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Youtuber 360Jeezy: Rose From Broke Salesman To Youtube Sensation

At the CT Barber Expo in Connecticut I landed one my best video interviews ever, and it was a stroke of luck: I bumped into 360Jeezy, the barbering sensation from California with the biggest YouTube following in the industry.

His big smile, high energy and cheerful camera-ready personality come off as completely real. It’s no mystery why the30-year-old (he doesn’t look old enough to have a pint!) has more than 600,000 people following his wave tutorials and haircuts.

I knew I had to interview him for you, and he graciously agreed.  As Jeezy settled into a Takara Belmont chair at the Hartford Convention Center in April, I realized having no questions prepared was no problem, because Jeezy, aka Jarrod Stovall, loves sharing the journey from unhappy rug salesman and homeless student to YouTube star and product endorser.  It’s all about faith and determination.

YouTube journey: from a few thousand to more than 600K

I asked Jeezy about the phenomenal growth of his YouTube channel, which he launched in 2012.

“I wanted to teach people how I got my wave,” he said. Inspired by other YouTubers, Jeezy started filming with an iPhone 4 and brush before he was even a licensed barber.  He added haircut videos “because I love doing haircuts, too.”

“I wanted my career to be barbering so I started uploading videos throughout my journey at school and I got a big, big, huge response,” he said. “I kept uploading and I kept getting good response. As people showed me love, I couldn’t help but keep the energy going and give them love back.”

Homelessness and struggle

What his YouTube followers did not know – nor did people at school – was that Jeezy was broke and struggling during his studies.  “I dropped everything (to go to school) and I lost everything,” he said. Those months included a stretch with no fixed address. “I was basically homeless,” he said. “People at the school didn’t know I was living over here and over there and trying to keep the school thing going.”

Amazing.  I wanted to know more. Jeezy told me he got motivated for school by working unhappily as…a rug salesman.

Rug salesman?

“Yeah, the Oriental rugs, the carpet that you have in your home, the really expensive rugs, we were basically selling those out of Costco,” he says with a smile. “I was traveling around northern California, selling rugs.”

“I was miserable,” he continued. “I was telling my uncle and he said, ‘You need to go to school.’ I took his advice.”

But it wasn’t that simple. In fact, it took a near-miraculous event concerning a past student loan (he had debt from a brief stint at a San Francisco art school) just to get him through the barber school door.  The school said he couldn’t enroll until he had a history of paying on the debt…at least a 6-month history.

That’s a pretty big roadblock, but Jeezy was ready to face it down.

“I called the loan people and they are like, “Give me your info and we can do something for you,’” he recalls. But they could find no record of his debt.  “They were like, “What are you talking about?” and I was, ‘Come on, man! ‘”

Then the voice on the other end made the big reveal:  “…I can’t find anything (about your debt), because you paid it off!’” Jeezy recalls with a laugh.  “I was like ‘Huh?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I can fax you over the information and everything. It’s all good.’”

Not one to question good fortune, no matter how mysterious, Jeezy got started in barber school immediately.

YouTube: from 3,000 to 50,000 to blowing up

“When I first went to school I had about 3,000 subscribers,” Jeezy recalls. “As I was going to school, which took 7 months,  I was recording every step of the journey and I  was able to get up to at least 40,000 to 50,000 when I graduated.”

“After that, we opened up the shop, and I did this one video on how to cut your woof off – at the end of your 360 wave journey when you grow out your hair and you cut it all down and it’s real refreshing – and that video got crazy views, like over 3 million now, so that kind of launched me into like, “Oh, he cuts hair? He makes barber videos?”  The buzz just kept going from there.”

Velocity Kutz and the love of family

“The shop” Jeezy refers to is Velocity Kutz, an 8-chair establishment in Vacaville, Calif., he operates with his uncle, Kevin Stovall.  “My uncle owns it and I am the manager. I want to be clear,” he says laughing.  “We are basically partners. It is a family-owned business and we both look out for each other.”

How did Jeezy and his uncle become close enough to open a business together?

“I have to say it was a God thing the whole time,” he says with a smile.  “Because we were talking about what we were going to do after (leaving the rug sales job) and it just hit him – BAM! – that raiment from God hit him and he said, ‘You need to go to barber school!’  and I was, “What?” He was like, “Yeah!” He was so emotional. He called his wife and he was, ‘I know what we need to do. Open a barber shop.’”

With a professional platform for his talent, Jeezy now devotes his time to waves, cuts and video. “100 percent of my time goes to work, I am always at work,” he says. “If I am not cutting, I am editing and filming ‘cause not only do I have to give my audience haircuts, I have to give my other audience, my wavers, my hair tutorials. So it is nonstop.”

Jeezy is definitely not complaining, though. It is obvious to me he loves very minute of what he is doing, and he’s smart at managing himself, like when he’s editing video at home after a long day: “I rush and go home while I am inspired, ‘cause if I don’t,  the video will just sit and I will be like, ‘I’ll get it next time,’ and I will be inspired by something else and that video will get pushed back and then I’m like ‘Dang!’”

So, “I put out videos back-to-back-to-back. It’s all about consistency.”

The future for Jeezy360: a million subscribers and testimony

Anyone in business knows success builds on success, and Jeezy gets that, too.  Opportunities have opened for the man from Vacaville.  He was at CT Barber Expo on behalf of Self Cut Systems, who flew him to the event (“They didn’t have to do that,” he says modestly).

Now, the formerly homeless barber student finds himself posing for selfies with people he’s never met, thousands of miles from his home base.

“But I don’t focus on that. I focus more on helping others. When they come up to me and say, ‘Man 360 Jeezy, you helped me, man!’ That brings me more joy than anything else.”

“I don’t care about the numbers, per se, but my ultimate goal is to share my testimony at a million (followers),” he said. “It will reach more people.  It will seal the deal.  It is not to gain money or to have sponsors or to come out with a grease.  It is really to share and give back. “

360 Jeezy’s final thoughts for up and coming barbers

I wanted to know Jeezy’s advice for people starting out and he was very direct:  “Do it because you have a passion for it. Don’t do it because of opportunity. There are a lot of barbers who get caught up in, “Oh, I want to be flashy like that or I want to drive those nice cars, but that was never my focus.”

“Do it because you have a passion, and don’t stop. If something happens in your life that prevents you, it doesn’t have to prevent you from barbering or whatever it is you want to do.  Just keep at it.  Don’t let the distractions come and tear you down. Keep pushing. Keep everything positive in front of you.

“Who would have ever thought I would be 360Jeezy?  When I look back, I’m thinking, ‘Man, what if I had stopped?’  ‘Cause I could have stopped. So, don’t stop.  Y’all keep grinding, keep going. Go hard and give it your all.”

My thanks to 360Jeezy for his time and fantastic insights.  You will definitely want to see his version of the ”360Jeezy Jingle,” which finished off our interview!  Catch that at my YouTube Channel larrythebarberman.  Also follow me on Instagram @larrythebarberman and email me directly at info@larrythebarberman.com

 

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

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

 

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

Haircuts in the bathtub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meeting Obama’s barber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview With Barber Jack Robinson Pullen Of MBA (Mobile Barbering Academy)

I am always looking for new talent to bring to you in my interviews, and Jack Anderson Pullen was an easy choice. At 25 years old, he’s already a 12-year professional and he’s been running the popular Mobile Barbering Academy since he was just 19.

A veteran competitor, he’s a Wahl British Barber of the Year, two-time BBA Master Barber finalist, winner of the 2014 NHF and has many more accolades. He’s also found time to open his own salon in Thirsk in North Yorkshire and has another ready to go in Catterick.

Oh, he is also brand ambassador for SCISSORHANDS, the high-quality professional scissors well-loved among the best barbers.

Other than that, not much happening, right, Jack?

“It can become difficult to manage the schedule,” he agreed when he squeezed in a few moments in the Takara Belmont chair for an interview with me at Barber Connect. “My girlfriend will tell you I am very much a flitter. When I do something, I will do it passionately, but it may be 6 or 7 things at one time. “

Jack has been running full throttle since he was just 13. “I started in a salon in Milton Keynes called One Salon with Graham Horne, a fantastic hairdresser. Over the years I‘ve been fortunate to work with a lot of people you have interviewed,” he told me. “Tony Roberts, Craig McCarlane and a few others. I eventually moved up north to open my first barbershop with my girlfriend in North Yorkshire, called King and Captain.”

Starts Mobile Barbering Academy while still a teen

Jack started the Mobile Barbering Academy at just 19 years old (“with my mom” he says with a laugh) because of his keen appreciation for education and the fact high costs made it out of reach for so many.

“I felt courses were expensive,” he said “ I didn’t have the money at 19 myself, so I wanted to come up with something I could offer people booking these courses to bring them more knowledge, and make additional education accessible to them.”

Working with just his mum, “we’d go to salons and we give out educational materials – a pack of 50 pages. We would do demos and work with individuals on their weaknesses and adding new skills.”

This kind of ambition is bound to grow, and today Jack has a team of 12 at Mobile Barbering, delivering courses in salon shops and colleges all over the country.

His success has given him a possible dilemma many barbers would love to have. “My long-time dream is to be a member of the Wahl artistic team,” he says. “But it would be a conflict of interest right now, and a big decision about whether to pass the Academy onto someone else in order to join the Wahl team, if that were to happen. But right now, I am happy doing what I am doing.”

Not that Jack is hurting for brand deals. He’s been with Scissorhands for three years, an adventure that started oddly: his car was broken into.

“I lost a lot of equipment in the theft, and after I’d saved up to buy a pair of scissors, I started by going to AUK and met Linda from Scissorhands. I bought a set, used them to enter competitions and sent the pictures back to Ashley Howard and Linda to show them what I’d done. They offered me Salon International and a one hour slot, which turned into a day slot, which turned into a weekend slot which turned into becoming an educator for them. It’s all about helping people.”

Why Jack prefers his 50+ Scissorhands scissors to most clippers

As a competitor and platform barber, Jack has made his name with textured, feathered, what he calls ‘soft” cuts. “I love my patterns and skintight work but what separates me is that I started as a hairdresser and moved into barbering. Everything is a lot softer (in hairdressing).

“The strong, sharp square shapes that a lot of people are producing – their work is fantastic. But for me, I like a lot softer, so I like using my scissors more than my clippers.”

I’ve never seen Jack without a belt at his waist holding as many as 50 scissors. Here was my chance to ask about that. He covers the Scissorhands basics.

“There’s the straight blade which can vary in length from 5.5 to 7 inches, and our trademark scissor – called the EVO – which is a texturing, layering scissors with 15 teeth. This makes life easier because you don’t have to go back to do three different jobs by cutting your baseline, point cutting, texturizing. You can do everything in one hit.”

“We talk about a kit, a traditional barber kit, which for us is one short blade which you work inside the knuckle and by point cutting, if you ever need to point cut – with the EVO you don’t really need to do that. “

“The long blade is your scissor-over-comb and your bulk removal and your soft cut, better for softening blend lines.”

“You can work through the whole back and sides of a gent’s haircut using the soft cut: your traditional thinning scissors, your EVO – which is your layering – and your all-in-one, which I call the Swiss army knife of scissors.”

As for the dozens of scissors on his belt, Jack says Scissorhands believes every scissor has a unique job and a unique talent using it, so there custom Scissorhands designs feature many variations, colors and different types of steels.

The Wahl team keeps coming up, and when he talks of the future, Jack says the Wahl dream is still there/ “When I reached the final of the Wahl competition and got up on their stage in front of hundreds of people at Salon International I achieved one of my dreams. It is still burning inside of me to win competitions I’ve got one more dream – to get on the Wahl artist team eventually.

“If you’re passionate, you don’t always come across as you should”

Jack’s intensity earned him an early reputation as a rambunctious sort, which he doesn’t shy away from. “If you are passionate, you don’t always come across the way you should,” he says. “I write for BarberEVO and I spoke to them recently about a piece that was designed to come across hotheaded in order to separate view and make people think about views.”

Luke Dolan wrote article about egos in the industry, and I think he was saying it’s more of a case that people are passionate about things and they don’t believe in each other’s views and sometimes it conflicts.”

That’s true as far as it goes, Jack believes, but he’s also recommending the value of listening and appreciating mentors. “People above you in terms of age and experience, such as Chris Foster, have given me yeas of advice and guidance, even though we are in competition now since he has an academy, too. Mike Taylor is another. I still go to them and look up to them because they have been at it a long time.

It’s clear to me Jack’s passion about making people think is connected to his determination to never stop learning and growing, something that he offers as his top piece of advice for barbers coming up.

“Have an open mind,” He says. “I’ve worked with people who have been cutting hair for forty years and are still open to learning. I know people who have worked for five years for only one person and have closed off their minds.”

“Gary Machin, Eric Lander at the BBA, there are so many great ambassadors with great views and passion so always look to everybody – younger or older – to take experience and knowledge from.

“The most important thing is to be open to learning and never disregard a technique or product or tool. Don’t ever limit yourself.”

To see my entire video interview with Jack, stop by my YouTube channel @larrythebarberman.

Until next time, Happy Barbering!

 

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

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

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

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

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

So, let’s get started!

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

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

Coolant and Disinfectants Are NOT Oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kristy Faulkner: Barber & Wahl Educator, Simplifies Clipper Choice And Usage

 

As a Wahl ambassador, Kristi gets to rep for some of the best clippers in the barbering business. I caught up with her at a recent show to find out about her story, and also to learn more about why she loves Wahl products and works as part of the Wahl brand.

 

Tell me about when and where you started.

“I started 26 years ago in Florida. I actually started with my cosmetology licence. And as soon as I got out of cosmetology school, I moved to a military post. So, I started cutting hair on the military post.

“I had never picked up clippers at all in cosmetology school, but I had a really incredible teacher. After a few months of wanting to learn I started dragging clients into the chair. And at first it wasn’t the best, I was a hot mess. But from then on, I really incorporated barbering into my styling.”

Hearing you speak yesterday, I got the feeling that working in the military really changed you as a hair stylist. Tell me what that experience did for you.

“It was definitely life changing. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today and I definitely wouldn’t be with Wahl clippers. Back then it was $4 a haircut, that’s it. And you only made 40 % on commission. You had to cut a lot of hair very quickly to make any kind of money. So that helped me with my speed and my precision. That’s what made me into the barber and the stylist I am today.”

What kind of things have you had to overcome?

“You know it’s amazing, because I still get thrown into the deep end all the time. Even at my shop – I’ve been in business for a long time – and it’s still a consistent struggle. But I always tell people, if you know your craft, you know your tools and you have the education then you can do anything you want.

“You’re going to have days and struggles where yeah, you mess the hair up. But that is how you learn and how you grow.”

It seems like you’ve simplified the hairdressing process to see everything as texture. Talk me through this simplification.

“Really for me, consultation is huge – especially If it’s a new customer. Because that’s like a blueprint. The questions give me a blueprint, so I don’t have to work harder later in the haircut. Texture also helps decide what clipper I’m going to use. So then later on I don’t have to go back and fix anything.

“So, for instance, when I’m working on our ethnic clients I’m going to use the Five Star clippers. The Five Star range was created by Wahl for multicultural haircutting. It has the strongest motor, the sharpest blades and the most precision. They work phenomenal on anyone with curly, thick or coarse hair.

“That’s why in my classes I’m so passionate about teaching clipper blades, clipper education. Know what you’re purchasing, know your tools. Because what happens is that people, especially stylists, will start to do haircuts with the wrong tools and then they breakdown and never do another cut because they’re frustrated and defeated.”

 

Let’s say someone was unfortunate and not able to come to a Wahl seminar. Where could they find this information online?

“We have an incredible website. It’s wahlpro.com, and we have so much information on that website. We have a tool selector, which takes you through a process of questions about the type of hair you’re going to cut. Then it goes ahead and pulls up the tool that we recommend for your situation.

“We have our schedule – what hair shows we’ll be at, what classes we’re offering, what cities we’re going to be in. We also have links for short videos with different techniques on them – how to use your clipper, how to adjust your blade, how to oil your clipper… so we have an incredible amount of information on our website, which can pick you up and put you to the places where you need to go.”

 

So, the moral is to invest some time in education, and maybe invest some money in the professional tools.

“I ask people in all of my classes, what is the most you’ve ever spent on shears? And I think the most somebody has told me is $1500. And I always say to them, you have no problem spending that much on shears, but then you come to the Wahl booth and you want to buy the $29 clipper and have it do the same thing as the $1500 shears. I say to them, it’s an investment. And whatever you can do with shears, you can do faster and better with clippers.”

 

Let’s imagine an ambitious barber with plenty of years of experience, he’s built up his skills, he’s invested in the Wahl clippers and he now wants to pass on his knowledge and become a Wahl artistic team member. What would be your advice?

“I was very fortunate when I started that they found me. They found me because I was at all of the shows. Now we have what’s called our ambassador program. If you’re a licenced professional, then go to wahlambassador.com and you can sign up for the program. Go through that and you’ll get emails about all the latest and greatest products that we’re bringing out. It will also take you to a link for if you’re interested in becoming a part of the team.

“We look for people who absolutely are passionate about Wahl clippers. You know, I’ve always been passionate about Wahl clippers. They’re the biggest clipper company in the world, family-owned and they’ll be 100 years old soon. You have to be passionate.”

 

Tell me your favourite two clippers and trimmers, and why.

“Right now, I’m infatuated with all of our cordless clippers. My favourite is the Cordless Magic Clip. I love it because it’s fast, it has a blade that allows you to smooth the hair out, it has a good run time on it, and it’s on lithium Ion batteries so it doesn’t run out of charge. The other won that I’m very excited about is the Cordless Senior. I love the ease. I’m the sort of person that its talking and walking around with my clipper in my hand, so it’s nice not to have the limit of the cord.

“For trimmers, I love our new Retro T Cut. If you remember, we used to have a trimmer called the 8900. And now we’re paying homage to the 8900. My other favourite trimmer is our 5 Star Detailer. But it’s a very close call between that and the Hero.”

Yesterday on stage, I saw you performing a few ninja tricks. I’d love these to be shared around the world. Let’s talk about ninja trick number one: the eyebrows.

“Eyebrows is almost like the finish to the haircut. Eyebrows get passed over so much. You have a nice polished look, and then you have these eyebrows. So what I do is I have the cordless magic clip, blade in the open position so it doesn’t take all the hair off and then just go over it in the direction that the hair grows.”

 

The other technique that I found interesting was the trick with the hairspray, where you put the hairspray on prior to lining up. Explain that technique and how you stumbled upon it.

It was actually another artistic team member who did it while we were up on stage, and I said ‘what did you just do?’ They sell products especially for that but it’s exactly the same thing. I like an aerosol better because it dries quicker, and once it dries I’ll just take out that trimmer and go over the edge. The hair is laying down nice and flat, and it allows you to see where you’re edging – and it’s going to be a little safer, you’re not going to push that edge back.”

One final question. I heard Matty Conrad and you talking about the technique of holding the client’s head and taking control. Explain your kind of control technique.

“My poor clients, I have all the control. That’s important because that’s your work going out the door, that’s your name. That’s really where you get your clientele from. That’s my logo on their head. I tell people, please greet everybody when they come into your salon. When they’re in my chair my hand is on top of their head: partly so they don’t move, but also to stabilize me. Take control.”

I hope that more barbers take heed of Kristi ’s words and do exactly that: take control of your craft. Whether that means investing in more education, better tools or longer hours practicing is up to you. You can also follow Larry the Barberman on Instagram and Youtube to see regular interviews with some of the biggest names in barbering.

http://www.larrythebarberman.com

 

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Barber Chris Foster’s, 11 Step Guide, To Creating An Exceptional BBA Signature Shave

11 Steps for creating an exceptional BBA signature shave

 

The introduction of a signature shave can really elevate your barbershop to the next level. You get to show off your skills whilst also introducing products and techniques a cut above the rest.

Chis Foster from the British Barber Academy (BBA) met me at Chris & Sons in London to demonstrate their signature shave, and how you can use BBA products to retail and to elevate your own service. Here’s what Chris had to say:

“The only reason a guy would come to a barbershop is for the experience. You can add on additional services – and the signature shave is not your regular shave, so you can charge more and increase your barbershop revenue.”

Sound good? Let’s get started.

 

Step 1: Prepare the skin

Chris starts off by priming the skin with the BBA facewash. Use plenty of water; this is the first hydration the skin will get. A great technique is to use the ‘prayer pose’: start with your hands together at the chin, then move down the cheeks and up over the nose.

 

Step 2: Exfoliate

After priming the beard area, you need to exfoliate the top half of the face. What’s great about the BBA shave is that you can use exactly the same product – the BBA facewash – just apply less water. The rice particles help this multifunctional product give a good scrub.

 

Step 3: Add more moisture

You’ll notice that hydration is a key theme here: it’s vital for getting the shave right. BBA shave oil can be massaged into the skin, using luxurious prickly pear oil to give the skin a real treat. A great oil to use if you want to avoid clogging the razor.

 

Step 4: Mark the lines

An optional step – BBA shave butter is a non-lathering product that can be used to mark the lines you’ll be cutting effectively before you start cutting. Encourage clients to use this at home, either as a shaving cream or a priming product. It also traps moisture on the skin.

 

Step 5: Raise the heat

A hot towel is an essential part of any luxurious shave. Make sure your client is comfortable with the towel’s heat, then fold it inwards and wrap round the chin and forehead. This puts maximum heat and hydration into the most difficult area. You can use this opportunity to prep.

Quick tip – you can leave the towel over the top of the face during the rest of the shave

 

Step 6: Apply the shaving cream

The BBA shaving cream is a great product for your clients to take home, as it promotes great shaving habits. The lid can be used as a shaving bowl, encouraging use of a proper shaving brush that will retain heat. It also contains the powerful antioxidant known as dragon’s blood.

 

Step 7: Get shaving

It’s time to do what barbers do best: cut the hair. Chris recommends feather razors, and offers a few shaving tips: Work with speed and tension. Shave with the grain. You should shave the most difficult area – around the nose – first, as this part can make the client tense.

 

Step 8: Add more hydration

Don’t be stingy – you can apply more shaving cream as you go to make sure the skin stays hydrated. Remember to use both forehand and backhand strokes as necessary, pulling the skin tight and lifting the cheeks so that you have a nice flat area and can shave downwards.

 

Step 9: The final pass

Go back over the shaved areas at least one more time to make sure you’ve caught every stray hair. Prime the skin again, add a little more water and re-lather. Chris also chooses to change his blade to the pro blade. Simply go back over your work to ensure the smoothest results.

 

Step 10: Cooling face mask

After the shave is finished, that BBA facewash can be used again – this time as a mask. This is a great chance to give a relaxing scalp massage, too. While the mask is on, put a cool towel over the face to calm the skin. Leave for about 45 seconds.

 

Step 11: Soothe the skin

Use the BBA oil to bring a little bit more hydration to the face, then apply the post-shave balm. With dragon’s blood providing anti-inflammatory properties, the BBA balm offers your client’s skin some soothing respite. Once that’s done, you can add the moisturiser.

 

Quick tip: “Moisturisers and balms do not do the same thing. You want to make sure you use a post-shave balm because when you shave you’re taking away a tiny layer of skin.”

 

This is a comprehensive shave that your clients will love – and as you get confident don’t be afraid to add your own flourish! Big thanks to Chris Foster, and to the guys at Chris & Sons, and don’t forget that if you enjoyed this then you can find me at larrythebarberman.com, or as Larry the Barber Man on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube for much more.

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Pope The Barber: My After Hours Interview At The Vatican Barbers With Hers Truly…

Take one look at Pope the Barber and you’ll be able to see that she’s a person who lives true to herself: from the striking haircut to the intricate network of tattoos, Pope makes an immediate impact. Interviewing her for this show, I found her to be down to earth and full of wisdom – making her the perfect person for up and coming barbers to learn from.

 

Of course, the alias Pope and the fact that she’s named her barbershop the Vatican are also pretty good sign that this is a barber who’s happy to think outside the box. I tell Pope that walking into the shop for the first time is a little awestriking… Instagram just doesn’t do it justice:

 

“It is an awesome space, but that’s what I that’s what I want to do. I don’t want to make it you know look cooler on Instagram. I want it to lure people in and I want people to believe it.

 

I’ve had this space for two years and we’ve been up and running for about a year and a half, but I have a vision of what I want to do. I love this place, you know, it’s been dear, but it’s time for an expansion.”

 

Here are the highlights from our interview – watch the full video to hear Pope’s thoughts on everything from education to finding her barbering niche.

 

 

 

So how does a trailblazer like Pope get started in the barbering industry?

 

“I was gonna go play basketball, but I got into a car accident. You know how that goes. But I mean, it was it was all meant to happen really. From that accident I actually couldn’t walk for about a year, and I was going to school for aeronautical engineering. I loved doing hair, obviously I had a passion for it, but I thought it was more of a hobby.

 

“You know, I never thought that barbering was really a thing for me, and I started out as a hair stylist. Yeah, I went to cosmetology school in crutches and I mean it was the scariest thing. I said to my parents, I’m not a mathematician you know I would love to cut hair.”

 

 

 

You’ve got a knack for every part of barbering, including build a business. Tell me about how Pope the Barber came about a brand.

 

“Like I said everything happens for a reason, you know: right place, right time. I’ve always just been a people person, you know, and networking’s just kind of my jam. I mean, I’ve been a barber straight out of high school – that’s all I really know – but I always wanted to do something on the side, and it wasn’t because I was bored of hair. It was just there was no job title that really fit what I wanted. You know, I wanted to travel. I wanted to do everything.

 

“And that’s what a brand is: you can you can have everything you like, do whatever the hell you want and that’s your brand. How it really started is that I was barbering but I was also hosting clubs and doing tattoo modelling and all that. I wanted people to know me for barbering, you know, so I actually took a job opportunity and Montreal and I went out there and just focused on my brand I heard it was negative 40 over there and I was like perfect don’t need to go outside. Seriously. It was like that. I just knew what I wanted.”

 

 

 

 

 

What is your barbering speciality?

 

“I love it all, you know, I’d like to say I’m one thing, but I just love cutting hair. And I can’t say I’m the best: I’m not the best. I have a lot of things that I enjoy doing and I love learning new things.

 

I do love doing a gentleman’s cut with a nice clean taper. I love that, that’s kind of my favourite. Then I love doing flat tops, anything crazy. I love doing design. But my favourite for sure is a nice clean taper with something funky in the back.

 

 

 

Your body is covered in tattoos – where did it all start? And did you have any deliberation getting the tattoo running down your cheek?

 

“I always knew I wanted tattoos, and my first tattoo was on my side. It says ‘All that I am I owe to my mother’. And she was mad, but you know secretly she was proud. A lot of my tattoos are to ward off demons or they’re a kind of spiritual protection.

 

“[I hesitated] for a moment. But I knew what I wanted. I was just praying to God that it would look good. It’s funny, like every visible piece that you can’t hide my tattoo artists and I would like take a moment of silence and dedicate my life to the arts. But this was like the ultimate: my face, you can’t hide that – it’s a bold piece.”

 

A final personal question – Joanie is in a lot of your pictures on Instagram. How does she feature in your brand?

 

“She plays a huge part. She gave up a lot to be here and she really wanted to see my dreams come true. I wanted to build an empire for us, that’s my end goal.

 

“She pushes me, you know. I’m completely right brain and she’s completely left brain. So I’m all the way out here and she brings me back to earth. She helps me really achieve my goals.”

 

 

 

Tell me a little bit about the products you have available…

 

“I have a few things out there, but this year is the year of launching. So I have clothes, all handmade clothes coming out. My biggest thing is I have a hair product coming out that I won’t tell you too much about, but that’s one of my biggest projects this year. All the good stuff is coming out within the next few months.”

 

You also offer education – what’s your area of speciality?

 

“Well, my style of education goes back to my roots. I started as a cosmetologist and stylist, and then I moved into barbering. So it’s basically bridging the gap between stylists and barbers, you know, more clipper techniques and for the barbers that I teach courses or techniques so basically just bridging that gap. You know: more clipper techniques, and for the barbers that I teach more scissor techniques.

 

“I definitely know all the troubles that they have. I also know all the tools that they are and aren’t familiar with. But I teach to light a fire under people. Honestly, I love teaching. I like the technical work, but in the end I want people to leave feeling inspired.”

 

 

 

 

 

so some people practicing law of attraction by meditation. Some people do affirmations, some people write out their goals. Some people are just daydreaming.

 

 

 

This interview is going out across the world – where can people expect to see you, what kind of shows have you got in the pipeline?

 

“I have Connecticut Barber Expo, I’m doing something cool in June in Miami – that’s top secret. I’m going to be in Canada working with Monster. I might be in Europe this summer. I’m traveling once or twice a month and it’s all going to be in the States, you know, so I’m going to be in Utah, New York, Texas, Chicago, everywhere here.”

 

And finally – what are your parting words to any barber who wants to excel in the world of barbering?

 

“Hone your skills, you know, and really work on your products. Because in the end, you are a product: for barbers, your product is your skill. So, you’ve got to take classes, never stop educating yourself and never stop being open. Don’t stop learning because that’s what kills a barber or stylist.

 

“Networking is super important – social media is out there. It’s all out there, that’s how I got to travel and all that, from Instagram and Facebook. Just put yourself out there, reach out to people.

 

“And dream big. Everything is possible: dream big. I’m doing workshops, as well, on how to build a barber shop.”

 

 

 

So there you have it: Pope the Barber, in her own words. Don’t forget to watch the full video to hear even more great advice – including how barbers can use mindfulness and meditation to realise their ambitions. You should also head down to Instagram, where you can follow Pope here and myself here. You’ll also find @LarrytheBarberMan on Facebook and YouTube, where I’ll keep you up to date on my latest interviews.

 

 

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Whilst in California recently I took the opportunity to get together with Australia’s Men’s Hairdresser of the Year 2017, Tori Gill. Only 26 years old, Tori is clearly going places – but I think there’s a lot to learn from the journey that brought her to this position. Without further ado, here’s Tori’s story…

“When I was 15 years old I wanted some money, and the only job you can get at that age is to either be an assistant in a salon or to do a paper round. I wasn’t going to do a paper round. I wanted to go to art college, so this was just to get some extra money.

“So, I went up to the salons in Edinburgh, walked into this hairdresser’s and asked them if they needed a girl. And they did, so I started working there. They showed me there is actually a really creative side to hairdressing outside of what’s done in the salon, and I loved it. I thought this is pretty much art. So, I said to my Dad I don’t know what to do. Should I go to art college or do hairdressing? He said to me, you can go to art college whenever you want. It’s harder to do an apprenticeship if you’re older. So why don’t you get your trade and then if you do go to art college, then you can do your friends’ hair to make money.

“I went full time and, because when I was a Saturday girl I used to just watch constantly, I actually qualified really fast. Then men’s hairdressing was actually the last part of my apprenticeship, and because it was the last part like I didn’t enjoy it as much. I just wanted to be on the floor. I wanted to do colouring, I understood colouring a lot because it was similar to doing painting.

“I also loved the avant-garde side of things, and I thought that that was the way I was going to go. One of the girls that I worked with was doing an opening tour for Wella Trend Vision, and she invited me along to help do all the hair pieces and prep the models for the shows. That introduced me to a whole new world and I was like this is what I want to do, I want to do competitions.”

 

This is when Tori decided to take a break from hairdressing, instead heading to Ibiza to spend six months working in the sun with her friends. When she moved back, the cold Edinburgh climate didn’t seem so appealing – and the desire for another change of scenery led her all the way to Australia:

“So, I got my visa, I flew to Sydney and I got a job at a hairdresser’s in Sydney. I had no clue what I was going to do. And then I decided that I wanted to be traveling, so I took off from Sydney and I travelled up the East Coast. After I got to the top of Australia I flew down to Melbourne to meet my friend. The girl that she lived with was a hairdresser, and she’d just left her job. She said why don’t you come to work with me tomorrow and see if you can get my job. I ended up getting her job and then I instantly fell in love with Melbourne.”

Whilst there, Tori also saw a salon that she fell in love with – windows lined with Wella Vision trophies that seemed to be exactly sort of place she’d like to work. “I went in there and I said, Oh, I’m going to work here. I really want to do competitions. And the girl actually laughed at me. She said everyone wants to work here, and kind of rolled her eyes at me.”

One of the best signs that someone is going places is the ability to overcome these types of setback, which is just what Tori did. She decided to travel a little more, ending up back in Edinburgh but knowing that she’d eventually make her return to Australia.

“I said to everyone: ‘I’m here for a year and then I’m moving back to Melbourne. I knew that you could get sponsored being a hairdresser in Australia at the time. So my friends that I used to work with in the salon, they all worked in a barbershop and they said why don’t you come work in the barbers? I said no way, I’m not doing men’s hair. I couldn’t really fade hair… it was just not my thing.

“They said no, no it’s good money, it’s proper chilled. So I said fine, I’ll do it. I remember when I first started and I was trying to do fades. I said to one of the boys, do you think if a client asks for zero I can just give them a one? He said no, you’ll have to do the zero. And I was so scared because I knew what to do with scissors, but clippers were not my strong point.

“I got all my mates in that were boys, and I finally got the hang of it and after like two, three weeks are working there. I loved it and it is so much more chilled – guys are so much easier to like work with than girls. So, I do that for a year and then once a year is done, it’s time for me to move back to Melbourne.”

Back in Melbourne, Tori was able to get started in a barbershop straight away. After just a couple of weeks, though, she set her sites on a bigger prize:

“I picked up a magazine and it said Joey Scandizzo has opened a barbershop. I remembered that was the salon I went in to, that had all the Trend Vision awards. They were hiring, so I called them up and said ‘Oh, hey, I’m from Scotland and I need to be sponsored, do you guys sponsor? The guy said no, we don’t sponsor anyone, you need to be an Australian resident to work here.

“I wasn’t going to let it go. I emailed them, and I said ‘Hey, I’m interested in working for you guys.’ Didn’t mention anything about me being Scottish. So, I had the interview, got the job and said to the guy look I need to be sponsored to work here. He said give us a month and we’ll look into it and see what we can do. And they ended up sponsoring me.

“The reason I wanted to work there is because it was more of like a men’s hairdressing salon than a barber shop. As soon as I started I was like this is what I want to do. I want to compete, I like the creative side of hairdressing, I wanted to hair shows – and I knew that’s what Joey’s salon did. They’re really well known in Australia and they do the big hair shows and fashion awards.”

Tori knew exactly what she wanted from this opportunity, and she asked her new boss if she could shadow him ahead of Australia’s Men’s Hairdresser of the Year. Doing jobs for him and helping with the preparation gave her a chance to see what it would be like to do it for herself.

“Because I’d done all that, he then said the following year that I could do it. I wanted to which is when I decided to enter. That was last year, so that was my first year entering and lucky enough I won it, which was pretty good.”

 

It’s not just pretty good, it’s very impressive to see a British barber moving to Australia and having so much success in such a short space of time. I ask Tori how she would define her style of cutting:

“I don’t do many traditional barbering haircuts. My style is very textured and natural. I like to cut hair dry, so the natural fall of the hair will really help it grow out nicely. It works for a lot of my clients because, they always say that even when they don’t have products in their hair the haircut always still looks good.

“I always say let the hair decide where the part is, like don’t you decide where the part is. It’s the same as doing a fade, don’t you decide how high up you take the fade, let the head shape decide.”

Tori also explained where she gets her barbering inspiration from and, in particular, her inspiration for the Australian Hairdresser of the Year Awards.

“Fashion is a huge inspiration to me. I love fashion, I love styling. I decided I wanted to style them first and then from there and then decide how I wanted the haircuts. A lot of people would do that differently. They’d let a stylist decide what the model should wear. But I wanted to do everything as a whole.”

So where is all of this barbering success going to take Tori next?

“Obviously a lot of people in my situation right now go down the education side. Me, I prefer to do more styling and editorial things. getting more involved with fashion. If I was to do this as a career, then obviously there would be a stylist on the shoot and they would do that side of things, and then you’d work with the stylist.

“When I was younger, the girls I worked with wanted their own salons. And I wanted my hair cut to be on the front of Vogue. From a young age, that’s always what I wanted to do. I never really wanted my own place. It doesn’t really interest me. I think when you have your own shop it can sometimes take you away from the hair. It’s more about managing people, and that’s not what I want to do.

“I just think as long as you’re always moving forward and bettering yourself every day and doing something like even if it’s baby steps towards your ankle and that’s all that matters, and experiences and opportunities will come your way.”

 

Tori is certainly looking to the right inspiration, and she tells me that Kevin Luchmun and Jody Taylor are two of the stylists that she looks up to in particular. With such a vibrant global barbering scene, it’s great to see young talent like Tori looking to some of the more experienced industry names for motivation.

It was also great to speak to somebody with so much enthusiasm for cutting and styling hair: there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be seeing Tori’s work on the cover of Vogue soon enough! I hope this interview helps youngsters interested in barbering think about how they could move forward. For more interviews with other great barbers, don’t forget that you can find me as @LarrytheBarberMan on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

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Interview: With Kevin Luchmum, One of The UK’S Best Men’s Barbers/Hairdressers

It’s impossible to pigeon hole Kevin Luchmun: rather than defining himself as a barber or a hairdresser, or pinning himself down to one particular style, he’s simply ‘someone who loves to cut hair’. His career has seen him working with some of the biggest names in the industry, but now he’s set off on his own. Of course, with the Kevin Luchmun name already synonymous with excellent technical ability, he’s set himself up for success. Still, I wanted to find out what drove him to leave Toni & Guy:

“Yeah, so as you know I left back in February last year. It more or less got to the stage where you start to think about what is it that you want in life. I’d been with the company for 11 years: I was with them for six years in London, where I reached the level to become an international art director. So, I had my dreams and my ambitions within the company, I achieved them and then I just said to myself, do I want to stay and do exactly the same thing? Of course, they could push me in a different direction, but my personal own goals were achieved.

“Then it was just a case to really take that leap of faith and go for it. Because I always think to myself, I don’t want to live thinking ‘what if?’ I’d rather just do it and just see what happens. And we’re here now at Salon International to tell the tale.”

 

Taking that step into the unknown can often be the thing that propels a great career forwards, so it’s exciting to see where Kevin’s new path will take him. At the same time, making a dramatic step in your career is always going to feel unusual for a while. I ask Kevin how life has changed:

“A lot of people ask me: ‘how’s life now, what’s it like, is it good?’ and I just say the best way to describe it is it’s just different. Because now especially, I don’t work for such a massive big corporate company and I’m independent. I have to go out find those opportunities.

“And I think it’s like anything, having been with the company for such a long time you know I gained my experience, I made the mistakes, I learned from the mistakes and got the education. Not just how to educate cutting hair, doing shows, but also the education on how to become a better educator as well. So, it’s good, it’s just different. A lot more challenging, I’d say, and there’s still pressure – probably a bit more pressure – but the pressure comes down to me, which is good because it’s like everything I do now is for myself.”

Going it alone, then, has made Kevin the master of his own destiny – and as much as that can mean extra work, it also seems t be something that he greatly enjoys:

“If I don’t give 110% then that’s on me. If I mess up on something, it’s on me. I don’t have anyone to blame. And I don’t have anyone to just think: ‘oh, don’t worry about that. Someone else is going to worry about that.’ Everything I do now, from bookings, from liaising with clients, from show-work preparation… that all comes down to me.”

 

While Kevin has certainly built up a huge reputation in his own right, it’s still different from the name recognition that comes alongside working with a company like Toni & Guy. With that in mind, I wonder whether people treat him any differently these days:

“I think now it’s probably got its ups and downs. Being an independent name now, all I am representing is myself. Where I’ve liaised, met people along my journey and had the experience of doing shows, seminars and of course competitions, people still respect me in the industry. You know, I’m probably getting more opportunities, and more different opportunities. Like to judge different competitions and work with different brands. There’s a lot of freedom.”

This is the positive side of being independent – but Kevin also acknowledges that there can be downsides:

“Like I said, everything now comes down to me. I’m a one-man band, more or less. So, if I don’t want to wake up in the morning, have a lay in, then I have potentially missed that opportunity to go meet with people or reply to emails, whatever else like that. Everything comes down to me and I have to have to motivate myself.

“If I did need something that I’m sure I could reach out to someone, but I don’t really have anyone to bounce ideas off. And my head’s always going crazy, like a hundred miles per hour and now I don’t have anyone to say hey, I’ve got this really cool idea. I tell myself, but I don’t have anyone to say: ‘yeah that’s a cool idea, or what about doing it this way?’”

 

 

When I caught up with Kevin last year, he’d just been named one of the Men’s Hairdresser of the Year finalists for the 2017 British Hairdressing Awards. This certainly wasn’t the first time that he’d been in that position, but I wondered whether achieving it now, as a lone wolf, gave it special meaning:

“It does actually mean a great deal, because it was the first year that I’ve entered being a solo individual artist working for myself. But I think you know what it means to me this year. It means a lot because it’s all my work: it’s Kevin Luchmun from Kevin Luchmun, it’s not Kevin Luchmun from another brand. I just cut my friends hair and I just want to take a beautiful image – and that’s what I’ve done. And to me it means a lot because this year especially because it’s like yeah, I’m still in the game.”

Based on Kevin’s hairdressing success, I had to ask him how he sees himself: is he a barber or a hairdresser? In reality, Kevin’s love for cutting hair goes beyond these industry divisions:

“I’m neither. I’m just someone that cuts hair. It’s not a case of are we barbers, are we hairdressers… we’re people that just cut hair, who want to make people look good. Hair is hair at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with clippers or scissors. They’re just the tools and the instruments that you use. So do I call myself a hairdresser or a barber? Neither. Do I call myself Kevin Luchmun? Yes I do.”

 

I also wanted to talk to Kevin about education. The drive for more, higher quality education seems to be one of the big things that’s pushing the hair industry at the moment. I asked Kevin to explain why he feels that education has become so important:

“People want to go to shows and seminars, like Salon International because they want to learn. And I think that’s the great thing about our industry is that it is such a creative industry. There’s so many creative minds out there, and so many people that really want to express their creativity within someone’s hair, you know.

“I think education is needed because there’s so much out there that you can learn, you know, why would you want to just carry on doing the same thing. And the thing is I’ve got the experience with barbers and I’ve got the experience of working for such a massive hairdressing company. For me, is about giving back because I remember when I couldn’t do it. I remember when I struggled. I remember when I struggled how to hold a pair of scissors and a comb. I want to give back to the people that actually genuinely do you want to learn. I will give them so much more than that someone who can’t be bothered. And that’s what I love to do, because it’s about inspiring the youth of our industry.”

Of course, simply being an excellent barber or hairdresser isn’t necessarily enough to cut it as an educator, and if you want to branch out into education then there will be more skills to master:

“I know the most talented hairdressers and barbers out there, and they can’t educate. I know the most amazing educators out there and they can’t cut hair. It’s a balance, knowing how to actually combine the two together. It’s not an easy thing. It takes a lot of hard work. It takes a lot of time and a lot of making mistakes.

“I feel experienced enough that anyone can ask me why I’m doing something and I will be able to tell them exactly why. There’s so many people that say what they’re doing when they educate. I don’t want to know what you’re doing. I want to understand what’s going on in your head, and that’s what makes me different.”

 

Very good advice for any barbers or other hair professionals who do want to make that jump from cutting hair to educating others. I also asked Kevin to share some broader inspiration for barbers who might want to follow in his footsteps on other ways:

“Really understand: what is it you want in life and what is it that you want in your career? Do you want to be on stage and doing these trade shows, in the limelight? If that’s what you want to do, cool. If you want to be better hairdresser and perfect your craft, cool – do that. If you want to make more money, do that. You need to understand what it is that you really want to achieve and then set yourself that goal. And then literally just go for it.

“If you don’t set yourself little goals how are you ever going to progress? That’s what I personally do. I said to myself I wanted to travel to over 10 countries this year when I left Toni & Guy, and I’ve done it. I wanted to become a finalist in the Men’s British Hairdressing Awards – I’ve done it.

“I always say in life, you’ve got take baby steps. If you’ve just started and you want to be on that massive stage, it’s not going to happen. You literally need to take those baby steps and then you’ll be able to get there. But if you have the vision that you want to be up on that big stage, then you’re going to be there. Along the way, stay humble and stay true to yourself. Keep doing what you love and just trying to just be a better person.”

 

Thanks once again to Kevin for sharing these thoughts with me. There’s some strong, practical advice in there that I think all of you barbers and hairdressers at home can really do a lot with, just remember to keep setting those little goals! And for today’s little goal, why not follow Larry the Barber Man on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook? You’ll be able to keep up with all of the latest inspiring videos… You know it makes sense!

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Back to the roots of barbering

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

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

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

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

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

 

A contemporary twist

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Spreading the good word

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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