We recently went to Melbourne to visit & train our barber shop stockists. A definite highlight was visiting one of the new kids on the block, Lefty's Barbershop. It's been a rising star ever since opening it's doors in August last year.
Not only do they have a great range of grooming gear (like the Milkman beard & shave range), they bring a lot of hair dressing experience to the chair. Scissor work tends to take a back seat to clippers in the barbering world. The strong hair dressing background and the additional pampering at Lefty's make it a stand out for guys looking for a great hair & beard style experience.
We sat down with the team to learn more about Lefty's and life as a barber. Listen to the full podcast here:
Tara: So I’m Tara Lefty's barber shop owner and this is Deanna.
Deanna: I’m Dee, I work with Tara at Lefty’s.
Ben: Alright and how long have you been barbering for?
Tara: So I think it is around 22 years now so yeah hair dressing at the beginning and the finished my apprenticeship and barbering ever since.
Deanna: I’ve been in the industry for 9 years, so 6 years was in woman’s hair and then the last 3 years in barbering but I’ve always had that interest in the barber scene.
Ben: What is the hardest thing about being a barber?
Tara: I don’t think there is. I love barbering. I can’t tell you my secrets. Kids hair, I don’t like doing kids hair.
Deanna: Probably when someone has no idea what they want at all and just getting to the punch line, maybe if I had to pick something it would be that.
Tara: I would say that as well.
Ben: What inspired you to become a barber?
Tara: Oh God we are talking 22 years ago, I love that you can change somebody in such a short period of time. You can give people you know a real confidence boost and a complete change. Within 30 minutes they are walking out the door fresh and new. I love that.
Ben: The transformation?
Tara: Yeah absolutely.
"I love that you can change somebody in such a short period of time"
Deanna: So what I love about it is that it changes the aspects of going from woman’s hair to man’s hair so even the techniques get taught in woman's basic man’s cuts in woman’s shops. It's different to what you learn in barbering and it just picks up the skill and sharpens everything up slightly, the attention to detail that makes a big difference that people just don’t really get in standard hairdressers.
Ben: What tips do you have about what clients care about the most when they come for a service?
Tara: They want to be able to do it themselves for one they don’t wanna leave here with something they can’t manage so it has to be something they can do easy. What other tips?
Deanna: I think people care about most is feeling like you’ve put in the time and the effort not just a quick sniff and out the door. They like to feel and notice that you’ve put in the extra detail, even the smallest thing like getting the extra hair off their back like we do, just that little extra touches yeah the extra TLC, that's what they really pick up as well I reckon.
Ben: Ok well could you tell me about a time when you felt really proud to be a barber?
Tara: Well now obviously starting Lefty’s this has been a dream of mine forever and it works you know finding that gap out in the eastern suburbs and making people happy, people are really really happy that something is out here not having to travel so far in the city. That makes me really proud.
Ben: Yea it must be rewarding to create a space so people can come. Theres a little community that forms of customers that come, you’ve got your own team you work with and devolved relationships that become like family. Yea awesome.
Deanna: My proudest time as a barber I was managing my previous barber shop so I guess being given that opportunity to have that little level up was a nice. I also like to teach people how to do little tricks and tips and learn from people around you as well but yeah I guess managing was a good stepping stone in my barbering.
Ben: Can you give me one piece of advice?
Tara: One piece of advice well then obviously if you love what you do it’s gonna work out so don’t do anything that your not happy in doing really and we love what we do so that's why we are so successful I think.
Ben: Could you tell me about a time where you didn’t do that? You didn't live by that advice?
Tara: Well I mean just be starting in woman’s hair and I wasn’t happy, it wasn’t where I wanted to go. So acknowledging that and finding what I didn’t like about the industry and dropping it. Now that's where I’m at as a barber.
Dee hard at work
Ben: Do you have the same advice or do you have another?
Deanna: The best advice would be just really enjoy it and work hard and make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, not just because it’s a job. If you don’t enjoy it anymore and you're just doing it to make a quick buck or whatever it's probably not for you. If you don’t have that extra passion you're not going to do the best you can. The shop owners don’t deserve that so that's when it's time for you to move on.
Ben: What is your greatest challenge right now?
Tara: Fitting everything in, balancing everything. I mean like everyone family, business, doing stuff for yourself, finding that balance but I’m getting there.
Deanna: My biggest challenge right now is sort of balancing in many aspects as well. Just growing in lot’s of different avenues in my life at the moment.
Ben: Cause you lift competitively as well. Is that something you enjoy as well?
Deanna: Yes competitive power lifting as well. Tara is really helpful in helping me to try to manage time around that sort of thing too. We do it well and I’ve got a little boy too. Just trying to progress in work, in gym and in many things like that so yeah lot’s of balance but I’m loving everything I’m doing right now so just gonna grow on it.
Tara finishing a beard style
Ben: What advice do you have for anyone thinking about becoming a barber?
Tara: My advice for becoming a barber. Well be passionate, its gotta be something you have an interest in. You’ve got to be creative, you’ve got to be into people, you’ve got to be a giver and if those are your traits then go for it absolutely. It’s a great industry I love it.
Deanna: Advice for becoming a barber would be take criticism constructively, always be willing to learn. Never think that there's nothing else to learn cause that’s when you stop learning. Also make sure you find good teachers, everyone teaches something slightly different. But once you find you learn everything from everybody, find what works for you the best and stick with that.
Ben: Do you do much learning online on Youtube or Instagram to get inspiration?
Tara: Always always get inspiration from Instagram and Youtube you know different techniques, you can never ever get enough input.
Deanna: Yeah social media helps with that stuff just to even look at your local competitors that are producing goods and to try things they are doing as well.
Tara: I’m massive about making sure we all work together. I love the barber community rather being competitors I’m really into that. I try to make sure I send that out there and I hope I’m doing that.
Deanna: Yea Australian Female Barbers on Instagram is a great one to share the love for the female barber and share everyone's work around the area as well. That's a good one to learn from.
Ben: Yeah I was gonna ask what are your "go to" pages?
Tara: I just follow individual barbers and definitely local Melbourne barbers. We definitely look at overseas barbers as well but I just really want us to be a community.
Deanna: Things with a bit of an edge too to try to incorporate something a little bit different than what we might commonly end up doing in the shop or just to throw out ideas for customers. We like to give them that twist on things so anything edgy.
Ben: And this probably more for you Tara how do you find barbers to work for you and what do you look for?
Tara: Well ok so mainly we've all got to get along, I just want us to be happy we're here so much of our week. I want us to be happy when we are here to have a good attitude and get along but really they’ve found me, so I don’t know how it will go in the future, but that’s how it sort of happened so far.
Ben: Can you tell me how you found Tara, Deanna?
Deanna: So I had actually moved down from Brisbane to Melbourne and I heard this shop was opening and I pretty much just messaged her the day she was opening I think which I didn’t realise and I just putted it out there. I told her what I can do in the barber industry and the skills I have. She wasn’t sure if she’d need anyone for probably 6 - 12 months. But then 2 weeks later she massaged me back and here I am.
Ben: Good initiative, Do you miss the North?
Deanna: The extra cold weather here is, because I moved in August, it was freezing. It makes me feel lethargic and I’m a bit of a busy body so it was a little too cold, too dark.
Ben: It's still beautiful down here, so green.
Deanna: Oh yea definitely, I still need to explore the aspects of it being cultural and everything as well, there's still a lot to see.
Ben: Well you’ve got really cool ink, hair, it's all going on. What goal is driving you for the year ahead ?
Tara: Well just to continue on this growth that's gone really quickly. I mean it's 6 months, 1st of August we opened, so in 6 months 2 girls pretty much full time so I just want to grow on that and just keep doing what we are doing cause we are loving it and it's working.
Deanna: Goals, I’m just a very goal driven, self motivated type of person. What drives me is to just get bigger and better at everything I do, so getting a world record in my next lift competition which would be one goal.
Ben: What kind of lift?
Deanna: The dead lift, I want to get over 195 which I established yesterday which is a lot but anyway I can do it, that's a goal and then just keep doing well at my job as well just reaching for the stars.
Tara: She just started (weight) training me on Tuesdays so I can’t still walk properly so that's gonna be a goal.
Deanna: Yea it's a goal to get Tara fit and strong.
Ben: There's nothing that hurts more than a leg workout.
Deanna: Yes that's what we did first.
Ben: Wonderful that was it, thank you guys.
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