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STOP!!! Barbershop Diseases, Trichologist Explains All Part. 1

Stop barbershop infections – top tips from trichologist Tracey Walker

No barber wants to see a client receive bad service, and that includes health and hygiene as well as quality cuts. Of course, in the busy environment of a working shop it can be easy to let standards slip. That’s why I invited former hairdresser and trichologist Tracey Walker to share some information and advice that will help you keep your shop safe and clean.

But first thing’s first… what exactly does a trichologist do?

“Trichologists diagnoses and treat hair loss and scalp disorders. We are almost a specialised type of dermatologist, but we only deal with the scalp and hair. We’re not medically qualified, but we are medically trained in the areas where we need to be.”

So, this means that trichologists can help with scalp and hair issues or conditions. Tracey is also part of the Institute of Trichologists, set up by doctors, hairdressers and scientists to help build awareness and offer training. What better person to have in the interview chair?

 

Common conditions to look out for

Tracey kicked things off by telling me about the most common conditions that might affect clients after a visit to the barbershop:

  • Bacterial infections in general, and specifically impetigo. This is highly contagious, and often seen around the mouth or on the upper lip – so particularly relevant when a client comes in for a shave. Look for symptoms that are “almost like a crusting of the skin”.This happens when bacteria in the nose drips down onto the upper lip and becomes pathogenic. It may just look like regular dry skin, and could be passed on by a barber not washing their hands or sanitising tools.
  • Fungal infections. These are particularly common in children, and easy to spread from person to person, either on your tools or on your hands. One common fungal infection is ringworm, which my just look like a patch of dry scaly skin on the scalp and is easily misdiagnosed as flaky skin or dandruff. Tracey points out that it is “easily transferred from person to person on tools such as brushes.
  • Folliculitis. This is particularly common in young black men, as it is caused by the way in which afro hair regrows after a very short haircut. Unlike the other conditions, this isn’t contagious, however it certainly can affect people visiting the barbershop:“We do see it a lot when people have had very short haircuts, or had their heads shaved. What happens there is that when the hair is shaved, and it goes slightly lower than the scalp’s surface, then when it grows is starts to bend up and scratches or tickles the scalp. It’s very itchy, so the client can start scratching and cause secondary infection.”So how could you safeguard against this? “Avoid any scratching, or excess scratching to the scalp. So keep the scalp healthy, use the right shampoo for the scalp type. If the scalp is itchy then there are lotions that can calm it. And if someone comes in suffering from folliculitis and they have quite a short hair cut then encourage people to grow their hair a little longer”.

As always, then, prevention is the best cure! Tracey also points out that the scalp is just like the rest of your skin – so, for instance, if it’s dry then you’ll need to moisturise it.

I decided to follow up by getting Tracey’s take on some specific barbershop scenarios, and she certainly didn’t disappoint. So, without further ado, here is some in depth info to help you keep clients safe in specific situations.

 

Scenario one: A guy with long hair comes into your barbershop for a quick trim. You put the cloak on him and then spray his hair damp. Water starts to drip down the guy’s neck and collect at the collar.

“This may not cause an immediate problem if the person is healthy, but what we have to keep in mind is that somebody’s susceptibility to infection will increase if there are open wounds. So, for example, if somebody has eczema that affects the back of the neck, or psoriasis, then bacterial infection will get into those open wounds, and that’s what we call a secondary infection.”

This could also affect very old or very young clients, or people on medications such as immunosuppressants. Not cleaning the gown could also increase risk.

Tracey recommends: Use a necktie, or work with one use, disposable gowns.

 

Scenario two: A client comes in for a skin fade. You get them settled in the chair and then set to work… down with the brush, up with the clipper, down with the brush, up with the clipper and so on.

Tracey’s first thought is that brushing the hair vigorously is rarely a good thing – it causes so much damage, both to the hair itself and the scalp. “Once the skin is abrased, and the top layer of the skin is taken off, then bacteria and fungus can actually get into the skin, and get down to the deeper layer”. This can cause the types of infection that we discussed before, especially if things aren’t cleaned properly.

Tracey recommends: Proper sanitisation! “It’s alright to have a barbicide jar, but what I’ve seen is that after using a comb people will just put it straight in. That’s no good, you have to clean it first. Putting it in water is not going to remove that oil and dirt. You have to clean it first with a detergent, then rinse it, then put it in the barbicide jar with fresh barbicide”.

 

Scenario three: You’re giving a client a hot towel shave, using a towel that was cleaned in a domestic washing machine and a blade that was used on a previous client. You’re also using a barber brush that was rinsed with hot water.

  • Many of the issues we’ve discussed would apply here – such as bacterial or fungal infections being passed on via the equipment.
  • If the towel has been boil washed then that will offer good protection, but a standard wash cycle won’t sterilise equipment.
  • Water on its own isn’t sufficient. Equipment needs to be washed with detergent and, ideally, sterilised too. You can sterilise the brush by dipping just the bristles in barbicide. It’s also fine to use Milton sterilising fluid, which is commonly used for sterilising baby equipment, especially if you want something slightly gentler.

 

So many useful tips packed into this interview! Mostly, though, it all comes down to keeping things clean – and that means washing your hands properly as well as sterilising tools. Look out for part two of this interview, where I’ll share some more quickfire tips from Tracey, and hopefully give you all the information you need to put the tips you’ve read here into action.

Follow me as Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube to make sure you don’t miss what’s sure to be one of the most important interviews of the year.

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STOP!!! Barbershop Diseases, Trichologist Explains All Part 2

Quickfire hygiene tips from trichologist Tracey Walker

 

Hopefully you’ve already checked out part. 1 of my interview with former hairdresser and trichologist Tracey Walker. If not, I’d recommend taking a look, as Tracey gives some fascinating insights into the possible infections that can be picked up at a barbershop… as well as genuinely useful information for avoiding them.

Now, though, it’s on to part two, and I wanted to ask Tracey’s opinion on some specific barbershop issues that have been on my mind.

 

First up: does she think it’s a good idea to use gloves instead of washing hands between cuts?

“I don’t really. There are situations where gloves should be used, but if you’re sitting down for a haircut and somebody comes along all gloved up then you might sit there and wonder what they’re going to do to you!

“Also, I think it’s important that we do touch people’s heads. If there’s the smallest bump or abrasion we may miss it – wearing gloves, you don’t always feel what’s happening.”

This could also make you too complacent about washing hands in general: not a good thing for a barber. Finally, if somebody was infected to the point that you felt you had to use gloves then you shouldn’t cut their hair at all, as you may move the infection around”.

 

Next up, I asked whether the dusting brush can be an area of concern.

The main issue here would be head lice. Specifically, if you draw headlice out with a comb and then leave the comb next to a dusting brush, then they may migrate to the bristles. The best thing to do is to avoid cutting the hair of anybody who has lice – and if a brush does pick up lice then just get rid of it!

 

What does a trichologist like Tracey think about industry regulation?

“It’s a difficult one. I think it would be important to try and regulate the industry, and even have inspections. In hair salons the chemicals that are used are so strong, and the blades, the clippers, all the electrical equipment – you have to be trained in these areas”.

 

Finally, then, what is Tracey’s overall advice to barbershop owners?

“First of all, hairdressers and barbers in my experience are people who care about people. They want to make them look good, give them the latest style, make them feel good. And I feel like looking after your client, you not only give them the best cut you can, but you’ve got to look after their health as well. You have to keep in mind what can happen.

“So just simple little things like remembering to wash your hands between each client – we don’t know what they have, and they may not have anything, but it’s just good practice. And to wash them properly, and to dry them as well.

“Have a couple of barbicide jars, and give your comb a good wash with some detergent – it doesn’t need to be time consuming. So just two simple things there: washing your hands, and making sure that equipment is actually put in the barbicide jar, clean, would go a long way towards making sure that you’re looking after your client in the best possible way.”

A big thank you to Tracey for providing so much useful information – I genuinely think that these tips could make or break a barber shop so definitely put it into practice! And don’t forget to come and find me as instagram, Facebook and YouTube, as that’s where you’ll find more great interviews with industry experts.

 

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Irish Barber: Leah Cassidy Shares Her philosophy To Barbering Success

Leah Hayden Cassidy (find her on Instagram as Hayden_Cassidy) is an Irish barber working out of Berlin. After just three years cutting hair she’s done so much that it’s difficult to know how best to describe her. Suffice to say that her barbershop work has covered everything from fades to shaves to afro cuts, while she’s also claimed victory in barber battles, taken to the stage and appeared in magazines. It was a real pleasure to have her in the interview chair.

 

The path less travelled

When you first meet Leah, it’s immediately clear that she’s not somebody who would be satisfied resting on her laurels. It’s no surprise that she took a path less travelled into barbering, teaching herself the trade after her original dream – becoming a footballer – fell apart thanks to a bad leg injury:

“I had to rethink basically my whole life. It was hard at the start – I had numerous jobs including being a dance instructor. I also did bar jobs… any job, you name it.” After this, she fell into barbering by accident, when Conor Taaffe decided to let her give it a go and liked what he saw. “He said listen, you can hold the clippers well, as soon as they were in your hand it was comfortable. Did you enjoy it? I did enjoy it, so I decided to take it from there.”

Armed with just a basic set of clippers, Leah started her new career by cutting hair whenever she could find the time. The journey took her to Ryan Cullen’s salon, where she swept the floor whilst watching Ryan and Conor work and falling in love with the industry more by the second. Her initiation came as Conor handed her a first pair of scissors, and she hasn’t looked back:

“I found that same passion and love which I’d found in football and didn’t think I was going to find again. I became addicted to the industry.”

 

Talking her way to the top

While there’s no doubting Leah’s talent, she also started out with a lot of bravado – blagging her first barbershop role:

“I went in and said I’ve been cutting hair for a while, will you give me a chance. He said ‘I tell you what, come in on New Year’s Eve and you can have a trial.’ Looking back now I don’t even know how I got through it. I was just cutting hair and talking to clients as if I’d been in the industry for 5 years. At the end he just laughed and said ‘it’s obvious you haven’t been doing this a while but I’ll give you a chance and take you on as a junior barber.’”

Despite being back at the beginning in terms of a career, Leah was finally doing something that she lived again. She stayed in her first job for 6 months – and you can still see the early cuts preserved for posterity on her Instagram page. Eventually, she moved on to Demon barbershop, another Dublin barbershop, and a chance to take things to the next level.

There was still plenty of opportunity to learn and grow, though, and Leah started to get itchy feet. This took her to a new challenge in a completely different country, after Miguel invited her to join him at the Nomad Barber in Berlin:

“He’s amazing. He was one of the first barbers I actually followed online. I watched all his videos, and they helped me to learn. I was amazed by him, still to this day he’s a very inspiring barber to me. He contacted me and said he was setting up this shop in Berlin and asked if I was interested. I knew this was the direction that I needed to take with my career – two weeks later I jumped on a plane and started working in the Nomad.

“It took me into a whole other world I remember the first time I sat in the shop, it was my first day. Miguel was in the middle of a shave and I was in awe. It was actually like the blade was attached to his hand. It brought a little fire into me.”

Long term Larry the Barber Man followers will have certainly seen Miguel interviewed here in the past – if you have then you’ll know just how inspiring he can be. After speaking to Leah, though, it’s also no surprise to hear that she eventually started getting itchy for another new challenge:

“I was there a year and I felt like I had done what I set out to do. I wasn’t ready to leave Berlin, but I felt I was just too comfortable in what I was doing. I wanted to get myself out there and learn something else. A client I had who is a barber in England told me that he’d been to the London barber school, and then he’d done a hairdressing course, then worked at a Turkish barbershop for a while, then an Afro barbershop for a while and so on. Then he opened up his own shop. It got into my head, that’s the way to do it: throw yourself in the deep.”

This took her to Ebony and Ivory, a big salon in Berlin specialising in afro hair: “There was such a buzz. If you’ve seen the movie barbershop then you’ll know, it’s a proper community.” Yet again there was a little bit of blagging involved, as Leah bigged up her minimal Afro experience to make sure she could land an incredible learning opportunity.

 

Taking to the stage

It’s a testament to Leah’s skill and work ethos that she managed to excel in this afro cutting environment without much prior experience – not least because it’s incredibly difficult to cut afro hair if you don’t have the technique. Not content to simply cut well, though, Leah took to the stage of an underground Berlin club to participate in a barber battle. No prize for guessing what happened next:

“I was up there with 3 other barbers. I only knew a handful of people, I was the only female barber there and these were all afro barbers. I could see everyone sort of thinking… who is this? But it was great going into that environment, I just went up there, got on stage and cut this drunk guy’s hair. I had 20 minutes, and I did the haircut. Then it was the crowd that chose the winner – whoever got the most screams won. They left me until last, and I swear I have never heard my name screamed that much!”

But Leah is no stranger to getting up on stage, as she’s also done educational displays and performances at a number of different events:

“My first show was actually at the Great British Barber Bash. Alan Beak was sort of pushing to get me up there, which was great because I didn’t believe much in myself at the time – I’d only been cutting for about a year. It was amazing, but nerve-wracking as well. I think my hands shook for the whole 45 minutes. I am quite used to talking to a crowd, it doesn’t bother me. That show was semi-successful, and I was asked to do more and more – London, Glasgow again, Amsterdam, Ireland. It’s so nice to get on stage and vibe with other barbers”.

Paying it forwards

We’ve talked a lot about Leah’s skills and experience – it’s also important to point out just how friendly and welcoming she is. This comes across in her barbering philosophy, which is all about giving something back:

“Whatever you gain yourself, give it back out. I’m currently in the process of making YouTube tutorials. I’m flying back tomorrow and going to start filming – I just want to create a tutorial that’s a little bit creative. I’m self-taught, so I always say: how I do things, it’s not right and it’s not wrong. It’s just the way I do it.” You’ll be able to find these videos under the name Hayden Cassidy Hair.

So after three very different years in barbering, what has been Leah’s favourite challenge?

“What I’m doing now. Seeing a whole different type of hair and community. It’s just challenged me so much more, taking it to the next level. But in the future, I might try and step back into hairdressing a little more.”

We also talked briefly about the challenges of being a female barber – although Leah prefers to think of herself simply as a barber. “I’ve never used it as an excuse, but there are challenges. I never really noticed it in Ireland or the UK, but in Germany there have been more issues with clients who say things like ‘you don’t have a beard, how are you going to cut mine?’ But that’s fine – get out of my chair and I’ll cut the next person. Basically, a barber is a barber. Don’t put too much attention on it.”

Finally, I wanted to find out which figures have inspired Leah’s barbering journey, and get some words of wisdom for others who might be just starting theirs. Conor Taaffe, Jay Murray, the Beak brothers and Kevin Luchmun are the lucky barbers are all namechecked as big sources of inspiration – an impressive array of barbers who have all brought their own creative spin to the industry.

When it comes to Leah’s own advice, she says: “it’s not all about social media. Take yourself back to the barbershop and realise that your clients are the people that are there for you. Gain as much knowledge as you can. I don’t think you’ll ever know enough in this industry. Keep sharing knowledge the that you’re receiving, and just step back from the bigger picture and focus on you, that chair and your client.”

 

Wonderful advice from a wonderful barber. Don’t forget to follow me on YouTube if you want to see more – and, as always, I’m on Instagram and Facebook as Larry the Barber Man, posting regular updates that keen barbers shouldn’t want to miss.

 

http://www.larrythebarberman.com

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Barberian Barbershop Owner & Rockstar Adam Darski Of Behemoth Band Talks Barbering

It has been a crazy five years for Nergal, (Adam Darski) front man for extreme metal band Behemoth. In addition to releasing a tenth studio album, the much-acclaimed The Satanist, in 2014, the hard-rocking performance artist, singer, and guitarist completed successful bone marrow transplant treatments for leukemia, diagnosed in 2011.

The same year The Satanist was released, Adam somehow fell in love with the barbering lifestyle and decided to invest, opening a shop he named Barberian in his native Poland. Today, Barberian shops are thriving at three locations, two in Warsaw and one in Adam’s hometown of Gdansk. Adam tells me a fourth is on its way in Warsaw later this year.

When I was in Poland recently to interview Stefan Batory, the CEO of the crazy popular online booking app BOOKSY, Stefan recommended Adam as an enthusiastic client. I definitely wanted to know more about Adam’s journey, and he was graciously agreed to a meet-up, despite prepping for a Behemoth summer tour of the US with legendary metal band Slayer.

We chatted at one of the Warsaw Barberian shops, a comfortable, eclectic setting of stressed wood and aged brick accented with gently worn, overstuffed leather furniture. Barber and non-barber related antiques add to the atmosphere, and a (very metal) collection of animal skulls and demons masks cover one wall of bare brick, adding just the right touch of animus.

Trim, wearing a black vest, black slacks and black running shoes, bare-armed Adam was relaxed and quite at home in his comfortable shop.

Larry: Adam, as a black guy from London, I don’t get much exposure to Polish rock stars and celebrities, so tell me about your lifestyle outside of barbering before we talk shop.

Adam: Well, the thing is, you’re a black guy from London, and I’m a black metal guy from Warsaw, so we have something in common (laughter).

I am originally a musician, an artist, so labels like ‘rock star’ and ‘celebrity’ are not really in my dictionary. It is OK to give people a picture of where I am coming from. But I am a stage persona and a performer, an entertainer, and this (shop) is basically my child.

The ex-owner, she had this idea to start a barbershop in Warsaw. We started investigating and immediately I fell in love with the whole culture and the way they approach life. It felt very coherent with who I am. I had some money to invest and it was like, this is exactly where I want to channel my energy.

So I came up with the name “Barberian,” which I think is a nice word play.

Larry: The definition of ‘barbarian’ is outside of any one civilization, and outside of the shop, you portray as being in your own dark world, so I think it is “on brand.”

Adam: Yeah, I think there is a nice parallel between Barberian and what I do in my daily life, though this is my daily life as well. So for me, it is all about having different skins or different masks; each one represents different qualities of your personality. Barbers are professionals taking care of men’s health or men’s aesthetic, but it is very artistic, and my spirit is released here more artistically than in a business way.

I am proud of having serious input on the way it looks. The idea came from passion and heart. It is true and you can’t fake this. It is all real, very organic.

Larry: Have you ever visited Shoreditch in London?

Adam: Yes, I went there a couple of months ago and it was amazing! At this corner there was this complex; it was a coffee place and restaurant and in the corner there is a barber shop – don’t know if you know it.

LARRY: Yes, It’s called Sptalfields! It’s got old traditional – looks like a theatre. That’s called Barber Barber.

Adam: Yes, yes, yes! And I approached these guys and one of them went, ‘Are you Nergal? What are you doing here? I’m a big fan!’

Well, I was there because I was interested in the barber shop and the way he was located and the constellation of it. Amazing! So I love this neighborhood. I actually stay at the Ace Hotel every time I go. It is my favorite place there.

Larry: Shoreditch is one of the coolest places in London, and your place has a real Shoreditch feel about it.

Adam: I agree. That is a common vibe that we share.

Larry: Tell me what a client could expect at Barberian.

Adam: There is a relaxed vibe here. There is always rock music, no random radio stuff. The music, the brands of alcohol, it is all coherent, very specified. You enter Barberian and you will be treated as a king!

Bring ladies, your wife – we are not Nazis, not like the whole barber culture you have probably experienced where no woman is allowed – but if you bring your wife, let her sit there, let her have her coffee, or whatever she needs, and let her admire her husband.

Larry: This is getting sexier by the minute!

Adam: (laughs) I remember this couple came and she did all the talking. ‘He needs this, and he needs that,’ and one of us was like, ‘No, lady, calm down! The gentleman knows what he wants. Let him talk. Stay calm, relax, and admire your husband.’

I don’t want to sound chauvinistic, but this is a men’s place, you know? I don’t like to go to a hairdresser, because I get bored. There are spheres, and worlds separated. I think it’s healthy for men to be in a men’s environment, healthy for your brain.

Larry: I noticed you have your own brand of beer.

Adam: I have had Behemoth for 25 years now. We issued five types and it’s Belgian, all craft beers. I’m a fan of the only lager we have, called Phoenix. The beers are issued by a local brewery called Perun.

Any customer gets all this for free. They can chill, have a beer or whisky or really good coffee. I am a big coffee person and this is the best coffee in town! I know it sounds like an advert but I really mean that.

Larry: I’ve spoken to Adam Beek, an important barber at Barber Connect in the UK and he said two things are important in a barber shop; good haircuts and good coffee. If you are lacking either of those then you haven’t got a barbershop.

Adam: Beautiful! Exactly!

Larry: By all accounts Barberian is fully booked. Since you are a brand supporter, I am curious of the role your online system Booksy plays in shop management.

Adam: It makes our work very smooth and much easier, simple as that. We started with the phone calls and walk-in and it was growing, but with Booksy it is very smooth. I wouldn’t go back to the years when we didn’t have that system. I think it’s amazing.

Larry: What kind of problems did you have before online booking?

Adam: It was way more work for us, writing down everything, the receptionist always on the phone. But with Booksy it all happens in the ‘other world,’ basically!

Larry: You recommend it?

Adam (looks into camera): GO FOR IT! (laughs) Seriously, I know the competition, and most of the business is walk-in; they reject systems like Booksy. I respect the old school way, but we wouldn’t do it here, because we use all the tools that are there to make life easier.

Larry: Can you actually cut hair?

Adam: No! But I have a clipper so when I‘m on the road with the band and can’t find a local shop, I need to make sure my beard is trimmed, I like it to look very clean.

Barbering is my business, but also my hobby, my love and my life. I am a huge fan of these guys, but I don’t have ambitions to become a barber. I can do it with my own clipper on me, but that’s about it!

The coolest thing about barbershops is – I visited maybe hundreds of barbershops around the world and I remember each one.

Larry: Yes! There is individual character.

Adam: Exactly! There is individuality and passion and love because barbers are also lovers of barbering; they are there for a reason.

Larry: What advice do you have for other owners who want success?

Adam: Don’t go for success at any cost. If you do what you love and it is just straight from your heart, just perfect it. Eventually success will happen and you will not even notice! You will just be happy and have great clients who appreciate your work.

Try BOOKSY for FREE : http://booksy.info/ltb

my website: http://www.larrythebarberman.com

 

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Wahl Cordless Senior Launch Update: Availability And More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Low Down on the Cordless Senior

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

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

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

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

Cordless Senior vs. Magic Clip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to use surgical blades (and oil!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

“You want Yeezys before Kanye has Yeezys

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

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

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

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

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

 

‘Til then, happy barbering!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

 

 

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

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Harry Karolis of EGO and Kings of Tomorrow Wants You To Raise Your Prices!

Occasionally you find barbers who have come to the business through salons, breaking in by working with women’s hair.

But Harry Karolis is much more than salon artist turned barber.  Getting his start with Daniel Galvin, the current Style Director at Ego Barbers is also the most-followed Instagrammer in all of UK barbering and co-founder of the amazing Kings of Tomorrow Academy, soon to be hosting classes in its own facility.

Harry’s foundation in women’s hair informs his passion for barbering in three interlinking ways: his commitment to shape-before-fade, his enthusiasm for barber education and his strongly-stated conviction that barbers need to charge more for their service.

First, shape before fade!  “A lot of barbers will concentrate on a fade rather than the shape, and it’s vital to put a shape into the hair,” he told me when we met at Barber Connect this spring. “Otherwise you’ll find yourself getting it wrong; the wrong shape will come into the hair.”

Bringing scissor work from salon to barber shop

“We look to structure a haircut by putting the shape in before we do anything with the clipper work. It gives you precision, and it gives you the right structure. We blow dry the hair into shape because that’s now the clients going to wear it.”

A simple concept well-stated, which all barbers can take to heart. It’s that kind of advice that has caused Harry’s Instagram blow up to over 225,000 followers, which he puts down to not only posting spectacular haircuts but mind-blowing scissor work which he learned, again, behind the chair in salon settings.

“I was trained for Vidal Sassoon, and I brought my scissor work into barbering, which has really worked for me,” he said. “When I crossed over to men’s hair, I had to learn the clipper work, learn the fades, and so I combined that with scissor work because I saw it was lacking in barbering.”

“What is still lacking in barbering now people are not following shape through the haircut!” he adds with emphasis

I wanted to know if Harry felt a neglect of good scissor work could be bad for business and he definitely agreed.   Life isn’t always going to be about fades!

“You got to be ready for any trends,” he told me. “In the next few years, everyone could want long hair and your business takes a hit because you can’t do it.”

“Even today in some barber shops, when a long haircut comes in nobody wants to do it because nobody knows how to do it,” he warns.  “But when you know how to follow through a square layer, a round layer, graduation, cross graduation, finding balance in your haircut, you’ll find you’ll be able to care for all hair. That’s the main advantage.”

There’s another one of those Instagram-esque pieces of very sound advice!

“Our main focus is, we like to set the trends.”

The conversation was segueing into education, another topic I really want to pursue with Harry.

“If you’re doing the same fade and you keep doing it, then that’s all you know and you’re not catering to everyone,” Harry states. “There is a limit to what you can do with your work. The fact is, you can add to your work, get the rewards from your finishing, and you can add the fades to current styles. Then you can follow the trends and then you can set the trends.”

“Our main focus is, we like to set the trends,” Harry says firmly.

Harry’s passionate voice and outstanding work caught the attention of barbers on Instagram everywhere, and he was getting as many as 50 DMs a day from people saying they wanted to do what he is doing, wanted to know what he knows. “A lot of people always tell me that I’ve given them the belief that, ‘Maybe one day I can be that guy, that I can inspire people.’ It’s all about believing and giving people belief.”

Harry found it a bit overwhelming, and his response was to start Kings of Tomorrow, EGO Barbers’ academy. He aims to bring barbers up to such high standards no barber is afraid to charge the same as top hair salons. And there’s more, he said. “I want to show you how to showcase your work, how to how to reach people out there.  I want people to see what you deliver, something they will admire, that will inspire. That’s my main goal.”

Classes are currently available through Egobarbers.com in a we-come-to-you model.  Through a newly launched YouTube channel, Harry expects to offer even more practical advice along with self-presentation tips.  Kings of Tomorrow onsite classes are scheduled to start soon. “Just watch out for announcements,” he smiles.

Harry is clearly fired up about KOT. “I want to deliver an education that is so powerful that when you walk away, you’re gonna take something real back to your salon,” Harry said. “At the same I’m gonna give back to the barbering community, give the value into the work that it deserves.”

No more £10 haircuts!

Ah!  That sounds like a hint to bring up the topic of raising prices!  Harry’s very passionate on the subject, sharing a perspective with Ivan Zoot and others that barbers simply do not charge enough.

Salons banned clippers because owners knew there was more value in scissors work, and why compete with yourself by allowing clippers?  If barbers through education continually raise their game, Harry believes, the door opens to charge salon-level prices!

“I want us to get where someone comes in for a haircut and hasn’t got a problem paying you what you’re worth, or thinking 30, 40, 50 pounds is too much. There should be no £8 haircuts, £10 haircuts. You are worth more than that.”

“Why should hairdressers charge £40 for a fade or whatever they’re doing in there when the barber is doing the better haircut?  That value is still lacking in barbering even though we’ve grown as an industry. Great kids have long queues, but they’re charging £7 pounds! They tell me the boss is afraid to raise prices, afraid to lose clients. But salons, which can’t match the quality a barber does with their fades, are charging £40 a haircut!”

For Harry, hard work, education, and getting your work out there all combine to create a rising value market, an environment where barbers can feel safe and confident in raising prices and charging what they are worth.  It’s a positive, heartening message.

Harry has a lot to share with the barbering community on style, business, and promotion. The blend of education, pricing, style and communications skill combine to make him a unique fixture in barbering, and I believe we are all luckier for having him with us.

As he looks ahead, he believes the sky’s the limit for the barbering industry.

“You never know how far we can go,” he says in closing, “because we’re still growing as barbers. Everyone wants to become a barber! If you want to bring your talent into reality, you got work for it, and you’ve got to educate yourself.”  And now’s the time!

I want to thank Harry Karolis, Ego Barbers, and Kings of Tomorrow Academy for all they are doing within the barbering world. You can catch my entire video interview with Harry on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

 

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

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

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

Haircuts in the bathtub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting Obama’s barber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Connecticut Barber Expo Founder: Jay Major Shares His Success Story!!

Today’s barbering interview is with the talented Jay Majors, a man who has used the barbering craft to completely transform his life. As he describes it, he had a somewhat “troubled past”, and he was generous enough to talk to me not only about his current career as a barber, but also about life before finding this new passion. We also talk about one of Jay’s most exciting projects to date: the CT Barber Expo.

 

“A Troubled Past”

“The gangs were really prevalent in [my] area growing up, and to be honest I got involved just to be cool. I wanted to do what others were doing. I come from a family where my parents did their best to make ends meet, but I wanted the designer things. So, I did the wrong things in order to acquire them.

“I would get incarcerated, and my family weren’t the type of family to send me money so I would have to find ways to make ends meet. Because even though you’re incarcerated you still need to buy cosmetics, food, snacks. I started drawing, doing things like handkerchiefs and I really wasn’t that good at it. So, I got the bright idea, because I really looked up to a barber in my neighbourhood, to start cutting hair”.

Jay already had some styling practice from shaping up his own hair, so he found that he was able to make money from providing haircuts whilst incarcerated. For Jay, then, barbering started as a real necessity: a way that he could survive within a difficult environment. But it certainly didn’t end there:

“While incarcerated, I didn’t have hope. So, I would get out, and get these dead-end jobs – and I wasn’t making good enough money when I was used to making fast money from my other life. Then whilst incarcerated I had this epiphany one day. I was sitting in my cell, and they have these lockers where you put your food and cosmetics – and I had all this food that I was hoarding, hundreds of dollars-worth of food, and all these quote-unquote ‘drug lords’ were having to borrow things from me.

“And a lightbulb went off like why the hell do you try breaking the law, why are you involved with all this knucklehead mentality when you could be making all this money cutting hair? So I went down to the education department and I spoke to this lady, and she said when you get out, call this phone number and due to you being a felon, and because of the programmes you have done, you can get a grant to go to cosmetology school.”

Despite almost giving up several times, Jay stuck to it – and now his life has changed significantly from what it once was.

 

Living for Success

Jay has gone on to make a name for himself in barbering, cementing his new career by opening up the Major League Barbershop around a decade ago. He describes the shop as a family friendly environment, priding himself on the high levels of sanitation as well as the talent of the barbers he hires.

The story behind the barbershop is fascinating in and of itself, taking both good luck and hard work to ensure success:

“When I graduated cosmetology school I was renting chairs in barbershops and I managed to acquire this high-class clientele despite being in a bad neighbourhood. I ended up getting this client in my chair who people might look at as like a mobster, old-school Italian guy who owned a lot of property and he said ‘listen, we’ve got to take you out of this neighbourhood’.

This man was able to help Jay by offering him an empty shop in a new mini mall that was still being built, telling Jay to mark out the space he wanted on the dirt where the mall was about to be built. This transformed into 1200 square foot barbershop that Jay had to grow into.

“I hired some barbers; 4 chairs went to 8 chairs, 8 chairs went to 12. A lot of people just slap a barbershop together but I bought all these beautiful plasma televisions, had the waiting area as a baseball dugout. I wanted it to be a family friendly barbershop, somewhere clean, somewhere women could go and not get gawked out.

“I’m always remodelling, buying new chairs, upgrading my facilities. I think the difference between my shop and others is also the people I hire – I want people with an entrepreneurial spirit. The majority of my barbers that leave go on to open their own shop.”

Although nurturing upcoming talent might mean creating more competition for his own shop, Jay cares more about giving something back and helping people who might be disadvantaged. This includes working with people who were incarcerated in a community outreach programme, helping those with no jobs and few prospects train as barbers and fulfil a need for licensed professionals.

 

Making it Big

Arguably, though, what really helped Jay to make it big was the creation of the CT Expo, an event which may have started small but has gone on to attract an impressively wide audience.

“I’ve participated in barber battles in cosmetology and barber schools, and barbers really come out for it.

“The difference between cosmetologists and barbers to me, where I’m from, is that cosmetologists will get their license and then do continued education. Barbers get a license, get a tattoo of a pair of clippers and think they know everything.

“In order to spread awareness that we weren’t charging enough for our haircuts, we weren’t acting like professionals, we weren’t treating our clients with proper customer care… I had to come up with an excuse. And that was the battles. Barbers are really competitive people.

“So, I did a barber battle at a nightclub, letting everyone compete for free. I didn’t think as many people would turn up as did, and I didn’t think it would become what it has. I reached out to all these people to market it, only Ivan Zoot was interested. He got me clippers for the prize bags, which was astonishing. We had around 30-40 competitors – it was a great turnout”.

From there, the show just grew and grew, although not without some teething issues. Growing so rapidly meant that he had more people attending his shows than the venue he used could cope with, leading to complaints and even visits from the fire marshals!

None of this put Jay off though, and he talks about the type of touching moment that made him realise how much he wanted to keep giving back “This kid won second place in the speed fade battle, and he came with his Grandfather and his Mother and his Aunt – his Grandfather flew all the from Puerto Rico to see him compete – and the kid cried like thank you, I’ve never won anything before in my life. From that point on I said I have to give back to the industry that’s been giving to me.”

From 1100 people at that show, 2017’s CT Expo hit around 8000 attendees including vendors. I was there myself, and the event was off the scale; aside from two barber battle stages, there were also a huge range of vendor.

As Jay says, many of the most popular hair shows cater more towards female hairdressing, with barbers taking up a small area. The event that he runs is all about barbers, with a particular focus on how barbers can grow and become more professional while also charging better rates for their haircuts.

 

A Bright Future

When Jay says that “barbering has truly saved my life” it certainly rings true, so it’s exciting to know that somebody with that much passion is putting so much back into the industry. One big focus at 2017’s expo was education – he sees the battle and the vendors as an excuse for the education which give the show its real focus, working as a draw to make sure that barbers show up and get interested.

Jay is also running Major League Barber Academy, a way of ensuring a bright future for those people who are only just beginning their barbering career. So, what can you expect if you visit the academy?

“I opened my school in the beginning because it was hard for me to find licensed barbers. Or I was finding licensed barbers but they’ve come from a shop that was taught poor practices from an owner who was taught poor practices, from another owner who was taught poor practices… they don’t know how to sanitise properly, they just want clients in and out of the chairs.

“I said you know what, I’m going to start training. And right now, I’m actually in the process of getting financial aid funding, I have a great graduation rate and a great passing rate, now we’re going to be offering a class in Spanish too.

“It’s been a dream come true for me. If you would have told me where I’m at in my career today, even doing this interview, years ago I wouldn’t have believed you. Because I’m from the streets, and nothing is handed to you and you don’t believe anything you hear or see. But one thing I can say is that I work a lot.”

 

I saw that tenacity and hard-working attitude for myself when I visited the CT Expo; Jay’s whole focus was on making the show a success. His advice to young people on the wrong tracks, then, is definitely worth listening to:

“At the end of the day, you have to learn that there are two paths. There’s no in between. If you’re on the right path and you’re working hard, then hard work rewards hard work. With that, you can make it in any career. So, my advice to you is to start treating the barbering career as a career and a profession, not as a hustle or a way to make cash.”

Remember, these are words of advice from someone who has been there and knows what he’s talking about. You can find out more about Jay’s work at his website mlbcuts.com and, of course, you can get to know more barbers like Jay by visiting my Instagram page – @larrythebarberman – or my YouTube channel, barbers.tv

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