How long have you been a barber?
OL: I have been working within the hair industry for many years, embarking on this journey as an apprentice in my local barbershop and now I have been fully qualified for 8 years.
What first made you want to be a part of the industry?
OL: I always had an interest in men's fashion from an early age, however, it wasn't specifically the design and construction of garments that interested me, more the styling and finishing of a 'look' that I found so engaging. Being able to play a small role on this side of the styling process was something I loved the idea of, and luckily for me, also loved the practice of as well.
You previously worked as a Shaving Educator at Ruffians, what appeals to you in particular about shaving? Any top tips?
OL: For me, this side of the barbering experience really defines the role. There is a long history of shaving, one that has evolved and developed over the years, but when done well is a truly enjoyable, relaxing, and comforting experience. I personally love the intricacies of a cutthroat shave, the various stages, and the processes that are involved. The most important part of the process for me, and experience for my client, are the pre-shave rituals such as using a good pre-shave product (pre-shave oil) to ensure the skin is protected and to help raise the facial hairs and ensuring the use of heat through either hot water or ideally a hot towel.
Attention to detail and taking time over the things you love are vital to what we consider ‘Rasurkultur.’ In your experience, how do you feel this aligns with barbering?
OL: It is vital we make sure any client gets the best possible customer experience. Ensuring you build in enough time to get a feel for who this person is, what they are looking to achieve and how you are going to do this for them, instantly puts them at ease. Spending this extra time is really important to provide a really memorable experience. Alongside this, spending time on the finishing and focusing on the details of the cut really makes a difference to the final look, elevating the finished product from a good cut to a great one.
Over the years you’ve built a good number of strong relationships with clients, what would you say is key to maintaining these?
OL: I'm just myself, I make sure they get to know me, what I'm capable of doing for them and by being as friendly as possible. I try to give them my full attention when they are in the chair; being someone they can talk to, open up to and confide in. Being able to listen is so important and can really make a difference to someone's day especially if they are struggling with mental health issues. I've maintained many relationships with clients over the years regardless of whether they are sitting in my chair or not. Being more than just a barber to your clients is key to ensuring lasting relationships, being a friendly and welcoming face can make all the difference.
You are the founder of Care Behind the Chair, a supportive network for those within the barbering and hairdressing industry, can you tell us a little bit more about the project and the inspiration behind it?
OL: I founded Care Behind The Chair during a difficult time throughout the pandemic - I was diagnosed with clinical depression and high anxiety - and I was seeking help through support groups provided by the NHS and independent therapists. I then noticed there was an abundance of barbers and stylists suffering from the same as me and felt like there wasn't a supportive network for people actually working within the industry. Part of the role is to listen and act as a sounding board for your clients, providing them with advice or simply just listening. At times this can take a real toll on your own mental health, so I felt it was really important to develop something that can support those within the industry, not just for those who are utilising our services.
What are you most looking forward to about the partnership with MÜHLE? Are you hoping to offer any additional services at the Barbershop?
OL: I am most looking forward to providing impeccable customer service alongside my colleagues, to be surrounded by like-minded people and to promoting and advocating for the brand, acting as an ambassador for all things MÜHLE. I will be introducing a Silent Haircut, for people that suffer from social anxiety, providing them with a safe space to have the haircut they want, a comfortable and relaxing experience without the stress of feeling like they have to talk.
And finally, your favourite MÜHLE product?
OL: My favourite product is the MÜHLE Alum Block. This unassuming and somewhat overlooked product is one of my favourites for any high-quality shave. Incorporating Alum into your shaving routine is essential as it is antiseptic and astringent, and that will help with any sensitive areas or small nicks. It'll leave your skin feeling tightened, soft and refreshed.