MEET THE BARBER - MIKE AT KOTARA
August 27, 2019
Barber Industries opened its doors to its Westfield Kotara store on the 8th of September 2018, located on level 2, it is the eighth concept store instalment for the group. Today we have a Q&A style chat with owner Master Barber Mike as he tells us a little about his story and a little about the store's history.
Hi Mike how are you going? How long have you been in the Barbering Industry? How did you get started?
I am good thank you very busy as you all know (smile)
I got started being a barber through my older brother Sam, he opened a successful Barbershop in the city of El Mina - Lebanon when I was around 11 years old. I would go and help him and I started learning the trade from then on. Since then I owned my own salon for some years but changed careers for a while to work in retail and sales, until I married and migrated to Sydney Australia in 2015. It has been nearly 24 years since I started doing Barbering and with my experience in sales and customer service, I get to combine it all to be a successful Master Barber. After working in Sydney as a barber my wife mention Newcastle as a better option to start a family and the option to open a new shop in the newly renovated Westfield Kotara came up. We took the plunge and we moved within two weeks of making the decision and we have been working non stop since then, our customers all know my story, that my son came along premature a month within opening the store and its been hard, stressful but rewarding and a blessing at the same time, we love living in Newcastle and integrating into society and calling Newcastle Home.
What keeps you motivated.
My wife and son, my family and my customers, they keep me motivated to work hard and do a great job, to provide excellent service and make a difference in the community. It has been difficult and tiring working every day, since the day I arrived in Australia but I like working hard, I believe that through hard work I can achieve my dreams and provide a better future for my family. Being constantly in the store every day, I get to encounter numerous customers, I hear the stories, I know their lives, I listen to their ups and downs and build connections, we become friends and they became like a family. I like the store to feel like home to whoever comes, a place of gathering, to have entertainment for the kids, like the ipads (lots of lollies) and customers to drop by and say hello. My customers are very important to me and I like to take care of them, they are my friends without them I couldn't be in the business. Also, it's very important to me to network with other retailers within Westfield and surrounding stores, building relationships and helping each other in any way we can, I don't believe in competition but to mingle make friends and work in unity.
Speaking of community you are heavily involved in fundraising for a number of causes and also sponsor some local soccer teams? How are they going?
I got motivated and involved in fundraising through my wife who worked many years in community service and the disabilities field. We do not just want to fundraise or became sponsors for the sake of it or for the gain of the business, we genuinely believe in helping and making a difference to others and the community. For example the fundraising we did for kids with cancer foundation, that got started with the motivation of my wife Caroline’s personal life experience, she had a daughter who passed away from cancer and she personally experienced the services provided like organisations as “kids with cancer foundation” and now that our life changed we wanted to pay it forward and help the families who are suffering a cancer diagnosis. Since moving to Newcastle we want to help the community and build strong relationships and give back where we can. Also through customers, I got to meet children from soccer teams and their coaches and I decided to sponsor them and hope to go and see them play. Through the sponsorship, I get to feel really proud of their achievements, I became a fan and it’s rewarding to see them succeed.
What’s on-trend with hairstyles always seems to change, what do you see currently trending?
Well, it’s quite different between the age groups. Some of the young kids are getting really bold and going for different ‘hair art’ or having a symbol shaved into their hairstyle. Lines are really in and popular. Some go for their favourite superhero symbol or sports teams, kids grow up having their own unique style. Amongst the young adult crew, it’s all about the fades, especially skin fade, they want that fresh look and the skin fade styles provide that clean look their chasing. Beards and moustaches are very popular and beard fades, maintenance and conditioning keep us extremely busy. Among our female clients, we have a lot of under shaves and designs and hair art to suit different occasions. The other thing I see is a shift towards using the product on the hair, beard and personal care. More and more people are going for styles that need daily styling, that require the use of a product to hold in place and they are also more prudent in their efforts to style their hair each day. We have a big clientele that buys products for all personal care such as shampoos, conditioners, aftershaves, beard oils, wax, shavers, and perfumes among others to maintain the whole look and style appearance they want to achieve.
What do you see as the next big thing? Anything new and exciting happening at the barbershop?
There are always new and exciting things happening (laughs) life is ever-changing… We donated some money to Hunter Boccia for the athletes with muscular dystrophy to attend the championships. We learned of their cause through our young customer who has the genetic disorder. We have just finished a competition for customers to Win a Z -flex skateboard and Scooter. We will also be doing a competition to win 2 tickets to Bali (our favourite place for my wife and I) We are in the middle of shooting some videos with the soccer clubs, we sponsor and looking for our next charity to help. Our lives and our client's lives motivate us to keep fundraising and helping…. There is not enough time for all we want to do.
To end the interview, who would you say runs the show in Barber Industries Kotara?
Laughing… People will think it is me or joke and say for sure it is my Spanish wife but NO…. The Big Boss and Owner of everything is My son William Andrew, he keeps the staff in line and us on our toes every day (smiles)