TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR UPBRINGING AND YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE HAIRDRESSING INDUSTRY Growing up is something that I am still attempting to do! My childhood was the best it could have ever been. I was very lucky to have been sent to a great school that gave me endless options in life.
However, if I wanted something like some new football boots my Dad would remind me that I needed to work for them. I was always taught we earn what we receive. This sole bit of discipline growing up is what I truly believe has made me who I am today Some people are driven by love for the job and some are driven by money. For me quite simply it’s the latter. Both my parents have done some incredible things in this industry – they ran several TONI&GUY franchises, my dad Phil Smith has his own product line and they have had an incredible life. I would like to follow in their footsteps. I started out with TONI&GUY, learning barbering at their flagship academy in London being taught by some of the best names in the business right now. To have Charlie Cullen and Dexter Johnson teaching me gave me the best education I could have dreamed for. I fell in love with the industry and while I still do have high ambitions to have nice things in life, it seems my focus now is to excel in the industry and the rest will come.
I left school not knowing what to do with my life to actually truly loving what I do. I never thought that would be possible, but I am living proof that you can love what you do and still have amazing experiences alongside it.
WHEN DID YOU REALISE YOU WANTED TO ENTER THE INDUSTRY?
I had handed in my notice in a Citroen garage as a salesman as I realised hitting targets and pushing sales wasn’t for me, and since being a footballer or a racing driver was off the table, I had to go for my third choice. My mum opened my eyes to what could be possible, and in fairness to her, everything she said would happen has happened. The shows, shoots and trips I’ve had because I simply cut hair is ridiculous! I’ll be forever grateful for her words of wisdom.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALISE IN MEN’S HAIRDRESSING?
As much as I wanted to follow in my parent’s footsteps, I still wanted to explore some areas of the industry they haven’t. TONI&GUY offered a course designed around barbering which was purely the reason why I entered and ultimately decided to specialise in this sector. My Dad runs a very successful hair salon called Smith England. This salon offers the perfect habitat for a men’s area within the building and one day I hope to do just that. It will be a masculine themed area where they feel comfortable with a beer in their hand and the football on in the background, and will just feel free to be able to chew the fat without worrying or feeling embarrassed about being pampered. Don’t get me wrong, many gents are happy to sit in a unisex environment, but for the guys that do feel a bit off about doing this their only alternative is a traditional barbershop. In London, they have the option for a luxury barbershop, but for towns like Salisbury there is no such thing. It’s either a luxury salon or a £15 barbershop haircut. My aim one day is to fill this gap.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT MEN’S HAIRDRESSING?
I just enjoy having set of clippers or blade in my hand so much more than doing a long blowdry! I do love looking at collections in the British Hairdressing Awards; I look at these images and often think I’d love to be able to do that. However the Modern Barber stage still has a pull-factor - watching a haircut, being able to pull off the best fade or to do an effortless taper just resonates with me much more than anything else. It’s now my life and I just want to be the very best I can be at it.
“IT’S EITHER A LUXURY SALON OR A £15 BARBERSHOP HAIRCUT. MY AIM ONE DAY IS TO FILL THIS GAP.”
YOU’RE THE NEXT GENERATION OF MEN’S HAIRDRESSERS, WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU SEE IN THE BARBERING INDUSTRY?
I love the fact that I’m part of an industry that is so interesting and fun. However, I fear that the training standards aren’t being met and guys are being trained up in a couple weeks and let loose on paying customers. It’s unfortunate for the barbers out there that invest a lot into their education. It places all of us in this stereotype that barbers should charge next to no money for a service that requires skill and knowhow to pull it off. My Dad once said as a hair stylist all we need to do is three things: have good chat; provide good coffee, and most importantly, take pride every time you use a set of scissors. If you follow these three things clients will come back, it’s as simple as that!
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNT FROM YOUR FAMILY THAT YOU CAN USE IN YOUR OWN CAREER AND HOW DO YOU WANT TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY?
As a child, if my parents couldn’t find sitters for me they’d just bring me to work, many times I was on a photoshoot where all sorts would be happening. I just enjoyed the process. without knowing that one day that vision may enter into one of my photoshoots. It’s weird how things happen.