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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

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Scottish Barber Colin Petrie of Hard Grind: Creative, Energetic, Expanding…

Did he Mention his 4-day Dundee-to-London Barbers’ Motorcycle Charity Run coming up July 22?

When I caught up with Colin Petrie at Barber Connect Telford we briefly reminisced about the last time we’d met two years ago, before diving into his crazy busy, creative barbering life at Hard Grind.

“We had two barbers,” says the Scottish entrepreneur, whose Hard Grind shops in Aberdeen and Dundee are home to custom design apparel, good coffee, and first class men’s styling. “Since then, we’ve snowballed. We have upwards of 14 or 15 barbers now. We have warehouses and stock people. Massive!”

Colin says this with an appealing blend of pride, wonder and weariness. “It’s hard, it’s tough,” he says, but you sense he isn’t complaining, just being real. ”Work life balance is something we preach massively but I’m one of the worst at it,” he says with a laugh.

But the barber from Dundee with the business that’s attracting customers and barbers from everywhere with a mix of great service, unique combination of products and savvy marketing has something else on his mind right now: motorcycles.  He launches the ‘Harley and Haircuts’ Barbers Ride July 22, a four-day excursion from Dundee to London that benefits London’s Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital.

“It started about a year a year ago with  Luka from Luka’s Barbers and Ryan from SD Barbers – bike enthusiasts and barbers talking about doing a charity run,” he told me. “It has grown into this monster I can barely comprehend!  Then Xavier from Reuzel in the UK and Richie from Captain Fawcett (got involved).”

Enthusiasts of any motorcycle make are welcome, Colin emphasizes, not just Harley riders. The launch event is July 22 at Hard Grind in Dundee. Following a (no doubt extensive) after party and an overnight, wheels hit pavement July 23.

“We will be stopping to do barber seminars, and we will keep it intimate, focused on education,” he told me.  No big stage shows. He wants to attract eager-to-learn barbers who can get value from the events.  “But we’ll obviously be drinking a bunch of beers and high tailing it to London, so our bums will be sore.” The event will assist not only the Children’s Hospital; Colin adds the Lions Barber Collective for the prevention of suicide is also involved.

Tickets for the seminars are £25, “and you will get a £25 baggie of goodies from our sponsors,” he said.

The ticket for the full four-day ride is £250. “You also get a £250 goodie bag from our sponsors and entry to parties and events.”

“There are ‘giving pages’ for those who don’t ride,” he added. “Go to barbersride.com to find out all about it.”

So, besides running two shops that feature a line of your own apparel and organizing an island-spanning motorcycle ride for charity, are you keeping busy?

Colin’s answer shows the business savvy so many barbers can learn from. “We took our foot off of the gas (after the Aberdeen shop opened) to make sure we were running as we should,” he tells me.  “You can push too hard and too quickly and oversaturate something, and we made sure that didn’t happen.  We needed to hold on to the crux of what we want to do.”

And now?  “Things are running smoothly again to the point we can open up another few shops by the end of this year.”

Another clue to success is Colin’s appreciation for his staff, his willingness to share the human and business side with everyone at Hard Grind.  “Just incredible,” he says of Hard Grind employees. “We got guys on the stage today (at Barber Connect), guys getting in publications, which is fantastic. They all moved here from Wales, from Ireland – we have a girl from Melbourne in Australia, Larissa. It baffles my mind people want to move away to work under the Hard Grind brand. It has been incredible and crazy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

I was curious about Colin’s approach to social media, since his brand is so talked about (his Instagram has shot up from 8,500 two years ago to 43,000+ today).

How has he done it?

“We are not afraid to show our personality, which is what people like,” he said.  “It’s not just haircut, haircut, haircut. There are stupid videos of us, just shop life.  We hang out outside of work, a lot of us are dads, we take our kids, we all get together as a family.”

“If you build something honest people will relate to that. Sometimes it is personal things. Sometimes it is inspirational.  It’s whatever it is, and it seems to resonate.”

“We also show the stresses, the dark side of the business.  Not just, ‘everything looks great on Instagram.’  There are hard times, so we portray all of it and that is why people respond.” But as far as strategy, “there is no rhyme or reason.”

The emphasis on reality is built into the Hard Grind name.  “We were the first to make coffee in a shop and you grind coffee beans, so it was a play on words, but it’s really about the actual grind.”

“Anyone who cuts hair knows it is not as glamorous as Instagram makes it look,” Colin said. “You’re on your feet, you are cutting back to back, and you rarely take a break. It is a grind every day. So the name is a nod to people who go out there every day, not just barbers. If want to get somewhere you have to grind really hard, so it seemed like a great play on words for us.”

I came away convinced that barbers everywhere can take a tip from Colin’s energy and willingness to try products, ideas and sponsorships in creative combinations.  Hard Grind has an experimental, even a “crazy” vibe (as Colin says) that people find irresistible.

Right now, he’s working with Brew Dog brewery and pub.  How many barbers are doing that?

“We’ve got beer taps going in all the shops, like a full-on bar with kegs,” he says.  At last! Beer and haircuts!  “We are working on our own ale as well. I love the idea of telling people ‘beers are in the fridge, help yourself,’ and pulling pints of our own special brew.”

I am seeing now how Colin very intelligently sets himself apart from the competition.  But there is even more: a reciprocal commitment to his partners. Smart business!

“It’s not, ‘Give us free beer so we can give it to our customers.’ That is not what I am about,” he says emphatically. ”I don’t sit here and ask for handouts and do nothing for you. With Brew Dog we are at their AGM every year with free haircuts and talking up the company.  I want to do things for them. We go to the Rock Star factory and do a big popup and free haircuts for the staff.”

“Almost of the brands have more followers than the shops, anyway. So it’s, ‘What can I do for you?’  That’s how it works,” he smiles.  This attitude has paid off in partnerships with the likes of The Bluebeard’s Revenge, Sailor Jerry, SB, Dickies, Luc Belaire, the aforementioned Brew Dog and Rock Star, Reuzel, Captain Fawcett, the list goes on.

The man never stops running. He’s branched out to custom products (“We’ve got our own beard oils, salt sprays, all made with custom scents”) and he is growing his apparel line (“We take a lot of time on design and the quality. I don’t put out something out I wouldn’t wear myself”) and now – why not? – he is launching a blog, the Daily Grind.  I’ve read it and I have three words for striving barbers everywhere: check it out.

Colin is keen on using the blog to talk about business. “In this age of people wanting to do their own business, it is important to show the true madness that comes with it, the sleepless nights. It’s something I love to do, but I want to paint both sides of it.”

So while on the subject, what is his nutshell advice to struggling barbers trying to build success? Colin’s observations are so extensive and worthwhile, it’s best I list them for easy reference.

  • “The best thing to have is a business partner,” not just to share the financial load but someone as emotionally invested as you are.
  • “I like people second guessing me. If I can persuade them that I am working on the right thing, (that improves my judgment). Trying to do it on your own, you spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself.”
  • Don’t mimic others. Think about how you can put your face on something unique to you.
  • Soak up all of it! Come to the shows. “Education is massive thing.”
  • Have patience. “People don’t want to do two years of training or to build things steadily. It’s a long game, not a short game. Don’t expect overnight success and don’t expect there will be no hurdles. “
  • Understand business basics. “Some think having a barber shop is, ‘I’ll put a man in a chair and that’s it.’ But you don’t know about taxes and VATs and all the stresses, all the struggles, like losing accounts because you are cutting all day. Who is going to answer your emails when you are busy?  Who is going to take care of your paper work?  It is a minefield.”
  • You don’t have to take classes, “but look at Google, look on websites. There is plenty of information out there that can help you. Download stuff not just about barbering but about business.”

As we bid farewell, Colin had a few parting words I want to share with you, since they sum up Hard Grind and Colin so well:  “I feel lucky because I’m not trying to be anything. I’m just being me, one big dysfunctional Hard Grind family, it just kind of works.  There is no trick.”

Thanks, Colin!  A lot of food for thought there.  Hope you look forward to my next interview as much as I do!  Stay tuned and til next time, happy barbering!

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Barber: Rob The Original Shares His Barberbing Story

We often talk about barbering as a craft and an art-form, and that’s never more true that with Rob the Original, a barber who combines his artistic vision with incredible clippering skills to create hair designs that pack a real punch. I’ve been following Rob’s work for a while now and he’s been high on my hit-list of interviewees. Well, we were both at the International Beauty Show in New York last weekend, so I took the opportunity to tear him away from the BaByliss stand and find out his story.

First thing’s first – as with every barber that I speak to, I wanted to know what led Rob into his barbering career in the first place. A huge number of barbers that I speak to found their way into the profession almost by accident, and Rob’s seems to have had a similar experience:

“When I was 16 years old, I first picked up the clippers and started cutting my own hair. My parents didn’t have the money to get our hair cut often, and those very short buzz cuts were in style and I wanted to have one. Later on, when I turned 20 I first got introduced to the barber world. I walked into a barbershop for a haircut and walked out with a job. I was helping out in the shop and I started picking up skills, so I went to barber college and got my license.”

That’s really only the beginning of Rob’s journey, though, as once he started working in the barbershop back in 2006 he discovered that he had a real talent for creating hair designs, creating logos, patterns and just about anything else that his clients could think of. Clients and barbers alike loved to see his work, and when his friend suggested that they started creating YouTube videos showcasing Rob in action he found that there was a huge audience out there interested in watching him create new designs.

From here, he began getting talent spotted by everyone from the owner of BaByliss, who saw Rob’s work and decided that they needed to get him onto their team, to TV producers who invited him to appear on programmes such as the Queen Latifah Show: “I think that a lot of TV producers find me interesting because I do artwork that is random, you don’t see it very often and it catches the attention. That’s why I’ve been shared by a lot of big pages, and my following has grown. The world cup was a big step for me because I was doing artwork on haircuts of the soccer players, so I was doing interviews with people from different countries. I also recently did a last supper haircut, and that one went viral too and gave me a lot of exposure.”

Rob’s creative drive has also seen him move beyond hair, creating artworks with just about any material that comes to hand.  This includes sand art and brush carvings, as well as more unusual mediums such as food and even the dust that builds up on windows. The idea is to show that great art can be created with “basically anything”, since Rob “sees art everywhere”.

The results are always incredible, so it’s no surprise that Rob has had his work picked up by so many different people – including Instagram themselves, who asked to interview him and shared his work. As I mentioned, this has included a relationship with the big-name brand BaByliss, a company that Rob tells me have looked after him every step of the way.

Of course, anything worth doing is worth fighting for, and Rob has at times had to battle his way past people who haven’t necessarily had his best interests at heart. However, he tells me that separating the people who really cared about him from those who wanted to take advantage of his hard work helped propel him forwards, ultimately inspiring him to open his own shop where he could do things the right way.

There’s little within the barbering and styling industry that Rob hasn’t experienced, so I’m sure you’re eager to hear what advice he has to offer. There are two key points here: the first being to “follow your passion”, to find what you love and keep doing it! His second suggestion is to make use of social media, and Instagram in particular, to keep your audience interested: “Using social media helped me very much, you’ve got to stay very active, constantly be posting and make sure that you keep putting out new artwork, new material. People want to see new things.”

Check out the full interview to hear everything that Rob the Original has to say, or head to robtheoriginal.com to see more of his work and get in touch with him if you’re interested in purchasing any of his custom clipper artwork. I’d also love to see you over at my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages, where there are plenty more interviews coming your way in the very near future!

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Famos: Trims Chink The Barber – While Chink Shares His Story

Impromptu interviews with the great people I meet on my travels are always some of my favourites, so getting a chance to set up a last-minute chat with Andrew – better known as ‘Chink the Barber’ – while he was in England for the Great British Barber Bash was a real treat. Chink is known for the work that he does at Saint Barbershop with his good friend Famos, and he’s got some great stories to share, so let’s get stuck in!

It’s fair to say that Chink is a reasonably unusual choice of barbering alias, so I wondered where it came from: it’s actually something that Andrew used to hear at school from kids who would make fun of him. After getting into some criminal circles and realising that he needed to adopt a nickname, he decided to reclaim the name, and it’s stuck with him throughout his barbering career.

It was actually this slip into criminal activity and drug dealing that led Chink into barbering, as he realised that he needed to do something differently and make a positive change: “I got arrested and hit rock bottom, I was a drug addict, I made no money anymore. Then Scott – Famos – was cutting my hair and I would stick around, taking an interest in how he was doing hair tattoos. I used to do graffiti so there was a similarity there. Then one day he was putting a Famous Stars & Straps logo in a cut and got me to help him out, then let me try out straight blading on the next guy and it was really cool. So, the very next day I went to hair school and got myself a qualification.”

No doubt, then that Famos has been a huge influence on Chink, and Saint is the third barbershop that they’ve worked at together. However, their relationship has evolved, not only into a great friendship but also a working partnership where they can teach one and other new skills, share information and critique each other’s work.

The first shop that saw Famos and Chink working as partners in crime was the wonderful Notorious. Chink tells me all about his work there: “one of the reasons that I worked there was because I was addicted to drugs; they treated me good and I beat my addiction. The money was good, we went from having 4-6 clients each day to having people just buzzing around us.” From what I’ve seen, Notorious seems to be as much a lifestyle hotspot as it is a barbering destination, and Chink confirms that this is the case; it’s a shop with a unique atmosphere.

The same, though, can also be said for Saint, which is a one-of-a-kind barbershop that brings together a great band of barbers. It’s a little different to a lot of other similar shops, as Chink tells me: “Here I control my own clientele, there are more responsibilities and it’s different, but it’s nicer. I can do what I want now”. Famos adds that “everywhere I’ve worked did commission, and I wanted to make it easier for the barbers. When barbers pay chair rent it’s just easier for everyone, and the barbers make more money.” As Chink adds, the one caveat to that is that if you’re going for chair rent rather than commission or a salary, you need to have a strong customer base that will keep you busy!

It seems to me that Chink has been reaping the rewards of all the hard work that he put into becoming a barber: this trip to England for the Great British Barber Bash was his first stage performance, and it’s a great opportunity that shows the respect that his work has been earning him. It was great to have International barbers over for the event, and these boys brought a whole new vibe to the atmosphere that was great to experience.

Of course, it wasn’t without a little bit of stage fright – and I wondered how Chink got over his nerves and took to the stage: “There were definite nerves, a little bit of gut rot, but it was good man, I started cutting away and then the butterflies just started going away. I’m not saying a lot of people were there to see me, but it was nice having people there watching me and taking photos – I’ve collected a lot of Instagram and it was a blessing. Once you’re up there you have no choice so you just do it.”

It’s inspiring to see another positive story where barbering has changed somebody’s life; as Chink says, it has brought him to England and given him the chance to work with great people like Darren Jones, and to meet inspiring barbers like Alan and Reece Beak. I’m also glad to hear that Chink takes inspiration from these British barbers. In fact, when I ask him what one change he’d like to see in the industry, he heaps praise on British barbering: “I’d like to see more British style barbering in America and Canada. The softer, textured haircuts that are longer-lasting and grow out well”.

Chink has been picking up more and more traction and he even has a new hoodie coming out, not only branded with his personal barbering brand, but featuring a wonderful graffiti style portrait of Chink himself, created by one of Saint’s regulars. With this in mind, I wonder where he sees himself in five years: “To be honest the last thing I want to do is own a barbershop – I see the stress that Scott goes through. I’m always going to cut hair though, I have no retirement plan. No barber does, I’ll just be cutting hair!”

Before letting Chink go, there’s just one more thing I have to know: how does he manage to smash out so many great haircuts, sometimes as many as 22 in a day? Perhaps unsurprisingly it all comes down to the Oster ’76 (or the ’97 for UK barbers). “One word of advice to all barbers, get the Oster ’76 or ’97. I’ve never regretted having one”.

I’ll leave you with those final words of clippering wisdom! All that’s left to say is thankyou to Chink for agreeing to a last minute interview, to Famos for joining us, and to all of you for reading this and hopefully learning something – come find me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook if you want to be the first to see even more great barbering interviews.

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Famos: Barbering King Pin Shares his Secret To Success

I hope some of you were able to tune into my first ever live Instagram interview, which was broadcast directly from the Nomad Barbershop in London to your Instagram feeds! The interviewee was none other than the wonderful Canadian barber Scott Ramos aka Famos, here in England for the Great British British Barber Bash. If you missed the live broadcast, then you can still catch the whole interview right here – so get comfy and enjoy the wisdom of a particularly talented barber.

It’s easy to think of Famos as a Rockstar of barbering: he has a huge following, and gets a lot of positive attention from fans and other barbers alike. I wanted to know how he got to this point, but ever the humble barber Famos tells me “I have no idea man, it’s still extremely overwhelming to me. But to answer your question, I think it’s just being myself – ever since I first picked up my clippers at 12 years old.”

Scott has also picked up some impressive friends and connections within the barbering world, a testament to his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. In particular, he considers himself to be extremely lucky to have worked with the wonderful Eric Pacino, and tells me all about the inspiration Pacino has brought him and how they first met:

“If I was a musician, I would have a certain drummer or guitar or singer that I would follow, listen to all their music, read about them, do research. So as a barber I was always looking for somebody I could follow, see what tools they used – I found a couple of guys on YouTube, but Eric really stood out for me. I downloaded Pacino’s app I was watching his videos and really learning about different techniques and clippers, and from the success of his App he did a tour. I took a week off work to go and see him with money from commission on product sales that I hadn’t even realised I’d earned. I met him, shook hands, and then and there realised the power of social media. It was eye-opening”.

Famos’ Path into Barbering

Now, some of the stories I’ve heard about Famos before he found barbering cast him as something of a bad boy, but speaking to him face to face it seems more the case that he was a resourceful youngster willing to do whatever it took to get by:

“I didn’t come from a rich family, but always appreciated nice things – so I would steal things like clothes and sell them to get money for clothes of my own and food. This is also when I started cutting hair, trading haircuts for money and food”.

While it may have started as a way to make money at the school yard, it quickly turned into something that Scott had a clear passion and aptitude for, so he joined a hair styling programme at a local college. Unfortunately, while it’s become increasingly common for men to study on hair styling courses, at the time he was the only guy in the class – and found that students on other courses would make fun of him, to the point that he dropped out. Luckily for the rest of us, his family was able to convince him to head back and finish the course: the rest is history.

After getting his training, Scott worked in a range of shops for a number of years, before finally deciding to set up his own shop last September, Saints: “I think I could have opened my own shop a long time ago, but I go with my gut – I had so many opportunities, but when I moved back home after travelling the world, that’s when it started to come together. The shop just represents me, and I’m glad to have my big brother their beside me as well as an excellent team.”

Doing Battle

Recently, British barbers have been jumping on board the barbering battle trend, something that’s been going on in America for quite a while now. Like a lot of top professional barbers, Famos has certainly been involved with barber battles; as I already mentioned, he came across to the UK for the Great British Barber Bash, and also has plenty of experience with the big US battles:

“It’s scary. The first time I ever competed it was in a hair styling competition, all women, high fashion – a lot of bright colours. It wasn’t really my thing. I did a fade on the model with a rose design, and I could hear that the judges didn’t like it. I didn’t place so it was quite discouraging. Then while in Montreal I started networking, and booked last minute for a barber battle with Exotics in Miami. I didn’t know you were supposed to sign up online, so I turned up ready for the combover category and it was full. There was an opening in the duplicate category, but I managed to trade with another barber for the fast fade category: 15 minutes to do the best haircut. I was the last one to finish, but in 15 minutes got the model’s really long hair down, blow dry, did some styling… and ended up winning the fastest fade with the lowest time.”

For me, this is undoubtedly one of Famos’ most inspirational stories: the fact that he just took a chance, threw caution to the wind and made it work. It really goes to show that as a barber, and really in any walk of life, you just have to seize whatever opportunities you can and do everything to get the best from them.

Carving His Mark

Barber battles aside, there’s a lot more to Famos’ work, including the invention of the 4AM fade, a style that he was responsible for creating. As with any creative art, Famos tells me that the best ideas draw on inspiration from elsewhere – in this case, from the exaggerated edge parts that Filipino barbers popularised a while back. Scott started working with this basic idea, coming up with his own three line design and using another popular barber, Julius, as his model.

He tells me that one of the best things about the 4AM fade is that it’s not just a cool design, it also has a story behind it, and went on to lead to another great friendship with Diego, a barber who won a contest for creating the best 4AM fade and then went on to tour with Famos.

Scott has also made his mark in another way: with a fantastic logo designed to be simple and instantly recognisable. Taking the form as a pair of scissors positioned to form the letters S.R. – Scott’s initials – he started using it as the design for branded pins, positioning them in photoshoots to ensure his brand was visible. This is something that has really taken off among other barbers since Famos popularised it!

Fantastic Advice for the Next Generation

Before I let Famos get back to enjoying his time in London, I wanted to find out what he wants next in his career, and any advice he has for the hungry up-and-coming barbers out there. Having already achieved so much professionally, he turns to personal life when looking at future success: ““I just want a little Famos man, I want to marry, I want a family.”

I have no doubt that he’ll achieve whatever he sets his mind to, and his advice to younger barbers is an absolute testament to that: “Put in long hours, practice, practice, practice, appreciate life, be grateful. Don’t complain, and if you find yourself complaining work harder. If people make fun of you, work harder. Always try to be different, be inspired, reach out, connect. Save up. Fly places, travel, shake hands. Brand yourself, make business cards… eat Nandos chicken. Always try to believe in yourself”.

Follow these words of advice and you really can’t go far wrong! If you want to find out more about Scott’s work and the brand he has created then I highly recommend checking out his website, www.wearesaint.com, where you can also pick up some fantastic branded clothing and help support the work Scott’s doing. For more of my work, head over to YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, where you can find more interviews as well as some helpful barbering tutorial videos: I hope to see you there!

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Turn Your Andis U S Pro Li Into a Mean Fading Machine Quick & Easy

My latest tutorial is all about getting more from the Andis USProLi clipper. In general, this is already a great tool with a great battery life and really good cutting power – however I’ve heard from some barbers who’ve found that the bevelled blade isn’t giving them what they need. While bevelled blades are quite versatile and can be very forgiving depending on your cutting style, it is less ideal if you do a lot of fading and, in particular, won’t take out the balding line for a skin fade. So, what can you do to make this clipper work for you?

My recommendation is changing the blade, fitting the ‘66255’ surgical blade that’s used for the gold US Fade clipper. The key difference between the two is that, where the bevelled blade has a 45degree angle, the surgical blade is completely flat which allows you to take out the balding line. It also makes it easier to do a 90degree angle – and also makes it somewhat similar to the Wahl Magic Clip tool.

All you’ll need is a Phillips screwdriver: the first step is to take out the two screws at the top. I recommend working using a matt or towel underneath the clipper, as this will help you keep the screws safe. Once you’ve taken the blade off, start by replacing the blade mount, with the flat side facing away from you and the grooves lined up with the clipper’s spindle and wires. Then position the cutting blade on top, making sure that there’s a small gap between the blade mount and the cutting blade. Finally, replace the fixed blade: apply some pressure to it so that it springs down, and replace the screws.

It’s important not to zero gap the clipper at this stage; instead, secure the screws tightly to fix the blade in place, and then loosen them again – but only very slightly. At this point you can zero gap your tool, making sure that the distance from the left and right is equal, and leaving a gap of around 5 strands of hair between the cutting blade and the fixed blade – otherwise you’ll end up cutting your clients! Finally, you need to tighten the screws up, very gently at first and then, once it’s secure, apply some more pressure.

This will give you more range, excellent 90degree angles, and allow you to knock out those balding lines. Just remember to keep your bevelled blade safe, so that if you’re not getting along with surgical blade you can always change it back! If you found this post helpful then please don’t forget to like and subscribe on my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and make sure you don’t miss out on any upcoming barbering tricks.

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Smith Hair Studios, Barbershop – Team Talk With Larry The Barberman

I rarely have this many people for one interview, but when you’re dealing with a group like Smith’s Hair Studio you have to get as many people from the team involved as possible. That’s because their whole operation is based around bouncing off each other, supporting one and other – and as they share their story with me, the chemistry is absolutely incredible, with energy flowing from one member of the team to the next.
So, I’m here with Atila, Ev, Nathan, Nathanial and Kat to get a sense of what makes them tick, and to inspire all the other barbers out there with such clear passion for the craft.
Of course, while team spirit is one important part of Smith’s Hair Studio, they’re all talented barbers and hairdressers in their own right, with individual stories about first getting started. For Atila, Ev, and Nathan the stories all start similarly – cutting their own hair and giving their friends trims and shape-ups as they developed their skills. Atila tells me learned different styles by working at different barbershops before joining Smith’s Hair Studio, while for Ev it was case of wanting an artistic skill that would also be practical for everyday life. He adds that “Mum said listen mate, there’s too many people in the house, you’ve gotta go to a barbershop”, and so the journey with Smith’s Hair Studio began.
Nathan’s self-start in barbering had a lot to do with the talented MK, who I’m sure many people reading this are familiar with. On the one hand, MK’s reputation and success was a huge influence for Nathan, and on the other his prices meant that Nathan wanted to try and do it for himself!
For Nathaniel and Kat, the journey to Smith’s Hair Studio was slightly different. After losing his job, Nathanial decided he didn’t want to work for someone else again, and instead wanted to learn a trade. After renting a spot at a local barbershop his passion grew, and he turned to the internet to educate himself using barbering videos. At the same time, Kat was finding her love of hairdressing was waning; after working in a salon for four years she was getting bored of never being able to do the haircuts that she enjoyed. Luckily, Nathan’s persistence got her on board with the Smith’s team, and now it seems like she wouldn’t dream of doing anything else!
These guys really have burst onto the scene over the past year, suddenly making their presence felt at barbering shows. Apparently, this is all down to Atila, who convinced them to head to Champ’s Barber Battle. He tells me: “It was fantastic, it was different, we met a lot of people there (…) saw so many different things, it was an eye-opener so we knew we had to start going to shows and learning more”. While there, they’ve picked up everything from new hair styles to branding ideas, and it’s become a core part of how they come up with new ideas and connect with other barbers.
Ev adds that it’s difficult to imagine them not benefiting from this experience: “We were always going to end up going to the shows, only because we understand that whatever you’re passionate about, it’s good for you to meet people that share the same passion and have a similar craft”. The others seem to feel the same: as Nathan says, it’s good for the whole team and the customers too. I’m also pleased to hear that they’re finding these barbering events useful on a barbering level, and Nathanial discusses how he has felt “a personal transition from somebody who thinks on a shallow scale to being somebody who think on a deeper scale” simply by meeting other barbers who have inspiring ideas or work ethics.
Rather than specialising in a particular style, they consider their speciality to be the customer service that they offer, treating everybody the same, getting each client seated on time and offering an excellent haircut – no matter what the style is. It also goes a little deeper than this, as they see hoe their work can be really important for the younger clients that, as Atila says, might need advice to help them avoid going down the wrong path. From this, his motto of “saving lives, one cut at a time” has emerged, and it’s wonderful to see a barbering and hairdressing group be such an integral part of the community. Kat adds that “cutting hair is the easiest part of the job. You’ve also got to work out what the clients want from you – a quiet haircut or plenty of banter”.
Watch the whole video and you’ll hear loads more about their ethos, their skills and what they love about the barbering industry right now. I’m going to leave you with the one thing that they each see as the secret of their group’s success…
Kat: “Bonding outside of the shop”.
Nathanial: “Determination”.
Nathan: “Positivity”.
Ev: “Creativity – how to solve a problem”.
Atila: “Being self-motivated. How to master your craft and attack it”.
And finally, their biggest inspiration which, as a team, they all agree is MK – the barber who not only inspired Nathan to get into the trade in the first place and go on to set up the studio, but who has continued to spark ideas off for the whole team. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for this gang in upcoming events, I’m expecting to see great things from them! In the meantime, head over to my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages and hit those subscribe and follow buttons to make sure you don’t miss out on any great content.


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