HOW DID YOU GET INTO BARBERING?
I was 26 when I changed careers to become a barber. To be totally honest I knew nothing about the industry. But I knew it was a way to be creative and earn money for me not anyone else. I couldn’t stand my 9am-5pm desk job. Give me 9am-9pm standing up cutting hair any day! I used to work in the jewellery sector importing and exporting. I woke up one morning and said to my fiancée: “I’m not happy”. I was suffering from depression and anxiety and I wanted to make myself happier for her and the kids. So I enrolled on a course and bounced around a few local shops and then got myself a small barbershop above a gym in Basildon called Stag and Dagger.
HOW DID YOU COME TO GET YOUR ‘BIG BREAK’?
While I was at Stag and Dagger I was approached by my now business partner. He’s a business man and an entrepreneur and actually the step-dad to one of my customers. He liked my energy and the way I was marketing myself. I knew I had to take the opportunity to progress in my career. I passed on Stag and Dagger to a barber that was working for me. I didn’t have the time to make that work as well as my new venture. All my efforts have gone into Myles & Co.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST YEAR OF TRADING AT MYLES & CO LIKE?
We’ve been open 18 months but because we’ve been through three lockdowns, we’ve only been trading about 12 months. It’s been a rollercoaster. We’ve lost a business year, at least, in terms of what we’d planned for the shop. Despite that we were finalists in the Best Barbershop category at HJ’s British Hairdressing Business Awards which I’m really proud of. But honestly some days I feel like I’m a knight fighting against the dragon of COVID-19! Still, I’m proud of myself and my business. I’m not afraid to have a go at something – we turned Myles & Co into a butchers during the pandemic. In the end it didn’t work out financially, but I’m not afraid of failing. That’s how you grow.
“PEOPLE MESSAGE ME ASKING ‘HOW CAN I BE AN AMBASSADOR?’ – BE YOURSELF AND DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY. THAT’S YOUR SELLING POINT.”
SPEAKING OF INNOVATING, YOU’VE ALWAYS GOT A PROJECT ON THE GO! TELL US ABOUT SOME OF THEM
Back in 2015 I created Guerrilla Barbering to help raise awareness and donations for homeless charities. It involved a group of barbers doing pop-up events in East London. I also put together the Outline Creative Team for a slot on the HJ Men stage, which brought together different barbers from different shops and helped raise all our individual profiles. And in 2020 I created a podcast called BS Exchange (formerly The Barbershop and Pulled Up Socks), we talk conspiracies, current affairs and politics – that sounds serious but it’s not, we always have a laugh.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO’S THINKING ABOUT OPENING THEIR FIRST BARBERSHOP?
Partner with the right people. I have a business partner and we have clearly defined roles and areas we naturally excel at. I do everything front of house from marketing to cutting, and he manages everything behind the scenes like the taxes and accounts. We’re the perfect team. To be honest, I want to get to a point where I can pay people to run my business. Honestly my ultimate goal is to be wealthy enough to take a step back from it all.
“TRUTHFULLY I WANT TO GET TO A POINT WHERE I CAN PAY PEOPLE TO RUN MY BUSINESS.”
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN ‘HAVE IT ALL’ AS A WORKING FATHER?
Years ago it was the man’s role to provide for the family. But it doesn’t matter what gender you are – nowadays everyone is bringing home the bacon. Personally I keep my kids and work separate though, I am not putting them out there until they want to be public. My private life is my private life. In my personal life I play the role of dad and fiancé, but my social media is professional only.
BARBERS’ MENTAL HEALTH IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT TOPIC RIGHT NOW, WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE?
We have to think about ourselves more. We’re really good at reaching out to our clients and helping them, but what about our needs? Out of all the professions, creatives always seem to be impacted negatively by mental health issues. In the barbering industry we do hear a lot about people who have committed suicide and we need to reflect on that. We need to start thinking about our lifestyle and check in on each other. It’s not always about hype and collaboration. We don’t always have to reach out for something, sometimes it’s just important to say ‘hi’. I want people to draw strength from who they are and if they have a hard time finding that, then to reach out to people who care. I have experience with depression and anxiety, if anyone reaches out to me I will be there for them.
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR AMBASSADOR ROLES?
I’m an ambassador for OSMO and Gamma Plus because they get the way I work. You have to work with someone that wants to work with you because you’re you. You have to realise your self-worth before working with brands. People message me asking ‘how can I be an ambassador?’ – be yourself and do what makes you happy. That’s your selling point.
WHAT’S YOUR MYLES & CO MISSION STATEMENT?
Always be yourself…