Cameron McFadyen, owner and founder, shares his journey

Before it all began

It was one month after my 21st birthday when I left New Zealand for Australia. I’d never been away from home before, never even been on a plane. Yet there I was with $1000, a one-way ticket, and not much clue as to what was to come next.

School hadn’t really been for me. I left after 10th grade and drifted into work in the sheet metal industry. That also wasn’t really for me!

Barbering, huh?

My uncle had been a hairdresser, and that always seemed like a pretty cool job. I’d thought about barbering when I made the decision to leave school, but where do you start? And anyway, the call of sheet metal was loud at that point. So was the factory I worked in.

But there was always that urge to do something creative that never went away.

Getting started

It’s hard getting started. You know you’re going to mess up sometimes. And you’re not just messing up someone’s lunch order or their grocery delivery, which is annoying but fixable. You’re changing the way they look for at least three or four weeks. And not in a good way. It was nerve-wracking.

The thing is though, you can use those mistakes, that mess up. You can take what went wrong and build a picture in your mind of how it went south and make sure that you don’t do the same thing again. Do you know how you think of a zinger three hours after the time you should have used it? The opportunity to deploy that exact zinger comes up several times a day in this game.

Challenges from out of the blue

One of the things I wasn’t expecting early on was that not everyone wants to chat. They’re not going on vacation soon and their day has been fine and they want a haircut, not a chat-show experience, thanks very much mate.

And that’s fine.

It’s up to you to learn to read the room and read their body language. You’re there to do the best job that you can – do that, give them what they asked for and move on.

You don’t know what’s going on in everyone’s life, and why should you? They might be getting their hair cut ahead of a crucial job interview or a court case or a funeral. You just don’t know.

Mind your own business, give them a great service and wish them well. That’s all you can do.

Barbering becoming a business

Learning my trade and owning a business has always been concepts that go hand in hand for me. My family is full of people whose trade is more than a job and has grown into a fully-fledged business. It’s what I wanted too.

It feels like something that’s in the DNA. I wanted it. I knew I could do it. I wanted to embrace the risk, all of the risk. I wasn’t afraid of it.

By this time I knew I was great at the craft. All the business stuff I wasn’t confident with I outsourced to professionals who knew what they were doing.

Easy, right? Kinda. The two long years where I didn’t pay myself so that I could pay my staff and keep the show on the road was a time I wouldn’t go back to in a hurry! Worth it though, right? You bet. You bet.

The best thing about being a barber

There’s no doubt that the best thing is meeting and communicating with people from every walk of life.

I’ve made friendships and built relationships with so many amazing people, bonds that will last a lifetime. These connections leave me in no doubt that this path has been the one I was destined to take.

Something I really love is getting the chance to make people look good, sure, but what really blows the roof off is the knowledge that I’ve made them feel amazing. That’s such a buzz. There’s a phrase I always tell my staff: our customers pay for the therapy and get the haircut for free.

That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Want to be a barber?

Never stop learning because this trade never stops teaching. You will always be a student, no matter how great you become (it’s this that will make you great, and keep you great).

Immerse yourself in this, it changes and grows. And as it changes and grows, you will change and grow. That’s what makes you good. That’s what makes this industry great. Be great with it.

Be in no doubt, this is a cool thing to do. But don’t do it for that reason. Being a Formula One driver is a cool thing to do. So is being a taxi driver. Neither is a cool thing to do if you’re phoning it in. If you have a passion for either, they’re cool things to do. Bring your passion and you’ll soar.

I am still in love with this thing

What’s not to love?!

I love being able to give back to this trade, this trade that’s given me so much.

I love sponsoring local sports teams. I love giving people jobs. I love training people so that they might one day give people jobs. This industry will always thrive, and I love introducing people to it; nurturing their talent, and giving them the platform to be the best of themselves. I love making people look great. I love making people feel great. I love this lifestyle. I love opening up this lifestyle to other people. I love this thing.

I am still in love with this thing.

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