HOW TO: 100 PERCENT DISINFECT AND LUBRICATE DURING CUSTOMER CONSULTATION TIME
In a busy shop, it may be tempting to let correct disinfecting of your barbing tools slip just a bit, and that’s a dangerous position for you and your client. You do not want to risk infection or fungal disease AT ALL. In fact, we want to avoid that LIKE THE PLAGUE!
Here are some tips on how to use your client consultation time to get your hair clippers disinfected properly and quickly, while lubricating and cooling at the same time.
I notice when I visit barbershops that barbers use Clippercide spray as an instant disinfectant. This is a mistake, since Clippercide states it take as long as ten minutes to kick in correctly, that is, protect you and your client at 99.9% against infection and fungal diseases.
Saloncide disinfectant is effective against viruses, fungi and bacteria after two minutes.
The Wahl Hygienic Spray also needs just two minutes to reach the same level of effectiveness.
When you are busy, it is impossible to keep people waiting for ten minutes to properly disinfect your clipper. NO client wants to wait that long, and NO client wants you to use improperly disinfected tools!
The way around this is to work with Saloncide or Wahl.
Use a toothbrush to brush way excess hair, brushing away from the clipper.
Turn the clipper on, and give each side of the blade 3 or four sprays with Saloncide or Wahl disinfectant product.
Turn it off, and allow to dry naturally or wipe dry with a clean towel or tissue.
Dispose of the tissues.
These fast two-minute products mean you will have a few extra seconds to OIL YOUR CLIPPER, which you should be doing after every cut!
Apply one drop of oil on each end and the center of the blade (total of 3 drops)
Turn the clipper on and roll it around to spread evenly
Turn it off and wipe off the excess with a tissue, and dispose of the tissue.
If you use this time to consult with your client about his cut, you will clean, lubricate and disinfect your clipper seamlessly, without interrupting the service flow!
Make this your habit and you will always have clean, safe clippers and customers that will see how responsible you are about hygiene.
So, when is a good time to turn to Clippercide? It is a brilliant coolant, so whenever your clipper runs hot, give it a going over with Clippercide, let it rest a bit and you are good. If you are in a slack time or a not-so-busy shop, a ten-minute disinfection period might be reasonable and Clippercide is an effective choice. Finally, slow shop or not, Clippercide can be used after your last cut of the day both as a disinfectant and an anti-rusting agent.
To sum up, the best way to quickly and totally disinfect your trimmer and keep it running throughout the day is to use a fast acting disinfectant such as Saloncide or Wahl, and three drops of oil after every cut. Use this brief but important interlude as your client consultation time, and you will be golden!
Saloncide is now available at my online store at larrythebarbeman.com.
I hope you found today’s HOW TO tips useful. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel @larrythebarberman to enjoy videos of my HOW TO tips, as well as fantastic interviews I’ve done with successful and well-known barbers all over the world!
Many customers at my http://www.larrythebarberman.com online shop ask me to zero gap their new trimmers and clippers before I send them out. I’m always happy to do it, but if you drop your device or knock it out of alignment during your busy day, you need to re-zero-gap it yourself. Otherwise, you’ve lost that tool for the duration!
Today, I’ll show you how to zero gap and build your confidence that you can perform this important task. But first, an explanation of zero-gapping:
Zero gapping is taking the cutting, or moving, blade (represented by yellow in the picture) as close as possible to top edge of the fixed, or comb, blade (represented by black in the picture) without going past the top of the fixed blade. When zero gapping, you also position the cutting blade an equal distance from both the left and right sides of the fixed blade. Again: the cutting blade goes very close to the top of the fixed blade and equidistant from both left and right sides.
This gives you sharper lines and lets you board closer.
If the yellow goes past the black, (cutting blade goes past the fixed) your client will get cut, so be sure to leave a bit of distance from the edge!
How much distance is determined by how heavy-handed you are. The heavier your hand, the further you want the top edge of the cutting blade from the top of the fixed blade.
Barbers talk about 3, 4 and 5 hair-strands of gap (if you can imagine!), but that is how finely you will want to adjust the distance. To test how heavy handed you are, try out your adjustments on the back of your arm before you put those blades anywhere near the back of your client’s neck! You will soon find the gap that is right for you.
To sum up: Zero gapping is taking the cutting blade as high up or as close to the edge of the comb blade as possible to get a lower cut or sharper lines, with your ‘handedness’ taken into account.
Now, on to the Three Keys of Zero Gapping!
# 1 Take on the right tools. You need various sizes of Phillips and flat head screwdrivers for the job. I prefer Tool Hub products for their good, comfortable grip, which gives you very fine control. You’ll need that, because zero gapping requires gentle, easy, controlled turns of the screws.
Tool Hub has a general set of combination Philips and flat heads as well as a precision set for use on smaller trimmers. See for yourself! (LINK HERE)
#2 Loosen screws as little as possible. You will make it much harder on yourself if you loosen the screws too much initially. The cutting blade will slip when you retighten the screws, and you will have to re position all over again.
People make the loose-screw problem worse by tightening one screw all the way down before attending to the other screw. This practically guarantees the cutting blade you so carefully positioned will slip! Many people unscrew, reposition the blade, and tighten one screw all the way again, which again shifts the blade. Rinse and repeat! Very frustrating.
Don’t make yourself crazy this way! Just loosen each screw ever so slightly so the blades remain braced tightly against each other. This way, once you have positioned the cutting blade, it will stay where it is as you prepare to retighten the screws.
#3) When retightening, gently alternate between the left and right screws. Make slight, gentle turns of each screw alternately, back and forth, back and forth. This keeps the blade, already snug, firmly in position. Once you are sure the screws are tightened and the blades are securely braced against each other, you can apply more force to complete the tightening.
If you are working with fixed blades, such as the Styliner II, it’s the same drill: crack the screws ever so slightly, look down the blade, position it to your zero gap – depending on how heavy handed you are – and retighten gently back and forth, top and bottom, until it’s perfectly tightened again.
Another tip: On the Styliner II blade, the flathead screw in the middle is the tension screw, which adjusts how tightly squeezed together the blades are. If the screw is too loose, the blades will separate too much and catch or pull your customer’s hair. Too tight, the blades will not move at all.
So that’s how easy it is to zero gap your tools to the precise degree that works for you! This is excellent knowledge to have and will make you more confident you can handle any problems that arise.
As always, you can watch me demonstrate the “How To” on video at my YouTube @larrythebarberman.
Barbers frequently ask me to make videos about maintenance and repair issues, which I am happy to do! I believe it is just as important that I share tips on how to avoid damaging your tools so that your equipment gives you the long, faithful service you expect.
Today, we will talk about your bread and butter: clippers and trimmers. If these are not performing well your work flow will be scuppered, customers may be irritated, and money will not be made!
First, it is important to have an array of screw driving tools, not just one screwdriver that you try to use on everything. Using a too-small screwdriver will destroy the pattern atop a screw, making it almost impossible to remove quickly.
One Screwdriver Size does NOT fit all
Imagine a busy Saturday when you need to zero gap your clipper, and you go with a too-small screwdriver, damaging the screw top and being unable to loosen it at all. It’s just that easy to spoil the tools that make your money, kill your workflow and kill the income going into your pocket. This will mess up your big money-making day.
On the other hand, if you try to zero gap a trimmer, which takes a smaller screw, that same screwdriver is too big. You will damage the trimmer screws and lose the delicate touch you need to loosen the screws only lightly, so the tightness of the blade keeps them in position. It’s like trying to use your phone while wearing work gloves!
Even when you have the zero gap, you need to gently retighten the screws, first one side, then the other; back and forth; left then right; left then right. If the screwdriver is too big, you have to put too much downward pressure on it, causing the blade to move. Very frustrating, and another reason you need the right tools.
I urge you invest in quality tools, not just any tools. I’ve found excellent ‘Tool Hub’ tools on E-bay, such as a set of screwdrivers with a broad array of Phillips and flatheads. You need a larger flathead screwdriver for the power screw on the side of the clipper, which you adjust to get the arm closer to the motor. You need a quality flathead screwdriver to do the job.
The ‘Tool Hub’ set also has an array of Phillips heads so you can find the correct one that makes snug contact with the screw head.
You also want to ensure your screwdrivers have a good gripping handle because when it comes to zero gapping, you need a good grip as well as a snug fit with the screw head.
This set also features an array of medium screwdrivers perfect for adjusting hair clippers – a Master or Fademaster or the Senior or Wahl Super Taper. Check it out at this link: (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)
For making adjustments on a trimmer’s smaller, finer screws, I’ve found another perfect precision kit with interchangeable flathead and Philips attachments and a telescopic handle, which helps with a host of jobs. It even comes with a magnifying glass, so when you position for a zero gap, you can look along the blade without killing your eyes. I strongly suggest you get this kit. (LARRY: INSERT LINK HERE)
Insider Hack: How to Remove Damaged Screws From Your Clipper and Trimmer
Back in the old days, barbers had to sharpen their cut throat razors using a whetstone and oil and a strop. We have it much easier with today’s excellent electric trimmers and clippers. All we need to know is how to tune these things with a screw driver; no heavy manual labor. It’s a relatively easy job, but it demands that you use the right tools.
Now, here’s today’s Larry the Barberman Insider Hack: If you used the wrong screwdriver and hollowed out the tops of the screws, ordering a new one from the manufacturer is a long and expensive process, perhaps as much as £10 just for delivery – and just for one screw!
But temporarily, all you need is a rubber band. Here’s how it works: Place the rubber band over the screw head you have destroyed and push it down into the screw with a screwdriver, using lots of pressure. Under pressure, the rubber band will mold itself to the contours of the damaged screw in a kind of super grip, like when you can’t open a stubborn bottle with your hand and improve the grip by putting a tea towel over it. It works!
That’s it for today’s How-To blog. Once again, based on what I’ve seen in barbershops all over the world, I strongly recommend you get the right tool for every screw in every clipper- and keep your work flow going!
Occasionally you find barbers who have come to the business through salons, breaking in by working with women’s hair.
But Harry Karolis is much more than salon artist turned barber. Getting his start with Daniel Galvin, the current Style Director at Ego Barbers is also the most-followed Instagrammer in all of UK barbering and co-founder of the amazing Kings of Tomorrow Academy, soon to be hosting classes in its own facility.
Harry’s foundation in women’s hair informs his passion for barbering in three interlinking ways: his commitment to shape-before-fade, his enthusiasm for barber education and his strongly-stated conviction that barbers need to charge more for their service.
First, shape before fade! “A lot of barbers will concentrate on a fade rather than the shape, and it’s vital to put a shape into the hair,” he told me when we met at Barber Connect this spring. “Otherwise you’ll find yourself getting it wrong; the wrong shape will come into the hair.”
Bringing scissor work from salon to barber shop
“We look to structure a haircut by putting the shape in before we do anything with the clipper work. It gives you precision, and it gives you the right structure. We blow dry the hair into shape because that’s now the clients going to wear it.”
A simple concept well-stated, which all barbers can take to heart. It’s that kind of advice that has caused Harry’s Instagram blow up to over 225,000 followers, which he puts down to not only posting spectacular haircuts but mind-blowing scissor work which he learned, again, behind the chair in salon settings.
“I was trained for Vidal Sassoon, and I brought my scissor work into barbering, which has really worked for me,” he said. “When I crossed over to men’s hair, I had to learn the clipper work, learn the fades, and so I combined that with scissor work because I saw it was lacking in barbering.”
“What is still lacking in barbering now people are not following shape through the haircut!” he adds with emphasis
I wanted to know if Harry felt a neglect of good scissor work could be bad for business and he definitely agreed. Life isn’t always going to be about fades!
“You got to be ready for any trends,” he told me. “In the next few years, everyone could want long hair and your business takes a hit because you can’t do it.”
“Even today in some barber shops, when a long haircut comes in nobody wants to do it because nobody knows how to do it,” he warns. “But when you know how to follow through a square layer, a round layer, graduation, cross graduation, finding balance in your haircut, you’ll find you’ll be able to care for all hair. That’s the main advantage.”
There’s another one of those Instagram-esque pieces of very sound advice!
“Our main focus is, we like to set the trends.”
The conversation was segueing into education, another topic I really want to pursue with Harry.
“If you’re doing the same fade and you keep doing it, then that’s all you know and you’re not catering to everyone,” Harry states. “There is a limit to what you can do with your work. The fact is, you can add to your work, get the rewards from your finishing, and you can add the fades to current styles. Then you can follow the trends and then you can set the trends.”
“Our main focus is, we like to set the trends,” Harry says firmly.
Harry’s passionate voice and outstanding work caught the attention of barbers on Instagram everywhere, and he was getting as many as 50 DMs a day from people saying they wanted to do what he is doing, wanted to know what he knows. “A lot of people always tell me that I’ve given them the belief that, ‘Maybe one day I can be that guy, that I can inspire people.’ It’s all about believing and giving people belief.”
Harry found it a bit overwhelming, and his response was to start Kings of Tomorrow, EGO Barbers’ academy. He aims to bring barbers up to such high standards no barber is afraid to charge the same as top hair salons. And there’s more, he said. “I want to show you how to showcase your work, how to how to reach people out there. I want people to see what you deliver, something they will admire, that will inspire. That’s my main goal.”
Classes are currently available through Egobarbers.com in a we-come-to-you model. Through a newly launched YouTube channel, Harry expects to offer even more practical advice along with self-presentation tips. Kings of Tomorrow onsite classes are scheduled to start soon. “Just watch out for announcements,” he smiles.
Harry is clearly fired up about KOT. “I want to deliver an education that is so powerful that when you walk away, you’re gonna take something real back to your salon,” Harry said. “At the same I’m gonna give back to the barbering community, give the value into the work that it deserves.”
No more £10 haircuts!
Ah! That sounds like a hint to bring up the topic of raising prices! Harry’s very passionate on the subject, sharing a perspective with Ivan Zoot and others that barbers simply do not charge enough.
Salons banned clippers because owners knew there was more value in scissors work, and why compete with yourself by allowing clippers? If barbers through education continually raise their game, Harry believes, the door opens to charge salon-level prices!
“I want us to get where someone comes in for a haircut and hasn’t got a problem paying you what you’re worth, or thinking 30, 40, 50 pounds is too much. There should be no £8 haircuts, £10 haircuts. You are worth more than that.”
“Why should hairdressers charge £40 for a fade or whatever they’re doing in there when the barber is doing the better haircut? That value is still lacking in barbering even though we’ve grown as an industry. Great kids have long queues, but they’re charging £7 pounds! They tell me the boss is afraid to raise prices, afraid to lose clients. But salons, which can’t match the quality a barber does with their fades, are charging £40 a haircut!”
For Harry, hard work, education, and getting your work out there all combine to create a rising value market, an environment where barbers can feel safe and confident in raising prices and charging what they are worth. It’s a positive, heartening message.
Harry has a lot to share with the barbering community on style, business, and promotion. The blend of education, pricing, style and communications skill combine to make him a unique fixture in barbering, and I believe we are all luckier for having him with us.
As he looks ahead, he believes the sky’s the limit for the barbering industry.
“You never know how far we can go,” he says in closing, “because we’re still growing as barbers. Everyone wants to become a barber! If you want to bring your talent into reality, you got work for it, and you’ve got to educate yourself.” And now’s the time!
I want to thank Harry Karolis, Ego Barbers, and Kings of Tomorrow Academy for all they are doing within the barbering world. You can catch my entire video interview with Harry on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.
Welcome to another Larry the Barberman How-To Tutorial! Today, I’ll show you how to replace the blade on the Andis SlimLine Pro Cordless Trimmer with the blade of the corded T Outliner.
You may want to do this to give you a wider cutting area, and it’s also great for boarding out, requiring fewer strokes due to the wider tooth.
This is not a difficult job but it requires a bit more precision and a few more tools than most of my how-to’s.
Head for the Toolshed!
You will need:
A drill with a 3.5 drill bit
A small and a medium Phillips screwdriver
A Stanley knife (or box cutter, as it’s called in America)
My old friend, a corrugated rubber mat to hold loose screws and parts so they don’t get lost.
Remember, for clarification, you can see a step by step demo of this process on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.
Let’s get down to it!
First, unscrew the two screws at the base of the blade, remove the blade and set the screws aside.
Turn your attention to the blade itself. Remove the two screws you see on the blade assembly, and you have divided it into two. One piece is the SlimLine blade, which you can put aside as no longer needed.
Turn your attention to the remaining piece.
You will see the clamped cutting blade on the spring. Pull the spring out and you will find yourself holding not only the spring but the attached guide plate, which is black and T-shaped. It has two square holes along the bar of the T and two smaller metal holes along the tail of the T. You need to separate the guide plate and the spring by pulling them apart, and setting them aside.
Turn your attention back to the blade. You will see a black molding attached to it. You have to remove this, which you do by simply twisting it off.
Now the fun begins! It’s time to modify the SlimLine Pro Lite parts to accommodate the T Outliner blade.
Turn your attention to the black molding you just removed from the SlimLine blade. You will see two pegs or studs sticking out. These match holes on the SlimLine cutting blade, but now we can’t use them; the T Outliner blade does not have holes to accommodate them. So, off with their little heads!
Use the Stanley knife or box cutter for this job, but BE CAREFUL! Place the molding on a surface and cut AWAY from yourself. Cut it as closely to the base as possible, and then use sandpaper to smooth the leftover ridge to make it even with the surface of the molding.
Time for the Heavy Artillery!
Now, pick up the guide plate (That’s the black T-shaped thing with the square holes and the round holes). We need to elongate the two metallic holes that are in the tail of the T, and you need to elongate them in the direction of the bottom of the T, away from the bar of the T (where the square holes are)
To do this, it’s time for the drill with the 3.5 drill bit.
Grasp the guide by the bar of the T (where the square holes are) with thumb and finger. Place the drill bit into the bottom hole (furthest from the bar of the T) and turn it on, putting pressure on the bottom of the hole, moving the drill back and forth to wear away the metal, elongating the hole. This takes 15 or 20 seconds of drill time.
Now the other hole, nearest the T bar. You want to elongate it all the way down to the raised metallic line that separates the holes. This may take an extra ten seconds or so.
Stanley Knife, Act 2
Now that you have prepared the holes, turn your attention to the black plastic border around the tail of the T. You will notice that the inside of the plastic border intrudes ever so slightly over the edge of your holes. You need to shave this plastic down with the Stanley knife so that when the screws are back in pace, they will not be resting on the plastic edges. You want a nice, snug fit.
Now, pick up the molding (the small black plastic piece whose nubs we cut off) and rest it against the cutting blade, which is the rounded part.
Next, pick up the guide plate (the T-shaped piece you used the drill on) and place it under the cutting blade, resting it underneath the ledge of the cutting blade. Hold all of this in your left hand (if you are right handed) while you pick up the spring.
You will notice a hairpin shape in the spring. Place that hairpin over the tail of the T so that the ends of the spring rest on the grooves on each side of the black molding. Then give the spring a push forward into the grooves of the molding, and you have secured the molding against cutting blade.
Now you are in the same position you normally are with the T Outliner blade when you are ready to screw them together. You will notice as you do this that all the screws are visible. If you had not drilled and elongated the holes and shaved the lip, you would not be able to get the screws in there!
Now just put them down flat into the zero gap position, and re insert the screws from the SlimLine Pro Line blade and screw them together. You want to get this tight, but leave a little looseness so you can tighten slowly, first one screw, then the other, back and forth, so you keep the position of the zero gap.
You did it!
All you do now is secure the blade onto the SlimLine body and you are set! You’ve zero-gapped the SlimLine Pro Lite, which has been replaced with the T Outliner blade.
I hope you find this useful to you as you continue to sharpen our barbering skills. You can also see this entire How-To Tutorial step-by-step on video on my YouTube @larrythebarberman.
I’m aiming to get a new ‘How-To’ video and blog up every week, so be sure to check back! Until then, happy barbering!
As I ramp up my how-to videos again, I want to jump on a very easy-to-fix problem that frustrates barbers who don’t know how to make this simple repair.
The problem is perceived as a ‘broken switch’ on the Andis T Outliner that is loose, or when flipped to the ‘on’ position, automatically flips back and won’t stay on.
This is almost always fixed by tightening a single screw on the inside of the machine’s housing. That’s what we’ll talk about today.
(To see the demonstration of how to do this on video, head over to my YouTube @larrythebarberman)
You will need two simple tools: a small Phillips screwdriver and a torque screwdriver with a #10 head, which is a simple star-shaped screwdriver head you’ve doubtless seen many times, even if you don’t know its name.
I always advise that you WORK WITH A CORRUGATED MAP OR TOWEL so you have a non-slip place for screws or any other small parts so you don’t lose them.
First, UNPLUG the trimmer! This basic safety step is surprisingly easy to forget.
The UK T Outliner has four screws on the back of the case; the American version has two – one on top and one on the bottom.
Remove the screws and gently fold over the back of the housing. I say ‘gently’ because the wires inside are extremely delicate. Next, lift the main power supply from the base inside of the clipper, and lift out the hooking ring.
Now, turn your attention to the mainly hollow back of the housing, the part you just removed. Bracketed against the bottom with one screw is the switching mechanism giving you all the trouble! Remove that screw and lift off the bracket, then gently ease the switch itself out of the back of the case.
You will see one screw remains in the trimmer housing, and that is the one we are after. You can easily see that the screw is attached to the lever on the outside of the casing. In all probability, this screw is loose, which is causing the flipping, looseness or inability of the lever to hold its position.
Now, just tighten that screw with the torque screwdriver with the #10 head, turning clockwise. Turn over the case and test the lever. You will see it now has a tight feel and will hold its position. See? You did it!
Now, let’s close up shop.
First, we need to put the switch back into the housing. It is REALLY IMPORTANT that you focus carefully and take a few moments to get this right!
On the inside of the housing, above the screw you just tightened, you will see two L-shaped plastic ridges which face each other, and between them two plastic pins. The switch needs to go into the enclosure outlined by the L-shaped ridges, atop the pins, nice and snug.
Next, the bracket. You will notice cutouts on the left and right side of the bracket. They align with the brown and red wires respectively, so place the red wire in place through the left cutout, and hold it with your thumb while you place the right bracket cutout over the brown wire. You have to be a bit dexterous, but when it is aligned correctly, the bracket will click nicely into place.
Now you need to pin the bracket back down, using one screw through the center hole.
As a final test, flip it over and make sure the lever is nice and tight and is making the correct clicking noise. IMPORTANT: If that switch is NOT locked in the housing correctly, the lever will move to the left and right without a sound, and will NOT turn the trimmer on and off!
With the brown and red wires locked in, and the lever behaving appropriately, reach for the hooking ring. This is the first piece going into the other side, or guts, of the casing – where the armature and motor are. Ensuring it is facing downwards, place the ring correctly into notch at the base. Then place the rubber molding that surrounds the main outlet wire snugly into the notch.
You are now ready to put the casing together again. The trick here is to make sure the wires are NOT OVER THE MOTOR before you close, so use your screwdriver to gently tuck the red wire down the side of the armature where the brown wire is, making sure the brown wire is not over the hook.
When everything is neatly packaged, you are ready to fit the two bits of casing together again. Simply line up the grooves where they fit. WATCH OUT! Sometimes the wires will pop out. Gently use the screwdriver to pop them back in. Now, hold the back down with fingers and thumb and turn it over gently.
You can now put in all your screws. Start with one corner and tighten, then move to a diagonal corner to tighten another. That gives you the freedom to release the tension of your finger and thumb holding it down.
And there you go! You’ll hear that lever merrily clicking and now actually holding its position. Plug it in, turn it on, and you are back to having a great time being a great barber!
I’ve got many more of these useful videos on the way, so please subscribe to my YOUTUBE channel to see them all PLUS my amazing and inspiring interviews with successful and famous barbers all over the UK and the world.
From one cutthroat business to another, Harry Pirate has been a chef and a music producer in past lives – but now he’s found his calling as a barber, and the proud owner of the Pirate Barbershop in Bromley. In this interview, he tells me about how his career developed and gives advice for the next generation of barbers.
After bumping into Harry Pirate on a few different occasions, I decided it was time to get to know this passionate barber a little better. Although he has only been barbering professionally for around 3 years, he’s been cutting hair since he was 17 – although it took a few career changes before he realised that this was what he wanted to do with his life:
“So I’m a qualified chef, and I worked in all the big restaurants in town – that got really stressful and I hated it in the end, I was stressed out all the time. So I got out of that, and worked in the music industry for around 6 years as a producer, doing a lot of different stuff with a lot of affiliated musicians. I enjoyed it at first, but it felt like I was getting to a point where I was giving my whole heart to people and getting nothing back. The money dried up because more and more people were producing cheap music, and I also found that the industry in general is very dog eat dog, with a lot of fake people. I’m not that guy, so I walked away from it and never looked back”.
Having been cutting hair backstage while touring as a music producer, this was already something that Harry loved, so it seemed like the logical next step: “A, I could make more money. B, I was meeting different people every day, not stuck in the same circles of people who are just out for themselves. And C, it made me happy”. After losing inspiration with his music, this became Harry’s new outlet, and he knew that he needed to do it properly. This led Harry to go for professional qualifications at the excellent London School of Barbering.
As many of you will know, I was recently lucky enough to experience the London School of Barbering’s shaving course, and Harry seems to have had a similarly excellent experience there:
“I had a great time, and that’s where I met H, my shop manager too. I haven’t looked back. I found out I’d picked up so many bad habits; they give you a great base and after that when you go out to a barbershop you do fall back into those bad habits but with an educated mind – so you can turn bad habits into good habits. They turned me from being a barber that loved what I was doing, to being a barber that loved what I was doing”.
He adds that YouTube can also be a great tool for learning, and there are plenty of educational videos out there including everything from information about clippers to tutorials for perfecting a particular technique. If you’re interested in self-taught barbering, Harry has a video outlining some of his favourite educational YouTubers out there – and don’t forget to check out my Barbers.TV YouTube channel for tips and tricks.
On Board the Pirate Ship
Before opening the Pirate Barbershop, Harry was working at Ruffians – but although he has nothing but good things to say about the shop and his time there, it also led him to realise that he needed to do things his own way:
“It’s a great barbershop, love what they do, but it wasn’t my style of barbering, it’s more of a high-end men’s salon. “Here it’s a barbershop, it’s a man-cave. There is swearing, there is rap music playing, there are people drinking beer – it’s a pirate ship and we love it. For me personally, and my style of barbering I needed to get away and do my own thing. We’re a concept barbers, so it’s a one price service. It may be a little bit more expensive, but you get ten times more than at other barbershops in the area.”
No wonder, then, that the shop is already thriving – both with walk-ins off the street and, predominantly, with repeat clients, the true sign that any barbershop is succeeding! They’ve also been building up a range of Pirate products, with an impressive list that includes everything from beard oils and moustache toffees to hand-made soap and bristle bubbles, as well as a new cologne that is just hitting the shelves.
Harry tells me that he is trying to “create a brand rather than just a barbershop”, and he’s also doing this by running a YouTube channel which you can find here. Like me, he loves talking about clippers and gear, sharing reviews that will help other barbers find the right tools for their style of clippers. You’ll also find vlogs, as well as plenty of advice for up and coming barbers; Harry tells me that it’s geared towards people who want to get into barbering but are wondering where to start or how to improve.
Before I leave you with Harry’s words of wisdom for barbers who are new to the trade, I have to take a brief moment to share some of the gear that he loves to use – I never miss an opportunity to talk clippers, after all! After initially using Wahl tools such as the detailer and the magic clip cordless, Harry has found that he much prefers working with Andis clippers:
“Wahl stuff is great and you can do a sick fade, but I prefer Andis now: the guard system is a game changer, especially the old double magnetic guards, they’re brilliant. You can go really high with them, get a lovely transition. I found with the Wahl stuff that the fades weren’t as stretched as they can be. Personally, for my style of barbering, the Andis clippers do it – I also think the build quality is a lot better.” His kit includes the Balding Clipper, Fade Masters and Pro Foil clippers as well as a Blackout clipper and the Pro Mate Precision – both of which I was happy to pass on to Harry as a token of my appreciation for recording this great interview! The American clippers in this list are powered by my frequency 60hz converter, so if you want to try them out then that might be the missing piece of the puzzle: a converter which can power US clippers without any trouble.
So, as promised here is Harry Pirate’s excellent advice for upping your barbering game. As always, you can follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook for more great content – in the meantime, take note of Harry’s wise words and put them into practice whenever you can:
“Don’t step on screws… don’t get electrocuted daily… don’t break your hand… but all jokes aside just work hard, save up money, get a loan if you need to – make it happen, and you will make money. Sort your finances out and if you want a shop just make it happen. I had a great job at Ruffians, I was at one of the greatest shops in the country: I didn’t have bundles of cash, but I made it happen. Grab it and run with it.”
Tom Baxter is an exceptional hair stylist – find out why I don’t say barber or hairdresser in just a moment – who has quickly risen to success, picking up an impressive selection of awards after just a year of competition work and building an excellent reputation as an innovative an exciting hair professional. Like me, he has also taken to YouTube to help educate barbers and hairdressers across the globe, with a wonderful web series that sees him strap a camera to his head to give a bird’s eye view of the haircut process as it happens.
There’s a lot to talk about, so let’s dive straight in: my first question to Tom was to find out whether he labels himself as a barber or a hairdresser – but Tom chooses to steer clear of these labels all together! In fact, he sees the line between the two as becoming more and more blurred, with more colouring and curling being introduced into barbershops, and a lot more clipper work taking place in hairdressing salons. As he puts it: “If you cut hair & you’re passionate about it that’s enough for me”.
That said, he did start working in barbering, before making the move into hairdressing salons because he wanted something more interesting. So, what do his male clients think of his slightly more unusual work, and how does he convince them to let them doing something different with their hair? “I see a window where I can throw something a little bit crazy in … they know I would never let them leave the house looking silly or daft. I’ll push my clients on to sort of what’s going on at the minute. If you don’t like it, you can just rinse it out”. Focussing on non-permanent options means that Tom can experiment while still giving his clients the opportunity to change their mind.
I also wonder what other barbers think of Tom’s work, and it’s great to hear that they really do appreciate it, to the point that he’s invited in to do training sessions – with an upcoming course on colouring at Slicks Barbers in Glasgow as just one example. As he points out, at this year’s Wahl Barber Final pretty much every model on the stage had colour in their hair, and it means that Tom’s able to “really enjoy being able to express what I like to do with hair through barbering”.
Now, every stylist’s path into the trade is different, and like many Tom tells me that he “didn’t set out with a childhood dream to be a barber”. Instead, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time, and of all things it started with a football tournament in Barcelona. To take part, Tom had to have a shaved head or bleached hair, and when he went to got his hair bleached, he heard the shop’s owner saying that they needed a junior. “I overheard and said I can come after school for two hours every night. Then I did an apprenticeship rather than 6 weeks’ holiday … I really got into it”.
With this in mind, it’s perhaps no surprise that Tom thinks the apprenticeship route offers a more rounded education than college and academy training for younger barbers. He tells me that spending two or three years on the shop floor, getting involved with the running of the shop gives Juniors a “real understanding of barbering from the bottom”. He also finds that it helps you to build up a rapport with clients: “A lot of my clients have become friends, and that’s barbering, that’s hairdressing. It’s a relationship.”
As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, Tom has also been strapping a camera to his head and producing an educational web series. How did that idea come about? “It was one of those things where it’s just an idea that snowballed. One of the girls I work with was saying how do you cut men’s hair. So, I said I’ll get a camera and show you – it was just a bit of a laugh – and she watched it and said it was great. When I watch tutorials, you can kind of see the haircut taking shape but not the details … I think it’s a better way of learning, because you can actually see it from where I’m seeing”. Since then, it’s really gained traction: there are now around 20 videos in the series, with one picking up an impressive 85,000 views, thanks to Kamisori Shears’ support. With a general viewership of 35-40,000 views it’s fair to say that Tom is picking up a loyal following, and I’m glad to hear that he has more videos lined up.
In fact, his work as a brand ambassador for Kamisori all came about because of the videos – after seeing his work, using their products, they quickly offered to send more scissors over in exchange for more clips. “It’s a really nice brand to be with, high quality. I used them before I was brand ambassador, and it’s just really, really good quality. For me personally, you’re not going to get a sharper or more precise pair of scissors.”
He also tells me that “you’ll see me in London, in February, with the camera strapped to my head, it’s the first time I’ll have done it on stage. I’ll basically show everyone who wants to be a stage artist what you’re going to be looking out and cutting”.
And that’s not all that Tom’s been up to: he also has his own product, born from a desire to have a product that he really believed in to use, with the main aim being to improve his own work. Passing them on to his clients also means that he can give them the education that goes alongside the product, ensuring they can achieve the same style at home.
Alongside his web series, other forms of education have become a big part of Tom’s work, with stage shows, medium sized classes of 25-75 people for the NFH, and smaller educational classes at barbershop and salons. He tells me that the videos he’s producing are also useful for these workshops, since he can give the barbers and hairdressers a video of the session to rewind and watch again as they’re practicing.
Like a lot of barbers I’ve spoken to, Tom also thinks that the industry is definitely moving in the right direction. Is there anything he’d like to see change? “Not a massive amount. I’m really pleased that you’re seeing more female barbers, although I’m not a huge fan of the terminology – I’ve got girls that work for me, and they’re not ‘female’ barbers, they’re just barbers. Apart from that, I’m really enjoying the crossover from hairdressing to barbering.”
Finally, I want to know where Tom gets all his inspiration, since he certainly doesn’t seem short of it. Unsurprisingly, it comes from “anywhere and everywhere”, and often from hairdressing rather than barbering. While names like Jamie Stevens, Mickey Grahams and Darren Jones pop up, Tom also says that he doesn’t necessarily look to one person or thing. Instead, he takes inspiration from wherever it comes – a great motto to live by!
Want to cut hair like Tom Baxter? I definitely recommend taking a look at his web series, to get a glimpse through his eyes! You can also find my educational videos on YouTube, and follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more videos, including interviews like this one – I hope to see you there.
I have something really special for you today: an in-depth interview with Wahl’s Simon Shaw. As Wahl’s European Artistic Director, Simon has one of the most desirable jobs in the industry, so it was a pleasure to sit down with him. As Simon says, Wahl is ‘the jewel’ that so many barbers want to work at, so I was very interested to find out how he got started in the job.
In 1985, he was working as a hairdresser in Dimensions, and started broadening his work to include shoots, journal covers and trade shows. This led him to start working with Goldwell, joining their academy in Mayfair; over the next 5 years Simon tells me that he completed around 300 courses – becoming one of their most popular educators.
After this he was introduced to a Wahl rep, and started doing exhibition work, managing to juggle the additional workload while still keeping up with his other commitments. This is the first of many examples of Simon’s utter dedication to the industry, putting his all into everything that the job throws at him. Then, back in 1999, he was asked to help open up an academy to educate people on how to work with clippers. They started with just two courses, basic and advanced, and have just gone from strength to strength… the rest, as they say, is history.
To get a real sense of what it takes to live Simon Shaw’s life, he talks me through his schedule over the previous week. As a man who is often on the road myself shooting videos and meeting barbers, I know just how much it takes out of you to be constantly travelling and, in Simon’s case, performing. This is just a small sample of Simon’s life as artistic director at Wahl:
On the Monday, he started his week in Hereford, doing a seminar with one of Wahl’s biggest accounts. On Tuesday, he was meeting a tailor in Belfast, before flying all the way back to Bolton for a seminar. By Thursday, he was in London, doing an in-store demonstration for Debenhams accompanied by two barbers from Ted’s Grooming Room. He made it back home to Yorkshire on Friday for a couple of nights, before heading down to Kent on Sunday for a two-day course.
It’s tiring just hearing how much work Simon puts in, and this is one of the points that he reiterates throughout the interview; young barbers need to understand how much effort it takes to work at the top, with first-rate companies like Wahl. As Simon says, although it is important to find time for your family – he has two children and three grandchildren – when you’ve committed to a job, you just have to do it.
Working with Wahl
Renowned for clippers that set the standard throughout the industry, as well as world-class training and other exceptional products, it’s safe to say that Wahl is a giant of the industry. So, while I have Simon with me, I don’t want to waste the opportunity to find out more about the work that he does with Wahl.
He explains the two different sides to his job: on the one hand, devising the upcoming training programme and looking for the best educators for different courses, and on the other teaching his own students. Watch the full interview to find out more about these very different roles, as well as what Simon describes as his “forte”: the evening seminars where he mixes hairdressing, barbering and entertainment to create an excellent stage show.
These also include his trademark haircut, the flick and smack. I ask Simon a little more about it: “We’d devised a texture blade which could thicken add texture, but the results I was seeing looked too bulky. So, I practiced and practiced to make it better, got the flick of the comb and the clipper technique going.”
We also talk about the rest of the artistic team: Michael Damiano, 5ive, Carl Blake and Joth Davis. Simon finds that they all bring different strengths to the team, and gives me a real sense of what he calls the “orchestration” of the incredible barbers that he works with. He adds that he is taking notice of the other excellent barbers out there today, who may be interested in joining the team – but has to wait for the right moment to bring new people in. That said, there are other positions which top UK barbers are starting to fill: notably Hooker and Young, who ate coming in as creative directors in 2017, so that will be big.
One of the recent pushes from Wahl has been cordless clippers, using lithium batteries to increase the power and longevity. I ask Simon about this product range: “People think corded clippers will give them more power, but with cordless clippers you’re getting the same movement. They also think it will run down halfway through a cut – with our products, like the Finale, the lithium batteries make them quick charging… we’d love to convert some of the old-school barbers.”
Life on the Road and the Future of the Industry
So how does somebody as busy as Simon Shaw relax? Well, he admits that he finds it difficult to switch off, but he still finds a respite from work in his family. Spending time with his girlfriend, two children and three grandchildren is the most relaxing part of his life: “you forget everything when you see them”.
I also ask him where he thinks he’d find himself if he hadn’t got into this industry. It’s clearly something he’s thought about before – and he admits that he sometimes worries about it – but trusts in his winner’s instinct. At any rate, seeing how passionate Simon is about the hair industry makes it hard to imagine him doing anything else!
But, although it can be a busy life, Simon also finds himself very lucky to be able to spend so much time travelling around the world. At the moment, he’s particularly interested in India, seeing a whole untapped market of ordinary barbers, as well as Europe, where the barbering skills are becoming very strong and producing a lot of up and coming talent.
I also wonder what’s got Simon fired up about the barbering industry right now – after all, he must have seen some big changes in his 31 years in the industry. He tells me that barbers have “galloped the gap recently, it’s become cool to be a barber… barbering used to have such a low reputation, but it’s the fastest growing part of the industry. It’s like a tidal wave, with the style and the old-school chairs – now everyone wants to be a barber. There are academies where you can learn while doing your day job.”
On the other hand, he sees the huge egos that the industry creates as a possible negative, with some barbers becoming too caught up in the competitive element of barbering. While the barbers that I meet are very grounded, I’ve heard this same concern from them too. In the full interview, you can hear us talk a little more about what might be behind it – including Simon’ thoughts on social media – and how to overcome it, or keep it real.
We also spoke briefly about state regulation; while some states in America are considering deregulating barbering, Simon – who sits on the barber council – sees it as a good thing. That said, he thinks that the hair and barber council “need to up their game, get more information out there, explain what state registration really means (…) it’s about high standards, qualifications.”
To wrap things up, I just have a few final questions for Simon, including what he sees as his biggest achievement at Wahl?
“I can get quite emotional talking about this, my biggest achievement is going into the shops, going into Harrods and seeing a shelf full of products with my face on the packaging: Premier products. Everybody wants a product range, to see their products in shops like Selfridges, and that’s my biggest achievement in Wahl.”
He also shares some advice for barbers who aspire to reach the same heights in their own careers: “I’m a big believer in being at the right place at the right time. Make your own luck. Be seen at events, especially when you’re young. Go to ever award, every lunch, to be seen and meet people. You need to be seen out there, but you need to be nice.”
If you’d like to see Simon in action, then you can head to one of his seminars; take a look at the Wahl website for upcoming dates. He also has more courses coming up at the Wahl Academy if you want to work with him in a more intimate setting. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages; you can also contact me online to find out more information about my work.
Chris Vaughan, AKA the Beverly Hills Barber, was kind enough to spare me some time during the Salon International barbering convention. I took the opportunity to find out a lot more about his work as one of Oster’s ambassador, and as a high-end professional barber.
As always, we started out by talking about Chris’ initial step into barbering – and it turns out that barbering has surrounded him pretty much his entire life. In fact, as a child in Buffalo New York, the family’s hair salon was actually located at their house, making joining the family trade as a fourth-generation barber pretty much a given!
Now of course, Chris is one of Oster’s esteemed brand ambassadors, and I was very curious to find out more about how he got the gig, especially since I know that many barbers reading this will be wondering how to advance their career in a similar way. Well, believe it or not, Chris started by turning the job down – thinking that it would require too much prep work. Luckily for everybody who has experienced Chris’ work as an Oster representative, they kept asking, and eventually he decided to give it ago.
I want to know more about the Oster clippers that he works with, and it’s clear to see how highly he rates them. In my travels, I’ve found the rotary motors – or what Chris calls the universal motors – of the classic and ’76 models to be a slightly acquired taste, but as Chris says, they are also a standard of the industry. He tells me that “other companies make their blades to fit on our clipper, it’s the first and the best.” Of course, many, many barbers agree with Christ, giving Oster the excellent reputation that it holds today.
We also chat about their new clipper, the MX Pro, a clipper with a magnetic motor which greatly diversifies the Oster range. Chris tells me that this is “ergonomically designed, great for smaller hands, with easy adjustment. You get the standard four guides in the box too, it’s a wonderful entry level clipper. Perfect for people who are just starting out – then you can evolve into the larger line.”
As much as I love talking about clippers, there’s a whole lot more that I want to talk to Chris before the interview is over, not least his work as the Beverly Hills Barber. His career has taken him to the esteemed John Allan’s Men’s Club, a barbering an men’s grooming chain which has been going since 1988 delivering what Chris describes as “the spa experience, but for men”. Incredibly, this is another opportunity that Chris turned down at first, however yet again he ended up taking the opportunity and never looking back.
Their service consists of a shampoo, haircut, hot towel, manicure and shoe shine, with membership packages that allow men to simply enjoy the experience as often as they want to. You can find out more about the barbershop – and their partnership with the famous Saks Fifth Avenue department store by watching the full video, however in honour of my recent series on men’s shaving I want to run you through the shaving process that they offer.
As Chris says, even their basic shave is a truly high-end service. They use 5 towels, including 4 hot towels, as well as pre-shave cream and, most importantly, an incredible razor. Chris swears by the Duo Feather razor: “oh my goodness, it gives a smooth shave, and best of all consistency – the key to success!” They also have a hot lather machine that will provide the perfect, relaxing, warm lather to assist with the shave.
He also goes over the face for a second pass – and, where appropriate, shaves against the grain to get that closer shave. Now, if you’ve been watching my recent shaving you’ll know that not all skin types should be shaved against the grain, and this is something which Chris reiterates in the interview. He also explains how you can be safe if you are shaving against the grain, using a safety razor to avoid damage. We also discuss why the straight razor remains so popular even to this day; as Chris says, it’s all about the nostalgia.
Throughout the video, Chris talks with an amazing amount of passion, so the final thing that we discuss is how he passes this on to other barbers through his education programme. He tells me that the secret is to keep it “basic and simple”, both with his stair step method class and the more advanced demarcation class. These are clipper classes, and they’re great for hair stylists who may not be used to using clippers and need to learn how to serve their male clients with “confidence and dexterity”.
UK fans of Chris Vaughn’s work will be delighted to hear that he also has plans to bring private classes to the UK, partnering up with Kevin Corley of the K Barbers Emporium. For American fans, this also means that Kevin will be offering classes in the States, as both world class barbers will be offering training sessions on one and others’ home turf. Excellent news for every young barber reading this or watching the video and wondering how to learn from one of the greats!
I’m delighted that Chris ends the interview with some very kind words about my own work! I love providing barbers with all of the information that you need to do an even better job, and I hope that you’ve learned something from this video. To see more, don’t forget to head to my YouTube, Instagram and Facebook pages; you can also contact me online to get in touch directly.