phenom Talks His Clothing Line, Multiple Awards, and how what he Really Wanted to be was a Skateboarder.

Multiple award winner,  owner of two successful shops, Andis educator and clothing line entrepreneur – not bad for a young man who has yet to celebrate his 30th birthday!

I was delighted to meet the amazing Angel Raws at the Orlando Premiere at the suggestion of my friend Eileen Nunez from Great Clips.  I discovered a creative person whose barbering relationship with fellow artists – such as many hip-hop stars – is no surprise.  I always love sharing with you the many ways people find barbering success, and Angel’s story is a great one.

Angel surprised me immediately with this opening story:  he initially picked up clippers to support his professional skateboarding dream!

“I was 16, riding for a couple of companies,” he told me. “As far as a sponsor for skateboarding, the shop I was riding for closed.  My mom had clippers sitting in the garage; she is a cosmetologist. So I picked them up and started doing haircuts for buddies for a little extra cash so I could buy boards and shoes.”

It didn’t take Angel long to realize he’d found his true passion. “Once I picked up the clippers, I left it all behind, and I just fell in love with the industry,” he told me. “I got my license in 2010 and ever since I have been in 50-plus shows and all across the US.”

Angel is the kind of person open to growth and opportunity. What he saw in men’s grooming gave him immediate motivation.

“When I first came into the industry, it was a Bronner Brothers hair show my mom told me about, and it opened my eyes to what the barbering industry was,” he remembers. ”I did not know there was so much you could do with a barbering license, that there were people cutting celebrities’ hair. I couldn’t even fathom that you could be an educator; you can go and compete and do all this. It gave me inspiration.”

Angle seized another opportunity when a contact invited him to a “Barbers at the Roundtable” networking event.  “It was by Curtis Smith,” he said, “and the whole XOTICs team was there – Jesse Lima, Denny from Andis, Kenny Duncan – all the big names, and I was just watching. It inspired me to compete and do the things that they were doing .”

Angel realized he had to “get my name out there” and it was his fierce skateboarder competitiveness that suggested a way:  “I started to look up competitions (I could join) so people would know who I was ‘cuz  I felt I had the  skill to get to where these people were.”

His teachers funded a trip to the New York Barber Battle, “my first time even traveling by myself,” he says with a smile.  “I ended up taking the trophy! I was so amped up after that.  I mean, I went to New York, I win this big trophy, I got this $1,000  check,  it was an amazing experience.”

“But that wasn’t the one that meant the most,” he continued.  “I came back to Bronner Brothers and they had the Andis overall competition, where you had to dress the model and do the haircut to match.  Andis has been my favorite company since I started, so it was a big deal to me to compete, even though I was still in school.”

Angel demonstrated another key to his success by the way he approached the competition: he planned, prepared and practiced. For months.

“I had it down pat by the time I did it live,” he told me. “I did a big shark on one side and an octopus on the other and I dressed my man up as a scuba diver with the air tank the flippers and everything – so when he walked out on stage, he was walking all funny.” The crowd and the judges loved it.

“My mom was there and everyone who was supporting me, and that was one of the biggest highlights of my career. “

As an Andis educator, Angel is influencing barbers all over, but he doesn’t specialize in a particular cut. “It is more of the style, a lot of the real close fades, bald fades,” he says. “The trendy cuts like the Mohawks.”

“People are into a clean-cut haircut, more of the skin fade, that has a lot of detail, that’s more my style. On Instagram you will see that I don’t leave a one guard on the side. I just do mainly skin fades with a lot of detail.”

When I pressed Angel on his strongest skill, I was sure it would relate to cutting hair but he had another surprise.  His real strong suit is organization and service, something every barber should sit up and notice.

“Being organized,” he said to me, “taking care of my clients on time, being there when the client expects it.”  It sounds simple but so many barbers neglect this basic service, he says.

“They might not show up for an appointment, or they are late,” he observes. “I pride myself on being punctual.  I cut a lot of people like doctors and lawyers – people who have jobs and don’t have time to hang out in the shop. That is my specialty:  being available and on time.”

Angel is on top of another trend in the industry: bookings by app.  It has freed him and his clients from phone interruptions, another service issue.  “There is no need for me while I am taking care of this client to be on the phone with the next client,” he says. “(An app) gives my clients access to my schedule, so it might be 2 a.m. and people are booking me.  I might wake up in the morning and I have had 6 clients book during the night. They didn’t have to call me; they didn’t have to text me. It’s just convenient.”

In addition to his two Florida shops, Raws Cuts 1 and 2, I wanted to know about his growing clothing line, a fantastic idea he calls “Barber Life.”

He tells me his shops are family style with a relaxed atmosphere where wives and children feel comfortable, “a real tight family and with all my barbers you will feel that vibe.”

His clothing line is another example of an observant man seizing an opportunity.  Angel contacted a screen-printing friend in New York with an idea:

“I reached out to my partner BV and said,  ‘There is no barbering clothing line, no logo of barbering.’  So we came up with Barber Life, and we went to the Bronner Brothers show with a backpack full of these shirts and we sold out, people were eating them up right out of the bag. The next year we had a booth and it was just a hit. We needed to get a website together, and it has taken off.  We have done 50-plus shows, we’ve done barber battles, the website –  www.theprofessionalsbarbeshop.com – it has just been a blessing, man.”

What the future holds for this ambitious and talented barber and businessman is a mystery for now (“We’re taking it day by day”), though he loves working in barber education.  As for his inspiration these days, he says there are many people he looks up to, but he feels comfortable now sharing his lessons with people starting out, which I am thrilled to pass along to you!

“Don’t be scared,” he says, very seriously. “It might be financial; it might be you don’t want to get up on the stage and compete. You can’t have it because with fear you aren’t going to go anywhere.  You are going to be stuck in a box because you are afraid to do anything outside of that box.”

Angel says Andis once asked him to teach a class in Spanish, a task that drove him back to the books and made him nervous since he wasn’t sure he could pull it off. “I speak Spanish with my mom every day,” he laughs, but that was about it!

“But I did it. I studied and I learned the words I needed, and I was nervous, but I didn’t let the fear get to me. I would not be sitting here able to tell you that I am an Andis educator (if I hadn’t)

“So put yourself out there, any opportunity that you get, and don’t be afraid.”

I liked Angel’s humility; he’s grounded. When I asked him his biggest accomplishment, for example, he said without hesitation, “Getting my license.”

“Without that, I would not be here. I truly believe you aren’t a barber without that license. For me, that is the biggest moment. That is what opened the door for me. That is what made me a barber.”

A perfect ending to a great conversation.  My thanks to Angel Raws for his valuable time and Eileen Nunez for suggesting we meet.  Be sure to watch Angel’s interview and other fascinating conversations with barbering’s most interesting people at my YouTube at LarrytheBarberman. ‘Til next time happy barbering!

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A Must See Barber Interview, With Danny Amorim A.K.A Success Addict

When I met Danny Amorim at the International Beauty Show in New York, I was overwhelmed by his electrifying energy. Danny is the kind of man that speaks, and everyone in the room takes note; his wisdom and charisma are the perfect match to motivate anyone feeling a little slack. In fact, Danny’s resume is packed with job titles such as owner of multiple barber shops, international educator, Gibs Grooming ambassador, and, of course, motivational speaker. So when I sat down with Danny for our interview, I took notes; who wouldn’t when they’re in the company of someone so successful?

 

But more importantly, I wanted to know how Danny built his empire, and how his journey in this industry began. When I asked Danny how he got into this business, he said, “Picked up my first pair of clippers at 14-years-old… The craft just turned into something I loved.”

 

When Danny graduated from high school, he knew that college wasn’t the right path for him, so he went to work at a barbershop. “I took it seriously, and I built a strong clientele,” Danny said.

 

There’s no doubt that Danny took the job seriously, and I loved hearing his story about how he opened his first shop. “I asked the owner of the shop how much it would cost for me to have my own landline in his shop. He looked at me like I had three heads,” Danny said. “I wanted my own line because I was tired of the customer service his clients or his barbers were giving to my clients. I had my own shop in his shop at 20-years-old.”

 

I find it motivating – and humorous – that Danny was able to open up a shop within a shop, but it shows that Danny was always going above and beyond for his clients, even during the beginning of his career.

 

It’s that same work-ethic that allowed Danny to open up his own shop, Klippers Barber Shop, within a year of obtaining his own landline (for all of you Gen Y kids, that’s a home phone). Today, that same phone number still works at his original shop, but Danny has gone on to open up three more barber salons.

 

Barber battles and the value of networking

 

“Right now, our craft in our industry has risen at an all-time high,” Danny said. He’s seen the rise of the barber industry, and how the profession is becoming more valued.

 

“It’s become cool to be a barber now. When I was a kid, I never had that barber I looked up to, that I want to be him when I grew up,” Danny said. “I walked into a barber shop, they’re charging seven dollars, and everyone’s smoking cigarettes in there – that wasn’t something I really wanted to do all of my life.”

 

Now that the industry is booming, Danny knows young kids (his son, included) that want to be a barber when they grow up. One of the reasons that the barber industry is seeing more of a “cool factor” is because of barber battles. When barber battles were just beginning to become popular, Danny was one of the competitors.

 

“I started competing in barber battles back in 2002, 2003 – when they were way smaller scale than here. They would happen maybe, once a year if you were lucky. Now barber battles are popping up every corner you can think of. If you go on social media, sometimes there’s two, three barber battles going on the same weekend,” Danny said. “It’s become a little saturated, you could say. When I used to go, It was more than winning those trophies. I remember going to these battles, and meeting and networking with people. I am where I am today because of my network.”

 

Personally, I think Danny is right. While it’s great to win trophies and new titles (who doesn’t like a resume booster?) – it’s more important to build up a strong network with people in your industry. You never know when an opportunity is going to arise, and knowing the right person can open many doors.

 

Motivational words for those trying to make it

On that positive note, I’d like to note that Danny is, in my opinion, one of the best motivational speakers in the business. Danny isn’t going to tell you what you want to hear, but he will say what you need to hear; and really, that’s the kind of inspiration that we all need.

 

“My speeches will touch you way more, and change your mindset way more, and make you want to grab a pair of clippers,” Danny said. The man knows that he’s good, and he wants you to know that you can succeed as well. But he’s going to be honest with his intended audience.

 

“Some guys, they have the gift. But they don’t have the responsibility, the reliability, customer service, or respect for this industry. They act like people owe them something – no, you owe them something. They’re paying for a service,” Danny said, serving up some realness.

 

I’ve gotta say – Danny is absolutely right. It’s not enough to cut hair well; you’ve got to make your clients want to come back, and to feel comfortable recommending you to their friends. This industry is about the people, and you’ve always got to treat others with respect.

 

While Danny was upbeat and positive during our interview, I was still dying to know what he dislikes about the barber industry. He told me, “What I can say hating is.. the unprofessionalism,” Danny said. “Certain people go to a certain barbershop, and feel like we all run our business like that. No, they run their business like that. I run my business as a business; he runs his business as a playground. There’s a difference there. It’s customer service.”

 

I can understand where Danny is coming from since he wants everyone who visits one of his shops to be comfortable – from the alternative-looking kid to a suburban mom. There’s an atmosphere that he likes to create where everyone is welcome. He even said, “I don’t care if you’re purple, yellow, or green – I want to cut your hair and service you.”

 

But before I let Danny go, I needed to ask what he would tell a barber that is down on their luck. He said, “Just hang in there. We all have rough days… Whatever you do, just go hard at it.” While the advice is simple, it’s also something that we all need to hear occasionally. You don’t become successful without a struggle, so just keep hanging in there. And don’t forget to work hard for what you want.

 

I’ll leave you with those final motivational words. All that’s left to say is thank you to Danny for the interview, and thank you all for reading – come find me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Andis T Outliner: Replacing Tension Spring For Better Performance

In previous videos, I’ve shown you how to adjust the tension spring in your clippers to help achieve better performance. If the adjustments you’ve tried aren’t really making a difference, though, then you’ve probably worn out the tension spring – perhaps by overstretching it, or by dropping the clipper on the floor. Luckily, replacing the spring is a simple process. All you’ll need is:

  • Philips Screwdriver
  • Replacement Spring
  • 5mm Nut Twister (a spanner will work, but the nut twister allows more care and precision).

Unscrew the back of the casing; as always, I recommend using a matt or towel to ensure that you don’t lose the screws as you remove them. Then, remove the power outlet so that you don’t risk damaging the wires as your working.

Use the Philips screwdriver to remove the tension screw, turning anticlockwise and again putting the screw in a safe place. Next you’ll want to use your nut twister to remove the two nuts that are securing the spring; at this stage, please be careful not to put too much pressure on the arm as it can be delicate!

Replace the spring with your brand-new tension spring, getting it in the same position as the old one and making sure that it’s well aligned with the blade. Start by securing it in place – we’ll adjust the tension afterwards – so simply replace the nuts (remember to be gentle!) and then reinsert the tension screw. Guide it in carefully and use your Philips screwdriver to tighten it up.

Remember that as you readjust the screw, you want a small slither of a gap showing above the screw: a crescent moon shape. This is a trial and error process, and what feels right for one barber may not be ideal for everybody, so you may want to experiment with different positioning.

The final step will be to gently replace the power outlet, and screw the casing back together; be sure to check that the wires are all neatly tucked in as you do this.

That’s all there is to it, so for just a little bit of effort you can greatly improve your T Outliner or GTX clipper’s performance. For more tutorials like this one, subscribe to my YouTube channel or find me on Instagram and Facebook, where I publish new content on a regular basis.

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I’ve heard that some barbers are having trouble with their UK Andis T Outliners, struggling to get the performance that they expect from them. In order to make sure that you can get the best possible performance from your trimmer, I’ve put together this quick guide that should help you sort things out.

In most cases, issues with the Andis T Outliners are caused by the wrong tension – meaning how tightly the two blades are being squeezed together. Sometimes this tension is in the wrong position, causing the blades to become poorly aligned, and it turn meaning that the clipper just doesn’t cut as it should.

Luckily, this is something that you can fix without having to get a replacement, by performing a tension adjustment on your tool. You’ll need a small Phillips screwdriver, an alcohol or aftershave that will cut away grease, some threadlocker to secure the screw in place, and a cotton bud. Here are the steps:

  • Remove the four screws at the back of the clipper – and make sure you keep them safe while they’re removed!
  • Lay the outliner flat and gently remove the back, being extremely careful with the wires as you do so.
  • Locate the tension spring and tension screw – a hooked shape with a screw running through it sitting directly beneath the blade. Here’s what you should be looking at:

 

  • Turn the screw to adjust the tension spring, bringing it higher until there is a smaller gap showing – generally speaking this should be just slightly more than a slither, as in the picture below, however the most important thing is to find the tension that feels right for you: keep adjusting until it works!

 

  • Now look for a small notch cut away from the arm: rest the black wire here. You’ll also find a mould which should be carefully replaced as you replace the back of the clipper. If the red and white wires are poking out, use your screwdriver to gently tuck them back in.
  • Before tightening the clipper back up, test its performance and see whether you’re happy with the results. Keep testing higher tension until you find the ideal results for your cutting style!
  • Once you’ve found the optimum position, carefully unfold the back of the clipper away – now it’s time to lock the tension in place!
  • Start by using the alcohol and cotton bud to clean the tension spring and tension screw, cutting away any grease or oil that may have built up.
  • Take the threadlocker and use it to form one clean line across the screw. If you ever need to adjust the tension again, you will be able to break this bond with a screwdriver – in the meantime it will hold things securely in place.
  • Once again, replace the wire and mould, fold the two halves of the clipper back together and replace the screws.

Once that has been completed, the final step is simply to wait ten minutes for your threadlocker to set – once that is done you may also want to re-oil your blades. And that’s it: now you’ll be able to get the right performance from your T Outliner!

I know this is an issue affecting a lot of you, as you’ve been letting me know about the problem on Instagram, so I hope this post has been helpful. Want to see more tips and tricks like this one? All you need to do is follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

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Barber: Harry Pirate’s Inspirational Interview With Larry The Barber

From one cutthroat business to another, Harry Pirate has been a chef and a music producer in past lives – but now he’s found his calling as a barber, and the proud owner of the Pirate Barbershop in Bromley. In this interview, he tells me about how his career developed and gives advice for the next generation of barbers.

After bumping into Harry Pirate on a few different occasions, I decided it was time to get to know this passionate barber a little better. Although he has only been barbering professionally for around 3 years, he’s been cutting hair since he was 17 – although it took a few career changes before he realised that this was what he wanted to do with his life:
“So I’m a qualified chef, and I worked in all the big restaurants in town – that got really stressful and I hated it in the end, I was stressed out all the time. So I got out of that, and worked in the music industry for around 6 years as a producer, doing a lot of different stuff with a lot of affiliated musicians. I enjoyed it at first, but it felt like I was getting to a point where I was giving my whole heart to people and getting nothing back. The money dried up because more and more people were producing cheap music, and I also found that the industry in general is very dog eat dog, with a lot of fake people. I’m not that guy, so I walked away from it and never looked back”.
Having been cutting hair backstage while touring as a music producer, this was already something that Harry loved, so it seemed like the logical next step: “A, I could make more money. B, I was meeting different people every day, not stuck in the same circles of people who are just out for themselves. And C, it made me happy”. After losing inspiration with his music, this became Harry’s new outlet, and he knew that he needed to do it properly. This led Harry to go for professional qualifications at the excellent London School of Barbering.
As many of you will know, I was recently lucky enough to experience the London School of Barbering’s shaving course, and Harry seems to have had a similarly excellent experience there:
“I had a great time, and that’s where I met H, my shop manager too. I haven’t looked back. I found out I’d picked up so many bad habits; they give you a great base and after that when you go out to a barbershop you do fall back into those bad habits but with an educated mind – so you can turn bad habits into good habits. They turned me from being a barber that loved what I was doing, to being a barber that loved what I was doing”.
He adds that YouTube can also be a great tool for learning, and there are plenty of educational videos out there including everything from information about clippers to tutorials for perfecting a particular technique. If you’re interested in self-taught barbering, Harry has a video outlining some of his favourite educational YouTubers out there – and don’t forget to check out my Barbers.TV YouTube channel for tips and tricks.
On Board the Pirate Ship
Before opening the Pirate Barbershop, Harry was working at Ruffians – but although he has nothing but good things to say about the shop and his time there, it also led him to realise that he needed to do things his own way:
“It’s a great barbershop, love what they do, but it wasn’t my style of barbering, it’s more of a high-end men’s salon. “Here it’s a barbershop, it’s a man-cave. There is swearing, there is rap music playing, there are people drinking beer – it’s a pirate ship and we love it. For me personally, and my style of barbering I needed to get away and do my own thing. We’re a concept barbers, so it’s a one price service. It may be a little bit more expensive, but you get ten times more than at other barbershops in the area.”
No wonder, then, that the shop is already thriving – both with walk-ins off the street and, predominantly, with repeat clients, the true sign that any barbershop is succeeding! They’ve also been building up a range of Pirate products, with an impressive list that includes everything from beard oils and moustache toffees to hand-made soap and bristle bubbles, as well as a new cologne that is just hitting the shelves.
Harry tells me that he is trying to “create a brand rather than just a barbershop”, and he’s also doing this by running a YouTube channel which you can find here. Like me, he loves talking about clippers and gear, sharing reviews that will help other barbers find the right tools for their style of clippers. You’ll also find vlogs, as well as plenty of advice for up and coming barbers; Harry tells me that it’s geared towards people who want to get into barbering but are wondering where to start or how to improve.
Before I leave you with Harry’s words of wisdom for barbers who are new to the trade, I have to take a brief moment to share some of the gear that he loves to use – I never miss an opportunity to talk clippers, after all! After initially using Wahl tools such as the detailer and the magic clip cordless, Harry has found that he much prefers working with Andis clippers:
“Wahl stuff is great and you can do a sick fade, but I prefer Andis now: the guard system is a game changer, especially the old double magnetic guards, they’re brilliant. You can go really high with them, get a lovely transition. I found with the Wahl stuff that the fades weren’t as stretched as they can be. Personally, for my style of barbering, the Andis clippers do it – I also think the build quality is a lot better.” His kit includes the Balding Clipper, Fade Masters and Pro Foil clippers as well as a Blackout clipper and the Pro Mate Precision – both of which I was happy to pass on to Harry as a token of my appreciation for recording this great interview! The American clippers in this list are powered by my frequency 60hz converter, so if you want to try them out then that might be the missing piece of the puzzle: a converter which can power US clippers without any trouble.

So, as promised here is Harry Pirate’s excellent advice for upping your barbering game. As always, you can follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook for more great content – in the meantime, take note of Harry’s wise words and put them into practice whenever you can:
“Don’t step on screws… don’t get electrocuted daily… don’t break your hand… but all jokes aside just work hard, save up money, get a loan if you need to – make it happen, and you will make money. Sort your finances out and if you want a shop just make it happen. I had a great job at Ruffians, I was at one of the greatest shops in the country: I didn’t have bundles of cash, but I made it happen. Grab it and run with it.”

 

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Why Andis Fademaster & US Fade Blades Cuts Skin and Pull Hair

Difference between Surgical Blade and Bevelled Blade

With the popularity of the Andis Fade Masters, I’ve found a worrying trend for complaints from barbers who have had problems with it pulling on their client’s hair or even cutting the skin! This is because, unlike most of the Wahl and Andis clippers that you probably have in your collection, the Fade Master uses a surgical blade rather than a bevelled blade, and you need to be able to use this tool in a different way.

To help you get to grips with your surgical blades, Harry Pirate from the Pirate Barber Shop in Bromley has kindly given me a quick rundown of the difference between the two, as well as how you should be using the Andis Fade Masters and other similar clippers safely – without cutting your clients’ skin. He adds that these tips are also useful for the Wahl Senior; although that uses a combination blade rather than a surgical blade, it is very similar so these tips should come in handy for both tools.

The key difference that you need to be aware of is that the surgical blade is a lot sharper and a lot flatter, without the rounded safety edge that you’ll find on bevelled clippers. Harry tells me: “I use the surgical blade purely for afro hair, very tight to the skin cuts and very close skin fades. You must keep it dead close to the skin, no flicking. Honestly if you try and use it like you use a bevelled blade your client is going to get cut – they’re going to look like Freddy Krueger has had a right go at them when they walk out your shop and they won’t come back.”

At the Pirate Barber Shop, they’ve had clients coming in who have been cut up by other barbers and need their haircuts fixing! Obviously, no barber wants to give their clients this kind of poor service and, as Harry says, there’s really no excuse for it: you need to learn about the tools that you’re using and make sure you have all the necessary information before you start your cut. If you have a Fade Master on hand then take a look at the blade now and you’ll be able to tell how much sharper it is; no wonder, then, that barbers are finding that they can seriously hurt people. Harry recommend that barbers who aren’t experienced with these blades only use them for skin fades – and even then, you need to be careful!

Essentially, if you think of any surgically bladed tool you have as being akin to trimmers and use them in the same way – flat against the skin – then you should be able to give a better service, stop pulling on clients’ hair and, most importantly, avoid cutting the skin. Harry also points out that you don’t need to zero gap these blades: otherwise, as he puts it, you’ll be “literally just scalping people”.

That’s really all there is too it, so thankyou to Harry for providing this simple but incredibly informative guide to the difference between bevelled and surgical blades, and to all the barbers reading this please get to know your clippers so you can keep your clients safe and satisfied. Head over to my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages to find more great, educational barbering videos and articles so that you can make sure you’re a barber who really understands their tools.

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Barberevo’s Magazine: Barber Of The Month: Champ Talks About His Year

If there’s one barbershop that I consider my home away from home then it has to be Champ’s Barbers in the West End, and meeting up with owner Ian ‘Champ’ Hoyos to get a sense of what he’s been doing over the last 12 months is a highlight of my year. This year has been great for Ian, and he’s had the chance to go everywhere from New York to Columbia – with barbering destinations including Prague, Sweden, Scotland, Paris and Tenerife.

The UK Barber Battle

Rewind back to June and a lot of barbers across the country were getting psyched up for the UK Barber Battle, an event which Ian modelled on similar contests which take place far more frequently over in the States: “From working in America … I kinda saw how they’ve got one every month, it’s a big part of the culture out there, barber battles in each city.” Working with Vince, an American barber from Grey Matter, they were able to secure the O2 Arena – the perfect venue – and drum up a lot of support.

As Champ said, it can be a nerve-racking experience for barbers, since “you know that you’re going to be looked at and judged by a lot of barbers”. With Champ’s gift of the gab, though, no surprise that they were able to drum up a lot of interest and support. They also got backing from huge brands such as Belmont, Andis, Monster Headphones and American Crew, and called in the support of big name judges including Kevin Luchmun and Charlie from Toni & Guy.

Spontaneous Barbering Brawls

While the UK Barber Battle was a huge and exciting event, I also love the spirit behind some of Ian’s more spontaneous events – such as a mini battle that he put on at the Alan and Luke’s Barber Lab, something which he decided to do “there and then”, getting barbers to throw money in his hat to take part.

As well as the money, there’s some real prestige to be gained from competing against other barbers and winning. “It’s bragging rights. I went there, I took my tools and I took their money.”

Cutting in Columbia

This year, Champ was also invited to give a class and judge a huge barber battle over in Columbia – his home country. With 700 people spectating the event and around 15-20 barbers competing in each category this is pretty impressive in its own right, but I think it becomes even more amazing when you know how Champ came to be invited in the first place.

It all comes from a visit he made to Columbia the previous year when, as he puts it, he wanted to “give something back”. This mean taking to the streets and cutting hair for homeless people, people in prison, schoolchildren living in slums and anybody else he came across who could do with a cut!

“Poverty out there is a big thing. One of the places where I went to cut homeless people, there’s a bridge in the middle of the city and underneath, along the banks of the river there’s over 1,500 homeless people. It’s about going there, talking to people trying to put a smile on people’s faces. People though I was nuts. The police would walk up to me and ask what was going on, but once everyone saw that I was only giving back they supported me.”

He decided to head back, this time taking more barbers to different locations to make sure that more people could benefit. Lots of help was forthcoming, and on one trip to a school with 8 other barbers he also had a film crew with him. This led to Columbian daytime TV picking up the story and getting him live on air, so it’s certainly fair to say that Ian ‘Champ’ Hoyos is respected across the globe!

The Silver Screen

Another big moment in 2016 came when Ian was approached by Warner Brothers to be part of a private screening for Barbershop Three – featuring a pop up event where they cut hair for the media and press representatives. This is a great example of how barbering is getting more and more attention, and picking up a certain air of glamour! For Champ, it was particularly rewarding to see the film announced as “Presented to You by Warner Brothers and Champ’s Barbers” – although in his usual modest manner he tells me “I was just chuffed”.

This isn’t the only glamorous job that Ian’s been able to pick up either; he’s also been known to cut hair for Justin Timberlake and been approached by West End Theatres. Getting this sort of attention isn’t just a case of being an excellent barber, but also making sure that people know about your work. Ian shares some excellent advice about marketing and promoting your work:

“If you don’t promote yourself, no-one will. If you don’t get up off your chair and put your business cards in people’s hands, and let them know what you can do for them then you’ll never now. You’ve got to build that excitement … talk to people, explain what you can do for them, reel people in.”

It certainly seems to work for Ian and the rest of the barbers that he works with – walk past Champ’s Barbers and you’re almost guaranteed to see a client in every chair.

Watch the full video to hear even more of Ian’s barbering advice, and to hear about the brands that he’s championing as an ambassador. All that’s left for me to say is congratulations to Ian on another great year, and best of luck to all my readers for 2017! I’m really excited about the coming year, and have a lot of content planned for you so don’t forget to find me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, and to follow Ian’s wise words of advice: Be polite, network, work hard and stay focussed.

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Hair Stylist: Tom Baxter – Though Larry The Barberman’s Eyes

Tom Baxter is an exceptional hair stylist – find out why I don’t say barber or hairdresser in just a moment – who has quickly risen to success, picking up an impressive selection of awards after just a year of competition work and building an excellent reputation as an innovative an exciting hair professional. Like me, he has also taken to YouTube to help educate barbers and hairdressers across the globe, with a wonderful web series that sees him strap a camera to his head to give a bird’s eye view of the haircut process as it happens.
There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s dive straight in: my first question to Tom was to find out whether he labels himself as a barber or a hairdresser – but Tom chooses to steer clear of these labels all together! In fact, he sees the line between the two as becoming more and more blurred, with more colouring and curling being introduced into barbershops, and a lot more clipper work taking place in hairdressing salons. As he puts it: “If you cut hair & you’re passionate about it that’s enough for me”.
That said, he did start working in barbering, before making the move into hairdressing salons because he wanted something more interesting. So, what do his male clients think of his slightly more unusual work, and how does he convince them to let them doing something different with their hair? “I see a window where I can throw something a little bit crazy in … they know I would never let them leave the house looking silly or daft. I’ll push my clients on to sort of what’s going on at the minute. If you don’t like it, you can just rinse it out”. Focussing on non-permanent options means that Tom can experiment while still giving his clients the opportunity to change their mind.
I also wonder what other barbers think of Tom’s work, and it’s great to hear that they really do appreciate it, to the point that he’s invited in to do training sessions – with an upcoming course on colouring at Slicks Barbers in Glasgow as just one example. As he points out, at this year’s Wahl Barber Final pretty much every model on the stage had colour in their hair, and it means that Tom’s able to “really enjoy being able to express what I like to do with hair through barbering”.
Now, every stylist’s path into the trade is different, and like many Tom tells me that he “didn’t set out with a childhood dream to be a barber”. Instead, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time, and of all things it started with a football tournament in Barcelona. To take part, Tom had to have a shaved head or bleached hair, and when he went to got his hair bleached, he heard the shop’s owner saying that they needed a junior. “I overheard and said I can come after school for two hours every night. Then I did an apprenticeship rather than 6 weeks’ holiday … I really got into it”.
With this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise that Tom thinks the apprenticeship route offers a more rounded education than college and academy training for younger barbers. He tells me that spending two or three years on the shop floor, getting involved with the running of the shop gives Juniors a “real understanding of barbering from the bottom”. He also finds that it helps you to build up a rapport with clients: “A lot of my clients have become friends, and that’s barbering, that’s hairdressing. It’s a relationship.”
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Tom has also been strapping a camera to his head and producing an educational web series. How did that idea come about? “It was one of those things where it’s just an idea that snowballed. One of the girls I work with was saying how do you cut men’s hair. So, I said I’ll get a camera and show you – it was just a bit of a laugh – and she watched it and said it was great. When I watch tutorials, you can kind of see the haircut taking shape but not the details … I think it’s a better way of learning, because you can actually see it from where I’m seeing”. Since then, it’s really gained traction: there are now around 20 videos in the series, with one picking up an impressive 85,000 views, thanks to Kamisori Shears’ support. With a general viewership of 35-40,000 views it’s fair to say that Tom is picking up a loyal following, and I’m glad to hear that he has more videos lined up.
In fact, his work as a brand ambassador for Kamisori all came about because of the videos – after seeing his work, using their products, they quickly offered to send more scissors over in exchange for more clips. “It’s a really nice brand to be with, high quality. I used them before I was brand ambassador, and it’s just really, really good quality. For me personally, you’re not going to get a sharper or more precise pair of scissors.”
He also tells me that “you’ll see me in London, in February, with the camera strapped to my head, it’s the first time I’ll have done it on stage. I’ll basically show everyone who wants to be a stage artist what you’re going to be looking out and cutting”.
And that’s not all that Tom’s been up to: he also has his own product, born from a desire to have a product that he really believed in to use, with the main aim being to improve his own work. Passing them on to his clients also means that he can give them the education that goes alongside the product, ensuring they can achieve the same style at home.
Alongside his web series, other forms of education have become a big part of Tom’s work, with stage shows, medium sized classes of 25-75 people for the NFH, and smaller educational classes at barbershop and salons. He tells me that the videos he’s producing are also useful for these workshops, since he can give the barbers and hairdressers a video of the session to rewind and watch again as they’re practicing.
Like a lot of barbers I’ve spoken to, Tom also thinks that the industry is definitely moving in the right direction. Is there anything he’d like to see change? “Not a massive amount. I’m really pleased that you’re seeing more female barbers, although I’m not a huge fan of the terminology – I’ve got girls that work for me, and they’re not ‘female’ barbers, they’re just barbers. Apart from that, I’m really enjoying the crossover from hairdressing to barbering.”
Finally, I want to know where Tom gets all his inspiration, since he certainly doesn’t seem short of it. Unsurprisingly, it comes from “anywhere and everywhere”, and often from hairdressing rather than barbering. While names like Jamie Stevens, Mickey Grahams and Darren Jones pop up, Tom also says that he doesn’t necessarily look to one person or thing. Instead, he takes inspiration from wherever it comes – a great motto to live by!
Want to cut hair like Tom Baxter? I definitely recommend taking a look at his web series, to get a glimpse through his eyes! You can also find my educational videos on YouTube, and follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more videos, including interviews like this one – I hope to see you there.

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Simon Shaw: The life And Times Of Wahl’s Euporean Artistic Director

I have something really special for you today: an in-depth interview with Wahl’s Simon Shaw. As Wahl’s European Artistic Director, Simon has one of the most desirable jobs in the industry, so it was a pleasure to sit down with him. As Simon says, Wahl is ‘the jewel’ that so many barbers want to work at, so I was very interested to find out how he got started in the job.
In 1985, he was working as a hairdresser in Dimensions, and started broadening his work to include shoots, journal covers and trade shows. This led him to start working with Goldwell, joining their academy in Mayfair; over the next 5 years Simon tells me that he completed around 300 courses – becoming one of their most popular educators.
After this he was introduced to a Wahl rep, and started doing exhibition work, managing to juggle the additional workload while still keeping up with his other commitments. This is the first of many examples of Simon’s utter dedication to the industry, putting his all into everything that the job throws at him. Then, back in 1999, he was asked to help open up an academy to educate people on how to work with clippers. They started with just two courses, basic and advanced, and have just gone from strength to strength… the rest, as they say, is history.
To get a real sense of what it takes to live Simon Shaw’s life, he talks me through his schedule over the previous week. As a man who is often on the road myself shooting videos and meeting barbers, I know just how much it takes out of you to be constantly travelling and, in Simon’s case, performing. This is just a small sample of Simon’s life as artistic director at Wahl:
On the Monday, he started his week in Hereford, doing a seminar with one of Wahl’s biggest accounts. On Tuesday, he was meeting a tailor in Belfast, before flying all the way back to Bolton for a seminar. By Thursday, he was in London, doing an in-store demonstration for Debenhams accompanied by two barbers from Ted’s Grooming Room. He made it back home to Yorkshire on Friday for a couple of nights, before heading down to Kent on Sunday for a two-day course.
It’s tiring just hearing how much work Simon puts in, and this is one of the points that he reiterates throughout the interview; young barbers need to understand how much effort it takes to work at the top, with first-rate companies like Wahl. As Simon says, although it is important to find time for your family – he has two children and three grandchildren – when you’ve committed to a job, you just have to do it.
Working with Wahl
Renowned for clippers that set the standard throughout the industry, as well as world-class training and other exceptional products, it’s safe to say that Wahl is a giant of the industry. So, while I have Simon with me, I don’t want to waste the opportunity to find out more about the work that he does with Wahl.
He explains the two different sides to his job: on the one hand, devising the upcoming training programme and looking for the best educators for different courses, and on the other teaching his own students. Watch the full interview to find out more about these very different roles, as well as what Simon describes as his “forte”: the evening seminars where he mixes hairdressing, barbering and entertainment to create an excellent stage show.
These also include his trademark haircut, the flick and smack. I ask Simon a little more about it: “We’d devised a texture blade which could thicken add texture, but the results I was seeing looked too bulky. So, I practiced and practiced to make it better, got the flick of the comb and the clipper technique going.”
We also talk about the rest of the artistic team: Michael Damiano, 5ive, Carl Blake and Joth Davis. Simon finds that they all bring different strengths to the team, and gives me a real sense of what he calls the “orchestration” of the incredible barbers that he works with. He adds that he is taking notice of the other excellent barbers out there today, who may be interested in joining the team – but has to wait for the right moment to bring new people in. That said, there are other positions which top UK barbers are starting to fill: notably Hooker and Young, who ate coming in as creative directors in 2017, so that will be big.
One of the recent pushes from Wahl has been cordless clippers, using lithium batteries to increase the power and longevity. I ask Simon about this product range: “People think corded clippers will give them more power, but with cordless clippers you’re getting the same movement. They also think it will run down halfway through a cut – with our products, like the Finale, the lithium batteries make them quick charging… we’d love to convert some of the old-school barbers.”

Life on the Road and the Future of the Industry
So how does somebody as busy as Simon Shaw relax? Well, he admits that he finds it difficult to switch off, but he still finds a respite from work in his family. Spending time with his girlfriend, two children and three grandchildren is the most relaxing part of his life: “you forget everything when you see them”.
I also ask him where he thinks he’d find himself if he hadn’t got into this industry. It’s clearly something he’s thought about before – and he admits that he sometimes worries about it – but trusts in his winner’s instinct. At any rate, seeing how passionate Simon is about the hair industry makes it hard to imagine him doing anything else!
But, although it can be a busy life, Simon also finds himself very lucky to be able to spend so much time travelling around the world. At the moment, he’s particularly interested in India, seeing a whole untapped market of ordinary barbers, as well as Europe, where the barbering skills are becoming very strong and producing a lot of up and coming talent.
I also wonder what’s got Simon fired up about the barbering industry right now – after all, he must have seen some big changes in his 31 years in the industry. He tells me that barbers have “galloped the gap recently, it’s become cool to be a barber… barbering used to have such a low reputation, but it’s the fastest growing part of the industry. It’s like a tidal wave, with the style and the old-school chairs – now everyone wants to be a barber. There are academies where you can learn while doing your day job.”
On the other hand, he sees the huge egos that the industry creates as a possible negative, with some barbers becoming too caught up in the competitive element of barbering. While the barbers that I meet are very grounded, I’ve heard this same concern from them too. In the full interview, you can hear us talk a little more about what might be behind it – including Simon’ thoughts on social media – and how to overcome it, or keep it real.
We also spoke briefly about state regulation; while some states in America are considering deregulating barbering, Simon – who sits on the barber council – sees it as a good thing. That said, he thinks that the hair and barber council “need to up their game, get more information out there, explain what state registration really means (…) it’s about high standards, qualifications.”

To wrap things up, I just have a few final questions for Simon, including what he sees as his biggest achievement at Wahl?
“I can get quite emotional talking about this, my biggest achievement is going into the shops, going into Harrods and seeing a shelf full of products with my face on the packaging: Premier products. Everybody wants a product range, to see their products in shops like Selfridges, and that’s my biggest achievement in Wahl.”
He also shares some advice for barbers who aspire to reach the same heights in their own careers: “I’m a big believer in being at the right place at the right time. Make your own luck. Be seen at events, especially when you’re young. Go to ever award, every lunch, to be seen and meet people. You need to be seen out there, but you need to be nice.”
If you’d like to see Simon in action, then you can head to one of his seminars; take a look at the Wahl website for upcoming dates. He also has more courses coming up at the Wahl Academy if you want to work with him in a more intimate setting. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages; you can also contact me online to find out more information about my work.

 

 

 

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Chris Vaughan, AKA the Beverly Hills Barber, was kind enough to spare me some time during the Salon International barbering convention. I took the opportunity to find out a lot more about his work as one of Oster’s ambassador, and as a high-end professional barber.

As always, we started out by talking about Chris’ initial step into barbering – and it turns out that barbering has surrounded him pretty much his entire life. In fact, as a child in Buffalo New York, the family’s hair salon was actually located at their house, making joining the family trade as a fourth-generation barber pretty much a given!

Now of course, Chris is one of Oster’s esteemed brand ambassadors, and I was very curious to find out more about how he got the gig, especially since I know that many barbers reading this will be wondering how to advance their career in a similar way. Well, believe it or not, Chris started by turning the job down – thinking that it would require too much prep work. Luckily for everybody who has experienced Chris’ work as an Oster representative, they kept asking, and eventually he decided to give it ago.

I want to know more about the Oster clippers that he works with, and it’s clear to see how highly he rates them. In my travels, I’ve found the rotary motors – or what Chris calls the universal motors – of the classic and ’76 models to be a slightly acquired taste, but as Chris says, they are also a standard of the industry. He tells me that “other companies make their blades to fit on our clipper, it’s the first and the best.” Of course, many, many barbers agree with Christ, giving Oster the excellent reputation that it holds today.

We also chat about their new clipper, the MX Pro, a clipper with a magnetic motor which greatly diversifies the Oster range. Chris tells me that this is “ergonomically designed, great for smaller hands, with easy adjustment. You get the standard four guides in the box too, it’s a wonderful entry level clipper. Perfect for people who are just starting out – then you can evolve into the larger line.”

As much as I love talking about clippers, there’s a whole lot more that I want to talk to Chris before the interview is over, not least his work as the Beverly Hills Barber. His career has taken him to the esteemed John Allan’s Men’s Club, a barbering an men’s grooming chain which has been going since 1988 delivering what Chris describes as “the spa experience, but for men”. Incredibly, this is another opportunity that Chris turned down at first, however yet again he ended up taking the opportunity and never looking back.

Their service consists of a shampoo, haircut, hot towel, manicure and shoe shine, with membership packages that allow men to simply enjoy the experience as often as they want to. You can find out more about the barbershop – and their partnership with the famous Saks Fifth Avenue department store by watching the full video, however in honour of my recent series on men’s shaving I want to run you through the shaving process that they offer.

As Chris says, even their basic shave is a truly high-end service. They use 5 towels, including 4 hot towels, as well as pre-shave cream and, most importantly, an incredible razor. Chris swears by the Duo Feather razor: “oh my goodness, it gives a smooth shave, and best of all consistency – the key to success!” They also have a hot lather machine that will provide the perfect, relaxing, warm lather to assist with the shave.

He also goes over the face for a second pass – and, where appropriate, shaves against the grain to get that closer shave. Now, if you’ve been watching my recent shaving you’ll know that not all skin types should be shaved against the grain, and this is something which Chris reiterates in the interview. He also explains how you can be safe if you are shaving against the grain, using a safety razor to avoid damage.  We also discuss why the straight razor remains so popular even to this day; as Chris says, it’s all about the nostalgia.

Throughout the video, Chris talks with an amazing amount of passion, so the final thing that we discuss is how he passes this on to other barbers through his education programme. He tells me that the secret is to keep it “basic and simple”, both with his stair step method class and the more advanced demarcation class. These are clipper classes, and they’re great for hair stylists who may not be used to using clippers and need to learn how to serve their male clients with “confidence and dexterity”.

UK fans of Chris Vaughn’s work will be delighted to hear that he also has plans to bring private classes to the UK, partnering up with Kevin Corley of the K Barbers Emporium. For American fans, this also means that Kevin will be offering classes in the States, as both world class barbers will be offering training sessions on one and others’ home turf. Excellent news for every young barber reading this or watching the video and wondering how to learn from one of the greats!

I’m delighted that Chris ends the interview with some very kind words about my own work! I love providing barbers with all of the information that you need to do an even better job, and I hope that you’ve learned something from this video. To see more, don’t forget to head to my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages; you can also contact me online to get in touch directly.

 

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