Accidental Niches and the Beginning of the rest of my life.
When i was 16 i had no idea what i wanted to do with the rest of my life. I was more concerned about my friends and when the next college house party was. Doesn’t every kid? It all changed that summer. I applied to go to Eastleigh college to attend a Nursing course. my mums always said i was ‘good with blood’ and that they were crying out for nurses, so of course that meant i had to please my mum. but deep down i always knew i was artistic. I could never concentrate at the academic side of school. I failed maths and science with flying colours. But i had gained many awards for my art work. I was a debatable, over-opinionated nightmare at school. But i was great at the topics that those credentials required.
So i went along to the Nursing course, sat down for 2 hours of constant theory, ball-point pens and paperwork. Of course, i ran out of the room screaming in terror. I lasted all of 2 hours! it was the complete opposite of what i wanted to do with the rest of my life. Sorry mum, I tried.
I went to the reception and asked if they could re-assign me to a different course. the only thing they had left for me was Hairdressing. one place left, out of 250. the artist in me jumped at the chance. I carried on through the course and i breezed through it in 7 months. I won ‘Student of the year’ and ‘hairdresser of the year’ awards at college and began a hairdressing job in the local salon.
I loved it. but i was definitely stronger with cutting hair than colouring. there was something about the science behind it i just couldn’t grasp and i was losing interest quickly. my boss at the time sent me on some courses at the Goldwell Academy in London where we practised colouring techniques, foiling, the usual ladies hair mumbo jumbo. But one day we practised mens hair. it never occurred to me to try it out. So i gave it my best shot.
I remember the first time i picked up a pair of clippers and its hard to explain… it was like a duck to water. all that time trying to force myself to learn ladies hairdressing and mens hair just came naturally to me. I had found my niche in a matter of minutes. It was surreal, to say the least.
I went home, found a barbershop in the yellow pages and quit the ladies salon the next day. I’ve been a self-taught barber ever since. 12 years on & i’ve worked in 8 different salons and barbershops. From my experience over the years in multiple shops, I can safely say i was always rubbish at taking orders from people, much like my dad who’s always been self employed. I always struggled to find my place. I could never really work for other people. I'd get bored taking orders from ungrateful, sexist, vulgar bosses and more importantly, i never felt valued. But the passion for the craft has never left me. id never let it. i'd plod along dreaming one day id have the freedom to cut hair in my own time & wouldn't be whipped into cutting hair too fast to make the boss rich & happy. i wanted a place i could call my own. Where i'd make my own staff feel appreciated everyday, and encourage their brilliant work in their own time, much like i'd never had. selfishly, i knew i wanted more for myself. and there is nothing wrong with that.
Some people think im a bit sad, some think im OCD, and most of my friends and family will tell you i need regular holidays to just switch my hair/business brain off. but actually? i love it this way. i cant stand behind a man in the queue at the bank, or the post office or even look at my dad or my partner without subconsciously assessing his hair or beard. i cant come home after a 10-12hr day stood behind the chair without sitting at the laptop working on editing photos or business.
the thing is, i see this as a good thing. any barber with passion for their work is the exact same, just ask them. they can spot mistakes or stray hairs on a mans haircut a mile off. not because we're rude, but because we've trained our brains this way. to spot the detail. because it matters. it matters almost too much. but this is what keeps us going & keeps us appreciated by our customers. if you keep looking for those mistakes and details, inviting new ideas, looking for new inspirations, keeping up to date with the latest styles, tools & products, you're constantly training your brain. and it shows in your work. and i am my own worst critic.
Come the summer of 2015, i left the last Barbershop that would ever treat me like i didn’t matter, and thats when Cresswell Barber Co. was born.