Name: Angel ‘Barberette’ Pooley
Barbershop name: Esquire Barbershop
Location: Tunbridge Wells
What got you into barbering & how long have you been in the game?
I was a freelance beautician as well as doing many other things before that I never had a passion for and my dad always said I’d be good at barbering as I get along with men a lot better, and its recession proof, I had worked as a Saturday girl in a barbershop from 13 years old until I was 15.
So, I decided to take a college course to test out his theory, never realising how passionate about it I’d actually be and turns out he knows me pretty well. I loved my course and got a passion for barbering really quickly. Now I have been qualified 2 years but done a lot during those couple of years.
What other barbering related things do I do outside the shop?
I started working with The Great British Barber Bash when they came to my college and been with them ever since, I go to every show I can get to, a lot of the time on my own. Every time I go to shows it increases my passion as everyone is there for the same reason and it’s so inspiring. I hope to one day be cutting on a stall or even on stage at one of these shows, who knows what might happen in the future.
After college I was offered a 4 week spot working in Bald Monkey Hair Makers, Seville in Spain through the college all paid for, I was the only barber in the whole work experience scheme; which set me up with A great experience so I could have more chance of going straight into a shop and be more shop ready than I would have been straight out of college and make me stand out more than other people, I also travelled round my town giving out free haircuts to practice, telling everyone I’d just qualified and needed more experience.
Barber groups and forums helped me gain more skills by giving me advice. Also, a lovely lady called Tracey Smith from a barbershop in Lenham, Kent, offered me to come to her shop for a day to help me iron out a few skills when I was really struggling which helped me massively! Networking is massively important for me because if I need to ask questions for better techniques or new courses, I will find out about it.
I bought into my first shop last year, which is a massive thing so early on in my career but I thought it will help me learn the business from a owner’s point of view but with guidance, which will help me for when I get my own shop alone.
My most recent achievements are being asked to go to Las Vegas with the Pall Mall Barbers events team, at the beginning of March we went and cut hair at a big retail event where there was over 8000 attendees with companies such as google, Walmart and eBay. It was a massive shock to be asked but I am so proud about even being asked, let alone doing it and I hope to cut at a lot more events in the future. To top that off as well we got to see shaggy perform at a private party and cirque du soleil, we even got to meet the cast backstage. Experience of a lifetime!
What was your biggest mistake/learning curve when training?
I wouldn’t say I have made any mistakes on my barbering journey. All the different things I could have done differently have given me extra knowledge of the industry and I’ve grabbed every chance I could with both hands.
The main thing I would change is to not have worried so much about my skills because they all sorted themselves out in the end. I put hard work in and everything got better, and continues to do so. I wouldn’t have improved as much if I had a closed mind and only wanted to try one way of doing things. Extra courses with different barbers are the best when I feel like things aren’t going my way.
With new barbershops popping up all over, what do you think makes a successful barbershop business?
I’m a firm believer that there is enough hair to cut for most shops. But the main thing is to be reliable, I think it can be very bad for business if you are not open during opening hours. Also not worry about what the other shops are doing, focus on yourself and your shop! Something that will set people apart from the rest is smiling and chattiness, customers will return to shops where they have a rapport with the barber.
Something that can help in the barbering game with the younger clientele is also upskilling and showing your active in the industry and committed to giving customers great service and cuts. I do this by working with barber shows, taking courses and showing my barber journey on Instagram.
What are you finding is the most popular style/request/trend recently?
Obviously, you have the skin fades that have been popular for quite a while but I have definitely seen a rise in scissors cuts, and think that will keep growing. Lots of my clients have said they want to grow their hair but it’s just a case of guiding the client through the ‘awkward’ stage in growing out their hair and showing them how to style it at home.
The barbershop is the perfect place to relax and discuss all manner of topics. What’s the funniest story you’ve come across when chatting to clients?
There are so many funny stories that I’ve been told but the one to top all of them Was a guy claiming he time travelled at the weekend, claiming everyone knows about it but they don’t want to acknowledge it. He carried round a bed sheet like a sack filled with loads of items apparently to make a time machine, including bit of broken plastic and even a sledge hammer. He got out a gas lantern and asked me if I knew what it was, which I did, he said it was from the future. I told him it’s definitely from the past. He said his time machine wasn’t what you thought it would be like, it’s more like a jelly fish. I still laugh about it now. Love the fact we get such different characters in the shop!
Guys growing out beards have been popular over recent years; do you think this trend will continue/what’s your opinion on them and the styles?
I have been seeing recently that beards are getting shorter and believe they will continue to do so. Maybe even go to wet shaves being more popular in the future. After all, all fashions come back around. At work I love doing beards styling to shape the face and determining what shape would be best for the clients. I’m a big fan of doing beards when they are going down into a point, and tapering the beard on the cheeks.
Men’s grooming is only getting more popular, what new styles/products or techniques would you like to see improved/brought out or developed within the industry/peers?
One of my most used products is not for styling but tonics (I use FAB hair tonics) to help cleanse the hair before cutting and helps my sectioning become neater. When styling I love to use salt spray before the blow dry to set the shape and volume and then finish by defining it with a clay wax (I use Osmo). Although I don’t use it a lot, I believe that hair dust will become a lot more popular with clients as it gives definition and texture and is easy to use.
There’s a lot of banter between barbers which helps makes the shop a fun place to be. What’s the funniest joke played/situation occurred in your shop?
The best thing I’ve ever done in a shop; I came to work with a full banana outfit on, for no reason, just because I fancied it. With only my face and arms showing. Cutting hair in it all day. The kids loved it and created a real buzz around the shop and got a lot of people smiling.
What one bit of advice, if you could back in time would you give yourself when you were just starting out in barbering?
Don’t be upset if you make mistakes it’s all a part of the process and always continue to develop skills even when your disheartened. Also, one bit of advice Oksana from Station barbers gave me is take time off, a few days off every couple of months, can give you enough rest to come back with a new refreshed view for the job.
What’s your top tip for cutting/trimming/fading/styling/skin or hair care etc or favourite tool to use in your shop?
I would be lost without my taper comb, I use it for every haircut. Whether it for tapering the edges, cutting the hair round the ears, brows or taking out dark spots in a fade. It’s great because it’s so bendy and can be used for all the finer details. I’d be so lost without it. And obviously the fab hair tonics that I mentioned before; I put in my water spray so it cleanses the hair and adds a smell that the client loves.
Final question, it’s Monday morning your team are lagging from a heavy weekend what track do you put on to get everyone motivated?
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