From Ibiza to St James, Jake Hillery is quickly dominating the barber scene in Northampton and has set up a training academy to help others get the grades.
Jake, who lives in St James, went into the barbershop business three years ago and already runs seven shops countywide - as well as a new hair training academy in Northampton.
Jake was an estate agent who wanted to be his own boss. In 2015 he went on a course to learn the art of being a barber before heading abroad to put what he had learned into practice.
After spending time in Ibiza, he invested the money he saved in the white isle into his first salon, The Quarters Barbershop & Shave Parlour, and has never looked back.
So what makes being a barber so appealing?
Jake said: “I love my job, I take enormous satisfaction from a customer leaving my salon delighted with a haircut, and I love helping and inspiring others, and through the Barber’s Academy I can do just that, and it is extremely fulfilling.
“There will always be a demand for a barber. Men are always going to need a hair cut, but nowadays it goes much further than that; men’s grooming is very much the vogue, and that’s why being a barber is becoming a popular choice of vocation.
“It is no longer a job, it’s an art, with each individual customer wanting something different, and that’s what makes it so challenging, exciting, and more."
Jake said he was a natural with the scissors and had faith in his ability and passion to be successful.
So he decided to expand. And two years on, he now runs seven salons, under the brand name of Gents.
Launching his own academy at the start of this year was, to Jake, natural progress, married with his personal desire to help and inspire others.
He added: “It is the best thing I ever did, and teaching people to cut hair gives me as much satisfaction as doing it, and setting up my academy is as important to me as opening my first shop two and a half years ago.”
And he is doing just that: his five-day courses, he said, are booked up, new dates are being added often, and students are being motivated by how he first took the plunge three years ago.
“For me, it’s the thought of building up a cliental, and the satisfaction of knowing that people come to you because they want to, and the trust that goes with that,” said one of his students, Leslie Golding, 34, who was a lorry driver for 15 years, and before that a soldier in the Royal Corp of Signals.
“Driving a lorry can be a lonely life,” said Leslie. “So I’m drawn at the thought of meeting so many different people on a day to day basis, making friends with clients, and then the immense satisfaction of them leaving feeling really pleased with their haircut.
“I’ve watched my partner go on a course to learn the art of painting nails, and she now works for herself and is loving it,”
“She’s the inspiration, I also want to work for myself, and being a barber really appeals to me - which is why I enrolled on this course, and I’m really enjoying it.
“Jake’s a great tutor, very good at what he does, and his success proves that if you work hard and believe, then anything’s possible.”
He also takes his social responsibility seriously, too.
Once a month, Jake goes and cuts the hair of homeless people at Northampton’s Hope Centre, free of charge and takes his academy students along there to fine tune the skills.
“Jake is awesome, and we can’t thank him enough for what he does for the service users at the Hope Centre,” said Louise Danielczuk who is the marketing manager at the Hope Centre.
“He comes along in his own time, or with his students, and what he does is so much appreciated by all.