Dan Wild is the brain behind Quarter West barbershop in Belfast, as well as the Quartered Steel scissors brand that many barbers now swear by. He welcomes me to Ireland and agrees to tell me more about his brand: “Our motto is essentially precision is everything. We try to make tools that are practical, that are functional, and that are easy for people to use.”
Dan actually started out as an engineer, building bridges for a living, before eventually finding his way into barbering. So how did that come about?
“The recession sort of kicked it all off to be fair. I decided to retrain, I retrained about 7 or 8 years ago and I wanted something that was a great sort of social event as well. Because when you work on building sites all your life you tend to find that you love being around fellas and it’s great crack, and you want something that sort of echoes that: barbershops are fantastic for that.”
After that, he retrained with his friend Peter – after about a year, he decided to open a shop. Renting a space in a tattoo parlour ad naming it ‘Dapper Dan’, he started on the adventure that would eventually lead to rebranding as Quarter West. Now, they’ve been going five years.
“This year alone we’ve had 738 new customers, our business is going from strength to strength. Within another 3-4 months we’ll be opening a shop in Belfast city centre. Hopefully that will be based where all the students are. So that’s how I started and where we are now.”
Growing the business with Booksy
One of Dan’s secret weapons for growing the business is the excellent bookings and marketing tool, Booksy.
“Booksy is great for marketing to your clients. You can send emails out, push messages, SMS – so we would send messages out saying recommend a friend you get 10% of your haircut or something like that. So, we use that for marketing. It’s fantastic because there’ll always be the customers who will forget to get their hair cut. You can find your slipping away customers – we found that we had 200 clients who hadn’t been in in a two-week period. And normally they’re on three-week rotations.
“You can just send a message. As a tool it’s one of the best in the industry, if not the best in the industry. You’ve now got where you can book with Instagram, so there’s a book now button that integrates with Booksy. It’s been fantastic for us.”
Of course, Booksy alone can’t create repeat business! Dan explains how Quartered Steel have honed their cutting style.
“We tend to do a lot of classic styling. Because our demographic tends to be mostly office staff, so it’s real classic cuts. Nice, easy styles – styles that guys can just get up in the morning and just style. We don’t tend to get a great deal of the skin fades – we do a good bit of it, but not a great deal. And that’s probably why we’ve been nominated for male grooming salon of the year, because we are a male grooming salon rather than a chop shop barbershop.”
Let’s talk scissors.
“When I first started I was using probably the worst tools available. Because you think scissors are just scissors. And I could sort of sense that there must be better out there. Then we started visiting the likes of Salon International – me and Andrew, my business partner – we looked at all these different brands and there’d be 500 different pairs of scissors that basically all did the same thing. I thought this can’t be right, there’s got to be a functional side to this.
“So that’s when we decided that we’d start travelling over to Japan and Korea and China trying to find manufacturers who would make what we wanted to make but would also make it functional and easy to use. We found loads of manufacturers. Not all of them were fantastic, but some were brilliant, and we set our hearts on the ones that we work with now.”
With big name barbers like Danny Robinson and Adie Phelan testing their products and giving them feedback, it’s no wonder that they’ve been it’s no wonder that they’ve been able to develop such an excellent range. In fact, they’ve managed to have no returns in two and a half years – quite a feat!
“If you buy a second-hand pair of scissors then what you’re buying is somebody else’s problem. That’s why we looked into leasing. Leasing is fantastic because it’s tax deductible. As long as you’re making the payment every month, at the end of the year we’ll give you a statement that you can give to HMRC and offset it against tax.
“Leasing makes it affordable for every single barber or hairdresser out there. If they come to us and say I’d love a pair of your scissors but I can’t afford it we’ll say okay, but can you afford £25 per month.”
They offer a 3-year maintained programme, which includes servicing the scissors to ensure that they stay sharp all year around. If you want to get involved, then you can head to Quartered Steels for Life on Instagram or quarteredsteels.com; they’ve got all the information you need to lease (although you can also buy direct)! Fill in your and you’ll get the information back in a couple of days.
You can also head to larrythebarberman.com, or find Larry the Barber Man on Instagram or Facebook, if you want to see more great interviews with fascinating barbers like Dan. It’s also a great way to catch up on all the best barbering tips and tricks to make sure you’re top of your game.