The beginning of this decade has been one wild roller coaster ride so far.
Hopefully this year will bring about long needed change and make us more aware of the things going on around us.
One of the many lessons I’ve learned in 2020 is sometimes you have to take leaps of faith – because you just never know were the path may lead you.
This is something Thomas Fulwood learned early on in life – here is his story.
Barber and Owner, Hare & Hound Barbershop
So let’s start from the beginning – how did you get your start in the barbering industry?
As far back as I can remember I always wanted to be a barber, unfortunately that wasn’t going to be my calling for quite some time. I had a hard time getting an apprenticeship in my town, so I went down another route. I worked a lot of trades jobs, painter, roofer, factory’s and bars etc. Barbering was always something I was interested in and I used to cut family and friend’s hair just for fun.
In 2010 I had a workplace injury to my back and needed to make a life change. I moved to Canada and barbering has always been a part of my life to some degree and figured at 27 – it was now or never, so the transition was a late but welcomed one.
When you were a kid – who cut your hair?
When I was a kid, my grandma actually cut my hair, funny enough. I was one of four boys, and she pretty well cut all of our hair growing up using the old hand clippers. We were blessed enough to choose our own buzzcut length, at least! “Pick a number one to four” she’d say.
You immigrated to Canada from the UK – are there any differences between the two barbering cultures?
Barbering in Canada has shown a big resurgence in the past few years, with a lot more barbershops popping up. In the UK, this industry was always around, and always thriving, so because of that, the styles are more edgy, more stylized and riskier.
People are generally pretty fashion-conscious and often use their hair to express their personalities and style. Canada is starting to see a bit of that coming up lately which I’m super happy about. The haircuts that were popular when I was still in the UK are now starting to pop up here, which is really fun to see and really fun to work with.
There are so many established barbers that have a cult like status – Fabio Marques, Matty Conrad and Schorem Barbier. Who are some of your favorites?
Farzard Salehi is probably one of my favorites for sure. He has a really neat and old school approach to barbering especially his shaving techniques which are world class, he does a lot of really interesting classic haircuts and tutorials and has a cool style. I also love the small shop he has in Vancouver.
How did working at different shops help you to prepare for opening your own place?
The best thing you can have in this industry is experience.
Every shop I’ve worked in let me see how I did, or did not want to run my own business. It was always part of my life plan to open my own barbershop, so I gained a lot of experience through working within, and managing other barbershops while honing the craft simultaneously.
Life experience and previous work has also taught me a great deal – it also makes for great conversations and banter in the shop.
The location of your shop has a history. In the 1930s it was a fixture of the community in Little Italy. It was a place for people to get together – discuss sports, politics and share stories. It connected people.
Do you think that barber shops have the same social standing as they did back then?
First, we are very proud to have the opportunity to bring a barbershop back to its original standing with a modern twist, and to be welcomed in such a great community. As for the social standing of barbershops, I would say that it really does vary place to place. Most people have to find the right fit for themselves, environmentally. We do make an effort to make sure everyone is having a good time when they arrive, old or young, and are missed when they’re gone. When you see a person once a month, over the years you get to build a relationship with them, and that bond creates a fun, social place for people to come, sit, chat, get a haircut and relax.
From the outside looking in the Hare & Hound Barbershop has that old-school look. Tell us about the vibe at the shop.
We have been told that the vibe of the shop is very relaxed. We have also been told walking in to the shop is like walking into an extension of your living room. It’s a place you can truly relax, be comfortable, and be yourself and most of all get a great haircut.
All the details of the shop are things I’ve collected throughout the years, knowing I would eventually have a place of my own!
Being completely honest, most of the shop was put together through pure instinct, and luckily, it worked. I put together a place that I knew I would love and enjoy to work at, and people can sense that, and will in turn, enjoy it too.
Having a shop in Little Italy has many perks – one being you’re in walking distance to many great restaurants and cafes. People in the hair industry tend to drink a lot of caffeine. What is your favorite form of a coffee fix?
I’ll be totally honest here, I am the furthest thing from a coffee snob. I’m more of a cup of tea kinda guy (I think it has something to do with my background). I will quite literally drink any coffee or tea you put in front of me. Usually I’ll just get a regular drip coffee, but every so often I might treat myself to a cappuccino. There is no shortage on coffee and cakes in Little Italy, as you may have guessed.
The men’s personal care market is expected to hit $166 billion in 2022, according to Allied Market Research. What do you think is responsible for this resurgence?
I really think it’s because men now are more interested in grooming themselves, and want to look their best maybe more so than in previous years. We frequently get men asking about hair products, skincare products and things of that nature. It’s nice to see people being comfortable with themselves and taking care of themselves.
If you look good, you usually feel good.
In addition to that, I’d say that the fact that barbershops have become even more of a social place to be, men generally look forward to coming in and getting advice and not feeling as if they are out of place.
Crafting an environment that people want to come back to is key in building the industry or business.
What are some of your favorite haircare and grooming products?
For me personally, I like products that are all-natural, or as natural as they can be. I try to look for things that won’t damage your hair or scalp in the long-run. I think it’s also worth mentioning, I have a beard, and have tried out a number of different things to soften and tame it and to keep my skin healthy.
Right now we carry Suavecito, Byrd and Seppo’s products, which have worked great for clients and have gotten good reviews from people that come in. We are always willing to try something new, and don’t shy away from taking a risk on a brand that may or may not be one of the mainstream ones.
I love the era of the Rat Pack – the original kings of swag. Frank Sinatra just gave this sense of cool, still unmatched today. If had to pick one – who was your favorite – Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford or Joey Bishop?
Actually, I’d have to say as much as I love “old blue eyes”, Tony Bennet would be one of my favorite musician of that time. I prefer his jazzy style of crooning, and it’s great lounging music. Quite a fave in the shop.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Well just to let you know I’m bald, but I do have a nice collection of flat caps (UK) / news boy hat (Canada) which is kinda my signature. I like to be comfortable, first and foremost. We work on our feet all day for long hours, and if you aren’t comfortable, you’re going to have a bad time. Oxford and Hawaiian shirts, Clark’s wallabies retro mod style are pretty much a staple in my wardrobe.
Oh and last but no means least I love my heavy framed warfare Ray Ban glasses which will never go out of style.
What is the best part of being in this industry?
There are actually many great parts to the industry – so I would be pressed to think of just one.
It’s difficult to find a career that has as much to offer as the hair industry. You get flexible hours, you can work anywhere in the world, there are opportunities to advance. You are constantly learning, and challenging yourself. You get to be very creative, as well. For a lot of people in the industry, it is also a great way to socialize. You meet great people, you can network a little, and often you make life-long friends. This rained specially true when I first came to Canada.