HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN BARBERING?
Joe: I started out doing a hairdressing apprenticeship when I was 16, and followed the traditional route of cutting, colouring and styling. Then when I was about 21, I decided to make the transition into a small barbershop. At the time Murdock was the place to go for men’s hair, I’ve been here for eight years now. Over the years I’ve worked my way up and now I’m a Master Barber at the Covent Garden store. Ben: For the first ten years of my career, I was cutting both men’s and ladies hair, and I found that my clientele was mostly men’s haircuts and shorter ladies haircuts. So I reached the point where I made the decision that if my career was heading that way I was better off working full time in barbering. Luckily, I knew someone in the barbering world and they pointed me in the direction of Murdock, and now I’ve been here for seven years. Miles: I’m also based at the Covent Garden store. I didn’t really know what I was going to do, but I knew a little about cutting hair from a friend of my Stepdad’s who was a hairdresser and he taught me how to cut hair. I went to university and got kicked out, then there was a job at Murdock and I thought it was a bit of a long shot (I actually sold my PlayStation to buy new clippers so people didn’t laugh at how bad my clippers were!) but I passed the interview and now I’ve been here for 11 years.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
Miles: Being able to be involved with making decisions. Our CEO actively asks us to come up with product ideas, promotion ideas, and I’ve personally been able to travel around the world, promoting the products and educating. Having a boss who values every single barber’s opinion is pretty awesome to be honest. Ben: What I like is that we encourage individuality as well. No one is pigeonholed into a certain way of being. Everyone comes in here and the general day-to-day attitude is ‘you do you’. Joe: I’d echo what both the guys have said and add that I like the fact that we’re barber led – this is really important to me.
WHAT MAKES YOUR CLIENTS LOYAL TO YOUR SHOPS?
Joe: Each of the shops reflects the area they’re in. So, the clientele is slightly different and the teams are slightly different. Ben: It goes back to individuality. Every shop holds itself to a high standard, each shop has its own vibe. You’ll find that clients will pick a shop based on the ethos and then they connect with whoever’s cutting their hair that day and then they become lifelong clients. For example, I used to work in the Shoreditch branch and most of my clients followed me to Soho, but there’s also those who preferred the Shoreditch shop and location. The individuality draws each client rather than pigeonholing them.
IS CLIENT LOYALTY SOMETHING YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO WORK HARD AT?
Joe: I think it’s 50/50 and I think it will always be that way. Some of our barbers have worked here for a long time and they have an existing clientele, but we never take that for granted. We always make sure we’re giving the highest level of experience and customer service every single time. We’ve had barbers come and go from the store, but the clients have remained so new barbers join, and they pick them up, and that customer’s journey starts again with a new barber.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION AND TIME TO BE CREATIVE?
Joe: It probably all comes from working alongside the best barbers out there. I learn so much from the barber that I work next to. Inspiration just happens naturally in the store. Ben: You’ve got to mention Instagram, right? Because when I trained, all the inspiration came from the company you were working for at the time. There was the artistic team and everything you learned and everything that was meant to inspire you came from them. Now with Instagram and social media everything is accessible. Somebody in Australia can do a cool haircut and you can see it 30 seconds later. There’s so much access to stuff that I’d never see on a daily basis. I think it makes it easy to stay motivated to continue in this industry.
WHAT DOES BEING A BARBER MEAN TO YOU?
Joe: I’m very grateful that it’s given me a career, to be honest with you. As a youngster I didn’t believe that I would do this my whole career. I thought at some point, I’d have to go and get a ‘proper job’ but luckily it’s turned into a career and one I’m still doing today and for many years to come. Ben: It is a proper job and you can have a career and earn money, but it doesn’t really ‘feel’ like a proper job. Once you’re established and you’ve got a strong clientele of people that you’ve been seeing for years and built a relationship with, cutting their hair feels like the second part of the job - although you still put 100% effort into it! For me, the first part is just having a chat and making sure your client is doing all right. I love that I’m paid to come in and have a laugh ten times a day with my colleagues and my clients, and then they leave with a haircut they like, and you’ve made their day. Fun is the word I would use.Miles: I’d echo what Ben said. I think barbering is the only job that I could do and I got so lucky with that when I was younger. I thought, “That seems fun, I’ll do that for a little bit” and now, I don’t think there’s anything else I could ever do. I like that everyone’s a bit weird in barbering. There’s a lot of us that wouldn’t be able to function in an office job -I know I wouldn’t be able to. It’s allowed me to be happy in a job.