“Learning from the best, my grandad the barber”

"Learning from the best, my Grandad the barber"

Claire Chambers tells us how her relationship with her Grandad led to a passionate career as a barber…

Claire Chambers’ barbering journey started at a very young age, thanks to the inspiration of her Grandad Ray, a barber in Kettering, Northhamptonshire. With his own barbershop at the front of his house, Claire spent much of her childhood helping to sweep up while chatting away with clients. It was during this time that she witnessed how much her Grandad loved his career – which eventually rubbed off on herself.

Following her exceptionally early work experience, Claire travelled across the world, recalling: “I’ve had the opportunity to work in some excellent barbershops; one time of my career that I particularly enjoyed was when I worked in a barbershop in Sydney, as I got to work alongside barbers from all over the world, and they all taught me something different.”

However, Claire knew that she wanted to open her own barbershop one day, sharing:

“I wanted to create an environment where people come in, feel comfortable, relax and leave with a smile on their face – not just from the haircut they receive, but because they feel happier in themselves, and that a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.”

 

"Learning from the best, my grandad the barber"

 

In April 2021, her dream became a reality when she opened Eagle and Bear Barbers in Stamford. Claire notes that the name is particularly special to her, as she was keen to incorporate her Grandad somehow, since he is the reason she decided to enter the industry. She explains: “My Grandad and I also share an interest in golf, and getting an ‘Eagle’ is of course two under par. Then, a lot of my friends call me ‘Bear’. Together, I thought it had a nice ring to it, but most importantly I see the name as meaning “Grandad and Claire”.

With such a longstanding passion for the barbering industry, Claire has some thoughts on what she believes should lie at the heart of a successful barbershop, explaining: “If clients truly believe that you love your business then they will support you wholly – plus sing your praises to everyone they see. My clients know I love Eagle and Bear and I believe my passion rubs off on them, which keeps them coming back.

“I also believe you should never get complacent and expect a regular to return – you should treat clients as you would a close friend.”

Claire’s passion for barbering and commitment to her craft aren’t the only influences from her Grandad Ray, as she reveals she took inspiration from his barbershop interior too. Wooden panelling and old desks were repurposed as working units, along with small trinkets and old photographs of Stamford, and a few of her Grandad, sitting proudly on the bookcase.

Reflecting on learnings she has taken from her Grandad, Claire says: “People used to spend hours in his barbershop, relaxing and chatting to each other, which I feel has been lost in recent years.” To try and encourage this culture once again, Eagle and Bear’s waiting area has comfy chairs, freshly ground coffee, craft beer and a chess board, so clients don’t feel like they are waiting for a haircut, but coming in for an experience.

Refocusing on her own experiences in barbering, Claire explains that the biggest challenge she has dealt with is spreading her time between the shop floor and the admin side of the business. She says: “I love welcoming clients through the door, but I also feel it’s very important to keep on top of your admin and progress the business.”

Looking ahead to the future, Claire tells Modern Barber: “I would like to have a successful barbershop that locals, regulars, friends and family alike feel comfortable visiting, where they can enjoy the experience that Eagle and Bear has to offer.” Also on her list of future goals is to take all of her staff on a mental health first aid class, “We want to ensure we are always there to listen when clients need to talk.”

 

"Learning from the best, my grandad the barber"

 

Barbering and family are often a great mix,  just look at MaxOliver – and the three brothers behind the business.