The High Street Barber: Carlo DePetrillo

Published 19th Mar 2024 by Sian Jones

Modern Barber caught up with local high street barber, Carlo DePetrillo, to get his insight after 40 years in the business. From the need for regulation to the importance of creating a community, it was an eye opening chat on how far the industry has come, and the recent changes we've seen due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic...

Carlo DePetrillo, owner Carlo's Barbershop, Royton

How long have you been a barber?

In April I will have been barbering for 41 years. I started at Clarkes of Deansgate, Manchester, before moving to Michael Dobbs hair, in 1987. I then went on to open my own shop in my hometown of Royton.

How has business changed for you?

The barbering industry has changed massively in the last ten years. It was always a walk-in service, a club for men and a meeting place. Now it's more sterile with appointments taking over and increased prices. I feel that the barber shop has lost its togetherness and the community hub where men would meet up and have a chat. Since the pandemic barbershops have changed and it’s worse for our senior gentlemen because they’re not catered for. I'd rather do ten seniors in a row than your typical “jack the lad” skin fade! The older clients have fabulous stories and want a chat, which makes your day a short one and more enjoyable! For me, it’s a sign of the times, the industry has changed beyond belief, and not necessarily for good. Appointments do keep the shop running smoothly but they’ve emptied the shops of their character. In the American barber shops, for example, all the barbers turn their chairs looking towards the waiting area, so everyone can chat and interact – I think this is such a good idea. Additionally, social media is a fabulous tool but with things like photoshop it can make our job hard sometimes.

What would you like to see in terms of government support?

The government hasn't helped our industry at all, in fact they have become distant from this trade. There are no rules surrounding regulation or registration, and now we’re seeing too many barbershops on our high streets. The government is turning a blind eye to this trade - how can you open a shop and trade with no qualifications, surely its illegal? What about insurance? Even more than that, people won’t visit towns when there is nothing to go there for. We need a variety of shops. There are organisations campaigning for change but for a barber like me I can only see it getting worse.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I have achieved quite a lot. I’ve taught at colleges, delivered business talks at schools and I have taught some fabulous barbers, who were very talented in their own right, not only barbering skills but also how to run a successful business. Some have gone on to be very successful and I will always be proud that they worked with me. My biggest achievement is that I am a big part of my community - a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear. I have a lot of older clients and sometimes their interaction with me and my staff are the only people they speak to that day. We are a friend on the high street, and we value everyone who comes through our door. That is what a barber shop should be - a place you can trust. We have over 2,000 five-star reviews so we’re doing something right!

Want to take be featured in our High Street Barber series? Get in touch here.

Sian Jones

Sian Jones

Published 19th Mar 2024

Sian is Editor Modern Barber and Deputy Editor Hairdressers Journal International. She has over ten years’ experience writing for print publications covering Youth & Children, TV & Entertainment and Lifestyle. Sian graduated with a degree in journalism, and whilst studying was nominated for the Guardian Digital Journalist of the Year award in 2011.

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