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Barbering | The Lifestyle and the Lessons

by Emily McTaggart

Charles Lomu and Kiko from our Garage Barbershop project look critically at the art of barbering.

six_fades Last Day at the #GarageBarbershopExhibtion with Kiko giving his first razor fade and nailing it [Instagram]

What is unique about barbering?

Kiko | It’s the lifestyle, there are rules and it’s more about how you live your life. It’s about being clean and respectful.

Charles | Barbering has such a huge culture and history. Fundamentally, it’s about customer service and service to others. The importance of teaching young men barbering today is that we live in a society where everything is going digital. But one thing that’s for sure is that you’ll never be able to automate a haircut online. It’s something that will still be in need in years to come, so I find it a very important skill to pass on to young men. And it’s more than just a haircut – it’s about knowing how to communicate, knowing how to present yourself well, knowing how to treat others with respect, and it’s knowing how to be a good listener.

As a barber, do you have a signature cut?

Charles | The fade – it’s something I’ve always loved since I was a kid. I’m a big fan of hip-hop and street culture. I think the urban art of fading is something that represents street fashion, or street culture, and I love it. I think it makes people look clean and very smart.

six_fades Give a man to fish, Feed him for a day Teach a man to fish, Feed him for a lifetime [Instagram]

The fade is something I had to learn about more as time went on. When I was young, we used to use the terminology “blend”. “Blends” were pretty much fading so you couldn’t see a line, where fading pays a lot more attention to the gradient of the colour of the hair, so making sure it goes from light to dark, but compacts the colour in a lot tighter area. I see it as more of an art compared to blending, which is quite simple and easy to do.”

Kiko | I’m not really sure yet, to be honest. I don’t really have a signature cut, but the main one I always do is a mid-fade. From the neckline, you go from zero, to one and a half and then two – using the ear as a guide.

Kiko, what have you learnt from Charles during the Garage Barbershop project?

Kiko | He’s taught us this important thing,  called the 5 Cs, which are consistency, cleanliness, customer service, commitments and cuts.

Charles, what have the young men taught you? 

Charles | They’ve taught me that it’s important to be a role model, to set an example in what I do rather than just what I say.

They’ve also reminded me of how important this role is, of giving back to the community.


@six_fades First #FreeHaircut of the day by @_kinggjeezy_ on Irishman Patrick who brought stories of laughter and could easily be a successful stand up comedian. Young ones feel comfortable around their peers but growth awaits the young one who draws from the untapped wisdom of the elderly. [Instagram]

They’ve reminded me also that we live in a world that has turned into a rat race, and there’s hardly any time anymore for even their parents to stop and pay full attention to them because they’ve got to try and hold a job down and look after them and feed them and keep the lights on and a roof over their head. It’s shown me the importance of giving back, because we can help one another raise each other’s children.

They’ve taught me the importance of education by demonstration.

I’ve learnt much of an impact we can be when we work together as a community. The services, youth workers such as myself at the grass roots level, the young people, the young people’s families, the parents, everybody working together and supporting one another makes a huge difference.

By Michelle Lo

Feature Image: Garage Barbershop by Harold David
Other Images: @six_fades

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