Quickfire hygiene tips from trichologist Tracey Walker
Hopefully you’ve already checked out part. 1 of my interview with former hairdresser and trichologist Tracey Walker. If not, I’d recommend taking a look, as Tracey gives some fascinating insights into the possible infections that can be picked up at a barbershop… as well as genuinely useful information for avoiding them.
Now, though, it’s on to part two, and I wanted to ask Tracey’s opinion on some specific barbershop issues that have been on my mind.
First up: does she think it’s a good idea to use gloves instead of washing hands between cuts?
“I don’t really. There are situations where gloves should be used, but if you’re sitting down for a haircut and somebody comes along all gloved up then you might sit there and wonder what they’re going to do to you!
“Also, I think it’s important that we do touch people’s heads. If there’s the smallest bump or abrasion we may miss it – wearing gloves, you don’t always feel what’s happening.”
This could also make you too complacent about washing hands in general: not a good thing for a barber. Finally, if somebody was infected to the point that you felt you had to use gloves then you shouldn’t cut their hair at all, as you may move the infection around”.
Next up, I asked whether the dusting brush can be an area of concern.
The main issue here would be head lice. Specifically, if you draw headlice out with a comb and then leave the comb next to a dusting brush, then they may migrate to the bristles. The best thing to do is to avoid cutting the hair of anybody who has lice – and if a brush does pick up lice then just get rid of it!
What does a trichologist like Tracey think about industry regulation?
“It’s a difficult one. I think it would be important to try and regulate the industry, and even have inspections. In hair salons the chemicals that are used are so strong, and the blades, the clippers, all the electrical equipment – you have to be trained in these areas”.
Finally, then, what is Tracey’s overall advice to barbershop owners?
“First of all, hairdressers and barbers in my experience are people who care about people. They want to make them look good, give them the latest style, make them feel good. And I feel like looking after your client, you not only give them the best cut you can, but you’ve got to look after their health as well. You have to keep in mind what can happen.
“So just simple little things like remembering to wash your hands between each client – we don’t know what they have, and they may not have anything, but it’s just good practice. And to wash them properly, and to dry them as well.
“Have a couple of barbicide jars, and give your comb a good wash with some detergent – it doesn’t need to be time consuming. So just two simple things there: washing your hands, and making sure that equipment is actually put in the barbicide jar, clean, would go a long way towards making sure that you’re looking after your client in the best possible way.”
A big thank you to Tracey for providing so much useful information – I genuinely think that these tips could make or break a barber shop so definitely put it into practice! And don’t forget to come and find me as instagram, Facebook and YouTube, as that’s where you’ll find more great interviews with industry experts.
Leah Hayden Cassidy (find her on Instagram as Hayden_Cassidy) is an Irish barber working out of Berlin. After just three years cutting hair she’s done so much that it’s difficult to know how best to describe her. Suffice to say that her barbershop work has covered everything from fades to shaves to afro cuts, while she’s also claimed victory in barber battles, taken to the stage and appeared in magazines. It was a real pleasure to have her in the interview chair.
The path less travelled
When you first meet Leah, it’s immediately clear that she’s not somebody who would be satisfied resting on her laurels. It’s no surprise that she took a path less travelled into barbering, teaching herself the trade after her original dream – becoming a footballer – fell apart thanks to a bad leg injury:
“I had to rethink basically my whole life. It was hard at the start – I had numerous jobs including being a dance instructor. I also did bar jobs… any job, you name it.” After this, she fell into barbering by accident, when Conor Taaffe decided to let her give it a go and liked what he saw. “He said listen, you can hold the clippers well, as soon as they were in your hand it was comfortable. Did you enjoy it? I did enjoy it, so I decided to take it from there.”
Armed with just a basic set of clippers, Leah started her new career by cutting hair whenever she could find the time. The journey took her to Ryan Cullen’s salon, where she swept the floor whilst watching Ryan and Conor work and falling in love with the industry more by the second. Her initiation came as Conor handed her a first pair of scissors, and she hasn’t looked back:
“I found that same passion and love which I’d found in football and didn’t think I was going to find again. I became addicted to the industry.”
Talking her way to the top
While there’s no doubting Leah’s talent, she also started out with a lot of bravado – blagging her first barbershop role:
“I went in and said I’ve been cutting hair for a while, will you give me a chance. He said ‘I tell you what, come in on New Year’s Eve and you can have a trial.’ Looking back now I don’t even know how I got through it. I was just cutting hair and talking to clients as if I’d been in the industry for 5 years. At the end he just laughed and said ‘it’s obvious you haven’t been doing this a while but I’ll give you a chance and take you on as a junior barber.’”
Despite being back at the beginning in terms of a career, Leah was finally doing something that she lived again. She stayed in her first job for 6 months – and you can still see the early cuts preserved for posterity on her Instagram page. Eventually, she moved on to Demon barbershop, another Dublin barbershop, and a chance to take things to the next level.
There was still plenty of opportunity to learn and grow, though, and Leah started to get itchy feet. This took her to a new challenge in a completely different country, after Miguel invited her to join him at the Nomad Barber in Berlin:
“He’s amazing. He was one of the first barbers I actually followed online. I watched all his videos, and they helped me to learn. I was amazed by him, still to this day he’s a very inspiring barber to me. He contacted me and said he was setting up this shop in Berlin and asked if I was interested. I knew this was the direction that I needed to take with my career – two weeks later I jumped on a plane and started working in the Nomad.
“It took me into a whole other world I remember the first time I sat in the shop, it was my first day. Miguel was in the middle of a shave and I was in awe. It was actually like the blade was attached to his hand. It brought a little fire into me.”
Long term Larry the Barber Man followers will have certainly seen Miguel interviewed here in the past – if you have then you’ll know just how inspiring he can be. After speaking to Leah, though, it’s also no surprise to hear that she eventually started getting itchy for another new challenge:
“I was there a year and I felt like I had done what I set out to do. I wasn’t ready to leave Berlin, but I felt I was just too comfortable in what I was doing. I wanted to get myself out there and learn something else. A client I had who is a barber in England told me that he’d been to the London barber school, and then he’d done a hairdressing course, then worked at a Turkish barbershop for a while, then an Afro barbershop for a while and so on. Then he opened up his own shop. It got into my head, that’s the way to do it: throw yourself in the deep.”
This took her to Ebony and Ivory, a big salon in Berlin specialising in afro hair: “There was such a buzz. If you’ve seen the movie barbershop then you’ll know, it’s a proper community.” Yet again there was a little bit of blagging involved, as Leah bigged up her minimal Afro experience to make sure she could land an incredible learning opportunity.
Taking to the stage
It’s a testament to Leah’s skill and work ethos that she managed to excel in this afro cutting environment without much prior experience – not least because it’s incredibly difficult to cut afro hair if you don’t have the technique. Not content to simply cut well, though, Leah took to the stage of an underground Berlin club to participate in a barber battle. No prize for guessing what happened next:
“I was up there with 3 other barbers. I only knew a handful of people, I was the only female barber there and these were all afro barbers. I could see everyone sort of thinking… who is this? But it was great going into that environment, I just went up there, got on stage and cut this drunk guy’s hair. I had 20 minutes, and I did the haircut. Then it was the crowd that chose the winner – whoever got the most screams won. They left me until last, and I swear I have never heard my name screamed that much!”
But Leah is no stranger to getting up on stage, as she’s also done educational displays and performances at a number of different events:
“My first show was actually at the Great British Barber Bash. Alan Beak was sort of pushing to get me up there, which was great because I didn’t believe much in myself at the time – I’d only been cutting for about a year. It was amazing, but nerve-wracking as well. I think my hands shook for the whole 45 minutes. I am quite used to talking to a crowd, it doesn’t bother me. That show was semi-successful, and I was asked to do more and more – London, Glasgow again, Amsterdam, Ireland. It’s so nice to get on stage and vibe with other barbers”.
Paying it forwards
We’ve talked a lot about Leah’s skills and experience – it’s also important to point out just how friendly and welcoming she is. This comes across in her barbering philosophy, which is all about giving something back:
“Whatever you gain yourself, give it back out. I’m currently in the process of making YouTube tutorials. I’m flying back tomorrow and going to start filming – I just want to create a tutorial that’s a little bit creative. I’m self-taught, so I always say: how I do things, it’s not right and it’s not wrong. It’s just the way I do it.” You’ll be able to find these videos under the name Hayden Cassidy Hair.
So after three very different years in barbering, what has been Leah’s favourite challenge?
“What I’m doing now. Seeing a whole different type of hair and community. It’s just challenged me so much more, taking it to the next level. But in the future, I might try and step back into hairdressing a little more.”
We also talked briefly about the challenges of being a female barber – although Leah prefers to think of herself simply as a barber. “I’ve never used it as an excuse, but there are challenges. I never really noticed it in Ireland or the UK, but in Germany there have been more issues with clients who say things like ‘you don’t have a beard, how are you going to cut mine?’ But that’s fine – get out of my chair and I’ll cut the next person. Basically, a barber is a barber. Don’t put too much attention on it.”
Finally, I wanted to find out which figures have inspired Leah’s barbering journey, and get some words of wisdom for others who might be just starting theirs. Conor Taaffe, Jay Murray, the Beak brothers and Kevin Luchmun are the lucky barbers are all namechecked as big sources of inspiration – an impressive array of barbers who have all brought their own creative spin to the industry.
When it comes to Leah’s own advice, she says: “it’s not all about social media. Take yourself back to the barbershop and realise that your clients are the people that are there for you. Gain as much knowledge as you can. I don’t think you’ll ever know enough in this industry. Keep sharing knowledge the that you’re receiving, and just step back from the bigger picture and focus on you, that chair and your client.”
Wonderful advice from a wonderful barber. Don’t forget to follow me on YouTube if you want to see more – and, as always, I’m on Instagram and Facebook as Larry the Barber Man, posting regular updates that keen barbers shouldn’t want to miss.
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, Greg Mc Cerlane 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 http://www.barbers.TV
It has been a crazy five years for Nergal, (Adam Darski) front man for extreme metal band Behemoth. In addition to releasing a tenth studio album, the much-acclaimed The Satanist, in 2014, the hard-rocking performance artist, singer, and guitarist completed successful bone marrow transplant treatments for leukemia, diagnosed in 2011.
The same year The Satanist was released, Adam somehow fell in love with the barbering lifestyle and decided to invest, opening a shop he named Barberian in his native Poland. Today, Barberian shops are thriving at three locations, two in Warsaw and one in Adam’s hometown of Gdansk. Adam tells me a fourth is on its way in Warsaw later this year.
When I was in Poland recently to interview Stefan Batory, the CEO of the crazy popular online booking app BOOKSY, Stefan recommended Adam as an enthusiastic client. I definitely wanted to know more about Adam’s journey, and he was graciously agreed to a meet-up, despite prepping for a Behemoth summer tour of the US with legendary metal band Slayer.
We chatted at one of the Warsaw Barberian shops, a comfortable, eclectic setting of stressed wood and aged brick accented with gently worn, overstuffed leather furniture. Barber and non-barber related antiques add to the atmosphere, and a (very metal) collection of animal skulls and demons masks cover one wall of bare brick, adding just the right touch of animus.
Trim, wearing a black vest, black slacks and black running shoes, bare-armed Adam was relaxed and quite at home in his comfortable shop.
Larry: Adam, as a black guy from London, I don’t get much exposure to Polish rock stars and celebrities, so tell me about your lifestyle outside of barbering before we talk shop.
Adam: Well, the thing is, you’re a black guy from London, and I’m a black metal guy from Warsaw, so we have something in common (laughter).
I am originally a musician, an artist, so labels like ‘rock star’ and ‘celebrity’ are not really in my dictionary. It is OK to give people a picture of where I am coming from. But I am a stage persona and a performer, an entertainer, and this (shop) is basically my child.
The ex-owner, she had this idea to start a barbershop in Warsaw. We started investigating and immediately I fell in love with the whole culture and the way they approach life. It felt very coherent with who I am. I had some money to invest and it was like, this is exactly where I want to channel my energy.
So I came up with the name “Barberian,” which I think is a nice word play.
Larry: The definition of ‘barbarian’ is outside of any one civilization, and outside of the shop, you portray as being in your own dark world, so I think it is “on brand.”
Adam: Yeah, I think there is a nice parallel between Barberian and what I do in my daily life, though this is my daily life as well. So for me, it is all about having different skins or different masks; each one represents different qualities of your personality. Barbers are professionals taking care of men’s health or men’s aesthetic, but it is very artistic, and my spirit is released here more artistically than in a business way.
I am proud of having serious input on the way it looks. The idea came from passion and heart. It is true and you can’t fake this. It is all real, very organic.
Larry: Have you ever visited Shoreditch in London?
Adam: Yes, I went there a couple of months ago and it was amazing! At this corner there was this complex; it was a coffee place and restaurant and in the corner there is a barber shop – don’t know if you know it.
LARRY: Yes, It’s called Sptalfields! It’s got old traditional – looks like a theatre. That’s called Barber Barber.
Adam: Yes, yes, yes! And I approached these guys and one of them went, ‘Are you Nergal? What are you doing here? I’m a big fan!’
Well, I was there because I was interested in the barber shop and the way he was located and the constellation of it. Amazing! So I love this neighborhood. I actually stay at the Ace Hotel every time I go. It is my favorite place there.
Larry: Shoreditch is one of the coolest places in London, and your place has a real Shoreditch feel about it.
Adam: I agree. That is a common vibe that we share.
Larry: Tell me what a client could expect at Barberian.
Adam: There is a relaxed vibe here. There is always rock music, no random radio stuff. The music, the brands of alcohol, it is all coherent, very specified. You enter Barberian and you will be treated as a king!
Bring ladies, your wife – we are not Nazis, not like the whole barber culture you have probably experienced where no woman is allowed – but if you bring your wife, let her sit there, let her have her coffee, or whatever she needs, and let her admire her husband.
Larry: This is getting sexier by the minute!
Adam: (laughs) I remember this couple came and she did all the talking. ‘He needs this, and he needs that,’ and one of us was like, ‘No, lady, calm down! The gentleman knows what he wants. Let him talk. Stay calm, relax, and admire your husband.’
I don’t want to sound chauvinistic, but this is a men’s place, you know? I don’t like to go to a hairdresser, because I get bored. There are spheres, and worlds separated. I think it’s healthy for men to be in a men’s environment, healthy for your brain.
Larry: I noticed you have your own brand of beer.
Adam: I have had Behemoth for 25 years now. We issued five types and it’s Belgian, all craft beers. I’m a fan of the only lager we have, called Phoenix. The beers are issued by a local brewery called Perun.
Any customer gets all this for free. They can chill, have a beer or whisky or really good coffee. I am a big coffee person and this is the best coffee in town! I know it sounds like an advert but I really mean that.
Larry: I’ve spoken to Adam Beek, an important barber at Barber Connect in the UK and he said two things are important in a barber shop; good haircuts and good coffee. If you are lacking either of those then you haven’t got a barbershop.
Adam: Beautiful! Exactly!
Larry: By all accounts Barberian is fully booked. Since you are a brand supporter, I am curious of the role your online system Booksy plays in shop management.
Adam: It makes our work very smooth and much easier, simple as that. We started with the phone calls and walk-in and it was growing, but with Booksy it is very smooth. I wouldn’t go back to the years when we didn’t have that system. I think it’s amazing.
Larry: What kind of problems did you have before online booking?
Adam: It was way more work for us, writing down everything, the receptionist always on the phone. But with Booksy it all happens in the ‘other world,’ basically!
Larry: You recommend it?
Adam (looks into camera): GO FOR IT! (laughs) Seriously, I know the competition, and most of the business is walk-in; they reject systems like Booksy. I respect the old school way, but we wouldn’t do it here, because we use all the tools that are there to make life easier.
Larry: Can you actually cut hair?
Adam: No! But I have a clipper so when I‘m on the road with the band and can’t find a local shop, I need to make sure my beard is trimmed, I like it to look very clean.
Barbering is my business, but also my hobby, my love and my life. I am a huge fan of these guys, but I don’t have ambitions to become a barber. I can do it with my own clipper on me, but that’s about it!
The coolest thing about barbershops is – I visited maybe hundreds of barbershops around the world and I remember each one.
Larry: Yes! There is individual character.
Adam: Exactly! There is individuality and passion and love because barbers are also lovers of barbering; they are there for a reason.
Larry: What advice do you have for other owners who want success?
Adam: Don’t go for success at any cost. If you do what you love and it is just straight from your heart, just perfect it. Eventually success will happen and you will not even notice! You will just be happy and have great clients who appreciate your work.
Mike Taylor and Alison Scattergood on their very personal fight against a rare disease
When I met up with Alison Scattergood at Salon International in October, I was very moved by her story of losing an eye to retinoblastoma – a rare childhood cancer – before going on to become a pioneering icon in barbering. I was shocked that this extremely rare disease – there are only 50 cases a year reported in the UK – had coincidentally affected a great friend of hers and fellow barbering legend Mike Taylor, founder of the British Barbers’ Association. Mike’s 2-year old daughter was diagnosed with retinoblastoma earlier this year, and is undergoing treatment.
I immediately took advantage of the opportunity to put both Mike and Alison in the Takara Belmont interview chairs to talk about this sad coincidence, and they told me of a tiny, dedicated charity working to raise awareness of the disease, and of a massive awareness event Alison and Mike are planning for next May’s Barber UK in Birmingham. I was on board right away!
A MAJOR PLEA to Industry Influencers
But first, A MAJOR PLEA to all the INDUSTRY INFLUENCERS: BARBERS and HAIRDRESSERS are needed to sign up as soon as possible for the Alison and Mike’s Barber UK event at Birmingham! They need to plan and print promotional materials about who’s coming and they NEED YOUR SUPPORT! Barber UK has offered them two massive stages, one for barbers and one for hairdressers, so they need artists and stars to help out by appearing. Won’t you do your part, too? These two industry stalwarts need your support, so contact them and volunteer today!
Ok, on to the details of the story!
“I was diagnosed at 6 weeks and my left eye was removed surgically when I was ten weeks old,” Alison told me. For years she kept the condition private, but as she got to know the people at the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust charity, or CHECT, in London, she decided to be more forthcoming about it.
“I realized the mission is awareness and I could help,” she said. “My story went massive on Facebook and I got so much response from families, even in America, who had children suffering from the same thing.”
“But I had never known anyone affected by it personally until Mike.”
“My daughter, she is only two, and obviously your world falls apart when you hear the news,” Mike said of daughter Alice’s diagnosis earlier this year. “You never figure it will happen that your child has cancer. Then I found out Alison was an ambassador for CHECT, and she has been so much help to my wife and me.”
“The chances are millions and millions to one that you would get two people who know each other that well, both affected by this incredibly rare disease,” Mike said.
“I was really shocked because we live just miles apart,” Alison recalls. “I was gobsmacked, really. But soon we started talking about getting Mike involved and helping CHECT.”
CHECT: a small charity with an important message
Alison calls CHECT a “tiny” charity that is chronically underfunded, though it has been working hard to raise awareness in the UK for 30 years. “The disease is just so rare,” she says. “CHECT can sometimes be overshadowed by bigger causes.”
“And being a guy, you want to do what you can to fix the (cancer) situation, but you can’t fix it,” Mike chimed in. “But one thing I have the power to do is to help CHECT, because it is a very small charity.”
Next May’s event in Birmingham will help raise awareness, which is crucial even among doctors. The disease easily slips by medical professionals who often have no experience with rare childhood eye cancers.
“Alice was checked quite a few times by doctors and even a specialist and they never even saw it,” Mike told me. “The eye specialist who found it told me it was the second one he had ever seen in his whole career. Most doctors will never see one in their entire career.”
In fact, Mike said he and his wife as well as nursery workers noticed little Alice squinting regularly, but doctors were not initially concerned.
He recalls: “We knew it was a massive problem when my wife said, ‘Alice can’t see out of one eye, I am sure of it.’ So we played pirate with her and when we put the patch over the good eye, she started walking into walls. She was blind. And that was when we knew, ‘This is not a squint. Our daughter is blind in one eye.’”
Helping Mike and Alison make the 2018 Barber UK stage shows a SUCCESS!
The pair have arranged for two massive stages at Birmingham NEC during Barber UK on May 20 and 21, 2018, one for barbering and one for hair. The goal is to get as many big-name hairdressers and barbers to come and do shows, attracting good-sized crowds who want to see their work. “Everyone is welcome,” Mike says. “We want to get as many brands on board to shout from the rooftops about CHECT and this type of cancer.”
The pair plan on-site raffles with brand support, “smaller ones leading up to a big-brand main prize,” Mike says.
“It’s such a fantastic venue, huge place, it’s such an opportunity we’ve been given and we need the help of our friends in the business to make it a big success,” Alison said.
They are working out fresh ideas to market the event and promote awareness. One such is asking barbers and hairdressers to wear an eye patch on the job to spark conversation during CHECT week, which coincides with Barber UK 2018. “We’re open,” Mike says. “Perhaps you can get something started in your town or shop, or contribute a ideas.”
Retinoblastoma signs and symptoms
So what should parents and doctors be looking for?
“A squint is one of the symptoms,” Alison said. “If you look at a picture with a flash, sometime the pupils will look white. That it is not always retinoblastoma, but that is one of the symptoms.”
“Also in certain light the pupil can look translucent, like a cat’s eye,” she said.
Retinoblastoma symptoms can also include the following, though these symptoms can easily be caused by conditions other than cancer:
A different color in each iris (the colored part of the eye)
Eyes do not appear to be looking in the same direction
Redness or swelling of the eye
“It needs to be caught early,” Alison added, emphasizing the need for awareness. “It has a massive survival rate but if you don’t catch it in time, it can obviously lead to being fatal.”
As for little Alice, Mike says after her diagnosis in March she began chemotherapy, which is finishing up now. “She has a 50-50 chance of keeping her eye, though she has already lost sight in it,” he said.
“What Alison has done with her career is such a good example for Alice and others,” Mike said. “I can tell my daughter this is not the end of the line. She will go on to fulfill her dreams.”
You can help fulfill the dream of a hugely successful Barber UK CHECT event by getting on board early and contacting Alison or Mike today. Mike is easy to find through miketayloreducation.com and Alison recommends contacting her through East Durham College, where she is a well-known lecturer.
It’s a wonderful opportunity for all of us in the industry to rally round two of our well-known people and support their fantastic cause: raising awareness of childhood eye cancers and promoting early detection.
Let’s make it happen and ‘til next time, happy barbering!
I love Salon International for any number of reasons, but one is the chance to catch up with people I hear about more often than I see. East Durham College’s Alison Scattergood is one of those. The Peterlee educator is well known for her master-level barbering, work with young people, advocating for more regulation of barbering and more recently, as a survivor of childhood eye cancer and an advocate for research into this dangerous disease.
Clearly, we had a lot to talk about.
I learned Alison discovered both men’s hair and education while very young, working as a hairdresser for men and women from 16, and getting qualified to teach at 21.
“Barbering is my baby now,” she says with a smile. “I’ve got many students, and I coordinate all the level two and level three barber courses at EDC. I also work at a barbershop in Durham City on the weekend, because if you are teaching, it is really important to be in the industry. It is a good balance to see both sides of the job.”
Her work with young students has led Alison to her strong views on standards.
“If you are a nurse you give injections and things like that, and you have to be on a register,” she told me. “Even a taxi driver needs a license.”
“With barbering, you work with open blade razors, you are doing hot towel shaves,” she points out.
“There are amazing shop-floor trained barbers out there who are really good, yet don’t have official qualifications,” she adds. “But I know some that are not (so good), and I thing that needs to be policed.”
It’s a point I grasp readily. After all, an unregulated builder may wreck your home, but a poorly trained or unsupervised barber can jeopardize your health and even your life.
“If you had an electrician or a plumber doing your stuff, it would scare me if they had no qualifications at all,” Alison agreed. “So I think it should be regulated if you are using razors on members of the public. I believe the industry needs it. “
“We are attracting over 35,000 people (to barbering) and to think that is still isn’t standardized is quite bizarre to me. That is why I push with the Barber Council, with the government, that is where we should be headed.”
In addition to representing education on the Barber Council, Alison is also hard at work with the City and Guilds, working on TechBac programs. Through EDC, her students earn a City and Guilds certificate attesting that they have passed and can earn a Barber Council certificate of registration as well.
“It is exposing the Council to students and I tell them all the time how important it is,” she said. “They are surprised to find out there is no legislation, so I tell them how important it is to be registered.”
“It’s all because clients come first,” she told me firmly. “If they walk into the salon and see their stylist, their barber is registered and you display the certificate, that’s really important and what I want to get over to my students.”
I am very proud to be consultant with City and Guilds and work on TechBac qualifications, working on grading criteria for apprenticeships,” she says. “I contribute to the latest textbooks, with a write-up on the latest level two about the industry and how to work toward what you want to be in life.”
Alison’s connection with City and Guilds is key and could have a big impact on the future of barbering education. She told me Adam Sloan, the Chairman of the City and Guilds Barbering Industry Board, deserves a lot of the credit.
“There has been a Hairdressing Industry Board for quite a few years, but there hadn’t been a barbering one, so Adam really pushed for that,” she recalls. “He got it set up, and then a year and half or two years ago he invited me on, representing education.”
“It is important to try to raise the standards, where students come out of college with the best,” she explained. “Colleges get knocked in the industry because some colleges don’t train to a great standard. I want to raise that for all colleges.”
Whew! If you get tired out listening to all that Alison’s involved in, she’s also finds time to help her students with competitions, enter a few herself, and pick up some prestigious recognition. A highlight of her year is membership in the Fellowship for British Hairdressing, the leading body in hairdressing. “They’d never had an education slot on stage” before inviting her back for membership, she told me.
Other recent highlights: she was in the boxing ring at the Barber Connect finals at Celtic Manor in 2014, was a finalist for Wahl Barber of the Year at Salon International a few years ago, and in 2015, became the first woman to be made a British Masters Barber by the British Master Barbers Alliance.
“(Nationally-known Master Barber) Chris Moon was coming to EDC one night to visit with our students and surprised me with the plaque,” she recalls. “It was such a shock, I didn’t have a clue! It was really nice, for my contributions to barbering from Antony and Toni Copeland. It’s mounted on the college salon wall!”
But she was most excited about bringing her students down to London for Salon. “I bring students to be models because the college can’t pay for professionals, and it’s brilliant because it gives the students an amazing Salon experience and they see thing from both sides. We rehearsed and rehearsed and got really good feedback when we came off stage, so we feel really good.”
I couldn’t let Alison go before learning more about her recent work with the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust, or CHECT. She told me she lost her left eye to cancer (retinoblastoma) at just 10 weeks old, and for years tried her best to keep it from everyone except those closest to her.
“I wanted to be known for my work, not for having lost an eye to cancer,” she said. But her behind the scenes work with CHECT persuaded her to speak openly.
“It went massive on Facebook and I got so much response from families even in America who had children suffering from the same retinoblastoma, and it helps them to see somebody able to do what I’ve done with my career because their kids’ are still quite young and they aren’t sure what the future holds for them.”
To her great surprise, Alison’s friend Mike Taylor, co-founder of the BBA and fellow member of the Barber Council, revealed that his young daughter is fighting eye cancer.
“When Mike contacted me about his daughter,” she shakes her head as if still surprised, “I had never met anyone else who had it. It is such a rare form of cancer.”
“We decided to work together to raise awareness and money and help CHECT, because it is such a small charity,” she continued. “Having so many friends and colleagues in the same industry, it is a no-brainer to do something together, and we plan on doing it next year.”
Just add that to the list of things to do for this amazing educator and passionate barbering industry advocate. I truly enjoyed the opportunity to meet Alison, and I hope you have to. If you are interested in helping with CHECT, just reach out to Alison or visit the charity’s web site, https://chect.org.uk/
By the time they plunked down in Takara Belmont chairs for an interview with me, Simon Shaw and Julius “Caesar” Arriola were exhausted after three days as one of the main attractions at Salon International 2017 in London.
Why all the fuss over Wahl’s European Artistic Director and an American Wahl educator?
Because for the first time, Wahl was launching a major new product in the UK and chose Salon International to do it. And it wasn’t just any new product, but the long-awaited Cordless Senior Clipper. Simon and Julius had the privilege of being Wahl’s onsite reps “when the floodgates opened,” as Julius put it.
The pair had been swamped from the first moments. The new clipper took the event by storm as barbers “were running towards us when the doors opened up like it was the new iPhone,” Simon said.
That’s what happens when your reputation for excellence precedes you, right, Simon?
“We sold out in about nine trading hours, 500 units,” he said.”We have 3,500 coming in the next two or three weeks that are already allocated. We’re 1200 in the red on it.”
Even Julius, who’d been flown in from the US on behalf of Wahl especially for the launch and debuted the Cordless Senior on stage, told me, “People in the US might not believe me, but they are really strict about buying more than one – I can’t do it.”
I told him I’d had the same problem! The fact the Cordless Senior was available but in short supply sparked a surge in demand unlike anything I’ve seen. Talk about Wahl-mania!
The Low Down on the Cordless Senior
So – how does the new must-have Cordless Senior behave?
“In comparison to the Corded Senior itself, whether it is the 5-Star, the Sterling or the regular Wahl Pro, the Cordless is an impeccable machine,” Julius told me.
“(The Cordless Senior is) high-performance, high impact, it is going to mow through anything from white Caucasian hair to thick curly hair,” he added. “The performance you’ve been expecting is there, whether precision blending or clip–over-comb. I am cutting on stage with it, and it is literally effortless; the hair is coming right off.”
Worn out as he was, Julius’ high level of enthusiasm was still shining through. “In 15 years of professional barbering, I’ve always felt, ‘Man, I love Wahl Senior. I just wish it was cordless.’ And now it’s 2017, and here we are in London Town, launching.”
Cordless Senior vs. Magic Clip
Many people compare the Corded Senior to the highly popular Magic Clip, so I was especially curious about how the Cordless Senior stacks up.
“You can’t go anywhere without seeing a cordless Magic Clip. It changed the game,” Julius agrees. “But what you love about the Cordless Magic Clip, the dream has been fulfilled in the Cordless Senior.”
In testing the Cordless Senior, I couldn’t hold it with my thumb, unheard of for a cordless. What was Julius’ reaction?
“The weight of the machine is exactly what you’re looking for,” Julius enthuses. ”If you’ve got the Magic Clip or here in the UK the Super Taper, you may have thought it too light in your hand (because) you are used to the corded machine. “
“All that conversation is going to halt because the weight is there in the Cordless Senior; the aluminum body, obviously the classic five-star senior face, the surgical blade, you can’t go wrong. The battery time is enough for what you need to do, too.”
Though Julius was happy to compare the Magic Clip and the Cordless Senior, he thinks most barbers will still need both machines.
“Obviously the blades are different,” he said. “You’ve got your surgical blade on the Cordless Senior, which comes on your classic Five Star as-is. Whereas the Magic Clip has the devil in the details, and one of my most favorite things about it is the crunch blade the stagger tooth blade.”
“But anything you felt might be missing in the Magic Clip, you will find in the Cordless Senior.”
How to use surgical blades (and oil!)
I wanted Julius to talk a bit more about surgical blades and how they are used.
“It is on the scalp cutting,” he said. “The Cordless Senior is going to be the precision cutter for your bald fades and your skin fades. You have your 45° bevel blade; it curves in. Three screws compared to two screws (on the Magic Clip). A surgical blade for me, it means you cut more on the ergonomics of a 45 out rather than the classic C stroke, because the surgical blade is not beveled.”
I agree with Julius, telling people that a surgical blade should be used like a trimmer, and scooping with a trimmer cuts the client. And since it is so sharp, you can set the surgical blade on the scalp, mini-strokes and it will do the same work as the big strokes.
Julius thinks so too, and Simon adds that the high speed of the Cordless Senior speaks to the need to keep it oiled so that it stays cool and sharp.
“You will need to oil it,” he says firmly, “because of the revs.” 6400 revs per minute as compared to the 5400 (of the Magic Clip).
“You have to, because not only will it last longer, it will run cooler – feel cooler on the skin – and it will feel sharper, hair won’t bunch up and clog,” Simon said, noting that many damaged clippers he sees suffer from poor maintenance, i.e., too little oil creating too much friction and damaging the blades.
So a word to the wise: get some Wahl oil in addition to what comes in the box, and use two or three drops after every cut. I show you how in this Larry the Barberman How To Video (LINK HERE)
“You want Yeezys before Kanye has Yeezys”
Back to the Cordless Senior. Anxious barbers want to know: when can we expect enough to arrive in the UK for everyone who wants one?
After the allotment of 3500 (already committed) units by mid-November, “we’ve got more coming in December and January,” Simon said. He thinks it will be February or March before the manufacturing schedules in the US catch up with UK demand. So we have to sit tight!
Julius says, “It’s like I’m Kanye West and you’re asking me for a whole box of Yeezys; you want Yeezys before Kanye has Yeezys. You guys want a Cordless Senior; I’m trying to get the Cordless Senior myself! I am humbled to say I feel you guys, I would love to have them in my hands if I could.”
“All I’m saying is patience is a virtue. It’s well worth the wait, and once you have it in your hands, it won’t disappoint.”
LARRY….WANT TO MENTION YOU WILL BE STOCKING THE CORDLESS SENIOR?
Cheshire’s Lieanne Buckley (@lieanne_) doesn’t want to be pegged as just a female barber and never ever wants to be “someone that just does five, six days a week and goes home. I want to be more than that.”
A new face on the barbering scene, just three years ago Lieanne was an increasingly dissatisfied retail worker. At 27, this daughter of a hairdresser had taken some training in a perfunctory fashion, but felt uninspired. “I was disheartened, stuck in a rut and obviously getting older,” she told me at Barber Connect in Telford. “I was really envious of friends who had good careers, getting their own houses, and I’m like, “’I really don’t know what I want to be. I wish I knew.’”
A combination of desperation and inspiration pushed her into the direction of men’s barbering. Whilst working in a fitting room one day, it just hit her, she told me. “I want to cut men’s hair,” she says. “There was a girl at the shop who was a mobile hairdresser and I just went over to her and I said, “How I can get into barbering?”
At the beginning, “I used to go home and do my dad’s and brothers’ hair, so they got butchered,” she smiles.
Fast forward about three years and Lieanne is onstage at Barber Connect, earning an excellent reputation and building an online following.
A specialty is Afro-Caribbean hair, which makes her a rarity among Caucasian barbers, especially the relatively few females in the barbering world. Gaining acceptance was a challenge, she recalls.
“The shop I work in is very multicultural, we have a lot of Afro Caribbean hair, but I found being a white female, a lot of people would steer clear,” she said. Clients were understandably a bit surprised and somewhat reluctant to patronize someone who at first glance, seems likely inexperienced in cutting Afro-Caribbean hair.
“I didn’t see it as a big thing because I just do hair – Afro-Caribbean hair, Asian hair- in a multicultural shop, it’s just natural.”
Nevertheless, Lieanne says she shared some of her customer’s trepidation as she started her first Afro-Caribbean cut.
“I can remember going in with a trimmer, and I was really out my comfort zone. I was thinking to myself, ‘Can I do this or can’t I do this?’ The hair is so different from Caucasian hair, so I was like. ‘Right, just do it, try it. It’s got to work! It has to work!’”
“So I went in with a detailer back then – must have been because I use Andis now – and I remember thinking, ‘Right, what do I do next?!’
“But because I was around people that cut Afro-Caribbean, I sort of pick things up, so I was like, “Okay, so you need to go with the grain, not just against the grain.”
But the first-timer challenges continued.
“The customer just had a one on top and then a skin fade on the sides. I remember thinking, ‘How am I gonna get this hair that clogs together?’ I learned to comb against it and go with the grain. That was a big thing, trying to get the combing; going in, comb it down, going back in, and then getting the cutthroat on it.
She learned quickly, “You can’t always use a cutthroat on people with Afro-Caribbean hair because they’re prone to bumps, rashes (and keloids),” she says.
“I’d just say, ‘Are you okay with the razor?’ And if they are, they’re okay around the front but not around the neck area, also the same with a shaver. Never use a shaver with Afro-Caribbean hair. Ever. I don’t risk it. It’s just the way the hair grows out the follicle.”
Obviously spoken like someone who knows what she’s doing!
“As for people who think, ’You’re not cutting my hair because you’re a woman,’ I will say, ‘Just let me do! Let me do it and if you don’t like it, don’t pay for it.”
Very early, Lieanne brought her honesty, determination and talent to social media. Her YouTube success has many roots, including her emphasis on quality and her drive to self-brand.
“My goal (at the beginning) was always a quality haircut over quantity, I always had that in the back of my mind,’ she said.
“And I never want to be your standard barber that you go and see for ten minutes and that’s it, so I did a promo video to see if it takes me anywhere, opens any doors.”
After posting on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, Lieanne says her inbox was jammed with messages from people “saying they wished my video was longer,” she remembers. “They said they wanted to see how I work. So I was like, ‘OK, this can open doors!’”
She began posting Instagram cell phone photos taken in her kitchen. “This was just around the time Instagram was taking off” three years ago, she recalls. “I was uploading onto Instagram, and I was getting people saying, ‘Why don’t you come work for us?’ when I hadn’t even worked in a barber shop before. It’s actually really overwhelming.”
Today, her video style remains focused on brevity. “People get bored,” she says. “I do just short bursts of process on a taper or scissor-cut styling, what products I use.” She still shoots most of them on her Samsung 7.
I suggested making a video of Lieanne cutting Afro-Caribbean hair to prove the doubters wrong, a definite smash hit!
“I know!” she agrees. “I wanted to bring someone with Afro-Caribbean hair today (to Barber Connect) and I couldn’t get anyone.’
This made for an easy transition to her first major stage appearance. How did it go?
“Rather nerve-wracking,” she allows. “You’re trying to work and it’s really hot, and you can’t see what you’re doing. I was trying to prep my model and I was just stressing out! Then Alan (Beak) came over and he was like, ‘Lieanne, just say a few words, like where you’re from. You’ll get a head mic.’ But my heart was definitely going a little bit when you can hear the crowd behind the curtains.”
“Then the next minute it was over!” she said. “It went so quick and I was like, ‘Get me back on there! I want to go back on now!’ Once I was up there I felt really comfortable.”
Clearly Lianne is growing more confident all the time. Already a proven success as a “late bloomer,” a woman in a male-donate field, and an expert in Afro Caribbean hair when so many though it couldn’t be done, who does this inspiring figure look to for inspiration?
Her choices say a lot about Lieanne’s eye for quality.
“Nay; she’s @nayqueenoffades,” she says. “She’s from Amsterdam with Mokum Barbers. She is absolutely amazing. Her fades look as though they’re actually filtered. They’re just so blurry. How does she do that?”
Also from the start I would have to say Dani Lewis @toastiestyles, she’s a cool barber. She’s done some really nice work.
@StayGold31 from America,’ she adds “Sofie Pok is brilliant! She’s killing it. She’s next level. She’s different. American barbers are, because they use different clippers. So I’m always learning from her work and seeing what she’s doing on social media.”
“Sean from @seanbryancutandsew is a really cool guy. He’s so good not just cutting hair but the business side of it. He’s got something like four shops, he deejays, he looks after God knows how many members of staff. His branding and what-not is brilliant as well; his apparel.”
As part of her brand building, Lianne is also getting into the apparel line with distinctive T shirts. As for closing thoughts from this motivated and talented woman, she says something I hear more and more barbers say – there is too much negativity, especially in social media.
“I really don’t understand people bashing each other on social media. ‘That cut is not good,’ and ‘Look at that blend,’ and ‘I can do better than that.’ I just don’t understand some people’s mentality towards each other. We all need to look after one another and help each other.”
I’ve always believe tiny gestures and little steps can lead to big change. Lieanne agrees, saying she’s offered to help a young barber in Cheshire improve his Afro-Caribbean cuts, just as a service to a colleague. We definitely need more of that!
My thanks to Lieanne Buckley, another source of inspiration for me and I certainly hope you feel the same way. If you want to see my entire interview with Lieanne, please visit my YouTube @larrythebarberman.
Breakout Reality Star and musician revisits barbering roots at Myles Lewis’ new shop; reveals mental health struggles
In an amazing interview at the new Stag and Dagger Barber Shop in Basildon, breakout star, Love Island 2017 winner and #1 recording artist Kim Cetinay talked with me about coming up as a Hornchurch barber, struggling with anxiety and depression, his commitment to mental health, and his friendship with Guerilla Barbering founder Myles Lewis.
Kem also let on that he was doing cuts in the villa on Love Island, including contestant Marcel Somerville’s ever-fresh fade!
“Marcel with his Afro-Caribbean hair, everyone thought he must be getting a skin fade fresh every morning,” Kem recalls, looking relaxed in t-shirt and ripped jeans, accompanied by Stag and Dagger owner Myles. “But it was just me doing it with one set of clippers and a couple guards. I was giving everyone fades. I was a little bit rusty doing the cuts and trim, but I love the fades!”
Kem was on hand to help promote the grand opening of Stag and Dagger, Myles’ first owned shop. I enjoyed the banter back and forth between the two – it was clear they share a lot of mutual respect and affection.
“Barbering was something I was massively, massively passionate about,” Kem recalls. “Myles was the one who introduced me to the industry and he was a big inspiration for me, especially with what he was doing charity-wise, with Guerilla Barbering. He was the first person to do it,” he told me.
“When I first started with him, his fades weren’t on point but his long haircuts were,” Myles laughs. “We worked in the same area of Hornchurch and we used to do a haircut called “The Forte.”
“A proper Essex boy haircut,” Kem adds. “Basically, my haircut.”
“A forte with a taper,” says Myles “Then Kem’s fades just became like a madness.”
“It became my thing,” Kem agrees. “It was just fades, fades, fades and I became obsessive about fades. I was doing videos and everything. My fades were getting ridiculous.”
“People don’t realize Kem was coming up in the industry (before Love Island),” Myles insists. “He’d done the Great British Barber Bash, Salon International, he’d done Barber Connect.”
“I was on ‘Good Morning, Britain,’” Kem chimes in.
“I do get a bit obsessive,” Kem admits. “I wanted to be biggest in the UK. I was getting better and better so quick. Then Love Island came up and it was the same. I was adamant I was going to win. Now, I am adamant that I am not stopping there,” he said. “I just finished my other show, just threw out a song that got number one, and I just want to keep pushing.”
In recent weeks, Kem has used his new-found fame as a platform to discuss his struggle with mental health, another bond he shares with Myles. They each hint their difficulties are part of the motivation behind Guerilla Barbering.
“He was leader of the Guerilla gang,” Myles told me.
“I used to go to all the events, did a lot of the pop-up shops. We slept out on the street to raise money,” Kem recalls. “It is an unbelievable cause, what Myles is doing.”
“I am gonna soon be running a big campaign with Childline for kids with mental health and anxiety,” Kem adds. “Me and Myles are on the same wavelength on this. Any way I can help to keep pushing Guerilla Barbering I will, because Childline is obviously a huge, huge charity.”
Kem’s years-long struggles with anxiety and depression related to his mother’s illness are now well known, thanks to his forthright and candid interviews on the subject. “Anxiety and mental health, it is just all fear,” he says in our interview. “You get to a point where you learn that you’ve run it way from it all your life. It’s effect on me, well, there are a lot of thing people don’t know. I didn’t do my GCSE’s at school and I missed out on a lot of things.”
“You stand up and you think, ‘What am I gonna do in my life?’” he continues. “And for me, I thought ‘I am either going to sit here and not have a life, or I am going to make something of myself.’ And look where I am today.”
“I think regardless of people saying, ‘Yeah, Love Island and blah, blah,’ well, you put yourself out there to get these opportunities. Part of it is luck, but once I was there it was me that won the show, it was me that done all this, putting myself out there and making these things happen.”
Myles adds, “In my specific case, I had been on meds for 5 or 6 years for anxiety and depression, and what helps me are my missus, my kids and my pals – my mates that care.”
Looking at Kem, he adds, “We can talk about things and if someone is your friend they will listen to you. I can count my friends on one hand now; I’ve got my boys, I’ve got my family. That is who I talk to, who I open up to, and there are a lot of us out there who struggle with mental health and anxiety.”
Looking to Myles, Kem says “I think that’s one thing you’ve done is you was at a stage before we was working together you was kind of giving up on it, but you’ve stood up and you said, “I’ve got a family, I’ve got kids, I’m talented and I’m gonna make something of what I can do.’”
“Really, I’ll be honest,” Kem continues, turning his attention to me. “I don’t go and promote just anything. I’m not just here to promote today because Myles is my friend. I am genuinely here because I think he gonna smash it and I think everyone needs to appreciate what he has done personally and with Guerilla Barbering.”
Myles agrees. “I know it sounds stupid, but (if you have anxiety) turn yourself into a ‘public figure,’ push yourself forward. It helps doing interviews like this one. Me and Kem did an advert with Shell, but realistically we are anxious people and we don’t do our best with that kind of situation.”
“Riding the Tube all over London!” Kem recalls. “But when you put yourself in that situation, you overcome that.”
I asked them what a young person struggling with mental health should do.
“Call Childline,” Kem said. “They’ve got people who know what they are talking about; people who are a constant help and who understand.”
Myles agrees. “Call these people. I didn’t know about them growing up, so we need to keep telling people that there is excellent help available.”
Turning back to barbering, I asked Kem about the public perception that he is hairdresser rather than a barber. How did that happen?
“When I went on Love Island, I’ve got long hair, I’m from Essex, and so they wanted me to be that typical hairdresser guy that does all the girls’ hair.” he relates.
“But I am not hairdresser; I have always been a barber,” he say firmly. “When I was in there and girls asked me to do their hair, I was blagging my way through women’s haircuts. It was a joke!”
Hear that, UK? Kem is a loud and proud BARBER. Not a hairdresser!
“Completely!” affirms Kem. “Barbering has really taken off. Everyone thinks it is hairdressing, but it is barbering that is setting the trends. Everyone has got video on it. I think it has really taken over from hairdressing.”
I asked Kem for tips to young people just starting out in barbering and he answers very quickly: “Forget the shows! Just be around good barbers. Don’t put yourself in a shop where you might feel like you’re getting a lot of time on the chair but you aren’t around good barbers. Be around a good barber who is enthusiastic who will put the time in to teach you. That was the best thing with me.
“Don’t copy right off. Put out your own style,” Kem continues. “The people you look up to got there because they did their own thing. By copying them, you are only copying the crowd. Barbering is special because there is not a right way or wrong way. You see someone walking around with line in their hair, they might want that line. Three or four months later that might be a trend. There is so much experimenting, so put your own touch to everything, your own style. It’s not an office job. Do your thing!”
So what’s next for Britain’s newest star?
“I am sleeping about two hours a night,” he laughs. “The opportunities I’ve been given since leaving that villa I couldn’t have dreamed of. I’ve got so much in the pipeline it’s just crazy to take it all in at my age.”
“But the most important thing for me is just to stay grounded, keep my feet on the ground,” he concludes. “That’s why I do things like this, where I come see my boys and I got my family. Otherwise you will lose your heard. It’s a bit crazy going from that to this, but if you’ve got the right people to keep you grounded I think you will stay successful.”
“I am trying to do it the right way,” he adds. “I’ve said from the beginning I want to be durable. I want longevity in my career. I don’t just want to snap everything as soon as I’ve left. For me, I’ve got a goal with my long term. I want to stay on TV. I want to do presenting. These opportunities are coming now.”
And as for barbering, Kem says he is far from finished!
“I don’t think I will go back to cutting hair soon, but I’m gonna bring out a big grooming range. It’s gonna be huge. It could take a year or more, and like I said to Myles, I want him to be involved and get the shop involved in it but yeah, I’ve got some big plans with that.”
Just one more thing got watch out for in the future of a very bright, talented and focused young man! I was very impressed with Kem’s ongoing commitment to Guerilla Barbering and Myles’ work, and his openness about his struggle with mental health, plus his support of Childline.
Be sure to pay a visit when in Basildon to Myles’ newest place, the Stag and Dagger.
And be sure to stay in touch and get involved with the excellent work of Guerilla Barbering.
One thing you need to know about Leroy Garcia from The Modern Shave in Connecticut is he will be on time. And he expects you to be on time, too.
“An essential part of the craft is being professional,” Leroy told me when we met up in the US this spring. I had just asked him about his principles. “Part of being professional is being punctual.”
27-year-old Leroy is a young barber with a fresh, original approach and getting well-known for his firm views on professionalism, as well as his well-tailored staff and scrupulously clean, comfortable Connecticut shop. He welcomes both men and women while offering skin care and scalp care as well as haircuts.
“When the client arrives at ten, and the sign says you are open at ten, and no one shows up until noon,” he shakes his head. “And then the next day a customer comes at ten and there is someone there, but the day after, no one is there until eleven, well, we need consistency in something as basic as being open when you say you are open,” he said firmly.
Leroy’s professionalism is rooted a sense of pride in barbering history and his passion to revive that pride amongst barbers everywhere.
“You see photos from the 20’s and 30’s and barbers were some of the most dapper people, guys in dress shirts and ties, and that is how I want to approach it, bringing that old feeling (of pride and professionalism) back, which is now so rare.”
Ironically, it is the super-modern mobile appointment app BOOKSY that has been “a blessing,” in making things happen, Leroy says. Since every customer has a unique self-made appointment through BOOKSY, Leroy’s barbers have to be prepared and on time for every customer, ready with a clean work station, sanitized tools and a personalized greeting. Customers expect it. In Leroy’s shop, old fashioned professionalism gets a boost from 21st century technology!
BOOKSY is also saving Leroy time and money, he says. “In starting my business, I did not want to pay for an assistant, so BOOKSY allows your phone to be your assistant. We are reaching about 300 clients on BOOKSY now,” he said.
So what is the customer experience at Modern Shave so many are talking about?
“The first thing you will notice is a structured environment,” Leroy says, and I can tell this is a real passion for him. “There’s no obscene music playing; there is just smooth jazz instrumental. There is a nice aroma, nice and clean. You won’t hear people hooting and hollering. You will see presentable barbers ready to attend you. You will get into the chair on time and you will see a clean environment. After a hot towel, you will walk out with one of the best haircuts of your life. You will be serviced with the best organic products, and I repeat, organic,” he says with a smile.
That is just the beginning of the full experience, though. “There are brands out there that produce great products for your skin and for hair care, so although we specialize in all types of haircuts, it is not our only approach. We like to service skin and scalp, we like to do dermal therapy scrubs and skin detox facials, waxing services. All this comes from the knowledge I accrued from Todd Bernard at I Cut Pro, being part of that fraternity.”
Leroy believes gaining greater public respect for this range of professional services means barbers can’t “show up in flip flops and basketball shorts and sweat pants and think it is OK. It all starts with a presentation of what we are.”
I wanted to pursue the Todd Bernard angle, but first I asked Leroy how he got started. He told me he’s been cutting hair since he was just 15, and “the next youngest guy in the shop was my age now, 27,” he recalls. “Everyone else was even older, my father’s age.” What did he take away from that? “It showed me you only learn from the passage of time. If you surround yourself with experienced people who have learned through the passage of time, us younger ones can learn not to trip over the same rocks they tripped over.”
Back to Todd Bernard, Leroy says the man is a wealth of information and inspiration for barbers at all levels. “Even with ten years’ experience, it made me feel like a new student, made me feel like I had never picked up a clipper,” he said. “People want to have strong suits and stay in their comfort zone, but when you step out of that boundary and admit maybe your scissor game isn’t the best, maybe you don’t know how to part properly, maybe you don t know how to talk to clients, you become a better barber and a better person.”
Leroy told me Todd Bernard’s high quality products help him build Modern Shave’s brand. He says Bernard’s “It’s Butter” leave-in conditioner sold out his initial 12-bottle shipment in two days. “Our clients trust that what we offer and they know we aren’t just trying to take extra money out of their pocket. They know it is full of quality and will fulfill the need they have whether it is skin, scalp or hair.”
Leroy “100 percent” recommends the I Cut Pro web site, where a monthly subscription can bring all the benefits of attending live courses in New York. “It’s a blessing in my life,” he says.
As we wrapped up our chat, Leroy came back to what was learning is a favorite subject, and I want to leave you with his main point: the absolutely critical need for a commitment to punctuality, cleanliness, professional appearance, expanded services and a laser-like focus on the customer.
“Yes, we have urban shops and more classic shops, but these are the principles that should not be negotiated, that should not be missing in any shop,” he insists. “It is the foundation that we need to teach the new generation in events like the Irish Barber Expo.”
“We see people leaving their 9 to 5 to start barbering, but we need to lead them the right way, and if we take it upon ourselves, the new generation that is arising in the industry is going to start doing things the right way from the beginning.”
Well said by a man who clearly has been doing things the right way from the beginning, even though at age 27, he is really only beginning himself.
It was a pleasure to meet Leroy and I wish him all the success in the future. He is an amazing soul with a great passion for the profession. I hope you enjoyed meeting him, too!
Click over to my YouTube @larrythebarberman to watch the entire video with this impressive young talent, and look for another interesting post from me in the very near future.