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

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

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

Haircuts in the bathtub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting Obama’s barber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Female Barber: Lena Piccininni, Speaks Of Her Rise To Barbering Stardom

Lena Piccininni’s work is the epitome of modern barbering, with her versatile skills representing perfectly the way in which barbering and hairdressing are becoming more and more interconnected every day. She is also a talented makeup artist, and the versatility of these three skills mean that she is able to educate both male and female stylists in a way that they can engage with.

Aside from all that, name is an educator and ambassador for Pacino’s – an achievement that any barber would be delighted to have to their name. She’s also one of the most professional and driven people I’ve met, with a work ethic that should make her an inspiration to barbers and hairdressing alike… so let’s hear what she had to say!

 

A journey to the top

“Well, I started doing hair and makeup, and then I went through some life experiences and basically need a job – so I ended up in barbering. I realised that it’s extremely difficult for a woman to make it in a male dominated industry and I needed to make sure my skills were 100%. Sometimes I thought, I need to be better than the men in the barbershop.”

This spurted Lena on to look at educational classes, and it was here that she first met Pacino – a hugely admired celebrity barber, educator and platform artist who was impressed by Lena and able to propel her career forwards.

But while she found she was learning a lot from educators, and from watching classes, she also felt like there was an important piece missing. In particular, she felt like her fades just weren’t living up to the high standard she’d set herself:

“Because I do makeup and makeup is all about blending, I stayed saying if you have issues take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Pretend the hair is an eyelid and you’re blending the eyeshadow, it’s the same thing. You can see the same dark lines and what needs to be darker or lighter.”

As I mentioned above, Lena’s diversity is one of the things that elevates her. This has been the case since the very start of her career, when she tells me that she saw every single client as worthwhile, since she was focused on widening her client base. This is an important point for early career barbers; you can’t just chase the fades and pompadours of you want to get your name out!

It’s the same with Lena’s educational classes, where she describes her clientele as “everybody” – meaning, barbers, hairdressers and cosmetologists alike. Specifically, she tries to draw on details from each element and puts it all into her education. And, as Lena notes, as we are seeing more and more crossover between barbering and hairdressing, her style of education is exactly what a lot of people within the hair industry are looking for.

 

Humble barbering roots

I was also curious to hear more about how Lena first got into barbering – a story which is inspiring in and of itself, even if her career hadn’t reached the heights that she now enjoys:

“I was in a hair salon and they changed owners and they basically wanted to cut my pay to around half. They were paying around $5 an hour to assist on reception, clean and shampoo. At 17 I was very stubborn, so I said no way, I’m quitting. Unfortunately, then my father passed away and I had to get a job – I had to take over a mortgage, with my brother, at 17 years old. I was fresh out of high school, no money, no nothing. No clients, not really any education in hair. I couldn’t get a clientele.

Then a friend of my fathers – I feel bad now but I say thank god, he broke his shoulder – because he had a full book of clients and couldn’t cut for them. I said look, I can do this.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly given her determination, this worked out well for Lena, and from their she was able to start working in an actual barbershop, fading and learning classic barbering skills for the first time.

From this combination of luck and good judgement, it was hard work that drove Lena forwards. This is particularly evident when looking at how she came to work with Pacino, a man who has had a big influence on her career: “without him, I wouldn’t be where I am. His initial class that I attended has opened up so many doors over the past few years. From where I started, I never dreamt that I’d end up educating in so many different countries and places”.

 

Always staying classy

One of the things that impressed Pacino initially was Lena’s sense of professionalism, and desire to be considered great because of her skills and not for any other reason:

“First of all, when I was starting as a barber I wanted to make sure that anybody sitting in my chair was there because of my skills and not what I looked like.  I try to teach this to a lot of girls; sometimes I see them wearing more revealing clothing to get clientele, but that is the wrong clientele.

My clientele is very respectful to me and that’s how I like it. You want to make sure you’re barbering for the right reasons – not to meet to guys.

Thankfully, right now I don’t have any [challenges as a female barber], because I’ve worked so hard to put myself out there. When I first started, the biggest challenge was just being taken seriously. I’ve had people get out of my chair. I’ve had guys be like ‘you know what, never mind. Maybe you should just be sitting at the front desk, maybe you should be sweeping the floor. I’ve had all those comments. It just pushed me further.

So the challenge really is just getting guys to take a woman seriously in a barber shop.”

It’s a challenge that Lena has clearly overcome, as her personal brand has grown huge, with 120,000 followers on Instagram and a star status in the USA and Latin America.  Again, a lot of this is down to the professionalism with which she conducts herself and her business, ensuring that her Instagram is purely focussed on her work without personal distractions: “Honestly, that’s what Pacino noticed – he said I’ve seen your page and you’re just working and working and working. You really want to keep unrelated things private with separate pages for work and personal life so that your brand stays completely professional.”

 

Just put yourself out there

No surprises that her advice for other barbers focusses on the strong traits that Lena has demonstrated throughout her own career, and she talks about versatility as being one of the key skills to master:

“One of the questions that barbers always ask me is how do you build a clientele and being a woman, building a clientele is particularly hard. But it’s because I was versatile. I see a lot of guys who worked at the barbershop that I worked at and they didn’t build a big clientele because they only wanted to cut certain people.

I was never scared to cut a kid, long hair, short hair. I would take anyone and make sure I was versatile, and that helped me stay busy and make money.”

This is great advice for every barber, so I hope that you’re able to use it in your own career – but I also wanted to know whether Lena had any particular advice for female barbers who want to become an ambassador, an educator or an influencer as she has:

“You’ve got to just put yourself out there. Again, my number one thing is always be classy, always be professional. Really, you’ve got to practice and you’ve got to show your work; you have to promote yourself, promote your brand, get yourself out to these shows.

I drove four hours just to come walk around and see everyone, and I’ve been to these shows so many times but I still keep putting myself out there. If you have to take a day off, take a day off and come to these shows, meet people, use Instagram.

So, I say if I can do it anyone can do it, I started from nothing. I started from being poor, from never cutting men’s hair to travelling the globe and educating. If I can do it you can do it, but you have to work hard and practice, you have to have patience because it takes time.”

 

I’m sure that Lena’s words will have inspired you to take that time and work your way up; her eclectic skills, confidence and sheer determination are certainly inspiring to me! To see more interviews with top professional barbers like Lena, please visit larrythebarberman.com, or come and find me on YouTube at barbers.tv or on Instagram as @larrythebarberman, where I am constantly putting out new videos and posts so that you can learn from some of the best in the business.

 

 

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Barber: Tyler Trotter of Clean Clean Cut Grooming rose from Prison to Platform Barber

It’s no secret our industry is booming!  Every day, more talented people are building successful barbering careers, and I love bringing you their stories.

I never thought a barbering story would start in jail in the southern United States, with a drug-addicted, homeless young man, serving a one-year term for robbing a druggist.

But many stories start at rock bottom, and that jail cell was rock bottom just a few years ago for Knoxville, Tennessee-based Tyler Trotter, whose brilliant recovery was capped off when the young man with the fierce red beard appeared onstage at Premier Orlando.

“I don’t think that has soaked in yet,” he told me when we sat down for an interview. “That I am here at Orlando Premier and I am a platform barber – it’s amazing!”

It was a coincidence that I’d met up with Tyler at the Premiere. We hadn’t planned an interview. But he graciously agreed to spend some time with me so I could share with you.

I was eager to hear more of his one-of-a-kind story. “I was penniless and homeless,” the recently certified Master Barber told me of his jail time.  “I’d lost my children to Protective Services; I served a year locked up 23 hours a day, going through withdrawal.”

“And it was all because of my choices, my drug addiction,” he continued. “I lost everything that was important to me. Most importantly, I lost respect for myself.  I had no idea who I was.”

“Pain is a really good teacher and motivator,” he added with a smile.

If you are one of his more than 6,000 YouTube subscribers, you know Tyler brings it with unsparing honesty, a trait winning him more barbering fans on social media every day.

“I couldn’t stop using drugs,” he said bluntly. “When I got arrested and was locked up … desperation took over. I decided I can’t do this. I didn’t know how to get a job, I didn’t know how to keep a job, I didn’t know how to pay bills, I didn’t know how to do anything, and I was ready to give up.”

He said a last-minute call to a local addiction help center introduced him to the 12-step recovery program and to a spiritual side he had long neglected.

“I started to find out who I was and started to believe in myself,” he told me. “I found out I was extremely ambitious. I had a desire to be successful in life;  to be a great husband and a great father, so I started trying different things.”

He recovered his sobriety and worked as a counselor at an addiction treatment center (“It was fantastic!” he recalls).  He reconciled with his wife; his two children were back in his life.  His family was soon expecting a third child.

 

“Our financial situation meant I couldn’t continue working as a counselor,” he smiles. “We agreed I’d become a stay-at-home Dad.’

And that’s how it started: former inmate and stay-at-home Dad giving haircuts to his kids.

“Giving haircuts was special to me, it was a moment of nurturing,” he says. “One day, my son says, ‘Can I have a fauxhawk?’  I didn’t know how to do it, and a little voice inside – my conscience, and I believe God speaks to me through my conscience  –  said, ‘I wish I could cut it the way he wanted it.’ So I went on YouTube to look at different haircut videos.”

And he never looked back.

“After the fauxhawk video, I wanted to watch the bald fade video, and after that, I wanted to watch the other haircut videos, and I thought, ‘Yeah, this looks fun!”

“I watched student barber YouTube journeys.  I got excited, and this passion and ambition started snowballing inside me.”

After stitching together funding, Tyler was soon studying at the Knoxville Institute of Hair Design and You Tubing every step.

“I had watched other barber students document their journey, and I found value in it, so I said ‘I am going to start right now.’  My first video is me before I even owned any clippers, saying, ‘I am going to be a barber. Watch this!’”

“I documented and blogged my entire experience through barber school. I did reviews on all the clippers and all the tools that I saw,” he told me. “And I continue today.”

“If a barber wants to know how to be successful,” he said, switching to his current YouTube offerings, “I do my best to document my victories as well as my failures.  I document the process of what it takes. I document the hard work.  I document the time away from my wife and kids. I document the grunt work and the labor, scrubbing the rust off the chairs that are going into my shop.”

“A lot of people share the glory,” he concludes, “but they don’t share the story.”

Besides his strength, determination, ambition and love for the industry (“I want to breathe everything barber and pursue it”), Tyler’s belief in relationships shines through. One of his most important bonds is with fellow American and Barber Society Administrator Christopher Burke.

I recently interviewed Christopher for my channel, where he went out of his way to mention Tyler as a top mentee.

Tyler told me he met Chris through sheer doggedness, peppering Burke with questions via social media while a student.

“Christopher not only answered me, he showed me how to hold a pair of clippers in a comment thread by taking pictures,” Tyler recalls with amazement.  “Him being a busy man and me just a student – there were 9,000 members in the Barber Society – for him to take the time to show me these things, I didn’t want it to go to waste.”

Tyler realized his path to success was simple. Not easy, of course, but not complicated.

“When Chris gave me advice,” he says enthusiastically, “even if I didn’t like it or didn’t want to do it, I did it anyway.”

“To be successful, I have to listen to the people who have already attained success.  I need to do the things they are telling me to do or the things they are sharing with me, and Chris, man, he has never stopped helping me.”

Tyler’s ambition and drive have already taken him far. He developed his own beard oil while he was a student, giving it away to class mates and almost immediately becoming overwhelmed by demand.

“It is all essential oils so your beard absorbs it,” Tyler said.  “Plus it takes care of the most important part of your beard, which is the skin and the follicle the hair grows out of.”

“I can’t give you a wholesale price on 50 bottles a month right now because I don’t have time to make it, I can’t meet the demand,” Tyler said. “I still make it myself in my kitchen.  I still mix it in my blender. There is just no time to make it that way much longer, and I am looking at mass manufacturing that will preserve the integrity of the ingredients.”

Not a bad problem to have for someone who just got a license two years ago!

From a man who has seen so much hardship and then so much success I wanted to know how Tyler views the industry, and what thoughts he might share with other barbers.

“If you want to become a barber, find barbers,” he said firmly. “Go to shops, look at what they do, look at YouTube videos, make sure it is what you want to do.  If you continue to aspire, ask somebody to show you how, and when they show you how, do what they show you to do.”

“You don’t just wake up one day and know how to be a barber,” he continued. “You have to do something you have not done before. If you want to see something you have never seen, you have to go places you have never been.”

“So get a mentor, develop relationships, and if the first person, the second person, the third person you reach out to don’t reach back, keep going because if you don’t continue to reach out, you guarantee you are never going to find that relationship.”

“I suggest you focus on people and focus on yourself.  Character first, then business.”

That last line is as good a slogan for barbering as I’ve ever heard.  Words of wisdom from Tyler Trotter and words of thanks from me, Larry the Barberman.  It was a great interview and a privilege to meet such an inspiring figure.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Tyler as much as I enjoyed talking with him.  Be sure to check out our entire interview on my YouTube @LarrytheBarberman.

Until next time, happy barbering!

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Schorem’s: Leen & Rob Reveal The Secrets To Their Success Past & Present

They say revolutions happen quickly and indeed, it has been just six years since Rob and Leen, “The Scumbags of Rotterdam,” opened Schorem.  Their 6-chair, men-only shop was an immediate sensation. Their unique personalities, classic barber shop style and devotion to haircuts from the 50’s and 60’s took Europe and then the world by storm.

Today, their haircut posters are legendary, their shows pack 2500-seat theaters from Australia to Sweden, their lovingly crafted old school products sell in the thousands and their inked, bearded, straight talking, rock and roll, no BS attitude is a barbering world ethos.

The pair sat down with me during a 30-minute break in their frantic schedule at Orlando in June, minutes before hitting the stage for another jammed performance.

I away love to know how great barbers got started, and true to their blue collar image, each is self-taught.

“I started after high school,” says Leen, tall, bespectacled and full-bearded “I was 15 and my brother was already doing hair. I had to have some work, so I was in there washing hair and doing everything an apprentice does, but I also started learning how to cut hair, and I was really good at it. It was appealing and I loved the interaction with people.”

Rob started out in his northern Holland hometown after leaving high school, cutting hair for the musicians and artists who made up his social group. The path to Schorem started for Rob when he fell in love.

“I had this girl,” he recalls, “and she moved to the south because she wanted to go to school for acting, so I followed and looked for a job.”

“One day I walked into this shop and there was this guy standing on a stool putting little shampoo bottles on a shelf. He was thin and had long hair in braid dyed black and he was just about the gayest guy I ever saw in my whole life. It was super funny to me.”

Rob didn’t get the job, but “I spent the whole day there talking, and we laughed so hard. It was part of a franchise, so they gave me the number for the headquarters and I got into one of their other shops.”

A few months later, “I was at a hair show and I saw Leen again and we ripped the place apart!  We got drunk and made fun of the of the hairdressers on the stage,” he remembers.  From that time, “we never left each other.”

Leen says: “The way he works and the way I work is  similar and we never saw anybody cut hair the way we cut hair.”

“We turned the way of working with hair upside down,” Rob agrees. “The technique I learned on the streets, I never saw anybody do it, and when I walk into his shop and he’s doing it the same way and I was like ‘Where did you learn that?’ and he said, ‘ I taught myself.”  I said “I cut like that, and I taught myself!’  Maybe that is where the whole idea of Schorem was born.

 

Besides their posters (more on that later) the Schorem shop became instantly well known for its meticulous devotion to classic barbering gear. The shop uses two chairs that are at least 100 years old, a lather machine that goes back to the 1870’s, and a now world-famous mirrored art-deco cabinet, a showpiece the many photographers who visit Schorem alas want to work into the shot. It’s a French Art Deco piece from 1890, which they found in a Belgian antique shop after being steered there by a relative.

After seeing it in the store, Rob returned to Leen, who was in the car. “My face, it was very happy and he was like, ‘Rob, we have to bargain.’ This woman, we scared the shit out of her. She thought she was going to be robbed and we were like ‘We heard about this barber cabinet.’ And there it is, in mint condition, a cabinet that is 120 years old and my face just like..(jaw drops). The only thing I could say was ‘I don’t like it,’ because Leen still had to bargain.”

Finding the cabinet “that was the turning point in the whole shop,”  Leen said.

“It’s a very important part,” Rob agrees. “We are very honest that it is our shop, but we stole every idea from around the world. We love the American barber shop.”

The classic American shop of the 50’s is the inspiration for the now famous Schorem posters, which launched Schorem to social media stardom and demonstrated the pair’s marketing (and psychological) insight.

“We found that a successful barber shop is not just the haircut. It is about understanding the psychology of a guy in general,” Rob told me during our interview. He said many barbers forget that “the barbershop has always been for the average Joe. We forgot they were lost (in modern times), looking at magazines with male models who were perfect  with perfect bodies and the jawline chiseled from marble, and they had to take this magazine to this beautiful girl and say, “Hey, I want my hair like this.”

Leen and Rob decided to save men the embarrassment and take pictures of great haircuts on ‘average Joes.’  “These guys are your friends, the people you meet in bars, so (having the posters on the wall means) you can point and go, ‘Hey, man, can I have that?’  That was the best thing!  And we didn’t know shit about photography or Photoshop, so we made the most human posters possible. No models.”

The honesty of the posters made Schorem an internet sensation and they sell thousands. To this day in the Schorem shop, custom posters display the 22 haircuts available. “If you don’t see it on the wall, you are in the wrong place,” Leen says.

True to their honest ethos, Leen says “it doesn’t matter” if posters or products or cabinets go viral. “We make these things without a purpose. We just do everything that we think that we like. So it does not matter if it goes viral, and if you think like that, then it is easier.”

Rob tells me the same goes for their hugely popular stage shows. “I feel like a complete moron on stage. When they asked us to do a hair show, we were like, ‘We don’t have flashing lights we don’t have models, we are just guys from the streets.’”

Keeping their image honest and BS-free takes effort, he says. “It is hard. We don’t want to blow smoke up our asses because Schorem is far from the best barbers. We have been friends for long and we see how absurd it is that we ended up on stage, because we are really a little bit of screw-ups.”

“We go on stage and go, ‘How did we end up here?  We just own a little barber shop!’ “We realize we are not afraid to screw up anymore. So we just hug each other and we say ‘OK, let’s have some fun.’  We try to take the feeling from the barber shop to the stage.”

Social media success was almost an accident, the pair told me. Their advice for up and coming barbers is “be honest” and avoid filters and Photoshop. “Make sure you have beautiful photos, make sure you do it at one recognizable point, so when people are scrolling through their feed and see this one shot, it makes them say “Oh, these guys posted that.”

“Social media has gotten so big, and it’s hard,” he added. “Be sure you have a personality in everything you post, make sure people like what you are doing, that you are not pushing it on them.

Leen’s take is simple enough: “I’m not a social media guy at all. I don’t like social media.”

The next challenge for the dynamic pair was a custom product they named Reuzel. They started out with a red water-based and green oil-based sheen and added a heavier blue water-based tonic (“like barbers used to use,” Rob said) and a pink oil-based. “The water-based means you can put it in as a gel. It looks like a wax,  but you can rinse it out as a gel, and the oil-based product needs buildup, so the more it gets in your hair, the better.”

“All the tonics used to be made by the barber himself,” Rob said. “There were all these secret formulas and I love that shit!”

The expansion and ideas never stop. “ If we do a new-school product, there always has to be an old-school product. Now we’ve come out with two:  Geek Guys in pomade class, a fiber;  and a matte product,  Matte Clay Pomade.  We needed them for a looser look.

Shaving cream “that smells like grandpa,” Rob laughs, is another new product.  What he means by that, he says, is the cream has a rich aroma that’s reminiscent of soap and tobacco, “like you’d smell when you went to kiss grandpa.”

Leen: “We have beard foam that acts as a deodorizer, and we have a degreasing formula because there was a lot of asking about cleaning up oil-based products. We have a beard balm that acts more like a conditioner.”

I asked about best sellers and Rob says, “I would say the pink because that is my favorite product, together with the grooming tonic, but we know our best seller is the blue, but the fiber and the clay are breathing down blue’s neck!”

So what is in the future for two of the hottest barbers on the scene today?

“We are working on a project that has never been done before,” Rob says. “A DVD that is only partially including us; it is going to be cool shit and we are going to raise money with it to make sure kids that are born in prison or born in poverty have a chance to get an education in barbering or whatever. It is the biggest project we have ever done and you will be hearing more about it.”

I love to ask for final thoughts and I had two for these world travelers: one, what are their favorite places?

ROB:  “Dublin! I am a sucker for Ireland. I love the people, love the hospitality, love the Guinness! Ireland is it for me.”

Leen: “I just went to Tuscany and that is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my life.”

Secondly, how has their success has impacted them?

Rob says it still takes them by surprise. “It was never planned.”

“But the best thing was when this older guy comes up to us in Canada and says, ‘Boys, I have had a barber shop for forty years, and the last 15 years have been so bad that I was getting close to bankruptcy. Then you guys started your shop and all of a sudden I got these kids coming in asking for haircuts,  and for the first time in 20 years I took my family on holiday.’ And he had tears in his eyes. We don’t realize the impact this little barber shop has. That is the best story I ever heard.”

Leen adds, “That is one of the reasons we are on stage, because we did not want to be on stage (at first). But so many people tell us they are inspired by us, and we are still having fun on stage.”

“And that is why we do it.”

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When I had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan Cullen of Ryan Cullen Hair at his salon in Newry, Northern Ireland, I was thrilled to learn more about his craft. It’s clear that Ryan is a standout in the hair industry; fans and clients alike are always impressed with his talent. But Ryan Cullen isn’t a traditional barber – instead, he’s a men’s hair stylist and he specializes in texture to create impressive looks for his clients’ hair. Just scroll through his Instagram page, and you’ll find photos of his clients’ sporting stylish cuts, inventive dye jobs, and plenty of texture.

 

But like most things in life, success like Ryan has achieved takes time. Before he opened Ryan Cullen Hair and gained a substantial social media following (he has around 63,000 Instagram followers), Ryan worked in a salon that primarily catered to women’s hair. He told me, “I started doing hair when I was 19-years-old, and it was something that I had a passion for. I didn’t solely want to get into women’s hair, I wanted to get into the hair industry, the fashion industry.”

 

Yet Ryan gravitated more towards working with men. At that same salon, Ryan began to slowly build up a clientele with all the men that came in. “Maybe I get on with the men better than the woman,” Ryan says. “Maybe it was the camaraderie with another lad.” Whatever it was, it worked.

 

Now at Ryan Cullen Hair, he has created an environment that is welcoming and similar to a women’s hair salon. I was impressed with the set-up at Ryan Cullen Hair, and how relaxed all of the clients seemed to be. I could tell right away that clients aren’t only visiting Ryan Cullen Hair for the texture or the cut – they’re also coming for the experience. While clients sat in the chairs or the waiting room, they enjoyed tea or coffee; they also experience the luxury of having the stylist take the time to create a unique look. Ryan told me that when he worked at a women’s salon, they would never let a woman leave without her hair looking good; No doubt, that he takes that same philosophy and applies it to his own salon.

 

Because of that upscale feel that Ryan offers his clients, I can see why celebrities and football players would want Ryan to cut and style their hair. When I asked Ryan about some of the household names that he’s worked for, he played it coy. “I’ve received work from some quite big names – from TV stars to footballers,” Ryan says. He credits his ability to work with these high profile individuals to his large following on social media. He jokes, “If anyone else wants to get a haircut, drop me a DM.”

 

It seems to me that Ryan is reaping the benefits of his hard work, but I know that he is going to see more success in his already bright future. When I asked him about future goals, he told me, “It’s quite hard to answer that. I love working hard, and I love doing what I do. I hope the future does hold a lot of things. I guess I’m just going to keep working hard because, so far, it’s worked for me. I’m progressing quite nicely in the industry; I’ve become quite well known. For me, it’s just about keep working hard and keeping your feet in the ground, and looking out for the person that’s sitting in your chair. On the social media front, I’m going to keep doing that and if that keeps progressing in the way that it is, who knows what I might do?”

 

When it comes to social media, Ryan advises professionals in the hair field (or any field, for that matter) to take advantage of the online tools that are available. “Don’t be afraid to put your work out there, and don’t be afraid of the criticism that may follow,” Ryan says. “Don’t be afraid of what people think, and stay positive.”

 

When Ryan first started posting photos of his work on Instagram, he jokes that he did receive a little flak from his friends, but Ryan also recognizes that a huge part of his success and following is due to putting his work out there.

 

It’s inspiring to see how Ryan has used social media to build a fanbase and spread the word about his work. Sometimes it can be easy to fall into a pattern of keeping our work to ourselves because we are afraid of being critiqued. However, if you are going to be successful, you have to find a way to promote your work and be your own advocate. It’s also important to take any negative comments, and find a way to turn them into something positive. Even if people are quick to point out that they don’t like one of your techniques, that doesn’t mean that you quit; that means that you work harder and become better at your craft.

 

But Ryan does have one more solid piece of advice if you plan on promoting your work via social media: buy a solid camera. I couldn’t agree more.

I’ll leave you with those final words of wisdom, and I hope to see more of you sharing your styling skills on my Instagram timeline. All that’s left to say is thank you to Ryan for the interview, and thank you to all of you for reading – come find me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram if you’d like to see more interviews with talented professionals in the industry. If you’d like to see more from Ryan, check out his Instagram.

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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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Danny Robinson started his barbering career with few opportunities – but that’s never kept him down.  He now owns two successful Oldham shops – Danny and Co Barbers – and also holds the Men’s Hairdressing Federation Young Fed title while on the road as European Artistic Ambassador for the Oster clipper company.

Any one of these achievements would land Danny on my list of incredible barbers, but his multi-faceted successes – and his fight to break into the industry – make him a compelling figure I knew I had to meet.

Humble Origins lead to TV

As I always like to start at the beginning, and Danny told me his beginnings were humble indeed.

“I’m from a single-parent background,” Danny says. “My Mum brought me up on her own when she was just 15.”

If you think Danny’s face might be a bit familiar, there is a reason.  The acting bug found him in his humble abode – and bit hard!

“Throughout school, barbering was never something I wanted to do,” he told me. “Instead I went to Manchester and studied at a performing arts school, landed a TV agent and went on to get loads of TV credits on shows like Shameless and Spooks.”

But the lure of the bright lights didn’t last.

“I started to fall out of love with it. It’s a very fickle industry – you can quickly move to the bottom of the pile and find you’re just waiting by the phone for auditions for scrap roles,” he said.

“It was my Mum who pushed me into getting a fall-back job, and she always noticed that I’d enjoyed messing around with my hair, so she suggested barbering.”

Initial foray into Women’s Hair

Danny started working with women’s hair, but it wasn’t the right fit.  “Women were scared to death of someone across from them in a La Coste tracksuit with a pair of scissors!” he laughs.

“The salon pushed me towards the men’s side and I enjoyed it; I found I had things in common with the clients, so it progressed quickly.”

From there Danny began a 5-year journey to find his identity in the industry. “I went from shop to shop, eventually breaking away from Manchester City Centre as you couldn’t make much money in a salaried role,” he told me.   “I worked on a self-employed ‘rent-a-chair’ basis at a local shop in Oldham and stayed there for 5 years learning my trade there. My old boss showed me the ropes, and taught me the business side.”

Breaking into Business

Having steady work at a job he enjoyed might be enough for most people, but not Danny.

“I’ve always had to stand on my own two feet,” he said. “ I think I’ve got a little bit of a reputation in the industry -I say what I think and I don’t hold anything back.  That’s because of my background; I’ve had to learn to fight, to stand out.

“In the end I thought ‘Look, I’ve been working in the same shop for 5 years, lining the owner’s pockets, pretty much running the shop when he’s not there.’ A lot of the clients were coming in for me, and so I realized I could do it myself.”

Gas Explosion Creates an Opportunity

Danny’s search for his own place was made attainable by…a gas explosion.  “(The explosion was ) nearby, blowing up a lot of buildings in the area,” he related to me. “This shop was quite rundown, so I bought it cheap. Renting my chair cost more than running the shop!”

“From there I guess you could say the rest is history: it just rocketed off.”

Danny is always shifting his sights to the next level, and once he had his own shop and excellent barber skills, he began looking at the bigger industry picture, entering competitions and following big names on social media.

A career-defining victory soon came his way: being named one of Men’s Hairdressing Federation’s ‘Young Feds’.  How did it happen?  Danny acting training paid off: he focused on image and presentation.

“I’d figured out that iPhone could only get you so far, so I started putting up pictures using a high-end camera. This meant that, three years ago, my work just popped out because… it looked so professional. Especially at competitions, it got me noticed very quickly. Now it’s the norm, but it wasn’t then.”

Danny’s savvy self-marketing got him the final of the Simon Shaw Search for a Star contest, where he was noticed by Joe Sloan from the Men’s Hairdressing Federation. They eventually met at the Shaw Salon International Competition, which is where I also met Danny for the first time.

“I completely reworked (model) Abdul’s hair (at the competition), doing a completely different look on a different stand, completely mixed it up. Adam and Joe Sloan loved it, like ‘Wow, this is unreal!”’

Once again, Danny’s performance training paid off. “Because I come from an acting background, I could get a crowd going around me. Adam and Joe saw this…and asked me to come down and replicate the cut on camera.”

Two weeks later, Adam and Joe Sloan called to tell Danny one of their four Young Fed winners had to drop out, and they had chosen to award him the position.

He also named the cut he’d created at the International Competition “The Bombay Pompadour,” and it completely blew up on social media.  Danny was on his way.

With doors opening, Danny was soon cutting hair for celebrities such as Craig David, Tinie Tempah, Stomzy, Matt Bellamy from Muse and the international Drum & Bass DJ Wilkinson.

And great things just kept happening.

Stepping Up to the Oster Ambassadorship

Every barber covets the chance to serve as a brand ambassador, and Danny recently became the  European Artistic Ambassador for Oster clippers. He says he fell in love with Oster’s clippers – specifically the Oster ’97 – at an American Crew course:

“American Crew are known for using nothing but Oster ’97 clippers, so I bought a pair and absolutely loved them, thought it was one of the greatest machines I’d ever held,” he recalls.

“I worked them to death, but I didn’t know you had to change the carbon fibre brushes and thought they’d broke!  So, I sent them back over to the distributor,”

Danny met Oster’s Maria Stafford and began sending her pictures of his work and accomplishments, noting he could help Oster in the underserved UK market.

They met again at Pro Hair.

“I did a haircut with a pair of Pro Powers and she asked me to jump on their stand and do a cut,” he said.  Danny began doing shows free of charge “because I believe in the products, and helping Oster bring brand awareness to the UK.”

Oster soon brought Danny on as paid rep.  He loves the products, saying of the Oster ’97  (or ’76 in America):  “The key word is clean – you get clean, clean cuts. It’s your all-in-one clipper, and every barbershop should have one.”

This wouldn’t be a proper Larry the Barber Man interview if I didn’t end by sharing Danny’s advice, and his success lends extra weight to his wise words:

“Always develop yourself – don’t just look at Instagram. A lot of it is smoke and mirrors. Stop looking up to American barbers and look at the great talent we have here in this country.

“Think outside the box. Look at my photography work  –  it’s different to everyone else’s.  Be creative, and be you – every top barber is the best at being themselves, so you need to be you”.

I hope you put these words into practice in your career, and remember:  there is always support, advice and inspiration for barbers at my YouTube channel Barbers.TV, or my @LarrytheBarberMan Instagram profile.

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Kevin Vorley’s Of K Barbers Emporium, Barbering Story

I recently sat with Master craftsman, Kevin Voley, founder of K Barbers Emporium in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex to discuss the success of his brand and how he and his team developed what has become known in the industry as the ‘K Way’ of doing business.

 

Kevin, also a UK ambassador for Andis, is known internationally as an educator/consultant who is able to train people of all abilities, sharing his 25 years’ experience of barbering and his extensive knowledge of the tools, techniques, and methods that not only work but have helped to shape the industry.

 

Starting his working career as a plumber, Kevin saw the opportunity to go into hairdressing during the 90s recession. He had been plumbing for 5 to 6 years before economic pressures meant that he was doing a 3-day week and he felt it time to consider going in another direction.

 

Kevin worked as an apprentice/assistant to Calum Jade in Blackfriars, put himself through night school, and discovered his love for cutting, which he describes as his forte. Inspired, he went on to ‘volunteer’ with Roger Wigmore (inventor of Denman Pro Edge comb), while he finished his hairdressing units – eventually working with Wigmore for over a decade.

 

“It’s been a very very interesting career,” says Kevin, explaining that he never looked back, “amazing actually.”

 

Putting in the effort

 

One of the most important aspects of Kevin’s approach to both business and life is education or self-development and he says that he learned what he did through volunteering and putting the work in. “I think the most important thing for me is the will and desire to self-develop and improve and progress and adapt all the time,” he says,  “That’s what this industry does.”

 

Kevin has been witness to more than 20 years of industry highs and lows and what he describes as the recent massive surge in barbering. Dividing his interests among education, helping people and developing his business has given him a unique perspective and says Kevin, “the developmental part of barbering” is now “incredibly progressive.” He advises that one of the most important things that barbers can do is discover how they learn because individual learning styles have a big impact on personal development.

 

K Barbers Emporium’s Client Focus

 

Having worked for other people, Kevin says that he brought his observations to the development of his shop. K Barbers Emporium is one month shy of being 10 years old and while many shops revolve around the personality of the barber, Kevin says that he wanted to ensure that his business followed in the footsteps of the industry, by being centred around the needs of clients. Describing his perspective as coming from a “left-field angle,” Kevin created a 3-part system that forms part of what has become known as the ‘K Way’ or the way that K Barbers Emporium does business. The 3 focusses are:

 

*Quality – which Kevin says has to produced every single time.

*Consistency – or how to get the same results again and again and again and

*Continuity – an area that Kevin says he takes responsibility for and is about ensuring that everyone in his team is “singing from the same hymn sheet.”

 

Kevin admits that it is a challenge to take barbers from diverse backgrounds and train them to be effective behind a chair at K Barbers Emporium, but he says it is an incredibly rewarding journey. This is because everyone wins, he explains, especially the clients. Services match the clientele and barbers at K’s can handle everything from a baby’s first haircut to meeting the exacting standards of retired barbers. “All the barbers have the quality and armour in their toolkit to approach any haircut and nail it!”

 

K’s has a huge client base, he says, who appreciate the “care, attention, and service quality” they receive, as well as, the little things, like how staff at the shop help them with their coat and say goodbye at the end of the experience. It is the small things Kevin believes that barbers already have control over, that can help the barbering industry to move forward.

 

 

More about the ‘K Way’

 

The way that Kevin and his team approach the business of barbering has earned them a number of awards including one from the British Barbers Association and another from their local newspaper, Echo. Kevin himself has been honoured with the title of Master Craftsman in Barbering.  The fact that most of the awards earned have been for business is one of the things that Kevin is proudest of. K Barbers Emporium has sometimes competed for awards with big businesses in everything from retail to manufacturing and plumbing, and “outgunned” them all. “As a business, I think we have the perfect business model,” Kevin says by way of explanation, “and I am always refining and polishing [it].” Part of that model is the ‘K Way,’ that interestingly was borrowed from the way that other people described the experience of the shop’s service. “We knicked it,” says Kevin, who went on to define what it is as a reproducible system.

 

For me the word SYSTEM is an acronym for “Save Yourself Significant Time, Energy and Money,” and the truth of this becomes apparent in what Kevin has developed.

 

The ‘K Way’ may have 3 legs (quality, consistency, and continuity) but its foundation is structure, says Kevin. “For me, structure starts at the foundations,” he says, “and K Barbers Emporium has an absolute concrete foundation.” According to Kevin, he and his team have put in an incredible amount of time into the development of their structure, which has led to the ability to build their foundation even higher. Many barber shops fail in structure and struggle with discipline in the areas of barbering, themselves and even clients, says Kevin, who also has a consultancy arm to his business that offers other barbering shops the value of his expertise in this area.

 

While structure is the main thing, it is supported by technique and design. “Techniques are extremely important,” says Kevin, explaining that they are what go into the structure of a haircut, while design is about “understanding the geometry and shape of the cut.”  Returning to his commitment to education and qualifications, Kevin says that this is why qualifications matter. They teach discipline he says and provide the basics.

 

 

The Evolution of the Barbering Industry

 

Developing his business alongside his role in the educational team for the Andis clipper company, Kevin says that he has noted the shift from show work’s focus primarily on hairdressing to sharing an equal footing with barbering. He says that barbers are now holding their own and perfecting their skillsets. The strength of the UK team, which includes the likes of MK and Kieron Price, and the opportunity to connect with professionals on stages in places like Florida and New York, has been part of his professional development, says Kevin. He encourages that every barber shop should have a team as diverse as the Andis team.  “Andis has taught me a lot,” he says, “… again it’s win-win. Our knowledge and experience help Andis in developing their tools and increases sales for them. We get exposure and education, and we learn from each other.” Kevin underscores the importance of not only the opportunity to share skills with other masters but also how indispensable it is that all of the barbers have equal respect for each other. This is one area in which Kevin feels that the industry can develop, explaining later that it isn’t uncommon to hear people talk about an absence of “barber love.” Social media has offered barbers who may not be at the same level of their career as Kevin, the opportunity to connect with barbers across the world, share their work and see what others are doing. This makes you want to up your game, says Kevin, and to learn more. However, not everyone uses social media in a supportive way and he says, barbers should use it to show love and respect for their international counterparts rather than be negative.

 

“Learning from each other,” he says, “is key to development.”

 

“Work Hard, Aim High, Be Nice and Stay Humble”

 

My interview with Kevin really highlighted the depth of the knowledge that he had to share and it was incredible that we covered as much as we did in only 30 minutes.

 

One area in which Kevin definitely excels is in brand development and K Barbers Emporium is synonymous not only with quality haircuts, but also professional training, coaching and consultancy, and even its own line of professional products. Only K products are used in the shop and according to Kevin, their sales make up 10-15% of the business bottom line. The most important aspect of K’s product development, however, is that it is used as a business calling card, reflecting the importance of taking a “left field angle’ to all aspects of business including marketing.

 

Apart from his own systems that Kevin so generously shares, he advises that those interested in opening their own barbering business discover their strengths and build their business around it. He suggests deciding on a market and learning everything there is to know about it before taking an unconventional approach to capturing it. Surrounding yourself with other barbers who support your vision is critical, says Kevin, who shares the motto he lives by – “Work Hard, Aim High, Be Nice and Stay Humble.”

 

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