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Barber Jon Bourne Of Barber Town Worcester, Shares His Thoughts On the Barbering Industry 2017

With multiple barbershops and a position as an NVQ assessor, Jon Bourne from Barbertown in Worcester certainly has a lot on his plate. But he still found the time to catch up with me, and share some of his industry knowledge. Starting his career in a family barbershop, he managed to climb his way through the ranks before eventually setting up his own brand of vintage-inspired barbershops. I asked him about how they’re bringing back some of the best traditions of barbering for a modern gent.  

“We tend to buy old barber chairs – I have some great clients that can service an reupholster them. In general, the shops are just organic, they keep growing. Over time trends change and we adjust the shops accordingly. A lot of the stuff is memorabilia that I myself have collected.” 

This means vintage scooters, old arcade machines and everything in between – and it helps to create what feels like a home from home for Jon no matter which of the three shops he’s working at. But there’s more to Barbertown than good aesthetics – it’s also built on a strong work ethos. 

“We are community barbershops, in locations with local schools and colleges, car dealerships, solicitors, local rugby clubs. Rather than being the standard high street spot, we work within Worcester as part of the community.” 

This community spirit has also meant supporting apprenticeships for young, up and coming barbers. “The apprenticeship model is really important. When I started, you started at the bottom and worked your way up. Ash trays needed emptying, foot rests needed cleaning – it was all about attention to detail. That’s how we start our apprentices off now. It gives them a real grounding, and they become much better barbers.” 

 

Of course, that isn’t the extent of Jon’s work in education: he’s also an end point assessor for students completing their NVQ Level 2. “You spend a couple of hours, watch them do a couple of haircuts. It’s about how they interact with the clients, the consultation, the cleanliness, how they use their tools. And if I think they can do all those things competently then I sign them off.” 

Jon also thinks that there should be more regulation within barbering, with to ensure that barbers who work hard to do things properly aren’t undermined by people with low standards who just want to make a quick buck: “I think every barber should go through some sort of registration process, so the standard is the same. 

“It’s frustrating for the barbers that do everything properly to see others who are unscrupulous, almost doing slave labour, paying cash in hand. It needs to be stamped out and everybody needs to be regulated. We have very sharp instruments, there are infections and if you’re doing everything properly then you don’t have anything to worry about. If you’re serious about your business, why wouldn’t you do it?” 

 

Aside from formal qualifications, Jon brings his exacting standards to the modern hub for barbering education… YouTube. “I just thought we’d post a few videos showing how we cut hair. The feedback has been really positive, I’ve been overwhelmed. People are really interested in traditional styles of barbering.” 

This will naturally lead to people wanting more in-depth training on the Barbertown methods of cutting hair, and the good news is that Jon has plans to start his own academy in the not too distant future: watch this space! 

Another interesting aspect of Barbertown Worcester is their ‘Stay Sharp’ logo, which apparently came about as something of a catchphrase that the barbers would say when working with younger clients. “If I had a pound for every time it was used, I wouldn’t be sat here, I’d be in the Bahamas. It’s just become a bit of a mantra. Now we do T-shirts, various products available from our web shop at barbertown.co.uk. Keep visiting, there’s always going to be more content.” Aside from the shirts, there are all kinds of grooming products available from Jon’s shop; I’d definitely recommend taking a look at barbertown.co.uk. 

 

So, what does a barber like Jon, with now over 30 years of experience under his belt, rate as his best moment in the industry? “When I had the vision of barber town. All of a sudden, I had a new love for barbering. Nobody had things like pinball machines, laptops for people to take orders, Sky Sports back then. We were giving beers away, having that extra service.  

“I took on pretty much the biggest shop on the street. It was a real gamble, I had two very small children. But my wife backed me, and hard work has got us where we are today. I’ve got a great team, too.” 

It’s fair to say the industry has changed a great deal within the 30 years that Jon has been cutting, and one of the newer developments is the introduction of social media. While it’s a new addition to the barber’s toolkit, it’s not to be ignored: Jon and his team have embraced the new technology, and Instagram in particular: 

“On the back of that I’ve met some great people and been offered some great opportunities. It’s a great tool if you use it correctly. We have around 60,000 Instagram followers – I think people just buy into the brand and like what we do. We please ourselves before everyone else as well, which helps.” 

 

It has been great to talk to a barber who represents real professionalism and standards. His closing advice to young barbers reading this now? “Just put the effort and the work in. Go to your local barbershop and get an apprenticeship. Even do it for free for a couple of months if you can afford it. Just get it under your belt.”  

Don’t forget to follow Barbertown on Instagram – and check out the Larry the Barber Man channel too once you’re there! You’ll also find me on YouTube and Facebook; follow for more interviews with top barbers. 

 

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DL Master Barber’s Straight Talking Interview, For The Greater Financial Good Of Young Barbers

Celebrity barber and motivational speaker DL Master Barber is on a mission to make sure that young barbers do the right thing, treat their customers right and ultimately treat their barbershops as what they are: a business. I’m very happy to be amplifying that message for barbers across the world.  

DL hasn’t necessarily had an easy ride to the top: his barbering career saw him earn a lot of money, and then it saw him lose a lot of money. Thanks to this experience, he’s now able to give barbers the jolt of energy that they need to do things differently: 

“When me and my mother came up from Ohio, she had no plan – but she had a purpose, which was to change my life. She just wanted more opportunity for me. Like a lot of us, I graduated from the school of hard knocks. I just wanted something different, to change the financial situation for me and my mother.  

“This made me so passionate about becoming a barber. I didn’t know this passion would move me into a different space and time. Jheri curls came out and barbershops were closing because they weren’t making the transition. And then Hip Hop came along, and the rap artists all had to come to Hollywood and sign their record deals. I was cutting off the Jheri curls and giving them flat tops.  

“So, I end up doing a lot of the New York rappers because they would talk, they’d say there’s this kid who’s nice with the clippers. That catapulted me into meeting more and more rappers. We were having fun, I was cutting hair. I was going to the hotel not knowing who I was cutting because they didn’t have their faces on the album covers.” 

Then ‘Yo! MTV Raps’ started showing music videos and live performances, and everything changed: rappers needed an image to go with their words and beats. DL had already built up the credibility needed to position himself as someone who could help rappers define this style. 

“It changed my life. It changed their life. They needed barbers to create these unique styles for them. Thus, me meeting Tupac Shakur.”  

 

It’s not hard to see, then, how DL was able to create so much success for himself at a very early stage for his career, and it’s hard not to picture him out there living the dream. But it’s not always to cling onto that wealth, especially when you’re young, and barbers can learn as much from the mistakes as from the successes: 

“At the age of 19 I opened up my first shop. At the age of 21 I became a multimillionaire. By the age of 23 I had lost all the money. I didn’t understand how money worked. I knew how to create the money, but I didn’t understand taxes or how to invest the money. I was spending more than I was bringing in. If you don’t know how to deal with your money, you’re gonna lose your money. 60% – 80% of all barbers and hair stylists retire broke, because we don’t understand how money works.” 

The experience of learning this the hard way has made DL determined to give other barbers the education that he missed out on. Helping others in the industry learn how to build their career in the right way has become one of the driving forces in his life. 

“I’m not just speaking it, I’m a living example of it. I want barbers to understand that this is our craft: it’s not just about putting hair on the floor or going to trade shows.” 

As the barbering industry has grown, many more opportunities have opened up. This makes it easier for barbers to network with each other and learn from one and other. But alongside this comes the empty hype, and DL cautions against barbers who turn up at shows or follow their favourite stars on Instagram without actually learning anything. He also warns barbers that trying to copy the work of an inspirational figure isn’t the way to achieve success: you have to be original and find what works for you.  

So how can barbers make this happen? Well, one way is to create standards. “This is what barbers need. Some barbershops have it – a standard of how they do business. You raise your income by raising your value.” Another way is to rectify the mistakes that you’re making. I asked DL to describe the biggest mistake he sees, and explain how it can be fixed: 

“That’s easy. The biggest mistake is education. You have to be educated. You have to be motivated, inspired and empowered to educate yourself. Most barbers want to put hair on the floor but don’t want to educate themselves. Most barbers stay in their neighbourhood, in their shop and think they know everything. If you want to be the best, then you have to educate yourself.” 

And DL is taking a proactive approach in changing this, too – producing content, including books, that barbers can use to educate themselves. These focus on helping barbers create a lifestyle that allows you to save money without struggling. Check out the book, ‘Pocket Game – The Art of Saving Without Saving’ to get all of the secrets. Designed to fit in your back pocket, you can keep this book on hand and get to the wisdom inside when you need it most.  

If you’re not in the mood for reading, then DL also offers mentoring and training sessions where barbers can get. “I did something very different this time: I came up with this idea called the situation room. Wherever I went, I decided to have four barbers come to my room with two problems and came up with a strategic plan to help them overcome these problems. Because a lot of the time, these shows are so big you don’t get the help you really need.  

“I also have a mentoring programme. That’s a six-week course helping people get to their goals. You want to be a platform artist, compete in shows, work with celebrities… that’s what I’ve been doing for twenty+ years. I want to educate, inspire and empower barbers and stylists.” 

 

I’m sure that this video has given you a lot to think about! Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the need to be financially competent as well as good with the clippers to make it as a master barber.  

I think it’s crucial that we bring DL Master Barber to the UK so that British barbers get a chance to learn some of his secrets. I’m going to work hard to help make that happen so that we can get DL on stage, but before that happens, here are the final thoughts that he wants to leave you with: 

“I want you to live your dreams. I want you to stay focused. I want you to believe that you can do what you want to do when you want to do it. There’s an old saying that says ‘if you do what you ought to do, when you ought to do it, then there’ll come a time can do what you want to do when you want to do it.  

“All you’ve got to do is find your ‘it’. And once you find it, what are you going to do with it? Who do you need to bring in to get it? And once you get it, what are you going to do with it? You are a priceless original, so be the best that you can be. And listen to guys like Larry, who are bringing information right into your phone!” 

Follow DL Master Barber on Instagram, and Larry the Barber Man on Instagram or YouTube to get your regular fix of barbering inspo.  

 

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Times Of Paul Taylor Clinch While At Schorem Barbier Rotterdam 2017

Rotterdam’s Schorem Barbier has become an infamous destination for barbers who want to embrace the crazier side of the industry. I was very interested to speak to the British barber Paul Taylor Clinch to find out how he ended up joining their gang – and what it’s really like to work there.  

“Like a lot of people, I was a huge fan. I followed their work online for about two years: as soon as they started doing videos I was watching them on the way to work to feel inspired through the day. I liked their work ethic: work hard, play hard.  

“One day they posted something in Dutch and I was naturally curious. It was basically saying that they were offering a position. Anyone who has seen their documentary will know that Demon Daan got his job there by writing an email that basically said, ‘I’m the guy you’re looking for.’ I wrote my CV, and thought I’d see if lightning can strike in the same place twice. So, it was a professional CV, but at the end I added ‘I’m the guy you’re looking for.’“ 

It clearly resonated, because almost immediately Schorem were in touch to say that they wanted to fly Paul out for a trial. Nervous but excited, Paul jumped on a flight and left to meet his heroes. Once there he spent the day at the shop watching them operate and waiting for his chance to impress with his cutting skills:  

“When it was my turn to do my two models, Rob and Leen came in. And because it was the end of the day, I had the whole team sat on the waiting bench watching. I kid you not, Rob was just sat in the middle leaning forward and squinting at me. Rob checked one side of my cut and Leen checked the other. Luckily they offered me the job there and then.” 

I doubt that luck had much to do with it. Schorem are committed to finding excellent barbers who can maintain their quality. Part of working their means learning to execute 12 specific cuts: these are the looks that Schorem clients expect to walk away with. 

“I was getting into pomps, but I had no idea how the guys at the shop did it. It’s really nice that we all train together: even though we cut what’s on the posters, and that’s one of the golden rules, everyone has different strengths within that. It’s so amazing that we can keep learning off each other.” 

The guys behind Schorem have managed to create a family atmosphere within their crew, and within the barbering community they’re known almost as much for their hijinks as for their cuts. It didn’t take Paul long to realise what he’d gotten into: 

“My first day I got picked up from the airport and Rob said we’re going to do a photo shoot. I thought okay, probably for the website, like a mugshot. I get there, and Gio is pretty much naked, holding some playing cards to cover himself. So I think, this is going to be a weird photo shoot. Rob says to me, ‘we need you to get naked’. I took my shirt off and he says no – naked.” So barbers who want to join the Schorem team can certainly expect a baptism by fire! 

 

A lot of barbers back home in the UK long to jump on a plane and start working at a shop like Schorem. But is it really that different to the traditional shops that we have here?  

“I think the beauty of it is doing the classic haircuts. In England it started to slow down a bit, people were chopping off the pomps. The classic cuts suit everyone. At the shop now, we only do what’s on our posters. So, I get to do the cuts that I love every day. It’s also amazing to learn while I’m there. Rob especially shares his knowledge so openly and so freely.” 

Aside from the cuts themselves, there’s also something special about the boys that Rob recruits to be on his team. “You have to be a little bit loopy to work there. I love the fact that at Schorem, as opposed to a traditional shop, we face away from the mirror. It reminds people that they’re not just there for a haircut, and it also means that we can all talk together throughout the day.” 

“After we’ve done the last cut of the day, we’ll spend an hour just cleaning up with a beer. We like to chill out at the shop: people will pop in just for a beer and a chat. It’s so much more of a hang out. It’s brilliant because when I’m not in the shop I only hear Dutch speech – I have no idea what’s going on around me!” 

Finding a shop that feels more like a family is a great way to make sure that you’re career in barbering is fulfilling; not everyone can work with the barber at Schorem, but anyone can foster this atmosphere in their own shop. I hope Paul’s account inspires you – for more interesting interviews, don’t forget to follow Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

 

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Interview With Barber Joth Davies Of Savills Barbershop Sheffield, At Barber Connect 2017

Bringing the best traditions of British barbering into the modern age is no mean feat, but for Joth Davies it’s the foundation of a hugely successful brand. With his high-end barbershop Savills to look after, as well as his Copacetic product line, the Savills Academy and a Wahl ambassadorship, he’s a busy man – so I felt very lucky to grab 30 minutes with him at the 2017 Barber Connect. We start by talking about his beautiful shop:
“It’s always been my vision from very early on. I loved that 1920s era: the architecture, the clothing and especially the haircuts. I was always trying to turn the shops that I had into this vision. I say this a lot, but when I walk out of the shop of an evening and I turn to lock the door I look back and I think yeah, this is what I always wanted.”

It’s easy for barbershop owners to fall into the trap of constantly refitting their shop, eager to keep up with the latest trends. But while this might be a good way to stay contemporary, Joth has proven that it’s completely unnecessary if you decide to go for something classic and timeless.
“The shop we have now is never going to change. It’s just going to get better with age.”

One of the more recent additions to Joth’s roster of achievements is his work as a Wahl ambassador. I asked him to explain how this came about: “I did some work for Wahl a long time ago, and then I was out of hairdressing for a long time with a shoulder industry. Now with Savills, Simon (Shaw – Creative Director of Wahl) really liked what we were doing and invited me to do a few guest spots on their stage. I’ve got a massive admiration for Simon and how he operates. The people he picks aren’t always the obvious people, and we just really get on.

“Recently Simon approached me about a programme that they’re rolling out and asked me if I’d be interested in working on it with them. I jumped on it – partly because I love educating, but also because I jut love Wahl clippers. They were the first pair of clippers I ever owned”.
This led to Joth taking the prestigious title of Principle Educator for Men’s Method in the UK. This puts him at the front of an interesting educational process designed to ensure that barbers are ready to hit the barbershop floor running once they finish their training.
“Wahl have created a package that provides DVDs and books as well as clippers, gowns and posters to help create a barbering section within the college. It teaches nine different haircuts using step-by-step DVDs but also online materials. My job is to train the trainers. I go in and do two days training on the cuts, but also the ideology and the history of Wahl. We also assess the colleges to make sure they’re delivering it properly.”

If you love the work that Joth is doing at Savills, then you’re also sure to enjoy his range of hair products, Copacetic. “It just seemed like the next thing for us to do. I started creating things that I wanted as a barber, accoutrements that could help me in my job. Other barbers were saying that they would want them, so that popularity drove us to mass produce them. Hair products seemed like the natural next thing.

“I was really struggling with what to call them though. But once I worked out how I wanted to market it, and how I wanted them to look it all became really easy. I wanted it to look like something you’ve found at the back of your Grandad’s bathroom cabinet, with a little bit of dust on the top. Then I came across this website devoted to 1920s slang words. A lot of them we use now, like the bee’s knees – slang that was developed in the speakeasy back then. I needed something that hadn’t already been taken by other brands. I found this term, ‘Copacetic’. It means ‘everything’s okay.’”

So what products can you expect from the Copacetic range? They have a fantastic pomade, as well as cream, a matte clay and a paste to suit different client needs. These products help to support those classic hair cuts that Joth specialises in, as well as some of the more contemporary styles. On top of that there are accoutrements such as tool rolls and aprons to add to your barbering kit – all with the same precision to detail and excellent finish.

Before letting Joth slip away, I had to find out just a little bit about the Savills Academy. Joth ‘s very specific approach to barbering has meant that other professionals have been eager to get a piece of his knowledge: “People were asking me to put out a DVD, or a YouTube video, or some training in the shop. So I thought, why not just make an academy? I pinch myself now at how far people are travelling just to spend two or three days in the shop. We have people coming from Australia, New Zealand, all over Europe… it’s crazy.

“People love the fact that it’s done in the shop, alongside the working barbers. But what we teach is nothing ground-breaking! It’s nothing that hasn’t been done for hundreds of years, really. But it is a method that I’ve developed through working with lots of different people over the year. We also do everything on live models.”

It’s always a pleasure to speak to a barber as modest and insightful as Joth is. These core elements of his personality are summed up by the final answer he gives me, when I ask what advice he has for other aspiring master barbers:
“Run! There isn’t an answer for that from me, really, because I never intended any of this to happen. I started with a little three chair barbershop and I was happy with that. And if I was still cutting in their everyday, I’d still be happy. It’s all happened by accident. If I’d tried to do it I just don’t think it ever would have happened the way it did.
“It’s happened organically. Because we, as barbers and hairdressers, are very creative so I’m always taking on more projects. I’d just say you’ve got to love what you do. Because if you’re passionate about it, it will happen organically.”

Don’t forget to follow @LarrytheBarberMan on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook to meet more creative professional barbers just like Joth, and hear the stories that brought them to the top.

 

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Curtis Smith: Barbering Great & Founder Of Xotics Barber Battle Tour, Talks Barbering

Celebrity barber Curtis Smith joined me at the CT Barber Expo 2018 to share the story of his barbering career. There’s a lot to talk about – aside from Curtis’ work with celebrities like P Diddy and Usher, he also has the Xotics brand to his name – so I decided to dive straight in with some background on how he got into barbering:  

“My entry into barbering started when I was 13 years old. I picked up a pair of clippers because I saw a friend of mine do a haircut and thought it was something I wanted to try. I did a haircut on a friend and he actually liked it. Looking back on that hair cut now it’s hilarious, but we were kids. For him it was a haircut, it looked better than when he sat in the chair. For me it was an accomplishment.”  

Curtis describes a ‘wow’ moment which many barbers are probably familiar with: realising that you can give something of real value using just your hands and a pair of clippers.  

“It gave me the energy to want to become a professional barber. I started experimenting on my friends for a dollar, then I went and got my licence. I realised that I started to like cutting hair more than what I was going to school for. So, I started cutting hair professionally, got my licence and opened my own salon. Once I opened my salon there was no looking back.”  

Opening up his unisex salon Ebonese in the Bronx gave Curtis a chance to start putting his work out there – and as his reputation built, he started attracting in minor celebrities who would eventually connect him with their top-tier contacts. The real breakthrough came when P Diddy saw his work on an associate and decided he wanted a piece of it.  

“He sent his people to find me – they had me experiment on one of his artists first to make sure. I did this guy’s hair and he did a double take! That was my emergence into the celebrity world. After he saw my portfolio he said okay, you’re my barber for the rest of my life. That was 20 years ago. I just stopped working with him because he moved full time to LA, but I still work with Usher, Ludacris, different people like that.  

“I am looking at tapering down that side of my career. It’s a very demanding lifestyle. I’ve just overcome cancer for the second time, I finished chemo three weeks ago – so I have to change some of the things I do and move a little differently.”  

While he was still a part of the celebrity scene, though, Curtis made a real impact with cuts that became influential around the world. This included P Diddy’s famous mohawk – a cut which, if Curtis had his way, might never have happened:  

“He wanted to do something different for the New York Marathon. He said I want people to take me seriously, because nobody knows me as an athlete. Normally people take six months to train for a marathon, he did it in six weeks. He said everyone says I’m crazy, I want a look that shows them I’m dead serious. 

“I took a survey of all the people that worked for him: should he get a mohawk. Overwhelmingly the women said yes, and the guys said no. He said ‘what do you think we’re doing this for? We do this for the women!’ So, we went with the mohawk. I decided to put a fade in there and put a hairline on it because I’d never seen that done. He loved it and we created a new wave which was something people were doing all over the world.”  

 

Aside from celebrity cuts, Curtis is also known as the godfather of the barber battle. It’s almost difficult to measure just how big an impact this man has had on the industry as a whole, given that much of his work has helped barbers to transform the way in which they see their craft. Now, it’s not uncommon to hear big-name barbers such as Pacinos cite Curtis as one of their influencers.  

“You would be hard-pressed to find a barber that doesn’t like what I represent. Because all we do is help the community of barbers to grow. We’ve energised a community of barbers to become bigger than they knew they could be: they didn’t think they could own their own products or do their own shows. Guys are doing amazing things these days and it’s really because of the energy that we started. For me it’s hard enough just to stay involved now. 

“Right now, the barbering industry is in a really good place. There are a lot of barbers driving themselves crazy trying to figure out how to become something bigger than what they are. But it’s good to see people trying, they’re thinking what else can we do.”  

One of these innovations is the Hair Battle Tour, Xotics’ barber battling tour which has been taking American barbers by storm. I ask Curtis to explain what sets it apart from other barber battles: “People have a good time. You can stand in the barbershop and do serious haircuts all day. When I put a show on, I want people to leave with a smile on their face. We try not to be so serious, we have a DJ playing music and I’m very particular about what my DJ plays. 

“We come with a certain energy and everyone who works for us carries that energy. We’re very accommodating, but very stern at the same time. It’s really just about having fun: we push that. We bring people up on stage, have sneaker battles. Sometimes we have kids come up and compete. One time we had kids come up and dance and collected prize money for the kids to win. Suddenly everyone’s involved.” 

 

It’s not hard to see why so many barbers are inspired to take part in these battles, and it’s great to see new talent emerge at the different events. We have been lucky enough to have Xotics bring their tour to the UK earlier this year, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for their global brand. If you missed the show, you can still benefit from Curtis’ unique style by listening to his parting words of advice:  

“Remember that everything that leads up to being successful happens one step at a time. You can’t overstep yourself. The most important thing you have in your career is the barber chair and the business that you represent. You represent that business first, your clients second and yourself third.  

“If you keep that format in place then you’ll always be straight: you’ll always have a great place to work. If you decide to go and open your own shop, don’t take barbers from your current shop. Every barber tries it but bad karma will follow you. Find your own staff from scratch, train them to where you want them to be. 

“Always be on time. Always treat your customers with the upmost respect. Once you start to make them happy, you can raise your prices: go from the guy who charges 20 to the guy who charges 40. When your income changes your options change; your opportunity changes. So always focus on making sure that whatever you’re doing right now is what you’re focused on the most. Your clients will stay with you until you die, if you treat them right.”  

 

Get more inspiration by following Curtis on Instagram @xotics to see some of his dazzling work; you can also follow this page @LarrytheBarberMan to make sure you’re keeping up with the latest interviews from barbering greats.

 

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Zach Ramsay Of Out Post Barber Co, Shares Game Changing Barbering & Photography Tips

Zach Ramsay – known as ‘Ramsay’, from The Outpost Barber Company – is known throughout the industry as one of the best up-and-coming barbers on the scene. His unique approach both to cutting hair and to photographing cuts has meant that after just a few years of practice, he’s already making waves. His entry to barbering came not in the form of classes or even a barbershop, but sat in his Mum’s basement some six years ago:

‘College wasn’t the route that I was going to go. I can’t sit there and be lectured, my attention span is just not there! That being said, I was always into getting myself a good haircut. I knew what it took to have a nice fade, a nice overall image. I wanted to further that.’

Zach drew on his artistic skills – he is also talented at drawing and able to understand artistic techniques – to give him a solid base of knowledge: ‘I think that directly correlates with a good skin fade. It’s understanding the shades and proportions of everything.’

Of course, barbering comes from practical knowledge too, and Zach was luck to have a barbering buddy who let him come into the shop and start learning. ‘One day I just said, “I want to get serious with this.” So he gave me my first barber chair, my first mirror and as soon as I got home I ran down into the basement and set everything up. I started doing my first haircuts for free. Then you charge $5, $10… I ended up doing $15, $20 haircuts and onwards from there.’

Once he knew he had the skills in place, Zach decided it was time to get serious: after all, there are a lot of clients who just won’t take a barber seriously if he’s set up in his Mum’s home! ‘I just didn’t feel comfortable bringing professionals into my home. It was kind of just a thing with my friends. I wanted to get into a professional environment and offer real structured services.’

 

Setting up his Outpost

A lot of barbers will get licensed and then spend years working for other established barbershops before even considering going it alone. Not so for Zach, who chose to dive straight into setting up his very own shop.

‘I opened up the shop with my buddy Shaun: he stopped working at the barbershop he was at and we got together. We thought it was a good idea to control your own career. We opened up the store with two large storefront windows, a classic tin ceiling, hardwood floors, a warmer light. It almost feels as though you’re walking into your own house, very inviting.

‘We just wanted to go with a modern style, but the detail and character of vintage items. That correlates with haircutting as well. Everything is always recycled, but with a bit of tinkering.’

As if that wasn’t enough on his plate, Zach has also been doing some impressive things with photography. After seeing barbers like Patty Cuts emphasize their work with phenomenal photographs, he wanted to find out how to take those professional shots himself. Next thing, he was picking up a pro camera and starting to capture unique images with a hybrid of fashion and lifestyle.

 

Defining the approach

Getting to understand Zach’s work better means finding out about his personal approach. I asked him to break it down for me, starting with his approach to cutting hair:

‘With my haircuts, I like to start with a solid foundation. I section off the hair and comb it in the exact direction that it wants to fall naturally. So if the client goes home and doesn’t blow-dry or apply a lot of product, it will still fall naturally and be an aesthetically pleasing haircut.

‘That structure is going to be my blueprint for the rest of the profile. I try to read the person’s vibe, look at their clothes, ask them questions: I want each haircut to be tailored to that person’s lifestyle. Then I bring the person outside and I’ll try and find colours that complement what they’re wearing, as well as the best lighting. If it’s an edgy photo, a lot of shadow and more dark emotions – if it’s more business professional, then it’s perky and upright.’

Finding that aesthetically pleasing image is easier said than done, though, and for Zach it’s a skill that he has acquired naturally – through trial and error – rather than with any formal training. ‘I always get eye level with the subject. This gives the viewer focus, it draws them directly to whatever you want them to see. I’ll walk up and down the street and find good light: I want depth, and a decent dynamic range on my photos.’

Creating a haircut that will look great on camera is also part of the challenge, and apparently it’s all down to precision. ‘I wouldn’t say that there’s too many tricks. It’s just being very precise with your work. Make sure your sections are clean, your cutting line is clean, your fade is clean. I would recommend taking out your phone after the fade and look at it through the camera. It tells no lies. If it looks good on the phone then the camera itself is going to look beautiful.’

 

Taking to the stage

Another string to the well-rounded barber’s bow is platform work, and Zach has also been doing the rounds as a talented stage educator: ‘I like to explain pretty much what we’ve talked about in this interview. How a haircut is not just a haircut. You almost change a person’s facial features by how you cut their hair. You can change someone’s life with a taper around the ear: they go into a job interview and that confidence boost gets them the job. I’ll tell them to wear their suit to the shop and take professional headshots for their LinkedIn or Resumé.’

Find examples of Zach’s work on Instagram by following @Z_Ramsay; this is the main platform that he uses to share the photos of his cuts. I recommend it to anyone who wants a solid source of inspiration; junior barbers in particular can use Zach’s shots to start understanding how to structure a better cut. Here are his parting words of advice for those up and coming barbers out there:

‘I would say it starts from the heart. You have to be passionate about it. Be observant and make sure that you break down every haircut into cause and effect. Each stroke of the clipper, the angle of the blade, the different textures, cutting styles, techniques: taking note of all of this will make you a better barber.

‘And with the photography, get out and shoot just like everybody says. You have to see pictures that you don’t like to understand what you do like. Get down and dirty – there are times I’m laying on my belly in the middle of the street looking weird. I don’t care! I just want the picture. And assess your work. Don’t be hard on other people’s work, compete with yourself. Keep working on yourself and you will get there.’

 

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Barber Vikki Harrison-Smith: Talks About SB Barbering Academy & The British Female Barber Association (BFBA)

Whilst at the Irish Barber Expo 2018, I couldn’t pass on the chance to meet one of the North East’s shining stars of barbering – Vikki Harrison-Smith – and learn more about two of her exciting projects: SB Barbering Academy, and the British Female Barber Association (BFBA).

 

It seems like barbering was always on the cards for Vikki, who was surrounded by barbers – including her grandfather and her friend’s dad – at a young age. She tells me that there was something about short hair that caught her eye and made her want to experiment further: “I even had a ‘Girl’s World’ – which was a toy from the 80s – with long hair and I cut that short. You weren’t supposed to! But I think it’s always been in my blood.

“So I started an apprenticeship at Malcolm H, a really good barbershop in Sunderland. I also did a foundation course in ladies’ hairdressing and then I went straight into the barbershop and never looked back. I’ve worked in a lot of shops, worked in Scotland and moved across the North East.”

It’s certainly common for barbering to pass from father (or grandfather) to son, and it’s great to hear a similar story from the female point of view. I asked Vikki to tell me a little more about her grandfather:

“I have a picture of Pops – my Grandfather – in the academy, and he looks like Buddy Holly, really! He was great. He had five shops: a ladies’ shop, a gents’ hairdresser and some more traditional shops. He did that for many years until he retired. He was very inspiring.”

 

After over two decades in barbering, Vikki has become renowned for the SB Barbering Academy, a brand that set up in conjunction with her husband and fellow barber, Ryan Smith. “We got together and inspired each other. I worked at a local college and wasn’t really happy there – I wanted to set something up that mirrored the training I’d had as an apprentice. SB would be cutting every day, cutting under mentors, learning the trade in a working barbershop. That’s how the academy was born.”

It would be fair to say that SB academy has something of a speciality focus, with courses such as ‘Zero to Hero’ designed to give people the skills needed to pick up their clippers for the very first time. “It’s designed for people with no prior knowledge of hair or barbering. Just blank. We have to build them up to be able to go into a barbershop. Under a mentor, of course – we never tell people you’re going to open a shop. We tell people you have to work through the system, like we did years ago. You get a foundation from us and build on that. That’s how it is in barbering.”

The Level 2 qualification takes 2 weeks to complete and will involve cutting up to 6 or 7 models a day. After that, there are additional courses available for people to hone in on particular skills and advance their techniques. Vikki also reinforces the fact that it’s all about learning the basics first: “You learn step by step, and then you piece it all together. After that, you go out into the big barbering world and you build on that.”

 

Vikki’s other big project recently has been setting up the British Female Barber Association (BFBA), and I wonder whether she feels that being a female barber has presented extra challenges for her: “It’s a funny thing. Where I worked, there were only two men and the rest were women. It wasn’t really an issue. In the 90s it was actually quite fashionable to have women in barbershops.

“It became an issue once I went into training. I was overlooked quite a bit for jobs, I think, because that being the lead trainer or head of department was more male dominated. It was a hierarchy really.”

It’s great to see how things are changing in the industry, not just for Vikki – who has now gained the respect of her peers – but also for other up and coming female barbers who can hopefully get the opportunities they deserve. The BFBA should be another big step forward, and Vikki explains the motivation behind setting it up:

“This wasn’t created as a male-hating group. It’s nothing like that. I just wanted to create a network for women barbers in a male-dominated industry. Female barbers don’t necessarily come to shows, or they aren’t on the stage.

“I want to create a support group for women. For example, if you go off to have a baby it becomes very difficult to have that time off and come back into a barbershop. Because you haven’t been doing the skills, you’re lacking confidence. We want to give advice on maternity leave, teach women that it’s good to keep that relationship with your boss going. We’ve got the legal side to help with. As an experienced barber that has been through a lot, I feel like I can give women a lot of support.”

Hopefully this will be great not only for encouraging more women into the industry, but also for ensuring that they then have the required skills once they get there!

 

Watch the full interview for even more great information, including Vikki’s tips for using a routine to make your cutting process more effective. From hair control to scissor techniques, there really is a great deal to master if you want to be a successful barber – but working with educators like Vikki can give you the confidence and knowledge you need to make a very good start. Go to the SB Academy website for more information. If you’re interested in joining the BFBA, they are planning on setting up as registered charity: follow @BFBA_official on Instagram to stay up to date on the details.

 

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Barber Arod: Shares His Story, In a One 2 One Interview, At Elegance Studio, Melrose, Hollywood – As You Have Never Seen Him Before

It’s always exciting to get a top barber in the interview chair, but never more so than with somebody who has reached the heights of Arod, Elite Studio’s million-dollar barber. From reaching a million followers on Instagram – that’s a record among the barbering community – to charging $100-$300 for a cut, this is a barber who’s made some serious waves. Don’t forget to follow him yourself, and then sit back to read his incredible story.  

 

Barbering with military precision 

The scene is set 14 years ago in Puerto Rico, where Arod found himself fascinated by the rhythm and style of the barbershops that he visited. 

“There’s something about it that just grabs my attention for a very long period of time. If you don’t grab my attention in the first three seconds, you’re going to lose it. This was one thing where always my attention was fully into it.”  

It also played into the desire to look good and feel fresh, a big part of Puerto Rican culture. But although Arod had already started to show an interest in barbering, he didn’t immediately turn to it as a career. Instead, he began feeling the pull of the military: “My friend said it’s an option, a steady paycheque, a stable career. So, I said you know what I’ll go with you, and I took the test with him. He didn’t pass and I did – I felt bad!”  

As money became tight, the idea of a military career began to look more and more appealing… 

“Then in 2010 I joined. That first day you just walk in to a completely different environment. Whoever you are right now is going to be torn to pieces and rebuilt from scratch, the way they want you to be moulded. You enter a different life: it marks you forever.  

“But in life you’ve just got to learn from the things that you go through. Your life depends on it, and the whole nation’s too. So it’s very important. When it comes down to that one moment, you can’t make a mistake.” 

This background means that Arod is now able to operate with military precision and discipline. I ask him to share a little about how the army set him up for his barbering career. 

“Well, discipline is one of the main things that they focus on as soon as you get there. They teach you how to walk; they teach you how to look; they teach you how to communicate. The job is just non-stop, you know? 

“Normally right now I go to work, I come home, I sleep for four hours. I don’t wake up the next day fully charged, but I know that I’ve got to get stuff done. And my body knows, it wakes up and I can’t get back to sleep.” 

 

Getting back to basics 

After leaving the military, Arod had to start building a new life for himself – and that meant a return to barbering. 

“I already had clients from the military, so I had a steady beginning. I took everything slowly – you’ve got to pace yourself. I’ve learned that it’s something you get addicted to, you can’t stop.  

“I was in Texas at this point. I went to this barber contest, everybody’s hyped up, I’d never done anything like it. Everybody was waiting on this person that was competing: the battle didn’t start if he wasn’t there. His name is Marcus, my partner. Everything started there. We hooked up and started going to events together” 

Arod and Marcus began travelling to hair shows across America, and met up with another champion barber: Jay. It was a fortuitous meeting, as Jay already had the Elegance brand up and running and he was keen to get Arod and Marcus involved. Originally, this meant a sponsorship deal – but as it was clear the men’s dreams aligned, they decided to come together to create the Elegance Studio: 

“When you start it, it’s just an idea. It comes from sharing those thoughts that one night. And our visions linked together, our souls became one, and we saw that we were going after something bigger than us. Three months later we’re in LA. Elegant Studio opens its doors, and the rest is history.” 

 

Style, decorum and class: The Elegance Studio 

In a word, Elegance studio is stunning. With gorgeous interiors and a VIP space dedicated to luxury experience, it’s the barbershop that every other barber dreams of running. So how did it come to be this way? 

It evolved. It was all part of the process, you know? I’m a firm believer in the journey and the process. You just have to keep things moving: We started in a downtown loft and built from there. 

“We started trying to get clients from different states. It was hard, I’m not going to lie to you. You had to go out there, you had to go get clients, you had to prove that your service was worth the amount of money you’re asking for it. Then one day I was locking up the shop and going home and saw this space that I fell in love with.” 

After managing to secure the space that they wanted, Elegance Studio went from strength to strength. There are stunning mirrors and chairs, as well as a wall decorated with a full street art mural – enough to satisfy customers who are paying $80 minimum for a haircut, often $100. For all the barbers out there wondering how these rates could be possible, I had to try and get Arod to spill his secrets. 

I started at $3. As you get experience and get better at what you do, you charger higher amounts. You get to know your value. You want to get paid and work normal hours. Us barbers, we don’t have someone who can give us a raise. We are our own bosses: you have to increase the price. You can also add things that increase your value as a whole. Services, learning, education, product lines… You’ve got to pay attention to those things. Because if you want to charge 100 dollars, that client is going to come and check you out and if he doesn’t like you or feel your work is worth the value then he might want his money back. Or he might just never come back.” 

Of course, there’s also the Elegance Studio VIP experience. At a cost of $300this is easily one of the most luxurious cuts I’ve ever heard of. So how can an ordinary barber who’s watching this today raise his standards to that sort of level? 

Make a note of this! When you open the door, the first thing you need is communication with your clients. ‘Welcome to Elegance Studio’ should be the first thing the client hears when they come in the door, so they can get comfortable with their environment. You tell them: ‘we offer drinks here. We offer water, tea, coffee, lemonade, all kinds of drink – it’s included in the service’. As soon as they walk in, I make sure they feel comfortable. 

We also have a long line of products that make my job easier and upscale my service. I put the cape on, start talking to the client trying to find a conversation… where are you from, what do you do? Find a way to relate to them. Then I start with the services: I try to be smooth with the clippers, be smooth with my hands. Give the client that smoothness. We have gels, pomades, hair serums, razor blades, aftershave lotions. We have a lot of things that can upscale your service – and they do. 

“After the haircut is complete, we have a steamer, a facial scrub and a shampoo that we can use as part of the service. We style. We make sure you can leave the chair and you are ready to meet the love of your life, to walk onto a TV set, to land a job. They’re the things that you came here to get service for. So I charge $300 but it includes drinks, a shampoo, a haircut, facial hair, it includes a steam, a black mask, facial scrub, deep cleansing, hair styling with whatever product you like… gel, pomade, wax, serum. We do treatments that can justify the price of the service. 

 

An Insta-star is born 

Another side to Arod’s success has been reaching 1 million followers on Instagram: I don’t believe that this has been matched by other barbers. From everything Arod has told me so far, though, it doesn’t seem surprising that he would reach this goal. 

The big key to Arod’s success has been appealing to people outside of the barbering industry, as well as barbers themselves. He has also chosen to work with influencers, people who share his energy and can help to spread his name. 

Arod has achieved all this by making videos that combine barbering and comedy. These videos are appealing to everyone from kids to older people. By studying the analytics of his videos, he can also work to replicate that success, and review what could be improved upon. As he tells me, “The world is changing. We have to adapt to it. 

Since hitting the million mark, he’s had plenty of people in touch to try and do business with him, seeing him as an influencer in his own right. Now people want to come to his barbershop just to associate with him: “I have a lot of celebrities that have found me on Instagram. It’s something that other people use it and they don’t understand what they are doing. They are not assimilating. It’s not there for people to talk negatively about others, it’s there for you to promote your own work.” 

Of course, as with any success, people have inevitably been accusing him of not getting there legitimately. But Arod has little time for the doubters who claim he bought his followers: “They’ve always been saying it since the beginning, it’s nothing new. If you see something that is not normal then you are going to think that it’s not real.”  

Upscale your service with the elegance range 

One of the big things that I’ve hinted at throughout this post is the great Elegance product range, so now it’s time to find out more about these products. I wanted to know which products Arod finds particularly exciting… 

The hair gel. I’ve seen the extra strong and the triple action gel actually change someone’s life. That product right there is exciting. We have the pomade, that’s exciting. We have the gel with colour, that’s exciting. Someone with greys can use that and immediately get rid of the greys. That’s called Elegance Hair Gel with Colour.” 

And what about the game changing products? “The shaving gel. This is a product that landed in the market, I’ve never seen it before. Ad the facility that it gives is just a game changer. It’s better than anything. There’s videos where you see them just slice a grown man’s beard and he feels like he’s 9 years old.” 

One of my favourite products is the Elegance black mask, a face mask that could be a real game changer for a lot of barbers. Arod suggests a couple of reasons to have one in your barbershop: “One reason is that it’s something else that you can offer, and you can profit out of it. So there’s no reason that you should be sitting between a haircut doing nothing when you can apply the black mask and charge $30 more.  

“Second of all, it just gives you a whole new glow. It just cleans all your pores and takes all the impurities out. It makes you feel fresh: after a haircut you already feel fresh, but when you take that mask off it’s different. It’s like the cherry on top.” 

These products can also give a barber a huge return on investment. Taking the black mask as an example, one big bottle can do around 50 applications. But if you buy a bottle for $20 and charge $30 per treatment, you’ve made your money back after the first application. The rest is pure profit! 

 

Paying it forward 

We’ve talked a lot about Arod’s personal success, but I also love his commitment to helping others and supporting his own team:  

Well, they play a big part in my success. I couldn’t be here doing this interview if I didn’t look right, with someone from the shop to give me the freshest beard that is out there right now – that’s Taylor Cutz, make sure you follow him!” 

Not just anyone can join Arod’s barbering team – it’s something that has to be earned. However, anybody is welcome to reach out to him: he tries to read all of his emails personally and is always happy to meet people in the shop. He’s also got upcoming shows all over the world: If you want to keep up to date with these then Instagram is the place to be. Head there right now using this link, to make sure you’re the first to know what he’s got plannedYou can also follow him on YouTube here 

Arod is going to be hitting YouTube hard this year in an effort to bring in his next million 1 million YouTube subscribes. Make sure you’re there to enjoy the content he’s putting out and help him reach another milestone!  

While you’re at it, take a moment to follow @LarrytheBarberMan on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook – you’ll be the first to see interviews with huge barbering stars like Arod! Now let’s hear some closing words of wisdom from the man himself:  

 “My advice to all the young people out there is to believe in yourself, believe in your service, and make sure you evolve as the whole industry evolves. Because we’re moving as a group. Just because I’ve got a million followers and I’m a little bit ahead because of the way I work – that doesn’t man that there’s no room for anybody else.  

No, I’m just paving a way for other people. Because there are thousands of lanes in the barbering industry. So upscale your services, educate yourself, share with the barbers around you, don’t let nobody put you down – and the only person who can actually stop you is yourself. 

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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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Quartered Steel, Owner Dan Wild, Talks Scissor Precision & Barbershop Success

Dan Wild is the brain behind Quarter West barbershop in Belfast, as well as the Quartered Steel scissors brand that many barbers now swear by. He welcomes me to Ireland and agrees to tell me more about his brand: “Our motto is essentially precision is everything. We try to make tools that are practical, that are functional, and that are easy for people to use.”  

Dan actually started out as an engineer, building bridges for a living, before eventually finding his way into barbering. So how did that come about? 

“The recession sort of kicked it all off to be fair. I decided to retrain, I retrained about 7 or 8 years ago and I wanted something that was a great sort of social event as well. Because when you work on building sites all your life you tend to find that you love being around fellas and it’s great crack, and you want something that sort of echoes that: barbershops are fantastic for that.” 

After that, he retrained with his friend Peter – after about a year, he decided to open a shop. Renting a space in a tattoo parlour ad naming it ‘Dapper Dan’, he started on the adventure that would eventually lead to rebranding as Quarter West. Now, they’ve been going five years.  

“This year alone we’ve had 738 new customers, our business is going from strength to strength. Within another 3-4 months we’ll be opening a shop in Belfast city centre. Hopefully that will be based where all the students are. So that’s how I started and where we are now.” 

Growing the business with Booksy 

One of Dan’s secret weapons for growing the business is the excellent bookings and marketing tool, Booksy.  

“Booksy is great for marketing to your clients. You can send emails out, push messages, SMS – so we would send messages out saying recommend a friend you get 10% of your haircut or something like that. So, we use that for marketing. It’s fantastic because there’ll always be the customers who will forget to get their hair cut. You can find your slipping away customers – we found that we had 200 clients who hadn’t been in in a two-week period. And normally they’re on three-week rotations.  

“You can just send a message. As a tool it’s one of the best in the industry, if not the best in the industry. You’ve now got where you can book with Instagram, so there’s a book now button that integrates with Booksy. It’s been fantastic for us.” 

Of course, Booksy alone can’t create repeat business! Dan explains how Quartered Steel have honed their cutting style.  

“We tend to do a lot of classic styling. Because our demographic tends to be mostly office staff, so it’s real classic cuts. Nice, easy styles – styles that guys can just get up in the morning and just style. We don’t tend to get a great deal of the skin fades – we do a good bit of it, but not a great deal. And that’s probably why we’ve been nominated for male grooming salon of the year, because we are a male grooming salon rather than a chop shop barbershop.” 

Let’s talk scissors.  

“When I first started I was using probably the worst tools available. Because you think scissors are just scissors. And I could sort of sense that there must be better out there. Then we started visiting the likes of Salon International – me and Andrew, my business partner – we looked at all these different brands and there’d be 500 different pairs of scissors that basically all did the same thing. I thought this can’t be right, there’s got to be a functional side to this.  

“So that’s when we decided that we’d start travelling over to Japan and Korea and China trying to find manufacturers who would make what we wanted to make but would also make it functional and easy to use. We found loads of manufacturers. Not all of them were fantastic, but some were brilliant, and we set our hearts on the ones that we work with now.” 

With big name barbers like Danny Robinson and Adie Phelan testing their products and giving them feedback, it’s no wonder that they’ve been it’s no wonder that they’ve been able to develop such an excellent range. In fact, they’ve managed to have no returns in two and a half years – quite a feat!  

“If you buy a second-hand pair of scissors then what you’re buying is somebody else’s problem. That’s why we looked into leasing. Leasing is fantastic because it’s tax deductible. As long as you’re making the payment every month, at the end of the year we’ll give you a statement that you can give to HMRC and offset it against tax. 

“Leasing makes it affordable for every single barber or hairdresser out there. If they come to us and say I’d love a pair of your scissors but I can’t afford it we’ll say okay, but can you afford £25 per month.” 

They offer a 3-year maintained programme, which includes servicing the scissors to ensure that they stay sharp all year around. If you want to get involved, then you can head to Quartered Steels for Life on Instagram or quarteredsteels.com; they’ve got all the information you need to lease (although you can also buy direct)! Fill in your and you’ll get the information back in a couple of days.  

You can also head to larrythebarberman.com, or find Larry the Barber Man on Instagram or Facebook, if you want to see more great interviews with fascinating barbers like Dan. It’s also a great way to catch up on all the best barbering tips and tricks to make sure you’re top of your game.  

 

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