Shaping the Barbering Industry's Future

Published 02nd Apr 2024 by Sian Jones

As a pioneering wholesaler dedicated to serving the barbering community, Barber Blades has not only weathered the changes of the past decade, but has also played a role in shaping the industry's future...

Few businesses have seen the transformative journey of the barbering industry as closely as Barber Blades, and as the industry has evolved, so has their business model, adapting to the emerging needs of modern barbers. We sat down with founders, Dan Moore and Matt Brice to discuss how the barbering landscape has changed and thrived since the inception of their business over ten years ago.

In 2010, brothers-in-law Dan and Matt launched Barber Blades, a trade only wholesaler and one-stop shop for the barbering industry. Dan was a barber by trade, and Matt worked in online affiliates, and had been selling products on sites like eBay. “At that time there was a change in law where barbers had to buy a lot more blades - so we bought some blades and sold them on eBay and noticed there was a gap in the market for a barbering store. We bought a few products, and I sold my business, Dan sold his barbershop and we put the money into what is now Barber Blades,” explains Matt.

So, what was the driver to launch Barber Blades? “We could see the demand was there. When we started, barbers were saying to us “there is nothing for us” or “we’re the poor cousin of the hairdressing industry”, but we found there were so many products that we could make available for barbers,” explains Dan who, as a barber himself, was equally impressed by how much product was out there. “We were surprised at how much we could get, because I would go into other wholesalers and barbering would just have one aisle, whereas Barber Blades now has over 2,000 products just for barbering,” says Dan.

As if running their own business wasn’t a big enough undertaking, in 2013 Dan and Matt launched Barber Connect, Europe’s largest barbering exhibition, and this year they celebrated their 10-year anniversary at the International Centre in Telford. “In 2013 our customers started asking us to put on something like an education day, so we hired out a local hotel and that’s how it all began,” says Dan who didn’t expect the event to grow into what it is today. “In the beginning we had about 15 stands and 700 barbers bought a ticket at £15 pounds each, that was when we knew there was enough interest,” he explains adding that from there the show continued to grow, moving to Celtic Manor in 2014 to accommodate for more space before finding its home in Telford from 2016 onwards.

Thinking back to when Barber Blades first launched, alongside the website there was a catalogue, which at the time was the preferred medium for a lot of customers. “We had these grand ideas of having a website, it wasn’t that long ago but even in 2010 barbers were quite far behind. The catalogue is the thing that kicked us off. We were in this little office with a handful of products and then boom, the phone just started ringing,” says Matt. Providing that vital customer service is still important to the whole team at Barber Blades, however ten years on they are now a fully online service.
Reflecting on how the industry has changed since they launched, Dan and Matt note that the market is much more open. “It’s really changed with products, because when we started there were a couple of clipper brands and now there’s probably 10 to 15, so I don’t think barbers feel that they’re an afterthought now,” says Matt. Whilst Dan tells us that when they were starting out it wasn’t cool to be a barber, however, with a younger generation of barbers this is changing, adding that one of the biggest changes across the industry has been the rise of social media. “It drives so much now and influences our own business. Once somebody sees an influencer or their favourite barber using a clipper, they have to go and get that clipper.”
As Dan and Matt have witnessed the rise of barbering they have also seen, and experienced, the modern day challenges facing the industry, from the current cost-of-living crisis that continues to dominate headlines to navigating the pandemic. Dan explains that another, important, challenge for the industry is how it is governed: “There are barbershops opening up everywhere and I think the one thing the industry has always struggled with is becoming as professional as the hairdressing and beauty industry.”
He goes on to say that being viewed as professionally as the hairdressing industry even extends to barbers knowing their worth, and feeling that they’re able to retail to their clients, he concludes: “I saw two sides of it because I came through as an apprentice barber in a family barber shop, and then I moved to a salon where we had training days with wholesalers which was an eye opener. In areas where high street shops are closing, barbers are the only ones there that can still retail to their customers - once barbers understand that, it could be a really powerful thing for the industry.”
To stay up top date on all the latest Barber Connect news, be sure to follow @barberconnect on Instagram.
Sian Jones

Sian Jones

Published 02nd Apr 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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