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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starts Mobile Barbering Academy while still a teen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Jack prefers his 50+ Scissorhands scissors to most clippers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, Happy Barbering!

 

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

 

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

 

Tell me about when and where you started.

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

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

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

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

What kind of things have you had to overcome?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.larrythebarberman.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jack has been running full throttle since he was just 13. “I started in a salon in Milton Keynes called One Salon with Graham Horne, a fantastic hairdresser. Over the years I‘ve been fortunate to work with a lot of people you have interviewed,” he told me. “Tony Roberts, 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

Until next time, Happy Barbering!

 

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From Eye Cancer Survivor to Master Barber: The Unique Life of Alison Scattergood

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/

or contact Alison direct:

Alison.scattergood@eastdurham.ac.uk
Instagram: Alison Scattergood1
Facebook:  Alison Scattergood
Twitter: alisonscat@38


 

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

 

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Wahl Cordless Senior Launch Update: Availability And More

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?

 

‘Til then, happy barbering!

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How To Clean & Disinfect Your Hair Clippers, To Be Safe – Quickly & Easily

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.

Technique:

  • 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!

Technique:

  • 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!

Til next time, happy barbering!

Featured Products:

http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/andis-clipper-oil-4-fl-oz/

http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/clipercide-spray-for-hair-clippers-15-oz/

http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/saloncide-anti-microbial-disinfectant-250ml/

http://shop.larrythebarberman.com/wahl-hygienic-spray-250ml/

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USING THE RIGHT TOOLS TO MAINTAIN YOUR CLIPPERS AND TRIMMERS. PLUS: A HANDY HACK FOR WORKING WITH DAMAGED SCREWS

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.

Larry recommends

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!

‘Til next time, happy barbering!

Tools:

7 pieces screw driver set
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore_1&icep_item=221755790785&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

 

Precision screw drivers kit:
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575100416&toolid=10001&campid=5338183206&customid=exstore&icep_item=322675841934&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229508&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg

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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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Just a couple of months ago, in April 2017, I was interviewing the team at Ego Barbers when the tables were turned. Stell, former Head of Education at the London School of Barbering and now the head of education for Ego Barbers’ academy Kings of Tomorrow, interrupted me mid interview to find out why I call myself Larry the Barberman despite the fact that I don’t cut hair… and why I’ve never learned those skills.
As I explained, I see the title of Barberman as being about helping barbers with their needs, not being a barber myself. Stell was not convinced – and as many people are now aware, he took control of the live interview to give me a challenge: Allow him to personally train me for two hours a day over 14 days, and get to a standard where I could perform a cut on the shop floor.

Challenge Accepted!
How could I find the time to learn barbering while also running an online store, interviewing barbers, creating how-to videos and writing for BarberEvo magazine? It was a big ask – but I didn’t think twice before accepting! This felt like the logical next step in the Larry the Barberman journey, and where else would I get the opportunity to be personally taught by an educator of Stell’s calibre?
So, what was the experience like? Well, a couple of months on I have called Stell back for a second interview to find out his thoughts, and to learn a lot more about his educational philosophy.
From my point of view, though, it was impeccable. When I started, Stell had a two week training plan ready. What followed was exemplary; we covered the theory of hair, square layering, round layering with scissors, blending, texturizing… and then onto the clippers for clipper theory, graduation, fading, outlining and much more.
All of the above resulted in me performing a walk-in hair cut on the shop floor at Ego barbers in just 9 days. In fact, I performed 3 cuts on live models within 12 days, so it’s fair to say we achieved our goal 5 days ahead of schedule.
I credit this success to Stell’s methods – and he certainly had his work cut out for him considering my lack of prior knowledge. I asked him what he thought of my skills at first:
“Well, you had none. You knew about all the clippers and how to fix them, but when it comes to cutting hair you were a complete novice – no experience. So, taking on a complete novice is a little bit different to working with people who have had some experience. In your case, it was really about starting from the beginning, understanding how to work with the hair.”
I was also curious to hear what my biggest weaknesses were (and relieved to find out that my struggles were common for early stage barbers!):
“Dealing with the long lengths of hair. A lot of time people come in from working rom very short lengths and they don’t know what it’s like to work with longer lengths. Once you conquered that we started going at a much faster pace. I find that all the time though, that is always the biggest challenge.”

Cutting beyond clippers
It’s clear that as the barbering industry grows, there are certain trends that we see more and more of – and one thing it’s impossible to ignore is the explosion of incredible clipper work. In my experience, though, a lot of barbers who have mastered the clippers want to learn to utilise other tools. I ask Stell what challenges these barbers might need to overcome:
“The haircut becomes dictated by what the clippers do, because that’s their strongest point. And that means the shape is always an afterthought. A lot of the time, the clippers will work away s lot of the layers without them even realising it. So, the shape that they’re trying to build isn’t really consistent with what the head shape demands. That’s the biggest challenge: the clippers overtake what’s going on on top.
“By coming to Kings of Tomorrow, they’ll learn the way to construct a haircut. So, yes, their clipper work might be their strong point, but ultimately it doesn’t define a haircut. If you only think that a haircut is made up of one portion – say, the clipper work – then you haven’t got a completed article at the end of it. What you’ve got is one fantastic piece, which is your bottom half, maybe with a quite standard connection, but then a very flat and uninspiring top half.
“What we can guarantee is that the construction of the haircut will be a tailored finish for every single client. Because each client’s hair type and head shape is different.”
Luckily, the fact that most of the barbers at the Kings of Tomorrow academy will have a solid base of knowledge to work off means that they’ll be able to put what they learn into practice very quickly, identifying problems to work on after just one or two days. Then, as time goes on, they can enhance and refine.

A full philosophy
One of the things that I’ve really grown to respect about Stell is the deep level of thought that he puts into his educational process:
“It’s all about understanding the philosophy of the possibilities that you have with hair. Just because you’ve cut a great haircut doesn’t mean you’re great at cutting hair. Understanding the possibilities that you can get from doing certain techniques or building certain shapes will give you the ability to do more styles and not just copy certain trends and master one haircut.
“You don’t want to be a one hit wonder – or you want to be a trendsetter yourself. You need to know why you’re doing stuff – what is the reason, what is the knock-on effect? Then that confidence grows”.
He adds that when barbers get the approach wrong or don’t focus on building their skills, they end up doing the same thing every day and the same haircut for every client. That’s not good for the clients, and it’s not good barbers either as it stops their progression. And, as Stell says, you might think your clients are happy, but most of the time they won’t tell you if they’re unhappy – they’ll just end up going elsewhere, making education all the more important.

A bright future for barbers
With people like Stell on the scene helping our barbers to really hone their skills, it’s hard not to think that things can only get better for this industry which is already growing and beginning to thrive. Stell seems similarly optimistic, adding some words of advice:
“A lot of people are doing fantastic things with education at the moment, and it can only do us good as barbers because why shouldn’t we be charging more money? But with that comes the responsibility of delivering what your charging, and if you can’t deliver for whatever reason then you need to look and think how can I grow, how can I get better results.
“Whether it’s education or YouTube videos, wherever you need to be to grow that’s where you need to put yourself.”
Whilst training with Stell I was blown away by his passion and dedication to barbering education, as well as his vision for all barbers to be able to learn every aspect of barbering and charge what they’re worth. If you want to be part of that vision then keep an eye out on the @EgoBarbers Instagram page, or head to egobarbers.com. To find me on Instagram and see me put more top talent like Stell under the spotlight, search for @LarrytheBarberMan.

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Barber: Alan Beak Of Ruger’s Talks About His Meteoric Rise

 

Ruger’s Alan Beak: Enjoy the Boom and Be Nicer to Each Other!

When I caught up with Alan Beak at Barber Connect Telford, he was just 20 minutes from his stage show and a bit rueful about it. ‘There was never a special path I wanted to follow,” he told me, “I never intended to go down a ‘celebrity following’ route. We wanted to keep it varied: the TV work, multiple shows, traveling, doing education. We are just put 100 percent in the moment. Life’s too short for bad coffee and bad haircuts.”

In case you don’t know, the ‘we’ Alan refers to is not only his brother and fellow Manchester native Reece, with whom he opened Ruger Barber just 15 months ago. He also means the rest of his team, Danielle Corbett, Ellie Rogers, Carlie Firth and Aiden Smith, who he mentions often and are a big part of the rather sudden international fame of the Ruger brand.

It’s clear to me the brothers’ killer social media posts featuring unique photography have helped propel them to the heights they enjoy today. It has been a few years since I interviewed Alan, and I wanted to know how he developed those skills.

“Social media is the key factor,” he says firmly. “It is your personal platform to get your work out there.” Social media is part of personal and professional development, something Alan adds to his education work along with theory, demonstrations and hands-on. “Putting all these things together is the recipe.”

He has done his homework in the technical aspects of his incredible camera work. “You need the right tools, the right knowledge, and the right photography,” he says.

 

 ‘Good barbers, trustworthy barbers, are really hard to find’

“A lot of people are deterred by the camera (due to cost).  I get asked about this a lot, and I don’t keep it secret. My cameras are Canon 600D – that’s 400 pounds.  Quite expensive, but you can get it on eBay now for 120. It’s the 50mm lens that gives us the signature look we have. It has the shallow depth of field, focuses on the head, and everything else is blurred out. It exaggerates the haircut. So the 50 mm is the one, and you can get them for about 70 pounds.”

As the Ruger brand began its meteoric rise, people often asked about opening another shop, but Alan was skeptical. “Good barbers, trustworthy barbers, are really hard to find,” he said. “So instead of finding a location, we thought we should look for the right person (to work with us).  And we came across this young woman, Carlie. Her attitude was amazing, and she cut hair great.   She’s fit in the mold with our team, and it just kind of fell into place.” Carlie is Carlie Firth, who I noticed right away, since she was already doing dynamic stage shows at Barber Connect. Talk about fitting fit in!

With the right crew in place, Alan was ready to expand. The new shop in Lytham started with a business partner in Preston. “He said Lytham would be agood spot for us,” Alan recalls. “We went out there one night, and all the bars were open, we got drinks and something to eat, and they all have these bi-folding doors, everyone was outside, and we were sold!”

 

Months later, after “getting my soft barber hands into bits lugging axes and crowbars, pretending to be a builder,” the Lytham shop opened to booming business.

 

 “Get used to your hairdryer”

Alan is a highly attuned business operator whose philosophy every barber should study. He was typically decisive in launching his product line: “We said we wanted or own product; it is as simple as that. And we’ve done it.”  Ruger Essentials is the main item, “the best product we have ever used and ever will use,” Alan calls it in his (admittedly biased) view.

He hasn’t let expansion, social media success and international attention pull Ruger away from their fundamental Italian strength. Alan says the service and atmosphere identified with Italian barbering “will always be our foundation, but we amalgamate our skills with Afro-Caribbean, fading, lady’s hairdressing with extensive styling. We are becoming a hybrid barber; using the Italian as our base.”

He had a take for today’s barbers that was a little surprising: “Get used to your hairdryer.”

“Styling is 33 percent of what you are producing,” he told me. “Everyone wants to do clipper work; everyone wants to fade well; go to America; watch the American videos; everyone wants to learn more scissors techniques. So yes, obviously, clipper and scissor work. But get used to the hairdryer. Use it in both hands, use it in different products, be able to style hair. Hair is very easily manipulated with chemicals, but also with heat.

“Get used to using your hairdryer very well.”

 

“Seeds are Planted all over the World Every Day”

I found Alan to be fired up when offering thoughts on the state of the industry. First, we’ll cover what he loves.

“There is so much networking going on,” he says immediately with a smile. “People on the outside don’t realize how strangely lovely and incestuous it is. Everybody knows everybody.”

It wasn’t always that way. “I remember being told never to fraternize with the enemy, and the enemy was anyone not in your shop.” Now that’s over and the international flavor of men’s grooming is exciting for everyone, he says. “I had a student who was in Malaysia and wanted to have a look at haircuts there,  and when he said he had worked under us for a while, they took him right in!”

A trip to Barber Connect NYC also made an impact, he said, in particular seeing a multi-racial photo shoot called Council Estate Couture by  Kevin Luchman inspired Alan to get into photography, and hanging with people like Luke Guldan and Miguel helped him realize the importance of accessibility.

“Seeds are planted all over the world every day,” he told me. “Plant a seed and year later you can elaborate on that relationship. It doesn’t come all at once…patience, is what I want to say.”  But meeting people and over time, building relationships with the likes of Jamilla Paul and Chris Foster helped Alan’s personal and professional growth.

So, what does this major influencer think needs changing for the better in our industry?

The “bad attitudes,” Alan says.

 

“They know full well they couldn’t stand having that done to them”

“You see people criticizing work, so fast to jump in and say something negative, but then they don’t post pictures of their own work, or refuse to because they know full well they couldn’t stand having that done to them.” Alan’s teaching experience shows him kindness is best. “I can say, ‘You have done so well, but let’s pick on something so you can continue to progress.’

“We are in an industry that is booming and we should be a family. We should work together,” he adds. “If you are going to say something it should be positive, not putting someone down and making feel bad about their work.,

Alan is also on about criticism of people who post edited work, which he calls unfair. “I know people edit pictures, and I don’t give a shit because it looks good. I know they edited something out, but (so what?)”

“Look, we are all human,” he said. “Not everything has to be 100 percent perfect. I have seen people’s work online and then seen them work in front of me, and I can tell there is a difference, but I like to see that because that person is only human.”

 

“Always go with your gut instinct.”

His advice to all: post your work and don’t wait for perfection. “We are all human, we all make mistakes. Whether it’s a small flaw, post your work!  Get your work out there. Don’t pick out the flaw; pick out the good bits in it.”

What final thoughts does this incredibly focused and busy traveler (he lists off where barbering has taken him and his crew – “Shanghai, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, and soon to Barcelona and Moscow”) want to share with my audience?

 

“Always go with our gut instinct,” he said. “Don’t copy other people. I mean, you are never the first person to do something, but take one thing from this person and one thing from another, and just by taking as much as you can from everyone else, you can decide what is going to suit you and make you original.”

“Again, planting seeds. Plant a seed, build a relationship,” he urges. “Instagram is there for that. Instagram is not about how many followers you have. It is about the relationships you build. So speak to someone, leave a nice comment, send a message.”

He condemns how cliquey barbers can be, and sometimes difficult to get to know, so he recommends confidence.  “Even if you are not confident, tell people that. You can say, “I’m not very confident, but I’d like to meet you.” You may shit yourself at first, but then you will be all right!”

With those words I had to let Alan go, off to another rousingly successful stage show.  My thanks to him, and be sure to catch the entire interview on my YouTube at LarryTheBarberMan.  Follow me Instagram @larrythebarberman and I look forward to being friends on Facebook.

I know I will be working harder to follow Alan’s example! Let’s agree to plant seeds, build relationships and be good to one another. Til next time, happy barbering!

 

 

 

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