Thy Barber is a barber and lifestyle brand that sits inside a 12,000 square foot shared space called The Bike Shed. Starting out as a motorcycle blog, now turned brick & mortar, is the ultimate one stop shop of craftsmanship for likeminded enthusiasts to gather, not only for a haircut but a bite to eat, shop or perusal in the art and motorcycle gallery. Located in Central London we dropped by on the boys in their 1950s inspired workshop for an impromptu visit and quizzed Frank on barbering, life and what’s next!
Tell us a bit about your background and how you became a barber …
I started hairdressing 12 years ago in my hometown in Kent. After a few years, I made the move to London to progress my career in professional hair, working my way up to doing fashion shoots, catwalks and other projects. After a while it kind of became a bit boring, and I realised that it wasn’t for me.
I was working full-time in a salon in Soho, and after a while the majority of my clients were predominantly male. I ended up cutting hair quicker and quicker and realised that in a 45 minute appointment and doing 30 minute cuts, I was being left with 15 minute gaps between each client. So, I took it upon myself to move full-time into a barbershop and pursue this passion for men’s hair, where I could also make the most out of a working day and be back to back with appointments from open to close. After a few more years, I was fortunate enough to be able to open my own shop, and that’s when Thy Barber was born.
Where did the name Thy Barber originate, and how long has the business been established?
When I was coming up with the name, I wanted something that was very British, without being cliché. Then I stated looking into the old language we used to use in theatre. The word “Thy” actually means “your”. Like thee and thou, thy came from Shakespearean times. So, it simply translates as Your Barber and for the last year and a half, it’s stuck.
What are your favourite products to use and why?
I really enjoy using a product range called Copacetic. It’s quite a new brand, but it’s a great, well thought out recipe of different matte products and a good, strong pomade. The branding is really cool too, old Art Deco styling from the 1920s, which is one of my favourite eras – that and the name are cool.
Copacetic means no stress. “Everything is all copacetic”. I love brands with a bit of thought behind them.
What’s your favourite cut/style and why?
My favourite cut is a long trim pompadour. I just love the fact it has every aspect of barbering in one cut. Strong tapers at the nape, solid scissor work on the sides and back, and you really need to know how to blowdry it into the right shape to make it looks its best. Plus, it’s a super versatile cut. You can wear it in so many ways.
What are your pastimes outside of barbering?
I don’t really get up to much apart from barbering right now. I’ve played guitar for the last 15 years and am still enjoying playing on a semi regular basis.
My two dogs keep me pretty active at the weekends though. Going for long
walks with them is a good way to keep my mind from exploding, as I can get out of the shop and grab some fresh air. I also love travelling; any chance I can get to visit a new place with my fiancée is always a great way to spend some spare time.
Describe the culture of your shop/your team …
We are a retro shop; everything is from a past era. We play old Rock ‘n’ Roll and Psychobilly in the radiogram. We enjoy a good whiskey, and all the cuts are only classics.
A good classic never dies, and that’s what we base ourselves on. If you see any pictures of the shop, you’ll see what I mean. Not to mention, the boys are all into the same stuff too, even when it comes down to their personal appearances. They’re just as into it all as I am.
What has your biggest challenge been to date as a barber/businessman, and how have you overcome it?
To be honest, I’ve been very fortunate that no major problems have happened. We’ve just worked really hard. Any business owner will know that it doesn’t just happen overnight. We started as a two chair shop, now we are on our third chair, and hopefully we will be able to expand in the near future. Opening up a shop is the biggest responsibility I’ve ever had, but I’m looking forward to seeing what curve balls I’m thrown in the future. You only learn from making mistakes.
Good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.
What is on your wish list as a barber?
I’m never one for chasing the next zero. I’m not in this to be a millionaire.
As long as I have a chair to work on, food in my belly, and enough money to have a bit of fun, then I’m the happiest guy in the world. Money isn’t everything; having something that you are passionate about most certainly is.
What are your fundamental tips for being a good barber?
Patience: Rome wasn’t built in a day. All these young barbers are coming out of nine week courses thinking they’re the dog’s danglies, but they need to put the time and effort in to become masters.
Respect: you need to respect the people above you. If someone comes over to teach you something, even if you’re with a client, they’re not doing it to belittle you; they’re doing it to help. Take everything on board and then one day, you’ll be able to share your knowledge with the next generation of barbers.
Humbleness: no one likes an ego. You could be the best barber in the world, but stay modest. People can smell an ego a mile away; that bitter smell isn’t inviting, and clients will pick up on that. And you’ll just end up being quiet in the shop due to bad attitude, not bad skill set.
What is the customer asking for today?
Customers are asking more and more for advice on how to style their hair, which is why we like to take our clients through the easiest ways to replicate what we do. People have been styling their hair the way we do since the early 1900s. All we have to do is pass on the information and knowledge. People come to us for vintage/classic looks. So, it’s what we give them.
What is your prediction for 2017 for barber trends?
I think these styles are here to stay. Men have been wearing these cuts for nearly well over a century. I don’t think they’ll ever go out of fashion. I like to think of myself as a purist; funny thing is, these traditional looks have now bred other people to be purists too. And boy, do I love that!