Monday 18 May 2020

A Barber's Life During Lockdown - Guy's Barber Shop [Quarantine Interview Series]

This global pandemic has hugely affected people all across the world, not only with the virus itself but also with the big impact it is having - and will have - on the economy. In this series of interviews, I will be chatting to a few people who are each facing different challenges during these unprecedented times.

Whilst obviously people's health and safety is the most important thing, the lockdown forced hairdressers, barbers and salons to close their doors - the sole income and livelihood for thousands of people across the UK. Guy's Barber Shop in the heart of Caerleon is an independent barbershop that had to do just that. I spoke to Guy to find out about his journey and to see how he has been coping during these uncertain times.  

Hi Guy, obviously, you've had to close your doors with the lockdown, how did you find that and what impact has it had?

"The lockdown was hard, and taking the initial decision to close the doors was heartbreaking as it happened a few weeks before our first birthday in the shop! We had a party planned, with a full day of cuts, beers and cake followed by an outing for more beers to celebrate our immense success! So yeah, lockdown has hit us hard and I miss cutting hair so much- it’s my passion! My partner was undergoing an in-shop apprenticeship with myself being her main teacher so this lockdown has really put that on hold, we are thinking of ways around it such as her practising on me, but it’s hit her hard as she simply cannot train! We have kept our customers up to date weekly on social media, sharing pictures to let people know we are ok and thinking of our loyal customers at the same time! So yeah this has been hard from the new business owner perspective but we will definitely pull through, and be busy as ever!"
So, how did you originally get into barbering and what made you open your own shop in Caerleon?

"I studied fine art at university and left with a degree but was at a loss at what to do after I left university! A few friends worked in a shop that I used to go to get a trim, they told me about the business and I was hooked! (One of these friends would later own their own shop and take me with them!) I moved to a successful chain of shops in Norwich called Courage Noble which is where I learnt all the skills I carry with me today! I then moved to South Wales and opened up my own shop, and boy have we been busy!"

As you’ve been unable to open the shop or work, how have you been spending your time during lockdown? 

"During lockdown, we have been SUPER busy! We have an 8-month-old puppy called Elton John so he has been keeping us very busy, he’s a diva! Along with house DIY and doing our front/back garden! I’ve got back into painting as well (it’s been about a year since I last picked up a brush!) but it's going well! We also sometimes spend a couple of hours playing Call of Duty online."

What do you miss the most about ‘normal life’ and what is going to be the first thing you do once the lockdown is lifted?

"Ahhh normal life, seems like we are living in a film! What do I miss the most? Firstly, I miss interacting with my customers and having a laugh! My customers are an amazing bunch of people from toddlers to OAP’s they all make me laugh and they seem to really enjoy coming to the shop for a chat! Obviously, I am dying for a pint in a pub beer garden with all of my mates! Pretty sure that’s what everyone is missing the most to be honest!"

What three songs that have improved your lockdown experience: 

  • Whip it by Devo (Old 80’s new wave band, featured in Stranger Things) 
  • Blinding lights by The Weeknd (I actually did a Tik Tok to this song and it’s my guilty pleasure haha) 
  • And of course, anything by Elton John! (We have been getting very excited for our wedding next year, and listening to Elton John helps us plan!)
Are there any movies and/or series that you’ve started during the lockdown?

"Are there any series we have watched?! Strap in, this is gonna be a long one!
Gangs of London on Sky is a MUST for any modern gangster lovers, it’s a good mix of mystery, gore and entertainment! Stranger things on Netflix was something we binged! 3 series in a week, my partner hadn’t watched and I needed her to see what she was missing out on.. she’s now hooked!  Of course, if you live with my partner you have to watch Lord of The Rings at least once every two weeks (she is obsessed!) so that’s been on.. and The Hobbit! Modern family, After Life, Cold Case Files and any crime documentary on Netflix and a bunch of Louis Theroux because let’s face it, he’s the man!"

What have you found to be the weirdest experience during these unusual times?

"I haven’t been out that often but I guess the empty streets? It’s like a zombie apocalypse! I had to drive to Norwich to deal with a property I own and it was dead. The roads, the streets, the city centre.. it was actually quite eery! That the weirdest thing I’ve seen during this lockdown!"

Is there anything you have discovered about yourself during this time?

"I’ve discovered that I can run 5K!! I was very pleased with myself! It came as quite the shock!"

Just for fun - If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

"Superpower? Definitely have to be time travel! I want to go back to the 80’s, go to gigs and skate. That’s all I ever want to do anyway but it was all rad in the 80’s wasn’t it?!"

Finally, do you think life will ever return to normal or do you think this is going to change the way in which we interact forever?

"Life will definitely not return to normal, I think it’s going to stay the same with supermarkets and mass gatherings, people will be scared to go out! I think city centre independent businesses will suffer as people have had to order online whereas they may not have before! People have seen how quick and easy it is to click and get it delivered, nobody will shop anymore! It’s sad!"

Thanks so much for taking the time to do this socially distanced interview, Guy! Hopefully, you'll be able to re-open your doors in good time and celebrate your second birthday as anticipated next year! 

Follow Guy's Barber Shop on Instagram and/or Facebook to keep up to date with his shop! 

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