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Young Fed, Men’s Hair Dresser: Joe Sloan Speaks Out, About Barbering

When I sat down with Joe Sloan at his shop in Essex, I was interested to learn more about his perspective of the industry. Joe is a third generation barber, so he’s aware of how the industry has changed over a span of decades. His grandad – who he describes as a six foot hero of his – had a shop in Glasgow, Scotland. Joe’s father, Adam Sloan, followed his own father’s footsteps, and opened a few salons in Southend. So it’s safe to say that Joe has barbering in his blood – or at least, he’s been exposed to the industry his entire life. When Joe was 13-years-old, he started working in his dad’s salon; at 29-years-old, that means he has 16 years of barber experience. Now, Joe uses that experience that has been passed down from generations in his own barbershop, The Big Yin. But like most industries, barbershops have had to evolve with the times. “What gives us significance over everyone else is that we’re very forward-thinking,” Joe says. In fact, The Big Yin Gents Division has been allowing clients to make appointments at the shop for years instead of the traditional walk-in system. Only recently, have other barbershops started to allow clients to make appointments ahead of time. Joe says, “When you’re running a business, I need to foresee what we’ve got coming in. And to guarantee longevity for my staff, for their trade – appointments are a necessity.” I also think that a big part of Joe’s success has to do with the people that he surrounds himself with. During our interview, Joe spoke about all of the incredible people that he works with. In his shop, he works with Steve Crocombe, Stephen Potter, Paul Harrison aka “Weird Paul”, and Chris Muskett aka “Granddad” or “Money.” Joe had plenty of kind words about Weird Paul and says, “To work alongside this young man is a breath of fresh air. He’s going to be better than I could ever be.” He also spoke highly of Chris, Joe says, “Without Chris… I wouldn’t be where I am right now.” ​ I find it refreshing that Joe is open about how his business partners, coworkers, and employees contribute to his success. A good barber cannot run a successful barbershop alone; in order for a business to succeed, you need people who are not only talented but also dedicated, reliable workers. With Joe’s educational training courses, he is trying to create and mentor the kind of people that are going to become those hard-working and inventive individuals. Joe and his father, Adam, created the Men’s Hair Dressing Federation with the mission of giving the barber industry the respect and popularity that it has today; Men’s Hairdressing Federation also aims at educating individuals within the barber industry. “This is what’s out here for you, if you want to do that,” Joe says. “It is about education, and uniting people, and inspiring people. We’re educating people correctly. We’re not trying to plug any equipment or brands. We want to give people that fire in their belly.” When Joe is looking for an apprentice, he wants someone who comes with the correct skills already, such as common courtesy and the ability to provide excellent customer service. So that when he begins to train his apprentice, he can teach them more advance skills like how to structure and look after a barbershop. Basically, what Joe and his father have created is an organization that aims to give barbering the credit that women’s hairstyling receives. Before I let Joe go, I had to ask him what he think the industry is lacking. He says, “I think everyone is looking for this pot of gold that ain’t there… It’s about earning your right, and using people correctly on platforms. There’s lot of people doing shows, doing seminars that aren’t quite seasoned enough to be in that environment.” What Joe is trying to say is that he sees a lot of people in the industry that aren’t ready to be leaders or teachers – it’s still relatively early in their career and they’re still learning. I do believe that we’re always still learning, but I can see what he saying. When it comes to social media, Joe has similar thoughts. “You don’t want to shut down someone’s passion. I love that people are passionate about what we do. However, when you’re putting social media out – maybe thinking just a bit more,” Joe says. “We need to be a little bit more real.” While Joe’s opinion might be considered a little controversial, (he even admits that he doesn’t want to offend anyone) it’s always a good idea to only promote individuals or “give barber love” to those that we really believe in. Now, before we go, I do want to say that I enjoyed my interview with Joe, and I want to thank him for his time. His interview was very real, and I know that Joe isn’t the type to put on a facade. If that’s your style, then check out some of his work with Barber Cake on Facebook or Instagram. I also want to thank you, the reader, for following along with this blog post and my journey. If you’d like to see more interview with talented professionals in the industry, come find me on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

 

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