HOW TO: 100 PERCENT DISINFECT AND LUBRICATE DURING CUSTOMER CONSULTATION TIME
In a busy shop, it may be tempting to let correct disinfecting of your barbing tools slip just a bit, and that’s a dangerous position for you and your client. You do not want to risk infection or fungal disease AT ALL. In fact, we want to avoid that LIKE THE PLAGUE!
Here are some tips on how to use your client consultation time to get your hair clippers disinfected properly and quickly, while lubricating and cooling at the same time.
I notice when I visit barbershops that barbers use Clippercide spray as an instant disinfectant. This is a mistake, since Clippercide states it take as long as ten minutes to kick in correctly, that is, protect you and your client at 99.9% against infection and fungal diseases.
Saloncide disinfectant is effective against viruses, fungi and bacteria after two minutes.
The Wahl Hygienic Spray also needs just two minutes to reach the same level of effectiveness.
When you are busy, it is impossible to keep people waiting for ten minutes to properly disinfect your clipper. NO client wants to wait that long, and NO client wants you to use improperly disinfected tools!
The way around this is to work with Saloncide or Wahl.
Use a toothbrush to brush way excess hair, brushing away from the clipper.
Turn the clipper on, and give each side of the blade 3 or four sprays with Saloncide or Wahl disinfectant product.
Turn it off, and allow to dry naturally or wipe dry with a clean towel or tissue.
Dispose of the tissues.
These fast two-minute products mean you will have a few extra seconds to OIL YOUR CLIPPER, which you should be doing after every cut!
Apply one drop of oil on each end and the center of the blade (total of 3 drops)
Turn the clipper on and roll it around to spread evenly
Turn it off and wipe off the excess with a tissue, and dispose of the tissue.
If you use this time to consult with your client about his cut, you will clean, lubricate and disinfect your clipper seamlessly, without interrupting the service flow!
Make this your habit and you will always have clean, safe clippers and customers that will see how responsible you are about hygiene.
So, when is a good time to turn to Clippercide? It is a brilliant coolant, so whenever your clipper runs hot, give it a going over with Clippercide, let it rest a bit and you are good. If you are in a slack time or a not-so-busy shop, a ten-minute disinfection period might be reasonable and Clippercide is an effective choice. Finally, slow shop or not, Clippercide can be used after your last cut of the day both as a disinfectant and an anti-rusting agent.
To sum up, the best way to quickly and totally disinfect your trimmer and keep it running throughout the day is to use a fast acting disinfectant such as Saloncide or Wahl, and three drops of oil after every cut. Use this brief but important interlude as your client consultation time, and you will be golden!
Saloncide is now available at my online store at larrythebarbeman.com.
I hope you found today’s HOW TO tips useful. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel @larrythebarberman to enjoy videos of my HOW TO tips, as well as fantastic interviews I’ve done with successful and well-known barbers all over the world!
YouTube has been a huge part of the revolution in men’s grooming and one reason I wanted to meet Chris Bossio and Christian Perez of ‘Headlines’ in Florida is their natural feel for good video. Christian has an instinct for using the camera in amusing ways, and Chris had the brilliant idea of “Wifey Challenge,” where their wives cut the barbers’ hair, all posted on their channels, of course. Great video and hilarious fun!
But these two long-time partners are all business when it comes to business, telling me when we met at Connecticut Barber Expo 2017 that they started out as disgruntled barbers in someone else’s shop.
“We’d gather in the lunch room (that’s back room to us Brits!) to complain, and I’d always say, ‘One day, I am going to have my own shop,” Christian Perez says. “Chris is the kind of person who says, ‘There isn’t a ‘one day.’ There is only now. So seize the moment and run with it.’ He pushed me.”
Chris: “We got to the point where we were like, ‘Hey, let’s do it.'”
Seven shops, separate YouTube channels and more than 100,000 followers later, the two men are focused, forward looking, and generous, making major contributions to the industry. More on that later. First, I wanted to know what it was like opening that first shop.
Christian: “First shop, first day, first hour – major rainstorm. The power went out in the entire plaza halfway through a haircut. They say it’s good luck if it rains on your wedding day. I didn’t think it was good luck on your first business day. I didn’t think we were going to make it.”
But Chris Bossio, who abandoned a full college basketball scholarship to pursue a barbering career, brought his athletic-style leadership to the situation.
“I was trying to be the strong one,” he remembers. “I was saying, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. We’re good. Don’t worry about it.’”
“Inside, I’m thinking, ‘Am I going to have to get a side job at Walmart or something?’”
To you budding entrepreneurs out there, Chris says anxiety is just a natural part of the game. ”I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to pay my bills? Dang, did we mess up?’ ‘Cuz it looks like the grass is not greener on the other side. It gets scary.”
“But six months later we opened up eight chairs,” Perez laughs, “And Chris was saying, ‘Hey, we are going to have twelve barbers!” I thought he was crazy, ‘cuz I am trying to figure out how to feed eight families, not 12. Six months later we had to remove the pool table and add two more stations, and today, yes, we have twelve barbers in that store.”
Chris: “There is so much a volume now, it’s just ridiculous. There is no break, there is no time at that shop. It’s busy Monday through Saturday.”
Ah, yes, Saturday. By Saturday night, most barbers are dead on their feet and looking forward to a little relaxation. But that’s where these two separate themselves from the pack, and I don’t mean by staying open late to hustle more clients. I mean by being amazingly generous, even altruistic.
Christian: “For months, we would shut down the shop at the end of the day and do hands-on classes with students or whoever wanted to come in, and we would do it for free, live on Instagram.”
Chris: “We allowed anyone, regardless of what shop you worked at, whoever you were, to come to our barber shop on Saturday nights, bring a model with you, and we will do hands-on workshops for free.”
Perez: “Not just hands-on, but networking and how to build clientele and how to set up your station correctly, how to conduct yourself.”
Crazy? Chris says some barbers wonder way the two are so giving. “They say, ‘It should be sold, not told,’” he says.
“I just tell people, ‘I live life like that. You guys play 2k when you get home from work because that is what you enjoy doing. I will stay after and make YouTube videos. Being in the shop, cutting hair, making videos, it’s what I love to do.”
Which brings me to the unique Headlines ethos. I’d heard the pair are very popular with employees and never fire anyone. True?
Christian: “A lot of people throw the word ‘family’ around but we take it seriously. When we were working for someone else, we felt like we were being held back, so we agreed we want our shops to be a collection of individual brands. When someone wants to build up their personal brand, start a YouTube channel, reach out and grow, we are here to help.”
“We have seven barbers that have gone on to open their own shops, and we have told them, ‘We want to help you find the chairs.’ The hurdles we have gone through when you open the first, the second and third, you learn from each one and we share that. I think that creates a culture where employees want to help you, because you are helping them.”
That spirit was on full display in Hartford, where Chris and Christian rented an RV and invited any of their barbers who was interested to come along. How many owners do that?
Chris: “We are dedicated to helping. We don’t fire people. Other barbers are like “What?” I say ‘No, we don’t fire people. If you don’t want to be part of the culture here you are going to be miserable, and if you are miserable making more money, if you are miserable in a place that has no ceiling…”
Christian finishes the thought: “You just stick out like a sore thumb so bad, you kind of fire yourself.”
After 4-and-a-half-years and seven thriving shops, what’s cooking with Chris and Christian these days? They are focused on their new product line, ‘245,’ an unusual name that shows their passion for barber respect. That story starts with that basketball scholarship I mentioned near the top.
Chris: “I had a full ride, and I quit after a year to go to barber school. That is the most depressing thing I could ever tell my Dad as far as he was concerned. For years, he would tell my family in Columbia and Puerto Rico that I was an engineer. He didn’t tell them I was a barber.”
“I did some research and discovered that in ancient Egypt, there was a statue of a very respected man, a barber named Merryma’at,” he continues. “To this day, that statue is at the University of Pennsylvania museum. The man was given a tomb at a time only priests, royalty and high society had a tomb. As they were discovered by archeologists, the tombs were given numbers, and Merryma’at was Tomb 245.”
“We stayed honest to that with the name of our products and apparel, showing people that our craft has a history of respect and honor. We are bringing that back.”
Meanwhile, 245 has its own great history, starting in Chris’ kitchen as the team scrambled for a spot at Orlando Premiere.
“I asked Orlando what it would take to teach a class and they gave me an astronomical number I couldn’t get my head around,” Chris recalls. “I realized the only people who can afford it were selling products.”
The team started a Headlines legend by creating a shave (WORD?) from scratch in 30 days to make the Premiere deadline. “There is a video on his channel that documents it,” Christian says. “There was no product, no label, no bottle. We made it in his kitchen; 2500 bottles, capping by hand, putting stickers on. It was collaborative team work.”
Once they were in at Orlando, the 245 brand started to grow and quickly became a focus of Chris’ passion for legacy.
“I want to break down barriers, I want to be an innovator in the industry,” he says. “The last thing I want to do is pass away and my children’s children don’t even know who I am. My children’s children’s children will never even hear my name. I feel life is such a great thing, we are so lucky to have life, and if you don’t live it to the fullest, how can you leave a legacy?”
There is so much more these two driven and passionate individuals have to say, such as the story of Chris’ initial terror of straight razors and their sharp remarks about the negative impact of trolls in the industry. But you will have to check the whole interview on YouTube a@Larrythebareberman to take it all in.
I wanted to know, as I always do, what their advice is to barbers coming up.
Chris: “Number one, you have to look at things like a businessman and put yourself out there. You’ve got to stop thinking so much and DO more. More action. Don’t be the guy who talks. You have to DO it, and you’ve got be consistent with it. It is action over everything.”
Christian: “I agree. Learn from your failures. Don’t be afraid to fail. You are going to get better.”
And as for respect? “Well,” Chris laughs. “My Dad is telling my family I am a barber, now.”
Thanks, guys! I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did. I can’t wait to bring you another of my conversations with people across the globe who are making barbering a fascinating, always-changing world.
Since meeting up with the charismatic Sofie Pok in April, I’ve been on high alert for chances to talk with women in barbering. So I was all over the opportunity to meet Manhattan-based Master Barber Cassie Kurtz. Her popular ‘Her Chair, His Hair’ blog is celebrating talented women barbers everywhere, and her budding philanthropy is changing the lives of the less fortunate.
Cassie works out of a shared private studio space called ‘The Master Suite’ in Uptown Manhattan near Columbus Circle. “It’s a prime location for artists who really want to be their own boss,” she tells me in my exclusive interview. “People set their own prices, set their own schedules but still have that feeling of working with a team,” she says.
In other words, it’s a great gig at one of the planet’s best locations, right? So what prompted Cassie to start up ‘Her Chair, His Hair’?
“I thought I needed to do something to better our industry, so I decided: I love to travel, I love to meet new people, I love to write, and I actually like coding,” she says with a laugh.
The result: “I created a platform for women who specialize in men’s hair; they do the beard trims, they do the shaves, and quite frankly they get a lot of pushback.”
From experience, Cassie finds the water can be a little rough for women barbers. She saw the icebergs looming on her very first job.
“Clients were walking in saying, ‘I need a haircut,’ and when the manager said, ‘Cassie is available,’ they would say, ‘Oh, no. I’d rather wait.’ Some of them looked at me like as if I didn’t belong in the same space. That really hurt, and I could only think of how many women must feel discouraged trying to pursue this.”
‘Her Chair, His Hair’ features high-quality video interviews, workplace photos and snappy write-ups about women barbers around the US and in other countries. Last time I visited the site, Cassie was featuring more than a dozen barbers and displaying some amazing cuts, beautifully photographed.
It’s also a supportive space, where barbers find much-needed encouragement and positivity.
From a woman’s perspective, does barbering need to change? “Any woman watching this video will scream out a loud, ‘Yes!’” Cassis replied.
She wants it to start with language. “A lot of women would like to be no longer called ‘female barbers.’ We are barbers, and we happen to be women. I’m not a women’s hair stylist; I’m not even licensed to do women’s color. So when I say I’m a barber, I’m a barber.”
Pricing is also a challenge for Cassie and other women, she said. “Some people think my gender affects my ability to cut hair! Now and then I get a gentleman who walks in and says, ‘Yeah, but you’re a woman. You’re not as experienced with men’s hair. How do you feel capable or qualified to charge this much?’ It just throws me off every single time.”
So which women in barbering inspire Cassie to keep going? She immediately mentions Mariela Perez (Instagram @mariela_the_barber) as a favorite, but hastens to add most of her energy comes from barbers she meets through Her Chair, His Hair.
“Mariela has to fight for everything she has,” Cassie told me “She supports her family and now owns her own house and her own car. She is a spectacular barber. I don’t think she’s given the credit she’s due; she is very talented. You know, I’m an only child taking care of my family, and it gets hard, you know. We’re human. We say, ‘I need a break.’ Then I think of Mariela, and I’m like, ’This is easy!’”
Whenever you feel overworked, I recommend you think of Cassie. Besides her successful business and busy website, she also manages to organize an annual ‘Her Chair, His Hair’ Showcase in NYC.
“I started it because you didn’t see enough women on flyers, as educators, as guest judges at showcases, so I said ‘There’s a need,’ and I want to fulfill it in my own hometown in New York City,” she said.
Finding a good cause proved a great way to rally women barbers, and the Showcase is now readying for its third year. The first year was a funder for breast cancer research, the second year supported domestic violence shelters.
Cassie: “This October we aim to helpThe Door, a safe place for gay and transgendered youth from as young as twelve. If they were kicked out, if they have nowhere to go, if they are beaten up at school and don’t feel safe, The Door is there for them.”
“They’re right down the street from where we’re going to have the (Manhattan) event,” she continued. “They now offer services to immigrant children, so they have a legal department working very hard on multiple cases a day. They also have one or two floors where these kids can learn about cooking or computers. It’s a spectacular and inspiring place.”
And does she have inspiring advice for women either in barbering or thinking of getting into barbering?
“Don’t be afraid!” she told me. “You’ve done scarier things in your life than being a barber.”
“Don’t let people get in your head,” she added. “That’s your space, where you get to cheer yourself on. You are already your biggest critic, and if you let people get in your head, you will never succeed.”
“If you see something wrong with your skills, be honest with yourself and take that class or go to that event and ask that person, ‘How do you get your fade so smooth?’ or ‘How do you get your scissor cuts so clean?’”
“Surround yourself with like-minded individuals whether they are men or women because at the end of the day (critics) are not the ones putting money in your pocket. You are going to be the reason why there is money is in your pocket! There’s no stopping if you do that.”
Obviously, there is no stopping Cassie Kurtz.
I hope you SEE and SHARE the entire interview on my YouTube @larrythebarberman. Then head over to ‘Her Chai, His Hair’ for some serious enlightenment, interesting profiles, and beautiful cuts. It’s a valuable web stop for all barbers, women AND men!
Many customers at my http://www.larrythebarberman.com online shop ask me to zero gap their new trimmers and clippers before I send them out. I’m always happy to do it, but if you drop your device or knock it out of alignment during your busy day, you need to re-zero-gap it yourself. Otherwise, you’ve lost that tool for the duration!
Today, I’ll show you how to zero gap and build your confidence that you can perform this important task. But first, an explanation of zero-gapping:
Zero gapping is taking the cutting, or moving, blade (represented by yellow in the picture) as close as possible to top edge of the fixed, or comb, blade (represented by black in the picture) without going past the top of the fixed blade. When zero gapping, you also position the cutting blade an equal distance from both the left and right sides of the fixed blade. Again: the cutting blade goes very close to the top of the fixed blade and equidistant from both left and right sides.
This gives you sharper lines and lets you board closer.
If the yellow goes past the black, (cutting blade goes past the fixed) your client will get cut, so be sure to leave a bit of distance from the edge!
How much distance is determined by how heavy-handed you are. The heavier your hand, the further you want the top edge of the cutting blade from the top of the fixed blade.
Barbers talk about 3, 4 and 5 hair-strands of gap (if you can imagine!), but that is how finely you will want to adjust the distance. To test how heavy handed you are, try out your adjustments on the back of your arm before you put those blades anywhere near the back of your client’s neck! You will soon find the gap that is right for you.
To sum up: Zero gapping is taking the cutting blade as high up or as close to the edge of the comb blade as possible to get a lower cut or sharper lines, with your ‘handedness’ taken into account.
Now, on to the Three Keys of Zero Gapping!
# 1 Take on the right tools. You need various sizes of Phillips and flat head screwdrivers for the job. I prefer Tool Hub products for their good, comfortable grip, which gives you very fine control. You’ll need that, because zero gapping requires gentle, easy, controlled turns of the screws.
Tool Hub has a general set of combination Philips and flat heads as well as a precision set for use on smaller trimmers. See for yourself! (LINK HERE)
#2 Loosen screws as little as possible. You will make it much harder on yourself if you loosen the screws too much initially. The cutting blade will slip when you retighten the screws, and you will have to re position all over again.
People make the loose-screw problem worse by tightening one screw all the way down before attending to the other screw. This practically guarantees the cutting blade you so carefully positioned will slip! Many people unscrew, reposition the blade, and tighten one screw all the way again, which again shifts the blade. Rinse and repeat! Very frustrating.
Don’t make yourself crazy this way! Just loosen each screw ever so slightly so the blades remain braced tightly against each other. This way, once you have positioned the cutting blade, it will stay where it is as you prepare to retighten the screws.
#3) When retightening, gently alternate between the left and right screws. Make slight, gentle turns of each screw alternately, back and forth, back and forth. This keeps the blade, already snug, firmly in position. Once you are sure the screws are tightened and the blades are securely braced against each other, you can apply more force to complete the tightening.
If you are working with fixed blades, such as the Styliner II, it’s the same drill: crack the screws ever so slightly, look down the blade, position it to your zero gap – depending on how heavy handed you are – and retighten gently back and forth, top and bottom, until it’s perfectly tightened again.
Another tip: On the Styliner II blade, the flathead screw in the middle is the tension screw, which adjusts how tightly squeezed together the blades are. If the screw is too loose, the blades will separate too much and catch or pull your customer’s hair. Too tight, the blades will not move at all.
So that’s how easy it is to zero gap your tools to the precise degree that works for you! This is excellent knowledge to have and will make you more confident you can handle any problems that arise.
As always, you can watch me demonstrate the “How To” on video at my YouTube @larrythebarberman.
Barbers frequently ask me to make videos about maintenance and repair issues, which I am happy to do! I believe it is just as important that I share tips on how to avoid damaging your tools so that your equipment gives you the long, faithful service you expect.
Today, we will talk about your bread and butter: clippers and trimmers. If these are not performing well your work flow will be scuppered, customers may be irritated, and money will not be made!
First, it is important to have an array of screw driving tools, not just one screwdriver that you try to use on everything. Using a too-small screwdriver will destroy the pattern atop a screw, making it almost impossible to remove quickly.
One Screwdriver Size does NOT fit all
Imagine a busy Saturday when you need to zero gap your clipper, and you go with a too-small screwdriver, damaging the screw top and being unable to loosen it at all. It’s just that easy to spoil the tools that make your money, kill your workflow and kill the income going into your pocket. This will mess up your big money-making day.
On the other hand, if you try to zero gap a trimmer, which takes a smaller screw, that same screwdriver is too big. You will damage the trimmer screws and lose the delicate touch you need to loosen the screws only lightly, so the tightness of the blade keeps them in position. It’s like trying to use your phone while wearing work gloves!
Even when you have the zero gap, you need to gently retighten the screws, first one side, then the other; back and forth; left then right; left then right. If the screwdriver is too big, you have to put too much downward pressure on it, causing the blade to move. Very frustrating, and another reason you need the right tools.
I urge you invest in quality tools, not just any tools. I’ve found excellent ‘Tool Hub’ tools on E-bay, such as a set of screwdrivers with a broad array of Phillips and flatheads. You need a larger flathead screwdriver for the power screw on the side of the clipper, which you adjust to get the arm closer to the motor. You need a quality flathead screwdriver to do the job.
The ‘Tool Hub’ set also has an array of Phillips heads so you can find the correct one that makes snug contact with the screw head.
You also want to ensure your screwdrivers have a good gripping handle because when it comes to zero gapping, you need a good grip as well as a snug fit with the screw head.
This set also features an array of medium screwdrivers perfect for adjusting hair clippers – a Master or Fademaster or the Senior or Wahl Super Taper. Check it out at this link: (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)
For making adjustments on a trimmer’s smaller, finer screws, I’ve found another perfect precision kit with interchangeable flathead and Philips attachments and a telescopic handle, which helps with a host of jobs. It even comes with a magnifying glass, so when you position for a zero gap, you can look along the blade without killing your eyes. I strongly suggest you get this kit. (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)
Insider Hack: How to Remove Damaged Screws From Your Clipper and Trimmer
Back in the old days, barbers had to sharpen their cut throat razors using a whetstone and oil and a strop. We have it much easier with today’s excellent electric trimmers and clippers. All we need to know is how to tune these things with a screw driver; no heavy manual labor. It’s a relatively easy job, but it demands that you use the right tools.
Now, here’s today’s Larry the Barberman Insider Hack: If you used the wrong screwdriver and hollowed out the tops of the screws, ordering a new one from the manufacturer is a long and expensive process, perhaps as much as £10 just for delivery – and just for one screw!
But temporarily, all you need is a rubber band. Here’s how it works: Place the rubber band over the screw head you have destroyed and push it down into the screw with a screwdriver, using lots of pressure. Under pressure, the rubber band will mold itself to the contours of the damaged screw in a kind of super grip, like when you can’t open a stubborn bottle with your hand and improve the grip by putting a tea towel over it. It works!
That’s it for today’s How-To blog. Once again, based on what I’ve seen in barbershops all over the world, I strongly recommend you get the right tool for every screw in every clipper- and keep your work flow going!
Best known by his barbering identity Popular Nobody, John Mosley is not just an extremely talented barber, but also a world class educator, brand ambassador, and creator of his own brand. As a barber, his skills have allowed him to pick up some exceptional celebrity clients, while as an educator he has become one of the most sought-after names in North America. He has a number of barbering and lifestyle products available under his brand Popular Nobody, while as an ambassador he represents companies including Andis, Paul Mitchell and Hanzo Shears.
What barber wouldn’t want to learn from such a successful and varied career? From speaking to John, I can see that his drive and determination is an inspiration for everybody who wants to push their own career to the next stage, so let’s delve into his barbering journey and see what he has to teach us!
Barbering by Accident
What really strikes me about John’s journey into barbering is that it happened almost by accident – in his words, his barbering education started as a ‘joke’. Having been a college football player, he found that he needed a career to turn to:
“College just isn’t for everybody, and I was just one of the guys that college just wasn’t for. I would go just for the sports, and then I realised as an athlete that they really don’t care that much about you unless you play sports – and that’s not what I wanted my educational journey to be. I went home and said Mum, put me through barbering school, and I was just joking. I was just trying to buy some time so she would get off my back!
Two days later I was going to barbering school, and since that I have thanked my Mum every day because it has changed my life”
From that unlikely starting point 16 years ago, John has gone from strength to strength. Watching him as an educator, it’s clear that he has won over his audience, and become something of a celebrity. So how did he become such a talented educator?
“It began when I was in barber college. I was having fun as I started to find my niche. And my Mum was an educator, so she would put on hair shows, and she’d have me on stage. So that’s how it all got started”.
John quickly identified a niche for his educational material, in cosmetology schools where they would often have little education on cutting men’s hair. Offering up a men’s cutting class at these schools allowed him to practice and grow:
“Now when I’m up on stage I’m comfortable there. I want people to be engaged, I want them to learn. I want people to talk to me and I’ll talk to them so that at the end of the day they feel like if nobody else was worth watching, at least I was”.
The Jetsetter’s Lifestyle
John’s work has also taken him all over the world: just this year he’s racked up almost 50,000 air miles and taken an impressive 53 flights. Of course, we’d love to see him come to the UK and share his work with British barbers – so when does John plan to start thinking about travelling to the UK?
“Right now! This is the start of my journey to come to the UK, I’ve reached out to some people on Instagram and I’m hoping this interview is the start of changing the thought process on bringing this Popular Nobody out over the pond and letting him have some fun. Because that’s something I want to do, I want to bring my knowledge to the world.”
For anybody who is considering bringing John over to Britain, it’s worth noting just how many brands he’s educated for: as well as Hanzo Shears and Andis, he had a big part in writing Paul Mitchell’s educational programme. Personally, I’d love to see British barbers benefitting from such a talented teacher!
John also has his own educational team to champion, with barbers from across America coming together to create great education under his guidance and mentorship.
The Popular Nobody
Underpinning all of this great work is John’s brand: Popular Nobody. He’s certainly popular – among celebrity clients as well as other barbers. The famous names he’s worked with include Kendrick Lamar and Idris Elba as well as the Washington National baseball team. He has also worked with some MBA and NFL players, and was even taken on the Eminem tour with Rihanna to provide his barbering services.
So, with all this in mind, where does the Popular Nobody name come from?
“Me and my client were sitting in the chair, and you all know the barber to client relationship, we were just laughing and joking. He was going down the list of celebrities I’ve worked with and things he’s seen me do and he just said man, your work is everywhere but nobody knows it’s you. You’re like a popular nobody.
There’s now a barbering case that I have out, because I’m on the go. I was having problems with my kit, blades chipped – so I found the solution and created this case that carries five clippers in individual Velcro straps. It holds all my shears, my razors and my combs. I also have a proper set of combs coming out next week.
We’ve got socks, the hat, lapel pins; I feel like my brand is not just a hair brand. My theory behind it is that everybody is a popular nobody. It’s a lifestyle: you love what you do, don’t talk about it do it, there’s no point bragging about it.”
Standing Against Fakery
Something I ask most of the barbers I speak to is what they’d like to see change in the industry, and John doesn’t have to think twice about his answer: Microfibres and photoshop.
“I feel like, as men get older they start to lose their testosterone, we begin to have baldness and things happen – but I feel like the more and more you falsify and give clients false hope with microfibres and that sort of thing… it’s just wrong. My question is this: are you hiding your work because your work isn’t good? Are you trying to this guy’s confidence back up? A lot of guys I see these days are using microfibres as a crutch.
That’s not what it’s all about; it’s not about making guys look so ‘perfect’. You shouldn’t look perfect – you should look nice and decent but still be manly. It’s the same with Photoshop: we shouldn’t be fixing up photos just to get likes on Instagram.”
Of course, there are also things about barbering that John loves, including the brands that he works with. I ask him why he chose to be ambassador for Andis, Hanzo Shears and Feather Razors in particular:
“First of all, barbers have got to consider this: when you watch Nascar and you see the cars go around the track, they have a lot of different sponsors. In barbering, we’re the cars, we run the rack – so there are ways of getting sponsorship. You’ve just got to find the problem and be the solution.
So why I use those three tools. Andis just feel right for me, they fit what I like, they fit my hand, the motors are great. It’s a great company, US made – and I don’t have issues with my tools.
With Hanzo shears, it’s having the right shears for each situation. These shears cut great and leave the hair really nice and polished. I can cut wet or dry, and they’re nice and balanced with a good weight.
Then with Feather razors, when you’re working with the straight razor not every guy has the same skin type as the next guy. So being able to bounce between different blade selections gives me the opportunity to take on any challenge that sits in my chair”.
A Chance to Reflect
For the final part of the interview, I ask John to reflect back on his career so far and think about what his proudest moment has been, as well as what advice he has for other barbers looking to build their careers as he has:
“Most people don’t get to share their career with their family, it’s separate, so the fact that my Mum is my mentor and I can share my stage with her is a great feeling.
For the barber striving to be great – respect your journey. Invest. Put back into you, what someone else put into you. If you were at class for three hours then you should practice at home for four hours. Be a solution not a problem. The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”
Wise words from a very wise man who has given us a lot of food for thought! You can follow John’s work on Instagram, as @popular_nobody, showcasing his striking work. While you’re there, don’t forget to follow my profile, @larrythebarberman, for more interviews with exceptional barbers like John – you can also see all my interviews at the Barber.TV YouTube channel – see you there.
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.
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.email@example.com
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!
At the ripe age of 23-years-old, most blokes are only beginning to figure out what they want to do with their life. But Mark Gaye is not your average 23-year-old man. He is already a multiple barbershop owner and founder of the Irish Barber Expo.
Sure, there are young people who find success early in life and then aren’t capable of dealing with its stressors. However, Mark knows what he’s doing, and he didn’t get to where he is with luck.
He did, however, begin his journey in the barber world much like the rest of us – by cutting his own hair. “I got fed up with one of the barbershops not getting exactly what I wanted,” Mark says. At first, Mark saw cutting hair as a hobby, but eventually went on to cut hair in college. Mark did decide to leave Uni once he began making money through his business endeavors.
Fast forward to present day, it’s been two years since Mark opened his first shop, and he already owns three salons and is planning on opening two more. Owning that many barbershops would be a lot for anyone, but I’m impressed that Mark has the maturity to run his operation in a way that promotes growth. I know that at 23-years-old, I could not have done the same.
When I sat down with Mark in Athlone, I wanted to know what inspired him to name his salon Notorious Barbershop. But when I looked around the shop, I saw iconic photos of Notorious B.I.G., and I knew that Biggie Smalls was a source of inspiration for Mark. However, Mark did not originally plan to name his salon after the late nineties rapper. “I planned on calling it King Cuts,” Mark says. “When I went to go register the name for King Cuts, it was gone to a shop about 45 minutes from here… I was sitting there with Biggie [playing] on my headphones, and I had two weeks to open a shop and no name.”
Now, Notorious Barbershop and Mark are flourishing. In fact, the shop offers a 12-week course for aspiring barbers and those looking to improve their skill set. “We started advertising a course, and we got a huge response. The first course sold out within the first two weeks, and that was just word of mouth,” Mark says. They’ve also created a Notorious wet product line. But Mark insists that they don’t want to be seen as “too commercial.” He says that when a client comes in for a cut, they’ll advise them on a product, but they don’t push the product.
I think that says a lot about Mark’s products. When your product is good, you don’t have to oversell it. Your client will want it because they want to go home, and recreate the same look that you were able to achieve in your salon.
But Mark has expanded his horizons outside of the barbershop; right now, Mark is gearing up for the Irish Barber Expo on April 30th. The event has become larger than Mark anticipated, but I know that it’ll be a hit. With big names like Rob the Original (who has been on Oprah, so you know he’s a big deal), Lou the Barber, and SharpFade
aka Byrd Mena attending, it’s hard to imagine that the expo won’t be a success. “I didn’t plan on it being this big, but it just took off,” Mark says.
Mark decided to create the Irish Barber Expo to bridge a gap in the Irish barber community. He says, “Predominately in Ireland, we have go on a plane and fly over to the UK to see a good show.” But now, Mark wants to help put Ireland on the international stage. More Irish barbers will have the opportunity to learn, network, and compete in barber battles without having to deal with the hassle of traveling too far.
I know that I’m excited to see what Mark has in-store for us at the Irish Barber Expo. I’ll leave you on that note, and I hope that this interview taught you a few things about young people acting as pioneers in our industry. I’d like to thank Mark for taking the time to sit down with me for an interview – it was greatly appreciated! I can’t wait to see you at the Irish Barber Expo! I’d also like to thank my readers for following me on my journey. If you’d like to see more of my interviews with professionals in this industry – follow me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.
From one cutthroat business to another, Harry Pirate has been a chef and a music producer in past lives – but now he’s found his calling as a barber, and the proud owner of the Pirate Barbershop in Bromley. In this interview, he tells me about how his career developed and gives advice for the next generation of barbers.
After bumping into Harry Pirate on a few different occasions, I decided it was time to get to know this passionate barber a little better. Although he has only been barbering professionally for around 3 years, he’s been cutting hair since he was 17 – although it took a few career changes before he realised that this was what he wanted to do with his life:
“So I’m a qualified chef, and I worked in all the big restaurants in town – that got really stressful and I hated it in the end, I was stressed out all the time. So I got out of that, and worked in the music industry for around 6 years as a producer, doing a lot of different stuff with a lot of affiliated musicians. I enjoyed it at first, but it felt like I was getting to a point where I was giving my whole heart to people and getting nothing back. The money dried up because more and more people were producing cheap music, and I also found that the industry in general is very dog eat dog, with a lot of fake people. I’m not that guy, so I walked away from it and never looked back”.
Having been cutting hair backstage while touring as a music producer, this was already something that Harry loved, so it seemed like the logical next step: “A, I could make more money. B, I was meeting different people every day, not stuck in the same circles of people who are just out for themselves. And C, it made me happy”. After losing inspiration with his music, this became Harry’s new outlet, and he knew that he needed to do it properly. This led Harry to go for professional qualifications at the excellent London School of Barbering.
As many of you will know, I was recently lucky enough to experience the London School of Barbering’s shaving course, and Harry seems to have had a similarly excellent experience there:
“I had a great time, and that’s where I met H, my shop manager too. I haven’t looked back. I found out I’d picked up so many bad habits; they give you a great base and after that when you go out to a barbershop you do fall back into those bad habits but with an educated mind – so you can turn bad habits into good habits. They turned me from being a barber that loved what I was doing, to being a barber that loved what I was doing”.
He adds that YouTube can also be a great tool for learning, and there are plenty of educational videos out there including everything from information about clippers to tutorials for perfecting a particular technique. If you’re interested in self-taught barbering, Harry has a video outlining some of his favourite educational YouTubers out there – and don’t forget to check out my Barbers.TV YouTube channel for tips and tricks.
On Board the Pirate Ship
Before opening the Pirate Barbershop, Harry was working at Ruffians – but although he has nothing but good things to say about the shop and his time there, it also led him to realise that he needed to do things his own way:
“It’s a great barbershop, love what they do, but it wasn’t my style of barbering, it’s more of a high-end men’s salon. “Here it’s a barbershop, it’s a man-cave. There is swearing, there is rap music playing, there are people drinking beer – it’s a pirate ship and we love it. For me personally, and my style of barbering I needed to get away and do my own thing. We’re a concept barbers, so it’s a one price service. It may be a little bit more expensive, but you get ten times more than at other barbershops in the area.”
No wonder, then, that the shop is already thriving – both with walk-ins off the street and, predominantly, with repeat clients, the true sign that any barbershop is succeeding! They’ve also been building up a range of Pirate products, with an impressive list that includes everything from beard oils and moustache toffees to hand-made soap and bristle bubbles, as well as a new cologne that is just hitting the shelves.
Harry tells me that he is trying to “create a brand rather than just a barbershop”, and he’s also doing this by running a YouTube channel which you can find here. Like me, he loves talking about clippers and gear, sharing reviews that will help other barbers find the right tools for their style of clippers. You’ll also find vlogs, as well as plenty of advice for up and coming barbers; Harry tells me that it’s geared towards people who want to get into barbering but are wondering where to start or how to improve.
Before I leave you with Harry’s words of wisdom for barbers who are new to the trade, I have to take a brief moment to share some of the gear that he loves to use – I never miss an opportunity to talk clippers, after all! After initially using Wahl tools such as the detailer and the magic clip cordless, Harry has found that he much prefers working with Andis clippers:
“Wahl stuff is great and you can do a sick fade, but I prefer Andis now: the guard system is a game changer, especially the old double magnetic guards, they’re brilliant. You can go really high with them, get a lovely transition. I found with the Wahl stuff that the fades weren’t as stretched as they can be. Personally, for my style of barbering, the Andis clippers do it – I also think the build quality is a lot better.” His kit includes the Balding Clipper, Fade Masters and Pro Foil clippers as well as a Blackout clipper and the Pro Mate Precision – both of which I was happy to pass on to Harry as a token of my appreciation for recording this great interview! The American clippers in this list are powered by my frequency 60hz converter, so if you want to try them out then that might be the missing piece of the puzzle: a converter which can power US clippers without any trouble.
So, as promised here is Harry Pirate’s excellent advice for upping your barbering game. As always, you can follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook for more great content – in the meantime, take note of Harry’s wise words and put them into practice whenever you can:
“Don’t step on screws… don’t get electrocuted daily… don’t break your hand… but all jokes aside just work hard, save up money, get a loan if you need to – make it happen, and you will make money. Sort your finances out and if you want a shop just make it happen. I had a great job at Ruffians, I was at one of the greatest shops in the country: I didn’t have bundles of cash, but I made it happen. Grab it and run with it.”