Modern Barber spoke to George Vassiliou, owner of Mansculine Male Grooming Club in Hoxton Street, London to find out how a barber in the heart of the City of London is coping currently.
“Being based near the City, we rely heavily on clients work in the nearby offices. We’re a 10 minute walk from Liverpool Street and normally get a lot of clients before and after work, as well as during the lunch hour, but we’ve lost 60% of our clientele thanks to COVID-19.
A survey I read recently said only 9% have gone back to the office, 20% are back part time and the rest are working from home. I’ve had some clients who’ve come in specially outside of London to see me. But I’m no longer a convenient choice for a lot of my clients.
Mansculine Male Grooming Club was established three years ago. I was working by myself and once I started turning clients away that’s when I started hiring staff. We spend an hour on haircuts. At Mansculine we offer an experience. We do things in a hairdressing way – we have consultations, we ask them what they like and what they don’t like.
At the start of 2020 we were fully booked every day in January and February. But now we’re back to square one. It’s hard to get a strategy in place at the moment as the rules keep changing. At the time of writing the government has just imposed a 6 person maximum rule. It makes it hard to predict what’s coming next.
We tried to partner with Treatwell to fill appointment slots. And even sent a newsletter out to offer 10% off treatments, but it didn’t help.
During the beginning of lockdown I was on furlough as I work for the business and my staff are self-employed so they were on universal credit. We’ve had a small grant to help with rent and bills. My landlord has helped a bit but they need to pay their bills too.
We hope that things get better and our clients start coming back as we move into autumn and more people return to the office. We got busier during the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August but it’s quietened down since.
We’re used to weekdays before and after work and during lunch hours being our busy periods. But now it’s like we’ve stepped back in time. Saturday is when I’m busiest now, the Hoxton Street market is open on Saturday is open again so we open 10-4pm to catch market-goers.
We need to change people’s opinions about going back out into the world, but how can we do that when the rules keep changing?”