From one cutthroat business to another, Harry Pirate has been a chef and a music producer in past lives – but now he’s found his calling as a barber, and the proud owner of the Pirate Barbershop in Bromley. In this interview, he tells me about how his career developed and gives advice for the next generation of barbers.
After bumping into Harry Pirate on a few different occasions, I decided it was time to get to know this passionate barber a little better. Although he has only been barbering professionally for around 3 years, he’s been cutting hair since he was 17 – although it took a few career changes before he realised that this was what he wanted to do with his life:
“So I’m a qualified chef, and I worked in all the big restaurants in town – that got really stressful and I hated it in the end, I was stressed out all the time. So I got out of that, and worked in the music industry for around 6 years as a producer, doing a lot of different stuff with a lot of affiliated musicians. I enjoyed it at first, but it felt like I was getting to a point where I was giving my whole heart to people and getting nothing back. The money dried up because more and more people were producing cheap music, and I also found that the industry in general is very dog eat dog, with a lot of fake people. I’m not that guy, so I walked away from it and never looked back”.
Having been cutting hair backstage while touring as a music producer, this was already something that Harry loved, so it seemed like the logical next step: “A, I could make more money. B, I was meeting different people every day, not stuck in the same circles of people who are just out for themselves. And C, it made me happy”. After losing inspiration with his music, this became Harry’s new outlet, and he knew that he needed to do it properly. This led Harry to go for professional qualifications at the excellent London School of Barbering.
As many of you will know, I was recently lucky enough to experience the London School of Barbering’s shaving course, and Harry seems to have had a similarly excellent experience there:
“I had a great time, and that’s where I met H, my shop manager too. I haven’t looked back. I found out I’d picked up so many bad habits; they give you a great base and after that when you go out to a barbershop you do fall back into those bad habits but with an educated mind – so you can turn bad habits into good habits. They turned me from being a barber that loved what I was doing, to being a barber that loved what I was doing”.
He adds that YouTube can also be a great tool for learning, and there are plenty of educational videos out there including everything from information about clippers to tutorials for perfecting a particular technique. If you’re interested in self-taught barbering, Harry has a video outlining some of his favourite educational YouTubers out there – and don’t forget to check out my Barbers.TV YouTube channel for tips and tricks.
On Board the Pirate Ship
Before opening the Pirate Barbershop, Harry was working at Ruffians – but although he has nothing but good things to say about the shop and his time there, it also led him to realise that he needed to do things his own way:
“It’s a great barbershop, love what they do, but it wasn’t my style of barbering, it’s more of a high-end men’s salon. “Here it’s a barbershop, it’s a man-cave. There is swearing, there is rap music playing, there are people drinking beer – it’s a pirate ship and we love it. For me personally, and my style of barbering I needed to get away and do my own thing. We’re a concept barbers, so it’s a one price service. It may be a little bit more expensive, but you get ten times more than at other barbershops in the area.”
No wonder, then, that the shop is already thriving – both with walk-ins off the street and, predominantly, with repeat clients, the true sign that any barbershop is succeeding! They’ve also been building up a range of Pirate products, with an impressive list that includes everything from beard oils and moustache toffees to hand-made soap and bristle bubbles, as well as a new cologne that is just hitting the shelves.
Harry tells me that he is trying to “create a brand rather than just a barbershop”, and he’s also doing this by running a YouTube channel which you can find here. Like me, he loves talking about clippers and gear, sharing reviews that will help other barbers find the right tools for their style of clippers. You’ll also find vlogs, as well as plenty of advice for up and coming barbers; Harry tells me that it’s geared towards people who want to get into barbering but are wondering where to start or how to improve.
Before I leave you with Harry’s words of wisdom for barbers who are new to the trade, I have to take a brief moment to share some of the gear that he loves to use – I never miss an opportunity to talk clippers, after all! After initially using Wahl tools such as the detailer and the magic clip cordless, Harry has found that he much prefers working with Andis clippers:
“Wahl stuff is great and you can do a sick fade, but I prefer Andis now: the guard system is a game changer, especially the old double magnetic guards, they’re brilliant. You can go really high with them, get a lovely transition. I found with the Wahl stuff that the fades weren’t as stretched as they can be. Personally, for my style of barbering, the Andis clippers do it – I also think the build quality is a lot better.” His kit includes the Balding Clipper, Fade Masters and Pro Foil clippers as well as a Blackout clipper and the Pro Mate Precision – both of which I was happy to pass on to Harry as a token of my appreciation for recording this great interview! The American clippers in this list are powered by my frequency 60hz converter, so if you want to try them out then that might be the missing piece of the puzzle: a converter which can power US clippers without any trouble.
So, as promised here is Harry Pirate’s excellent advice for upping your barbering game. As always, you can follow me on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook for more great content – in the meantime, take note of Harry’s wise words and put them into practice whenever you can:
“Don’t step on screws… don’t get electrocuted daily… don’t break your hand… but all jokes aside just work hard, save up money, get a loan if you need to – make it happen, and you will make money. Sort your finances out and if you want a shop just make it happen. I had a great job at Ruffians, I was at one of the greatest shops in the country: I didn’t have bundles of cash, but I made it happen. Grab it and run with it.”
USEFUL BARBER LINKS
Barber’s Resource: https://www.instagram.com/barbarvoo/
Barber Videos: http://www.barbers.tv
http://www.larrythebarberman.com ( My Online Store )
Barber Blogs: http://www.frequency60hz.com/blog
Hair Clipper Converters: http://www.frequency60hz.com