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CT Barber Expo Founder: Jay Majors Rounds Up This Years Event And Introduces The LV Barber Expo

Time to catch up with Jay Majors following the CT Barber Expo 2018. This year’s show was bigger and better than ever before, with better organisation and even more education. So lets hear all about it from the man himself… 

“What stands out more than anything from this particular event was the energy, the love and the passion. I don’t know if you noticed, but there was a younger generation of barbers there: a lot of students and a lot of guys just getting started on the scene. My vendors did phenomenally – I’m really grateful and humbled.” 

I noticed that you had two new stages this year. What was going on there? 

“Education is really important. I started Connecticut Barber Expo as a barber battle, and that was my excuse to get barbers through the door. Barbers are competitive people, and a lot of old school barbers think they don’t need education. I beg to differ – the way that the industry is growing, if you don’t learn you’re getting left behind. So those are there to give free education on the showroom floor. That’s what it’s all about, just cultivating this beautiful brand that I have.” 

Aside from barbering education on the showroom floor, The CT Barber Expo also had a dedicated educational room with 840 seats. This sold out three weeks prior to the show, a testament to just how highly barbers think of the education that’s on offer at Jay’s events. Having a separate educational stage was a great feature, and the structure given to the event made it a really valuable opportunity to barbers. I ask Jay about the overall numbers for the day: 

“We’re still waiting to get counts, but we’re somewhere around 9,000 people in and out throughout the day. I think having Rick Ross there was a big draw. A lot of people wanted to see him, he supports barbers. That was pretty big to have him there.” 

Those big numbers are also part of what makes the show so important for vendors, who can make great profits by attending this show. 

“We had a lot of cosmetologists come out this year. I like to think that my show is a stylist friendly event. The gap between barbering and cosmetology is big. We have BaByliss as one of our main sponsors, and their thing is barberology. That’s the merging of barbering and cosmetology – we’re getting rid of grey hairs, we’re enhancing, and the stylists want to learn how to fade from us. If we grow together, we can learn a lot from one and other.” 

This means that cosmetologists were at the show not just as vendors, but also as attendees who wanted to learn something from the barbers. Jay has found some excellent ways to bring these separate disciplines together, including one of the expo’s highlights – the best of both worlds competition. 

“This was one cosmetologist and one barber competing together on one model. So they had to do some blow-drying or some styling or some pre-colour, and the barbers did the fading and they worked together hand in hand. It was my favourite competition so far.” 

We’ve talked about how well this year’s show went, but I’m already starting to get curious about what could be coming in next year’s show, and whether it’s going to be even bigger and more spectacular. What can you tell us? 

“There’s so much more that I have to improve on as an organiser, but every year it gets better. I always say it takes you three years to learn a venue. This was my third year at this venue: now I know the venue.  

“My biggest thing that makes Connecticut Barber Expo so successful is having it organised before the doors open. And expecting the unexpected: there’s always going to be something that happens, you never know at a live event. So it’s all about being organised.” 

Barbers on the West coast are always asking when they’ll get a barber show of their own. Now I hear that you have something in the pipeline with Jackie Starr – can you tell us more about the Las Vegas Barber Expo?  

“I have a lot of West Coast support and Jackie is a good friend of mine, so I said you know what, let me do something for my West Coast supporters and see where it goes from there. Everything I touch seems to turn to gold thank God – I do everything with passion and I like to think that’s why. Jackie’s a passionate person, so we teamed up and we’re ready to have fun. 

“It’s going to be exactly like a CT Expo, on the West Coast. I don’t think it’ going to be as big the first year or two because it takes some time to grow.” 

But the Las Vegas expo isn’t all that’s new – there are also big plans afoot for next year’s CT show.  

“Next year’s Connecticut Barber Expo will be a two-day event. Saturday night pre-party, Sunday we’re going to do education in the morning themed towards something. That education might be business structure, online booking and maybe fading. Then day two will be shears, styling and more European. Then we’re doing student battles on the Monday.  

“To do a two-day event you need a lot of people there. My numbers were so good this year that I said I could spread it out a little bit. People are flying out to Connecticut, and I just want to keep them one more day and really show them what we do.” 

In closing, tell me some of the practical details about the Las Vegas Expo: when, where and how to buy tickets? 

“It’s going to be on the 30th of September, at Southpoint Casino which is a great family venue with a bowling alley and iMax cinema so definitely a family event. It’s going to be set up just like the CT Expo, so education in the morning, kicking off the battles at 1.30/2 pm. You can buy the tickets at lvbarberexpo.com – competitions, vendors and sponsorships all still available!” 

So a great opportunity to make a day of it with your whole family, and still plenty of time to pick up tickets if you’re keen to get involved. Remember to head to https://www.lvbarberexpo.com/ for more information or to buy your tickets! To keep up to date on all the hottest barbering events, you should also follow me on Instagram and YouTube: just look for LarrytheBarberMan.  

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Barber Connect Russia – Boss, Kristina Shares Her Vision For The 2018 Convention

The founder of Barber Connect Russia, Kristina Murtuzalieva has crashed into the barbering industry in a big way, making her mark with a show that must have exceeded all expectations! I met up with her to find out what she’s got planned for the next convention – but first, let’s hear about the inspiration and motivation behind her first show.

“I think it’s to do with travelling to be honest. Travelling gives you the ideas, the contacts, the inspiration. Before I even opened my first barbershop I travelled a lot, I visited many shows and I had the inspiration to go into a male industry. And that’s how I got the idea of entering the barber industry in Russia – which wasn’t very big at that time.

“To be honest, we didn’t really think our show was so big until I started visiting other shows. And then I realised that it was a little different from everything I’ve seen so far. We had our first barber con last year and some of the barbers were saying Kristina you should be proud of yourself. I just thought I was doing a small thing.”

Russian barbering isn’t something that we often get to discuss on this show, so I’m very keen to find out where Russian barbers get their inspiration from.

“To be honest, before I had my show – 2, 3 months before – I had no idea who the celebrities of the barbering industry were, or what the shows in America were. I didn’t even know the CT Expo existed. I just thought it was my own thing. So, I just picked randomly.”

The expo actually featured 24 barbers from across the world, including Julius Caesar, Donny and Diego. I asked Kristina what influence these international barbers have on the Russian barbers attending the show.

“I have no idea! That’s the thing, I don’t depend on the opinion that anyone has on how the barbering industry in Russia works, who the good or bad barbers are, anything like that. We just do our own thing.”

Some of the more spectacular elements of the Russian con included their decision to collaborate with a custom car convention, as well as performances from some of Russia’s biggest rap stars. Kristina told me more about these special finishing touches.

“There was a custom car convention in Russia, and as soon as they found out that we were doing a show they wanted to take part. They brought retro cars from all over Russia, and some bikes as well, and we had some car races in the convention centre!

“We actually had three, very famous rap stars. One of them was from Black Star label, some of the guys may know from around the world. Two of them were older generation but very popular. So we had them to close the show – two on one day and one on the other day.”

It seems like there’s a lot to live up to, so I have to ask… What’s planned to help make next year just as exciting?

“Next year is going to be very different. We actually have two shows planned – a barber show, and a tattoo show. We have invited 7 world famous tattoo artists from America, from Japan, Spain, Mexico… Some of them have a four-year waiting list. Very, very good.”

 

This should excite quite a lot of barbers, since the two industries have become so integrated in recent years. It’s also a great opportunity for vendors – Kristina tells me that they had around 12,000 barbers attending last year from across the world. This means that you could look forward to a lot of benefits if you decided to exhibit as part of the show.

“First of all, you’ve got quick sales – you can sell as much as you bring with you. Second, if you are a new brand in Russia and you don’t have a distributor then you can easily fin one there. It’s a very good opportunity – one of those events where you can get your product noticed very quickly. We also provide translators for every international vendor that we have. Last year we had people from Indonesia, Mexico, Japan and Spain and we found them interpreters.”

There are also some exciting changes being made in terms of education, with more learning opportunities available.

“Last year, we only had barbers on the main stage. This year we’re doing classes. So, you can see one barber perform on the main stage, and then you could see them, or another barber, in a class which might go on two or three hours.”

This means that there will be even more opportunities So now for the most important details of all: how does a barber get ahead of the game and grab tickets for what’s sure to be a fascinating show?

“There are three options. We have an office in central Moscow; you can come and buy the tickets there. You can find us online on our website, and then obviously Instagram (@barberconmoscow).”

Thank you once again to Kristina, for explaining how she’s made her show that little bit extra special. Don’t forget to check it out online if you think you might be interested in reaching out to the Russian barbering audience, or if you’d like to see one of the most extravagant barbering shows for yourself. To keep up to date with all the latest industry updates, and make sure that you don’t miss out on interviews with great innovators like Kristina, make sure you’re following @LarrytheBarberMan on YouTube and Instagram.

 

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From Desperate Times to Cutting the Stars: Eric Pacinos’ Road to Glory

For many, “Eric Pacinos” is just another way to say “international celebrity barber.”  When Eric is not cutting Nas’ hair at the Cannes Film Festival or trimming up Jay-Z for an album cover shoot in New York, he is promoting his wildly successful line of quality hair products and speaking at hair shows all over the world. He definitely has it goin’ on like no one else in the industry.

So you can imagine how excited I was to get a few minutes with him, one of my biggest goals since I started my interview channel. We met up at Premier Expo in Orlando and Eric did not disappoint. You will want to view the whole interview on  my YouTube, larrythebarberman@barbers.tv

Eric: Started with no food in the fridge, young son

Eric’s life story is more inspiring than most, so I asked him to dive right into it.

He said he started cutting his own hair in his childhood bathroom, then graduated to cutting his friends for a small fee. “I was going to school with money in my pocket, and it felt good,” he told me, “not just because of the money but because I was making my friends look good.  That was the defining point. Always trying to transform all my friends; more than just a haircut.“

Even joining the Navy couldn’t separate Eric from his calling. “I always found myself cutting hair on the ship, and even when I was going out with my friends, I would say “Before we go, let me cut your hair.”  That is when I thought I should go to night school to get my license.”

But post-Navy he was still 500 hours short in his studies and had a young son to care for. The times were desperate. “At that point my son was three, and I had hit rock bottom. I could not find a job, and it was like, ‘Man, my son’s got to eat!’”

“That is when I took barbering seriously,” he continues. “Because I did not want that feeling of being hungry anymore,  that feeling of not seeing my child eat. I know what it feels like to know you have nothing in the refrigerator when you open it up.  I know what it feels like to use the restroom in your own house and not have toilet paper.  I literally would go to McDonald’s and leave with extra napkins. Don’t tell this to McDonald’s, but I did it just to have toilet paper in the house.”

“It was hurtful as a man,” he continues. “ So I think I attribute any success or whatever you call it – I just don’t  feel I am as successful as I could possibly become – but I attribute that to desperation and the necessities of living. I never want to go back to that.”

Eric eventually obtained a license and found work.  For many, that might be the happy end of the story, but Eric found the fire inside was burning hotter than ever. “I knew I wanted more than just being a barber,” he told me.

Sacrifice and persistence to build barbering success

Before we got into Eric’s accomplishments, I wanted to know more about his trials and tribulations coming up. As usual, he was candid.

“One of the biggest was all different types of sacrifice, from working long hours to having a dream and not having people believe it,” he said.

“Not knowing, not being educated was the biggest trail, having no blueprint,” he recalls. “I had to create ways of figuring things out because we didn’t have social media, there was no book about creating a barber shop and creating a product brand. There was nothing.  That was the biggest trial, just not knowing where to start.”  This experience, he said, makes him an eager mentor to other young barbers today.

“Thank God, what has helped me is Google. If it weren’t for Google I wouldn’t have done a lot of things. But you have to do your homework; you have to the studying.”

Eric: Every barber can increase sales by offering products…and a variety of brands

All along, Eric kept his entrepreneurial eyes open. “I created my own brand because a lot of the products we were using weren’t really good, they weren’t for the types of haircuts and hairstyles I  was creating.  I had to combine three or four different products, and I said, ‘Man, if someone would come out with a product that did these three or four things; from the hold to the texture being better, to it not being so diluted.’ I wanted something like a pomade-like matte with no shine finish.”

“I created these products to give my clients the best aids without sending them to a store to buy three or four different products to create that hairstyle.”

Eric strongly believes every shop should sell product. “I can’t emphasize enough: it is one of the easiest sells!  It will increase your sales dramatically,” he told me.

He added: “Once a client’s hair looks good, the first thing they will ask is, ‘What is that you put in my hair?’ If you have it on your shelf, if it is already there, they are going to leave with that. They are going to try to emulate the same style that you just did.”

Providing better customer service and increasing your sales – a no-brainer!

“And a month later they will be back for another haircut and more product. Some of these products cost as much as a haircut – our product is $16. You are selling another haircut by selling product.”

He recommends everyone step up and negotiate with product sales people, varying brands and asking for wholesale prices. “Diversify,” he said. “It’s like when you walk into a sneaker store you don’t just see just Nikes.  Give your client something to choose from. They might just ask you, ‘What is this?’ They might want to try it out ‘Will this work in my hair?’  ‘Sit down let’s try it.’ ‘Oh, yeah! I want this!”  It is that easy.”

Eric has realized enormous success with his high-quality products.

“Right now we have three men’s hair grooming products. One is the matte finish, which is a great hold but has no shine to it, which a lot of people like with the pomade haircuts.

“We have pomade that is a more flexible hold. That one does give some shine.  Then we have a crème; a cream styling wax that is  in between the pomade and the matte and it does have a semi-shine finish.”

We also have a beard oil. We have a beard and face scrub. We have razor bump soother. We got a shampoo and conditioner and a black mask. It is really popular can’t hold it in stock!  Matte finish (is number one), then black mask and the pomade is number three.”

Customer service:  No phone calls, please!

When Eric talks about customer service, he says he focuses on the person in the shop and in the chair. That’s why he doesn’t accept phone calls on the job and prefers online haircut appointments. His favorite app is the grooming-industry-only software booksy.

“I am very old school, and I like to speak to my clients,” he said. “But I’ve  learned I would rather speak to my clients in the chair rather than on the phone, because (on the phone) it’s never ‘Can I get a haircut?’ It’s about, ‘So what are you doing this weekend?’  It is hard to tell somebody ‘Hey, I will talk to you when you’re here.’  So the client doesn’t know better if you are in the middle of a haircut or something.  So you have to respect people’s time.”

Advice from a successful barber: Write it down, learn the craft, fix your weaknesses

Time was running short with Eric, and I wanted to get his advice for young barbers just finding their legs.  From a man who came from ‘borrowing’ McDonald’s napkins to Cutting Nas and JayZ, this is the kind of advice you should take to heart.

First, very practical:  “Write everything down. You will see a long list on my iPhone of things I need to execute. Write it down and do not erase it until it gets done. That is one of the biggest things I have learned.”

“After that do your homework on it, Google it, find out more about it get out there and get it done! Nobody is going to do it for you nobody is going to put in the hours and the work that you are going to put in.

“If you want to be a great barber, do as many cuts as you can do not get intimated by the different textures. That is what happened to me early on and I would mess up some curly haircuts. But I would learn and get better at those haircuts than I was with straight hair. “

Lastly, Eric shares hard-won honesty that will benefit anyone in any profession:  “What you are not good at, work extra hard and get better. That is the biggest difference of somebody who continues to grow. That is how you become complete.  If you are only good at one thing – if you are only good at a #2 and a skin fade, but you’re not good at shears – you are never going to grow. When somebody needs you at a movie set, or when you’re needed to cut a client who is paying top dollar, or might want to take you on tour with them, but you can’t use the shears, your opportunity was there and it’s gone. It’s gone because you did not want to get better at something you know is your weakness.”

With that, we bid farewell, and I got busy sharing this unique moment with you.  Hope you enjoy and find Eric’s words inspiring!  ‘Til next time, happy barbering!

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Instagram:  Want to know what it takes to get to cut Kevin Hart, JayZ,  Nas and other big time stars?  Or have your own hugely  successful line of grooming products? Check my incredible interview with celebrity grooming ace Eric Pacinos, whose story of struggle and success will inspire you to work hard, work smart, and dream big!

 

 

Facebook: My amazing CAN’T MISS interview with all-star men’s grooming icon Eric Pacinos is now online!  VIEW AND SHARE my sit-down in Orlando with one of the biggest stylists on the planet, and learn how Eric went from desperate straits to cutting stars like JayZ and Kevin Hart, all while launching an array of top flight products.  Eric is open and honest with excellent life and business advice for up and comers in men’s grooming. DO NOT miss this!

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Instagram: It’s another Larry the BarberMan VIEW and SHARE special!  Angel Raws has two thriving Florida shops, a clothing line, celebrity clients – and he is talking to me about it all!  Check my latest as I travel to Orlando to meet Angel in this exclusive interview.

Facebook:  VIEW, LEARN and SHARE!  Men’s grooming star Angel Raws has celebrity clients, two successful Florida shops, a case full of awards, his own clothing line, and he is talking to me about it all in my latest exclusive interview. I traveled to Orlando and met up with Angel on his home turf. What he had to say is mesmerizing and inspiring for anyone, but especially barber professiona

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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!

If you would like to try Booksy FREE of 14 days and get 20% discount if you decide it is for you click on the following link http://www.ihave2have.it

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How To Oil Your Hair Clippers For Peak Performance & long Life

Learn what to do as I return to the studio with a new tutorial video!

WHY YOUR CLIPPERS ARE HOT, NOT RUNNING RIGHT AND HAVE DISCOLORED BLADES

My popular Larry the Barberman ‘Tutorial Videos’ are back!  As you know, I have been traveling the globe for months, bringing you interviews with world-famous, very successful barbers – getting their back stories, their takes on the state of our industry, and their hints on building barbering success.  It was immensely educational, and I am loving all the feedback I get from you on these amazingly talented people and their stories.  If you haven’t seen them all, head over to my YouTube @Larrythebarbeman and find the ones you’ve missed!

Nevertheless, I’m happy to be back in the studio, making my hands-on tutorials about the tools of the trade, their care, and proper use.

So, let’s get started!

Today, I am addressing questions I get from clients who say their clippers or trimmers are not working correctly. The clippers seem hot and the blades dull or discolored.  Upon investigation, I‘ve found the culprit: many barbers are not familiar with the proper way to OIL THEIR CLIPPERS!

On my new video @larrythebarberman, I use an Andis T Outliner to demonstrate proper oiling procedures and talk about why they are so important.

Coolant and Disinfectants Are NOT Oil

First, people mistake COOLANTS and DISINFECTANTS for clipper oils.  Let’s be clear right now: These products are NOT oil and do not take the place of oil.  They may contain a drop or two of oil, but they are mostly water, meaning they have a lower viscosity than clipper oil and will not lubricate the blades sufficiently.

I see far too many barbers who, when I ask them to show me the oil they are using, produce the little tube that comes out of the box with brand new clippers!  That tells me immediately they are neglecting basic maintenance. That little tube shouldn’t last more than a few dozen cuts AT MOST since you should be adding two or three drops of oil to your clipper blades after each use.

With improperly lubricated blades rubbing against each other at a rate of 6,000 oscillations a minute, friction will produce tremendous heat, turning the metal black or blue and wearing out the blades much sooner than you expect.  Imagine running your car on just a few spoonsful of oil; the engine would break down in no time!  Many barbers are doing the equivalent with their very valuable clippers and trimmers.

Ironically, clipper oil is much cheaper than coolant or disinfectant, so in addition to misusing those products and possibly shortening the life of your clipper, you may be spending more than you need to!

You must oil clippers regularly, but it only takes a minute or two

After each haircut or every two haircuts at most, take one minute and properly oil your clipper.  Here’s how:

1)    Disinfect your clipper with disinfectant. I suggest you USE TISSUE PAPER instead of a towel to wipe the disinfectant from the blades since you can quickly toss a tissue to the bin, whereas a towel will gather hair, gunk and disinfectant and will need a thorough cleaning before you can use it again.

2)    Clean out the blades.   Any brush will do, but I always USE A TOOTHBRUSH.   After all, blades have teeth, too!  A toothbrush is just the right size and stiffness to get the job done.  I suggest using a PIPE CLEANER get between the blades, pushing out dirt and gunk.

3)    Apply three drops of oil.  With the clipper clean and running, apply one drop of oil at each end and one drop in the middle. Tilt the clipper to and fro to allow the oil to distribute evenly.

DO NOT use a solid, single line of oil across the blades.  That is much too much! Over-oiling will cause hair, oils, gunk, and goo to stick to the blades, making your clipper or trimmer hard to work with and unsanitary.

NOTE: Some people put a drop down the track, and that’s fine, though I don’t think it’s necessary.

4)    Let the clipper run while you wipe it down with tissue. Toss the tissue away and – congratulations!  You have a properly-oiled tool ready to give you thousands of great cuts!

You can see me demonstrate these techniques on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

It feels great to be back in the studio making videos again! I am focused on bringing you a fresh topic, helping you (and your equipment) stay sharp and on top of your game.

Please enjoy, and ‘til next time, happy barbering!

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Master Barber: Matty Conrad, Of Victory Barbers, Shares The Philosophy Behind His Barbering and Brand Success

After listening in on, one of Matty Conrad’s seminars in California, there was no doubt in my mind that I needed to bring his unique take on barbering to all of you guys. He certainly didn’t disappoint, and I’m delighted to be sharing this fascinating interview.

Those of you already familiar with Matty’s work might be surprised to hear that he started out 22 years ago not as a barber, but as a hair stylist:

“Barbering didn’t feel exciting. It didn’t feel like there was a lot of artistry around barbering, and barbershops were in very steep decline. Into the 90s, it was not this place to aspire to. So, I got involved in hairdressing, everything from Toni & Guy to Bumble & Bumble.

“I eventually worked my way up to working on stage and platforms, technical educating and teaching – and I really enjoyed that, I always did. But it really started to lose that personal level and I started to fall out of love with the industry.”

 

Feeling that it was becoming more about the egos than the hair, Matty was feeling disillusioned and even considering changing job all together. But then something happened that made him reflect on his career – and find a new aspect of hair to get excited about:

“Around then my Grandfather passed away. He was an amazing old guy, he was just a terrific Gent, you know. Always well dressed, always had a part in his hair and a shine on his shoes. I remember thinking to myself where did this go? What happened to the old gentleman, the idea that having a sharp look meant showing respect for the people around you.

“That was a thing that was being lost, I felt. And my Grandfather passing away made me thing a lot about that, and a lot about legacy. About: What is it that you want the world to be like? At that point I started becoming obsessed with this idea of these old classic barbershops, the place where a man like that would have gone to be put together.”

From those initial ideas, Matty found a new purpose: he started investigating classic barbering as much as he could, seeking education from old, traditional barbers while also using his technical knowledge to consider how classic barbering could be developed for the modern world.

“Everybody was laughing at me at the time, because everyone had these Justin Bieber mop-top haircuts and I was doing cuts that looked like they belonged on my Grandad. But I just kept doing them: I thought they were cool, I thought there was something about them that really spoke to me on a deeper level. Something that felt like it had pride and dignity attached to it”.

 

Back to the roots of barbering

Matty may have been going against the grain at the time, but it certainly paid off. In fact, it led him to him going it alone and opening his own barbershop. This was Victory Barbers, opened in 2010 in a small town in Canada, Victoria BC.

He tells me that when he first opened up he thought he might have gone a little crazy, following this obsession with classic barbering so far. But it worked – because it had real integrity: it was authentic to who Matty really is. Now, he owns four shops as well as a thriving brand.

“The word original is just rampant in our industry. Truth be told, none of us invented this – it’s thousands of years old; it goes back long before we were here, and it will be here long after we’re gone. We were just fortunate to be at the right place at the right time, and to have any part in this is an honour.”

No surprise that Matty is also sceptical of the idea, spread by some industry professionals, that barbering is some sort of ‘hot new trend’. That said, he finds a lot to love about the modern barbering community:

“I love the brotherhood and the fellowship that it is right now, the way we’re supporting each other and growing, the fact that there’s pride in our industry again. I really hope that sticks around. I want to do everything I can to support that.”

 

A contemporary twist

One way in which Matty supports contemporary barbering is through the educational work that he’s doing. Aside from teaching his students about the technical and visual work, he also considers the psychology that’s involved in being a barber. I asked him to delve into this a little:

“I talk about establishing a mutual level of respect. Because I believe that any interaction comes out of a place of respect. One of the things that we’re trying to do is not just create a visual appeal for a person, but to make them feel something for a haircut. So my approach has never been purely technical because I don’t think that what we do is purely technical.

“You start to recognise that the technical aspect of what we do is maybe only 50% of why a person comes and sits in our chair. It’s also about how we make them feel, and that’s not just what we say to them, sometimes it’s about how we conduct our service. How we establish that level of respect by how we shake their hand, how we look them in the eye, how we make them feel cared for and confident in the fact that we are confident.”

 

In essence, Matty’s hairdressing philosophy is all about integrity, and he reiterates that it’s important for barbers to have more than technical skill: you also need to have the ability to make the client walk out that barbershop door feeling good and confident about his hair. This means that the design of the shop and the way in which you treat your customer are just as important as how well you cut hair.

He has also worked tirelessly to develop a range of barbering products that modern barbers can use to complement their craft:

“I had a lot of opportunities to do what you would call a white label. So all you need is a logo and a design and you walk in and pick the products that they have then package them up as your own. That is not me, it’s not at all what I wanted to do.

“I had some very strong ideas about what I wanted the products to be specifically. I worked with about different chemists before I found one that I thought understood the direction I wanted to go.”

 

This involves making the product as natural as possible whilst also ensuring that it is entirely cruelty free – no testing on animals – and highly functional. One of his favourite products is Superdry, a dry, matte paste which has been designed to feel light in the hair whilst also making the hair very malleable.

“It is the most perfect product that I’ve ever used. It’s my favourite one for myself and I use it a lot on a lot of different things, for creating texture whilst making it feel like there’s not a lot in the hair.”

Developing these products has allowed Matty to recognise the fact that, as much as he loves classic barbering and the traditional barbershop, it’s also important for barbers to keep developing and innovating: “I wanted my products to not speak about our history and where we were – I want them to support that – but I want them to talk about where we’re going.”

I’ve seen this in Matty’s own work: the cut that he completed when I watched him had natural shine and glow, yet with movement and sculpture. He tells me that it’s all about creating a haircut that a client can then easily style himself when he gets home.

 

Spreading the good word

If you’re curious about Matty’s work, or the products that he’s created, then you should check out some of his videos: he has been producing a lot of content to help barbers who are interested in doing things the Matty Conrad way. This has involved taking part in a project raising money to help send kids to barber school and keep pushing the industry forward, as well as creating what he calls “farm to table” videos, which focus on showing the full story of a haircut from preparation to then creating imagery once the cut is complete. He has also been creating step-by-step instructional videos to help barbers looking to learn new skills.

“I’m happy to share those things. I want to see our whole industry grow together. Being able to share all those little details with people forces you to be creative in the future as well and push your own limitations. It also allows other people to grow in areas where perhaps they need to. Like I said, you can’t just be good at cutting hair any more: you need something else if you really want to succeed.”

This counts for professional barbers as well as beginners. Matty receives a lot of messages from people who want to be where he is, educating others – and he points out that in order to be an educator you need something to teach. It’s not simply about getting up on stage and showing off; you have to be passing something on to others.

 

There’s a lot to digest, and I’m sure that you’ll agree that Matty offers a refreshing approach to what it means to be a barber. Ultimately, his message is that it’s all about making people feel good and creating confidence:

“Because confidence is what people find sexy, not appearance. The appearance of confidence is what we’re attracted to. So if we’re able to leverage both of those things together it will affect your outward appearance. If we’re truly giving that to people, then we’re doing our job as barbers.”

Don’t forget to take a look at the Victory Barbers website to find more about the work that’s they’re doing; you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube as @LarrytheBarberMan. You’ll find more interviews with great barbers from across the world, as well as plenty of educational tips to help you hone your barbering skills.

 

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HELP!!! Two Barbers On A Mission To Raise: Money And Awareness, For Children With Eye Cancer…

Mike Taylor and Alison Scattergood on their very personal fight against a rare disease

 

When I met up with Alison Scattergood at Salon International in October, I was very moved by her story of losing an eye to retinoblastoma – a rare childhood cancer  – before going on to become a pioneering icon in barbering.  I was shocked that this extremely rare disease – there are only 50 cases a year reported in the UK –  had coincidentally affected a great friend of hers and fellow barbering legend Mike Taylor, founder of the British Barbers’ Association.   Mike’s 2-year old daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma earlier this year, and is undergoing treatment.

I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to put both Mike and Alison in the Takara Belmont interview chairs to talk about this sad coincidence, and they told me of a tiny, dedicated charity working to raise awareness of the disease, and of a massive awareness event Alison and Mike are planning for next May’s Barber UK in Birmingham. I was on board right away!

A MAJOR PLEA to Industry Influencers

But first, A MAJOR PLEA to all the INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS:  BARBERS and HAIRDRESSERS are needed to sign up as soon as possible for the Alison and Mike’s Barber UK event at Birmingham!  They need to plan and print promotional materials about who’s coming and they NEED YOUR SUPPORT!  Barber UK has offered them two massive stages, one for barbers and one for hairdressers, so they need artists and stars to help out by appearing. Won’t you do your part, too?   These two industry stalwarts need your support, so contact them and volunteer today!

Ok, on to the details of the story!

“I was diagnosed at 6 weeks and my left eye was removed surgically when I was ten weeks old,” Alison told me. For years she kept the condition private, but as she got to know the people at the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust charity, or CHECT, in London, she decided to be more forthcoming about it.

“I realized the mission is awareness and I could help,” she said.  “My story went massive on Facebook and I got so much response from families, even in America, who had children suffering from the same thing.”

“But I had never known anyone affected by it personally until Mike.”

“My daughter, she is only two, and obviously your world falls apart when you hear the news,” Mike said of daughter Alice’s diagnosis earlier this year. “You never figure it will happen that your child has cancer. Then I found out Alison was an ambassador for CHECT, and she has been so much help to my wife and me.”

“The chances are millions and millions to one that you would get two people who know each other that well, both affected by this incredibly rare disease,” Mike said.

“I was really shocked because we live just miles apart,” Alison recalls. “I was gobsmacked, really. But soon we started talking about getting Mike involved and helping CHECT.”

 

CHECT: a small charity with an important message

Alison calls CHECT a “tiny” charity that is chronically underfunded, though it has been working hard to raise awareness in the UK for 30 years. “The disease is just so rare,” she says. “CHECT can sometimes be overshadowed by bigger causes.”

“And being a guy, you want to do what you can to fix the (cancer) situation, but you can’t fix it,” Mike chimed in. “But one thing I have the power to do is to help CHECT, because it is a very small charity.”

Next May’s event in Birmingham will help raise awareness, which is crucial even among doctors.  The disease easily slips by medical professionals who often have no experience with rare childhood eye cancers.

“Alice was checked quite a few times by doctors and even a specialist and they never even saw it,” Mike told me.  “The eye specialist who found it told me it was the second one he had ever seen in his whole career. Most doctors will never see one in their entire career.”

In fact, Mike said he and his wife as well as nursery workers noticed little Alice squinting regularly, but doctors were not initially concerned.

He recalls:  “We knew it was a massive problem when my wife said, ‘Alice can’t see out of one eye, I am sure of it.’ So we played pirate with her and when we put the patch over the good eye, she started walking into walls. She was blind. And that was when we knew, ‘This is not a squint. Our daughter is blind in one eye.’”

Helping Mike and Alison make the 2018 Barber UK stage shows a SUCCESS!

The pair have arranged for two massive stages at Birmingham NEC during Barber UK on May 20 and 21, 2018, one for barbering and one for hair. The goal is to get as many big-name hairdressers and barbers to come and do shows, attracting good-sized crowds who want to see their work.  “Everyone is welcome,” Mike says. “We want to get as many brands on board to shout from the rooftops about CHECT and this type of cancer.”

The pair plan on-site raffles with brand support, “smaller ones leading up to a big-brand main prize,” Mike says.

“It’s such a fantastic venue, huge place, it’s such an opportunity we’ve been given and we need the help of our friends in the business to make it a big success,” Alison said.

 

They are working out fresh ideas to market the event and promote awareness. One such is asking barbers and hairdressers to wear an eye patch on the job to spark conversation during CHECT week, which coincides with Barber UK 2018.  “We’re open,” Mike says. “Perhaps you can get something started in your town or shop, or contribute a ideas.”

 Retinoblastoma signs and symptoms

So what should parents and doctors be looking for?

“A squint is one of the symptoms,” Alison said. “If you look at a picture with a flash, sometime the pupils will look white. That it is not always retinoblastoma, but that is one of the symptoms.”

“Also in certain light the pupil can look translucent, like a cat’s eye,” she said.

Retinoblastoma symptoms can also include the following, though these symptoms can easily be caused by conditions other than cancer:

  • A different color in each iris (the colored part of the eye)
  • Eyes do not appear to be looking in the same direction
  • Redness or swelling of the eye

“It needs to be caught early,” Alison added, emphasizing the need for awareness. “It has a massive survival rate but if you don’t catch it in time, it can obviously lead to being fatal.”

As for little Alice, Mike says after her diagnosis in March she began chemotherapy, which is finishing up now. “She has a 50-50 chance of keeping her eye, though she has already lost sight in it,” he said.

“What Alison has done with her career is such a good example for Alice and others,” Mike said. “I can tell my daughter this is not the end of the line. She will go on to fulfill her dreams.”

You can help fulfill the dream of a hugely successful Barber UK CHECT event by getting on board early and contacting Alison or Mike today.  Mike is easy to find through miketayloreducation.com and Alison recommends contacting her through East Durham College, where she is a well-known lecturer.

It’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us in the industry to rally round two of our well-known people and support their fantastic cause: raising awareness of childhood eye cancers and promoting early detection.

Let’s make it happen and ‘til next time, happy barbering!

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Booksy’s Stefan Batory is Boosting Barbers’ Business, Easing Their Stress and Changing Their Lives. Not bad for a Late-Night Long-Distance Runner!

Barbers are over the world are getting to know Booksy, the mobile app that’s changing the business and, according to CEO and co-founder Stefan Batory, improving the professional and personal lives of business owners, independent contractors, and shop employees.

I’ve encountered many successful barbers who swear by Booksy, so I jumped at the chance to meet with Stefan at the Booksy home office in Poland recently.

Fascinating fact: Booksy would not be happening at all if Stefan wasn’t a late night long-distance runner.

Because of his business schedule, Stefan told me his running work outs happen late at night, “sometimes even after midnight.”

“If I feel something is not OK, that I need physiotherapy, it is too late to call for an appointment, and the therapist is not returning text messages at that hour,” he explained. “Often, he would have something available first thing in the morning, but I had no way of knowing that. So,  I missed out on seeing him and he missing out on filling that early appointment.”

“Even when I called during work hours, a therapist works with his hands, and it is not possible to answer the phone, respond to texts or keep up on emails in real time.”

“It seemed to me there must be a solution for this.”

The Booksy idea was born.

In the simplest terms, Booksy is a mobile app that allows clients to book their own appointments on their smart phones at any time in a matter of moments.  For the customer, that’s maximum convenience.  For the barber, it means no more dealing with missed phone calls, late text responses or lost emails. The Booksy monthly subscription model is also much simpler for barbers than paying a percentage of sales, as some booking apps require.

It all means a huge reduction in barber stress and hassle, Stefan says, and a big boost to the bottom line.

“If a client cancels a few hours or even an hour before the appointment, someone can book that last minute availability through the app.  Barbers tell me before using Booksy they had empty chairs on Friday and Saturday, even if they were super successful. They just could not keep up with the phone calls and the text messages. But the second they started using Booksy, that stopped being a problem.  People could change their times and dates and book appointment themselves.”

For customers, no more waiting for a barber to get back. For the barber, no more time spent chasing down all those messages.

“So we not only took the stress out of their lives but the fill rate became much higher because people could check in on their phones at the last minute and say, ‘Oh, he is available in 20 minutes,’ and book it.”

Success has followed this simple yet groundbreaking idea.  Booksy has more than 5,000 clients and has raised millions in capital markets to continue to develop and expand.

Their growing client base means Booksy has amassed original usage data that reveals previously unknown insights all barbers should be aware of.

For example, using the million-plus  appointments made using Booksy each month,  “we noticed 60% of appointments come outside of working hours, which proves people like to book appointments at night or super early,” Stefan says.” That changes business dramatically because, before Booksy, they were unable to make those appointments.”

“We also have the data to prove that people who switch to self-booking with Booksy increase the frequency of their visits by as much as 10 to 30 percent. The client who used to call you 8 or ten times a year now comes twelve or fourteen times a year. This is great because everyone knows it is much easier and cheaper to give your current clients better service than to acquire new clients.”

“What surprised us was that before Booksy, barbers not only missed out on business but also got hurt by cancellations or reschedules because they could not respond quickly.  So barbers would stay in their shops and wait for clients who never showed up. Booksy solves that, too. It’s easy for clients to cancel, it shows up on your calendar immediately, and it opens up a slot for someone else. The barber never has to get involved.”

Another unique feature is the merchant-facing software, which among other things keeps track of point of sale, which helps when calculating commissions and making other personnel and marketing decisions.

I was curious why Stefan chose to focus on barbers. He assured me Booksy was working with hair stylists, therapists, personal trainers, even doctors, and dentists, but there was indeed something about barbering that made us an attractive industry.

“Barbers work with their hands,” he told me.  “Anyone who works with their hands understands that it’s impossible to answer the phone, keep up with emails or respond to texts.”

“More barbers still use pen and paper whereas hair salons have been using management software for years, not necessarily for appointments but for back-office management.  It’s more difficult for them to switch over to Booksy.”

“We designed Booksy as a mobile-first app, and because we knew barbers making appointments manually don’t usually have computers in the shop, they were the perfect niche for the service.”

I shared with Stefan stories I have heard from barbers all over who love Booksy’s popularity with customers and its capability to remove stress from a barber’s daily work life. I had even met a barber who told me that until Booksy came along, he was ready to leave the business due to the stress of customer management.

‘People say it is magic,” he laughs. “They tell me, ‘I don’t do anything, and Booksy does the job, booking clients, handling cancellations and reschedulings, communicates with my clients. I can focus on barbering.’”

“We get messages all the time about this, how Booksy is not only about revenue, but we are helping change lifestyles.”

“One of the best stories I heard was a barber in the US who wrote, ‘Thank you, Booksy, for helping me to have a healthier lifestyle. Before Booksy, I had a lunch break but never had time to eat because I had to reply to emails and messages and phone calls. But now, I have 30 minutes to relax and enjoy lunch.”

“Many barbers are very artistic,” he adds, “They are doing administrative work not because they love it but just because they have to.  Part of what I love about Booksy is we are taking stuff that is not directly involved with their passion and doing it for them. Their life is easier and their work more enjoyable. They can focus on what they do best.”

That’s a real life changer!

Booksy is constantly developing, but Stefan says they are careful not to complicate the app, since ease of use is one of the keys to its popularity. “Of our 5,000 cents, almost all of them set it up themselves, and it took just two or three minutes,” he says proudly.

We will all need to stay tuned because, though is isn’t quite ready to reveal details, Stefan is close to announcing major partnerships with large internet service companies and social media giants that will make Booksy even more attractive to barbers and clients alike.

On behalf of barbers everywhere, I say “Keep on running, Stefan!”

I enjoyed our visit, and I am grateful for the time this very busy man found for me. I think this information is beneficial to all my followers and I hope you will give it serious thought and SHARE my blog or video with your friends. Perhaps it can change your life, too.

Til next time, Happy Barbering!

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Barber: Alan Beak Of Ruger’s Talks About His Meteoric Rise

 

Ruger’s Alan Beak: Enjoy the Boom and Be Nicer to Each Other!

When I caught up with Alan Beak at Barber Connect Telford, he was just 20 minutes from his stage show and a bit rueful about it. ‘There was never a special path I wanted to follow,” he told me, “I never intended to go down a ‘celebrity following’ route. We wanted to keep it varied: the TV work, multiple shows, traveling, doing education. We are just put 100 percent in the moment. Life’s too short for bad coffee and bad haircuts.”

In case you don’t know, the ‘we’ Alan refers to is not only his brother and fellow Manchester native Reece, with whom he opened Ruger Barber just 15 months ago. He also means the rest of his team, Danielle Corbett, Ellie Rogers, Carlie Firth and Aiden Smith, who he mentions often and are a big part of the rather sudden international fame of the Ruger brand.

It’s clear to me the brothers’ killer social media posts featuring unique photography have helped propel them to the heights they enjoy today. It has been a few years since I interviewed Alan, and I wanted to know how he developed those skills.

“Social media is the key factor,” he says firmly. “It is your personal platform to get your work out there.” Social media is part of personal and professional development, something Alan adds to his education work along with theory, demonstrations and hands-on. “Putting all these things together is the recipe.”

He has done his homework in the technical aspects of his incredible camera work. “You need the right tools, the right knowledge, and the right photography,” he says.

 

 ‘Good barbers, trustworthy barbers, are really hard to find’

“A lot of people are deterred by the camera (due to cost).  I get asked about this a lot, and I don’t keep it secret. My cameras are Canon 600D – that’s 400 pounds.  Quite expensive, but you can get it on eBay now for 120. It’s the 50mm lens that gives us the signature look we have. It has the shallow depth of field, focuses on the head, and everything else is blurred out. It exaggerates the haircut. So the 50 mm is the one, and you can get them for about 70 pounds.”

As the Ruger brand began its meteoric rise, people often asked about opening another shop, but Alan was skeptical. “Good barbers, trustworthy barbers, are really hard to find,” he said. “So instead of finding a location, we thought we should look for the right person (to work with us).  And we came across this young woman, Carlie. Her attitude was amazing, and she cut hair great.   She’s fit in the mold with our team, and it just kind of fell into place.” Carlie is Carlie Firth, who I noticed right away, since she was already doing dynamic stage shows at Barber Connect. Talk about fitting fit in!

With the right crew in place, Alan was ready to expand. The new shop in Lytham started with a business partner in Preston. “He said Lytham would be agood spot for us,” Alan recalls. “We went out there one night, and all the bars were open, we got drinks and something to eat, and they all have these bi-folding doors, everyone was outside, and we were sold!”

 

Months later, after “getting my soft barber hands into bits lugging axes and crowbars, pretending to be a builder,” the Lytham shop opened to booming business.

 

 “Get used to your hairdryer”

Alan is a highly attuned business operator whose philosophy every barber should study. He was typically decisive in launching his product line: “We said we wanted or own product; it is as simple as that. And we’ve done it.”  Ruger Essentials is the main item, “the best product we have ever used and ever will use,” Alan calls it in his (admittedly biased) view.

He hasn’t let expansion, social media success and international attention pull Ruger away from their fundamental Italian strength. Alan says the service and atmosphere identified with Italian barbering “will always be our foundation, but we amalgamate our skills with Afro-Caribbean, fading, lady’s hairdressing with extensive styling. We are becoming a hybrid barber; using the Italian as our base.”

He had a take for today’s barbers that was a little surprising: “Get used to your hairdryer.”

“Styling is 33 percent of what you are producing,” he told me. “Everyone wants to do clipper work; everyone wants to fade well; go to America; watch the American videos; everyone wants to learn more scissors techniques. So yes, obviously, clipper and scissor work. But get used to the hairdryer. Use it in both hands, use it in different products, be able to style hair. Hair is very easily manipulated with chemicals, but also with heat.

“Get used to using your hairdryer very well.”

 

“Seeds are Planted all over the World Every Day”

I found Alan to be fired up when offering thoughts on the state of the industry. First, we’ll cover what he loves.

“There is so much networking going on,” he says immediately with a smile. “People on the outside don’t realize how strangely lovely and incestuous it is. Everybody knows everybody.”

It wasn’t always that way. “I remember being told never to fraternize with the enemy, and the enemy was anyone not in your shop.” Now that’s over and the international flavor of men’s grooming is exciting for everyone, he says. “I had a student who was in Malaysia and wanted to have a look at haircuts there,  and when he said he had worked under us for a while, they took him right in!”

A trip to Barber Connect NYC also made an impact, he said, in particular seeing a multi-racial photo shoot called Council Estate Couture by  Kevin Luchman inspired Alan to get into photography, and hanging with people like Luke Guldan and Miguel helped him realize the importance of accessibility.

“Seeds are planted all over the world every day,” he told me. “Plant a seed and year later you can elaborate on that relationship. It doesn’t come all at once…patience, is what I want to say.”  But meeting people and over time, building relationships with the likes of Jamilla Paul and Chris Foster helped Alan’s personal and professional growth.

So, what does this major influencer think needs changing for the better in our industry?

The “bad attitudes,” Alan says.

 

“They know full well they couldn’t stand having that done to them”

“You see people criticizing work, so fast to jump in and say something negative, but then they don’t post pictures of their own work, or refuse to because they know full well they couldn’t stand having that done to them.” Alan’s teaching experience shows him kindness is best. “I can say, ‘You have done so well, but let’s pick on something so you can continue to progress.’

“We are in an industry that is booming and we should be a family. We should work together,” he adds. “If you are going to say something it should be positive, not putting someone down and making feel bad about their work.,

Alan is also on about criticism of people who post edited work, which he calls unfair. “I know people edit pictures, and I don’t give a shit because it looks good. I know they edited something out, but (so what?)”

“Look, we are all human,” he said. “Not everything has to be 100 percent perfect. I have seen people’s work online and then seen them work in front of me, and I can tell there is a difference, but I like to see that because that person is only human.”

 

“Always go with your gut instinct.”

His advice to all: post your work and don’t wait for perfection. “We are all human, we all make mistakes. Whether it’s a small flaw, post your work!  Get your work out there. Don’t pick out the flaw; pick out the good bits in it.”

What final thoughts does this incredibly focused and busy traveler (he lists off where barbering has taken him and his crew – “Shanghai, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, and soon to Barcelona and Moscow”) want to share with my audience?

 

“Always go with our gut instinct,” he said. “Don’t copy other people. I mean, you are never the first person to do something, but take one thing from this person and one thing from another, and just by taking as much as you can from everyone else, you can decide what is going to suit you and make you original.”

“Again, planting seeds. Plant a seed, build a relationship,” he urges. “Instagram is there for that. Instagram is not about how many followers you have. It is about the relationships you build. So speak to someone, leave a nice comment, send a message.”

He condemns how cliquey barbers can be, and sometimes difficult to get to know, so he recommends confidence.  “Even if you are not confident, tell people that. You can say, “I’m not very confident, but I’d like to meet you.” You may shit yourself at first, but then you will be all right!”

With those words I had to let Alan go, off to another rousingly successful stage show.  My thanks to him, and be sure to catch the entire interview on my YouTube at LarryTheBarberMan.  Follow me Instagram @larrythebarberman and I look forward to being friends on Facebook.

I know I will be working harder to follow Alan’s example! Let’s agree to plant seeds, build relationships and be good to one another. Til next time, happy barbering!

 

 

 

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