From an Italian forced to wash dishes in a restaurant while he sought his big break, to an ambitious young woman taking the plunge in a male dominated industry – the Great British Barbering Academy (GBBA) educators have fascinating back stories.
But one thing they all have in common is talent – lots of it.
The GBBA team, made up of Simon Bethel, Alan Jones, Gareth Clark, Hannah Grigg, Luigi Caterino, Luke Burgon and Mike Taylor, have been specifically selected due to their immense array of skills and wealth of experience.
The educators will travel up and down the country delivering the GBBA courses to upcoming hopefuls who aspire to be just as successful as them.
Proving that gender is no barrier, Hannah Grigg opened her first barbershop just before her 21st birthday.
The Basingstoke shop proved a big hit and led to Hannah opening four more branches across Hampshire and Dorset in the 10 years that followed.
Aside from running the shops, Hannah has dedicated much of her time to driving up standards in the industry.
Along with her business partner Mike Taylor, Hannah co-founded the British Barbers’ Association – the voice for barbers in the UK.
She has worked in colleges delivering barbering seminars and has been teaching as a qualified assessor for the past six years.
Educating the next generation of barbers has proved a career highlight for Hannah.
She said: “This is something I really enjoy. I take great pleasure seeing a student gaining the knowledge I’ve provided them with.”
Originally from Naples, Italy Luigi Caterino is a third generation barber having learned his craft from his father and grandfather.
Having studied for years to gain diplomas in barbering, shaving skills and beard design, Luigi went on to work in his father’s shop.
A change in circumstance led to Luigi moving to Scotland, but his career did not pick up where he left off in Italy.
“When I moved to Scotland not one barber would give me a job because I didn’t speak any English,” Luigi explained.
“So I started working in my brother’s restaurant where I washed dishes and eventually became manager.”
But it was a chance encounter five years ago that led to Luigi returning to his first love.
“I started renting a chair in the barber shop where I went to get my hair cut so I started my barber life again”
A year later, Luigi opened his own shop and has since bagged a load of prestigious industry awards including Best Barber at the Scottish Hair Awards and Best Barber Shop at the British Barbering Awards.
Gareth Clark is a proud state registered barber and master craftsman with more than 27 years of experience in the industry.
Gareth admits he fell in to the industry because his dad was a barber, but feels fortunate that he did.
A qualified assessor, Gareth says he was trained “the old school way” and is a member of the Barber Council.
For the past 13 years, his focus has been on the family barbershop in Oxfordshire but is now keen to start imparting his wisdom on the next generation.
Gareth said: “I’m a believer of all good things in the industry and I’m looking to make a difference, educating and helping to raise standards in our beloved industry.
“Passing on knowledge and techniques to the next generation is key in my eyes, I enjoy seeing people blossom into great workers, enjoying their job as much as myself.
“I’ve always wanted to push myself, now it’s time to pass on my experiences to the future of barbering.”
Alan Jones has witnessed huge changes in the industry he loves, having spent 28 years constantly evolving, moving with the times and learning as he goes.
His career really took off began when, as an ambitious youngster, he headed to the capital armed with his scissors and a thirst for knowledge.
Alan explained: “I started in the hairdressing industry in 1988 but naturally fell into the men’s side of the trade. With no real barber courses at the time I took myself in to London and worked alongside some of the most experienced and best barbers there were.”
Having developed a real passion for the trade it wasn’t too long before Alan opened his own shop in Buckhurst Hill in Essex, where he traded for 14 years before opening a second shop in Sevenoaks in Kent in 2008.
He added: “I believe my experience gives me a unique perspective on how the industry has changed, and how it is likely to do so in the future.
“Barbering is a true example of a service and skill set that has evolved to become an earmark for luxury and quality.
“When it comes to barbering, it really does count to be a cut above the rest.”
Mike Taylor is a man on a mission. As a board member of the Hairdressing Council and Barbering Council, he wants to raise standards across the industry and have it regulated.
Widely recognised as one of the very best in the business, Mike has come a long way since opening his first barber shop in Newbury, Berkshire at the age of 20.
He now has a plethora of shops across the South of England and co-founded the British Barbers’ Association.
No stranger to teaching others, Mike already delivers training for short courses at his training academy in Poole as well as teaching and assessing barbering NVQ 2 and 3.
Mike said: “I’m passionate about my profession and have unending enthusiasm and energy for teaching and raising standards in the UK barbering industry.
Simon, aka Bones, couldn’t be further from his previous career as a teacher.
The Exeter-based snipper taught in a school for 13 years, working his way up to a management position, before taking the plunge and retraining.
He explained: “I found my way into the profession in 2013, through a friend who was an established barber, although I already had a keen interest in male grooming and the tools of barbering.”
He now runs the Sandyman Chop Shop in his home town but hasn’t left his love of teaching completely in the past.
“My formative years in teaching and passion and enthusiasm for my craft, naturally led me into an educator role in addition to running the shop,” he added.
“The creativity barbering allows me and my interest in styling keeps me striving to improve and develop, both as a barber and educator.
“Working with The Bluebeards Revenge and the Great British Barber Academy is a great opportunity for me and I am stoked to be part of the team”
Luke’s career, spanning 13 years, has taken him to shores near and far.
He has worked as far afield as Melbourne, as a barber in a hair salon, but on his return to the UK decided to hone in on the male grooming industry.
After bagging a job at prestigious Menspire in London, Luke really mastered the intricacies of his craft.
Luke, who now works at Sandyman Chop Shop in Exeter, explained: “The ability to change and make people feel completely different sustains my passion for barbering and educating, I’m really excited to be part of the Great British Barber Academy team.”