Mikey Denton is an established barber, global educator for Baxter of California, and owner of Bricks and Mortar in the eclectic indie city of Portland, Oregon. Mikey is travelling to Australia for Hair Expo 2018 in Melbourne, where he will share his insights into the current barbering trends in North America and how he stays on top of this growing market. Hair Expo caught up with Mikey ahead of his showcase to hear more about what he’s got in store for Aussie barbers.
So thrilled to have you joining us for Hair Expo in Melbourne this year. What are you most looking forward to about your trip?
This will be my first trip to Australia, so I am REALLY stoked. I am looking forward to the chance to meet SO many new faces and share knowledge I’ve obtained over the years. Hopefully they like what I have to share ;). Also, I’ve heard Melbourne has a really cool thing going on with the food and coffee scene, so I can’t wait to check that out!
You’ll be talking about barbering trends in North America during your session at Expo – as the States is such a large and diverse country, do trends in hair tend to change a lot from city to city (or state to state/coast to coast)?
In the US, Hollywood seems to set trends that make their way across the country. For example, when Inglorious Bastards and Mad Men aired, a lot of my clients were looking for that classic look. Now, it is not uncommon for people to follow hair influencers on social media and this shift seems to have made trends stay consistent throughout the country.
What are some of the main cuts that are being requested at the moment in Portland?
I noticed a lot of my clients are up for something new and different. Either something really tight on sides and textured on top, or a longer disheveled look.. Also, its really not unusual for clients to be up for blow drying their hair with a round brush and pre-blow dry product. Which explained and shown the right way, makes styling day to day pretty easy. Having Nike and Adidas HQ in Portland, we have a lot of international tourists in town. Because of that, UK styles are not uncommon right now – blunt fringes with tons of texture.
What is a common challenge that you see barbers struggling with in the industry?
The big thing right now is barbers/cosmos coming right out of school expecting to make tons of money and have a full book of clients provided without putting in the time – It is so crazy. It takes a lot of time and effort to grow in this industry – it isn’t instant. But, with that experience, you learn what experience needs to be provided – clients take more away from a service at the beginning and end, a good haircut is a bonus. Also, there is a lot of ego in the hair industry right now. So many people I have met have a “been there, done that” attitude which really holds them back creatively. Continued education NEEDs to be a priority or else you will get stagnant.
Do you think there are any common misconceptions about barbering?
When I started hair school, I didn’t think you could make a good income just cutting men’s hair. I’ve learned that is totally incorrect, barbers CAN charge an honest amount of money for the service they are offering. Afterall, tools are not cheap, purchasing product to use is not cheap and putting in LONG hours is not easy. But, the industry is changing and guys are willing to pay for services that they feel are worth the money! It’s all about the experience.
Do you have any go-to products that you can’t go without?
At home its the Baxter of California deodorant for sure – I’ve gotta make sure I smell fresh all day. At my shop I’ve REALLY been into Baxter of California’s Beard Line Up Shave Gel. Its clear which makes lining up beards and haircuts easy. Also the gel feels like an aftershave because its really soothing. The product is more like a 2-1 product, which is rad. Also been really into using Baxter of California’s Herbal Mint Toner after the haircut around the ears and neck. Its just a nice add on which has clients leave feeling refreshed.
Who are your hair heroes/who inspires you?
Honestly SO many. I had the chance to meet Sam Villa a hand full of years ago and that was amazing. Not only is he an OG in the hair industry but he is just so freaking positive its amazing. He was so genuinely nice and we had a really good conversation. Also, my best bud – Jay Lutgen from Seattle – was the person who influenced my decision to get into the hair industry. But currently I am really inspired by: Adam Federico, Three- Education, Johnny Baba, Mike Varela, Josh O’Meara, (local hero) Jesse Gaines, Daniel Alfonso and of course Vidal Sassoon.
If you could have anyone in your chair, who would it be and why?
If I could have anyone in my chair, honestly it would have to be my grandma who passed away in 2006. We were so tight and she didn’t get to know the “Mikey who’s in the hair industry”. I was so lazy and had no real direction after high school and the hair stuff didn’t happen until 2009/2010. I just think she would be SO stoked.
What do you like to do in your down-time?
98% of my time un-related to hair is absolutely spent with my family. I have a beautiful partner, Kendelle. Her and I have 3 beautiful boys together. They range between the ages of 10, 4 and 1 so we are BUSY. When I’m not with the family, I am honestly watching hair videos. I also love podcasts about business, true crime or sports. I get to listen to my podcasts at the gym or the car ride to work which I really enjoy. Also, a big gamer. I play xbox live when I get the chance.
Finally, what do you want Australian barbers/hairdressers to know about your Hair Expo Educational session?
I am there to help in some form or another. I am no better than anyone else attending or presenting, I just have the opportunity to showcase what I have learned over the years and what’s helped me behind the chair. I hope I can shed light on the many leading trends in the US and help teach others how to get those styles.