Creating a voice for barbers - the career of mike taylor
07th May 2014
Mike Taylor, is the director and southern-based trainer for The British Barbers Association. He started in the industry at the tender age of 15 years old working as a junior in a local hairdressing salon. He’s now been barbering for 23 years which has seen him go from opening his first barber shop in Newbury at the age of 21 to successfully managing five shops across Hampshire and Dorset. Matthew Batham caught up with him.
What would you say to someone thinking of training as a barber who is put off because they don’t view it as a career?
I would say they are completely wrong! I remember when I was 16 years old and started my career in barbering, my teacher at the time told me that barbering doesn’t stop at owning your own barber shop. It is something you can take all over the world, be a session stylist for the stars or work on stage at massive events. In short, with hairdressing and barbering you can make it as big or little as you want.
How did you enter barbering and what was the attraction for you?
As a teenager I loved getting my haircut in the barbershop. I would visit the barbershop every other week after I did my paper round and pay for it with my wages. I always thought it was a cool trade and it fills me with pleasure that now in 2014 most of the UK think it’s a cool trade too.
What were your first impressions of the industry and the possibilities open to you?
My first impressions were hard work, backache and dermatitis! I did an old fashioned apprenticeship where I was basically the ‘shampoo boy’. It was hard work but well worth it!
How did your career progress?
As soon as I had my hairdressing qualification (as there was no barbering one at the time), I searched high and low for work in a barbershop. Luckily I found work with one of my brother’s friends who tidied up my skills and put me on the right path to start my career. At 21 I opened my first barbershop which I found really hard and at times wished I hadn’t bothered after I had to give up my flat and car to fund it. But now I took back and know it was the best thing I ever did.
How did you start to work towards achieving your goals?
I never knew what my big goals in life would be. Each day brings me different goals. My first goal to achieve was to complete one shampoo without shaking. My goal now is to overcome my fear of working on stage
What advice would you offer someone looking to carve a long-tern, exciting career in hairdressing/barbering?
My first piece of advice would be to get a qualification and take your time gaining it. You can’t learn barbering in a week. My second piece of advice is training, training, training and more training and when you think you have learnt everything…. Give up!
What have been your career highlights to date?
Making a success of my first shop: my first set of students gaining full-time employment; setting up the BBA and giving barbers a voice; starting up the BBA’s National Student Barber Competition and helping with the BBA Masters Competition; gaining the first ever Master Craftsman Barber plaque awarded by the Hair Council and meeting great people in the industry and making solid friendships.