Self-taught barber, Toastie Styles, tells us about the challenges she has faced learning her craft in her own way…
As a self-described ‘tomboy’ Dani Seeberan (Toastie Styles) always felt that she didn’t fit in, so it was no surprise to her that after some time cutting women’s hair, she felt that something was missing, telling us: “I always enjoyed cutting shorter styles so I knew that barbering would be for me.” From there Dani took on the challenge of learning how to cut men’s hair, sharing: “Meeting the people I looked up to in the industry and picking their brain really helped me and guided me in the right direction.”
She also goes on to say that a grounding in the barbershop allowed her to watch how others worked creatively, giving her an idea of how to improve the skills she was already learning through online tutorials. As someone who wasn’t learning her craft in the traditional way, Dani experienced a lot of self-doubt; she tells us: “In school I had a very visual imagination, so my approach to cutting hair has been the same. I always had my own way of cutting and for a few years I was comfortable with that, but the barbering industry has shown me different methods such as people changing the way they hold their scissors and their cutting techniques.” Dani says that changing the way she worked to be like everyone else was too robotic, “That’s the biggest struggle for me. You’re an artist at the end of the day so changing how I did things to be like others was frustrating,” she explains.
“I haven’t changed my technique at all but eventually I want to go on intense hairdressing courses so I can combine that knowledge with my barbering skills,” Dani tells us, revealing that although her confidence in her barbering style has held her back, she has the constant support of her co-workers. “They always tell me how good I am but, in my head, I know I can be better. I want to look at my work and be blown away by it and surprise myself with what I’ve done.”
That’s not to say her clients don’t love her cuts and keep coming back for more, but for Dani it is all about self-improvement and self-belief, telling us: “I’ve been learning the craft for many years and I’m always trying to figure out how to get better and I’m on a mission to do so!”
One way in which Dani has tackled her need for creativity in her work has been to work with musicians, bringing together her passion for barbering and music. “Before we went into lockdown, I was a lost soul and had lost a lot of my passion because I was too busy at work. My creativity was missing and that can be the problem working in a busy barbershop, where it becomes a bit like Groundhog Day. After I had time to rest, I decided to put two of my passions together and I knew that would bring joy back into my career,” she says, telling us, “it was also a way to have freedom from the barbershop where I got a chance to travel and work on music sets. You really can manifest the things you want when you put your mind to it.” Support from her fellow barbers and industry contacts helped boost Dani’s confidence along the way, and she tells us: “They find it interesting to hear about the bands and musicians I get to work with like Alfie Templeman, Sam Fender’s band and of course Lewis Capaldi for his Glastonbury set.”
Now self-taught barber Dani is focused on continuing to find creative avenues for her work, “For the future I want to improve my cutting skills, post more of my work, travel and meet more amazing musicians and eventually have my own shop abroad.” The world is Dani’s oyster and MB can’t wait to see where it takes her!
Meanwhile, for Dean Gleeson, starting to create his own collections was the perfect creative outlet, and here he shares the common misconceptions other barbers might have surrounding this…