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FROM WHERE DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FOR MEN’S STYLE TRENDS?

These days I look at other influencers in the industry. Years ago, I would look through trade magazines, trend reports, editorials and glossy magazines for inspiration but social media has added a whole new level of inspiration for me. Men’s hairdressing is much different to women’s, men are slower to adopt new styles and they generally keep styles longer than women do. It’s always the subtle changes and finer design details that alter with men so it’s important to stay on top of the game and use the outlets available to gain inspiration and keep your finger on the pulse. I get inspiration from many places. One of my collections was inspired by a walk around Mayfair in London. I saw a bust of a Greek God and thought I’d love to do a collection based on mythical Greek Gods – and that was it! Inspiration for other collections have come from films, comic books, sculpture, art…the list goes on!

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN IN THE MEN’S STYLING INDUSTRY OVER THE YEARS?

The biggest change I’ve seen to the industry is the speed at which product companies have jumped on the male grooming industry- the number of products now available is staggering. There are more products for men now than there has ever been. 20 years ago, you could barely find a hair gel; now there’s everything a man could need! This growth has made it more desirable for the hairdressing industry to embrace male grooming, the retail opportunities are endless for salons and barbers alike. The ‘barber’ lifestyle has such a positive stigma to it. One of the main reasons I have so many amazing opportunities to travel is because I’m known as a barber. The life of a barber is more appealing than it has been before. We’re also seeing a huge growth in barber focused magazines and the desire to be a barber is unreal. I was in Miami recently talking to a chair manufacturer and they said they literally can’t make barber chairs quick enough, the demand is ridiculous! I never expected it to blow up quite as much as it has.

SPECIALIST BARBERS AND MEN’S GROOMING SALONS HAVE EXPLODED IN POPULARITY IN RECENT YEARS. HAS THIS IMPACTED YOUR BUSINESS IN ANY WAY?

Before I developed the Foss Academy 10 years ago, I was frustrated that I couldn’t get the level of education that would help me develop and grow as a barber. I thought, if I’m having this frustration then others must be too, and so the academy was born! My philosophy was to base it on the fashion and creative work in the elite grooming emporiums in London. Opening the academy meant that when people wanted to get extra training in the barbering world as the industry grew, they could come to us and learn off our experiences and knowledge. Business was slow for a couple of years. It took a long time for people to realise that we could really help their business. We provided in-salon education and personal development programmes which included individual mentoring. Not only

do I teach the practical side of male grooming but I also teach how to create a brand for themselves. The business has changed a lot in the last 10 years. We’re helping people at all levels now in a plethora of hairdressing avenues rather than just how to cut hair. It’s been an exciting and interesting progression.

YOUR MOTTO IS: “INNOVATE OR DIE!” TELL US WHAT THAT MEANS TO YOU AND WHY IT’S SO MOTIVATIONAL FOR YOU.

Innovate or die is my way of finding new ways to tell old stories. For me, if you don’t innovate or create, you ‘die’ creatively. I’m always looking at how I can do things differently, how can I change what’s been done before and how I can get people to think differently. Classic barbering is an old story so I try and find new ways of telling that story. For instance, I created the very first barbering app in the UK; jumping on digital opportunities was a big thing for me. I must constantly push boundaries and be open to change. We all get comfortable but I try not to stay in the comfort zone for too long!

YOU’VE WON SO MANY AWARDS, IS THERE ONE THAT IS MORE SIGNIFICANT OR SPECIAL FOR YOU?

Winning Creative Head’s Most Wanted Male Grooming Specialist award was very special to me. I was the very first person to win the award which was such an honour. I remember looking at awards previously and thinking there isn’t one that I could go for, but with the rapid growth and interest in men’s hairdressing it’s something that magazines just can’t ignore!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS MODEL OR WHAT YOU DO THAT HAS MADE THE FOSS ACADEMY SO SUCCESSFUL?

Innovation! Instead of teaching one-to-one, I’ve adapted to teach one-to-many. The two education apps we’ve developed offer something for everyone. We have free and paid-for courses as well as a YouTube channel and our brand new online education portal which we’ve just launched. The Foss Academy business model has changed over the years as I took a brave step away from teaching seminars to focusing on online education.

WHERE DO YOU SEE THE MEN’S SEGMENT OF OUR INDUSTRY GOING IN THE YEARS AHEAD?

It can only get better! We are seeing the global growth of male grooming getting bigger and bigger. The global value of the male grooming market is currently US$47.9 billion and is predicted to tip US$50 billion by the end of 2018. The industry and its creatives are moving rapidly and I think that’s why people are interested in the sector – but we mustn’t forget that there’s always new things to learn. Innovate or die! www.education.thefossacademy.com

14 Barber Shop Year 6 Issue 3

Barbershop year 6 issue 3  

BarberShop is a trade magazine specifically for mens barbers and mens hairdressers. Keeping up with trends and fashion as well as business a...