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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Famos: Barbering King Pin Shares his Secret To Success

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

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

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

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

Famos’ Path into Barbering

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

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

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

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

Doing Battle

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

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

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

Carving His Mark

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

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

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

Fantastic Advice for the Next Generation

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

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

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

 

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