Slider

Meet the Barber86 Barber Van man

barber86 barber van

The love child of lockdown boredom and resourcefulness, the Barber86 Barber Van was created by Liam Kirkham to reignite his two passions – barbering and travelling. And now it’s a pretty successful business to boot!

When did you start barbering?

I did a bit of barbering on the side as a hobby when I was younger, but I became an electrician when I left school because it made me more money. However when I decided to go travelling about 5 years ago, I lived in boxing gym in Thailand and I cut everyone’s hair there. It properly reignited my love of barbering. I came back and decided to do my passion as my job, even if it meant earning less.

 

What happened next?

I ended up getting a job at Northern Barber Company and worked there for a year and a half. But eventually I went back to being an electrician – again for the money. I knew I need to set up on my own as a barber to make enough to quit being an electrician, but I didn’t want to open a barbershop because there’s so many in my local area. But during lockdown I was off work and needed a project to keep me busy. And so Barbervan86 was born!

 

How’s the van gone down?

It’s proved really popular, especially post-pandemic as everyone’s apprehensive about going into town and inside shops. Plus, it suits the nomadic lifestyle I loved when I was travelling. The van itself gets loads of attention as I drive around Leyland, Preston and Chorley. I feel like the ice cream man when I drive down the road ­– everyone comes out to look at me!

 

How do bookings work?

I’ve got an online booking system ­– people put their address in and I drive there. I do worry about the decline of the high street and everything going online, but I feel like the barber van combines the best of both worlds. When you shut the door it feels like a real bricks and mortar barbershop inside. People are really taken aback by how authentic it feels.

 

“I feel like the ice cream man when I drive down the road ­– everyone comes out to look at me!”

 

How much did it cost?

Well, I already owned the van and I didn’t have a great deal of money saved so pretty much next to nothing. I used a lot of pallets and reclaimed stuff rather than buying new. My cousins got a car garage so I was forever foraging there – I felt a bit cheeky.

 

How long are your appointments?

They are 45 mins-1 hour, then half hour to clean up. The volume is not great but I’m building loyal clients. I’ve had great reviews and I’m giving them one-on-one time.

 

What’s next?

I’ve just finished doing my own product range to put in the van. I really want to build the brand. In the future I’m thinking of getting a few more vans. I get at least 2 or 3 messages a day from other barbers intrigued about the business so there’s room to grow.

 

What have you learnt from building the Barber Van?

You’ve got to take the best out of a bad situation. Lockdown has really made me reassess what I want in life.

 

Read next

How the Chancellor’s Winter Economy Plan will help barbers

This grooming brand is making moves to going plastic-free

MB Mentor Johnny Baba gives some straight-talking advice