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Barbers: Chris Bossio and Christian Perez popular with their employees and barbers everywhere

Barbers

YouTube has been a huge part of the revolution in men’s grooming and one reason I wanted to meet Chris Bossio and Christian Perez of ‘Headlines’ in Florida is their natural feel for good video.  Christian has an instinct for using the camera in amusing ways, and Chris had the brilliant idea of “Wifey Challenge,” where their wives cut the barbers’ hair, all posted on their channels, of course. Great video and hilarious fun!

But these two long-time partners are all business when it comes to business, telling me when we met at Connecticut Barber Expo 2017 that they started out as disgruntled barbers in someone else’s shop.

“We’d gather in the lunch room (that’s back room to us Brits!) to complain, and I’d always say, ‘One day, I am going to have my own shop,” Christian Perez says. “Chris is the kind of person who says, ‘There isn’t a ‘one day.’  There is only now. So seize the moment and run with it.’ He pushed me.”

Chris: “We got to the point where we were like, ‘Hey, let’s do it.'”

Seven shops, separate YouTube channels and more than 100,000 followers later, the two men are focused, forward looking, and generous, making major contributions to the industry.  More on that later.  First, I wanted to know what it was like opening that first shop.

Christian: “First shop, first day, first hour – major rainstorm. The power went out in the entire plaza halfway through a haircut. They say it’s good luck if it rains on your wedding day.  I didn’t think it was good luck on your first business day. I didn’t think we were going to make it.”

But Chris Bossio, who abandoned a full college basketball scholarship to pursue a barbering career, brought his athletic-style leadership to the situation.

“I was trying to be the strong one,” he remembers. “I was saying, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it. We’re good. Don’t worry about it.’”

“Inside, I’m thinking, ‘Am I going to have to get a side job at Walmart or something?’”

To you budding entrepreneurs out there, Chris says anxiety is just a natural part of the game. ”I’m thinking, ‘How am I going to pay my bills? Dang, did we mess up?’  ‘Cuz it looks like the grass is not greener on the other side. It gets scary.”

“But six months later we opened up eight chairs,” Perez laughs, “And Chris was saying, ‘Hey, we are going to have twelve barbers!”  I thought he was crazy, ‘cuz I am trying to figure out how to feed eight families, not 12. Six months later we had to remove the pool table and add two more stations, and today, yes, we have twelve barbers in that store.”

Chris:  “There is so much a volume now, it’s just ridiculous. There is no break, there is no time at that shop.  It’s busy Monday through Saturday.”

Ah, yes, Saturday.  By Saturday night, most barbers are dead on their feet and looking forward to a little relaxation. But that’s where these two separate themselves from the pack, and I don’t mean by staying open late to hustle more clients.  I mean by being amazingly generous, even altruistic.

Christian: “For months, we would shut down the shop at the end of the day and do hands-on classes with students or whoever wanted to come in, and we would do it for free, live on Instagram.”

Chris: “We allowed anyone, regardless of what shop you worked at,  whoever you were, to come to our barber shop on Saturday nights, bring a model with you, and we will do hands-on workshops for free.”

Perez: “Not just hands-on, but networking and how to build clientele and how to set up your station correctly, how to conduct yourself.”

Crazy?  Chris says some barbers wonder way the two are so giving.  “They say, ‘It should be sold, not told,’” he says.

“I just tell people, ‘I live life like that. You guys play 2k when you get home from work because that is what you enjoy doing. I will stay after and make YouTube videos. Being in the shop, cutting hair, making videos, it’s what I love to do.”

Which brings me to the unique Headlines ethos. I’d heard the pair are very popular with employees and never fire anyone.  True?

Christian: “A  lot of people throw the word ‘family’ around but we take it seriously. When we were working for someone else, we felt like we were being held back, so we agreed we want our shops to be a collection of individual brands.  When someone wants to build up their personal brand, start a YouTube channel, reach out and grow, we are here to help.”

“We have seven barbers that have gone on to open their own shops, and we have told them, ‘We want to help you find the chairs.’ The hurdles we have gone through when you open the first, the second and third, you learn from each one and we share that. I think that creates a culture where employees want to help you, because you are helping them.”

That spirit was on full display in Hartford, where Chris and Christian rented an RV and invited any of their barbers who was interested to come along.  How many owners do that?

Chris: “We are dedicated to helping. We don’t fire people. Other barbers are like “What?”  I say ‘No, we don’t fire people. If you don’t want to be part of the culture here you are going to be miserable, and if you are miserable making more money, if you are miserable in a place that has no ceiling…”

Christian finishes the thought: “You just stick out like a sore thumb so bad, you kind of fire yourself.”

After 4-and-a-half-years and seven thriving shops, what’s cooking with Chris and Christian these days?  They are focused on their new product line, ‘245,’ an unusual name that shows their passion for barber respect.  That story starts with that basketball scholarship I mentioned near the top.

Chris:  “I had a full ride, and I quit after a year to go to barber school. That is the most depressing thing I could ever tell my Dad as far as he was concerned.  For years, he would tell my family in Columbia and Puerto Rico that I was an engineer.  He didn’t tell them I was a barber.”

“I did some research and discovered that in ancient Egypt, there was a statue of a very respected man, a barber named  Merryma’at,” he continues. “To this day, that statue is at the University of Pennsylvania museum. The man was given a tomb at a time only priests, royalty and high society had a tomb. As they were discovered by archeologists, the tombs were given numbers, and Merryma’at was Tomb 245.”

“We stayed honest to that with the name of our products and apparel, showing people that our craft has a history of respect and honor. We are bringing that back.”

Meanwhile, 245 has its own great history, starting in Chris’ kitchen as the team scrambled for a spot at Orlando Premiere.

“I asked Orlando what it would take to teach a class and they gave me an astronomical number I couldn’t get my head around,” Chris recalls. “I realized the only people who can afford it were selling products.”

The team started a Headlines legend by creating a shave (WORD?) from scratch in 30 days to make the Premiere deadline. “There is a video on his channel that documents it,” Christian says. “There was no product, no label, no bottle. We made it in his kitchen; 2500 bottles, capping by hand, putting stickers on. It was collaborative team work.”

Once they were in at Orlando, the 245 brand started to grow and quickly became a focus of Chris’ passion for legacy.

“I want to break down barriers, I want to be an innovator in the industry,” he says. “The last thing I want to do is pass away and my children’s children don’t even know who I am.  My children’s children’s children will never even hear my name. I feel life is such a great thing, we are so lucky to have life, and if you don’t live it to the fullest, how can you leave a legacy?”

There is so much more these two driven and passionate individuals have to say, such as the story of Chris’ initial terror of straight razors and their sharp remarks about the negative impact of trolls in the industry.  But you will have to check the whole interview on YouTube a@Larrythebareberman to take it all in.

I wanted to know, as I always do, what their advice is to barbers coming up.

Chris:  “Number one, you have to look at things like a businessman and put yourself out there. You’ve got to stop thinking so much and DO more.  More action. Don’t be the guy who talks. You have to DO it, and you’ve got be consistent with it. It is action over everything.”

Christian:  “I agree.  Learn from your failures. Don’t be afraid to fail. You are going to get better.”

And as for respect?  “Well,” Chris laughs. “My Dad is telling my family I am a barber, now.”

Thanks, guys!  I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did.   I can’t wait to bring you another of my conversations with people across the globe who are making barbering a fascinating, always-changing world.

Til next time, happy barbering!

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HOW-TO: SWAPPING THE ANDIS SLIMLINE PRO LITE CORDLESS TRIMMER BLADE WITH THE CORDED ANDIS T-OUTLINER BLADE

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)
  • Sandpaper
  • Trimmer oil
  • 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!

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My Latest How To: Fixing Faulty Switches on Your Andis T Outliner

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.

If there are topics you want to see covered in one of my How-To Videos, email me directly at info@larrythebarberman.com.

 

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