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Interview with a Master Barber: Joth Davies
August 9, 2016
Recently returned from his stint helping people look great at The Grooming Room during LCM I caught up with Joth Davies, barber and business man, (you may also recognise him from his recent television appearances). He has become known for his innovative products and scissor skills all steeped in the traditions of British barbering. Savills harks back to the strong historical sense that all good barbers should have but remains a modern forward thinking approach to male grooming. Sheffield-based Joth has been building his shop and product range along with training the next generation of barbers both locally and across the globe so I knew we’d have plenty to discuss. . .
Barbering is back in a big way, are barbers the new rock stars?
Some are definitely trying to be, but I haven’t been to an event where anyone has smashed up their scissors and hairdryer on stage yet. Maybe I’ll try at the next event and see how it goes down.
What triggered the explosion in men’s grooming?
TV series like Boardwalk Empire and Peaky Blinders – shows like this have brought back the classic short back ‘n’ side trend that men seem to be really following.
You qualified in the ‘80s, a time of outrageous hairstyles and “Designer Stubble”, those looks were often product-intensive, how have products evolved?
There are so many more products available now. Technology and formulations constantly advancing means there’s so much more to choose from. Take Argan oil for example; it’s now being used in men’s grooming, not just in skincare, because of the natural moisturising ingredients. The Great British Grooming Co. Beard Oil is a great example of this as Argan oil is a key ingredient.
You created a range of products. Which is harder, the technical side or getting the perfect scent?
The technical side, definitely. The scent is important as the first thing anyone does when picking up a product is smell it. However, the scent can be forgotten quickly. But how a product applies and works will last and be remembered.
What’s the best look for someone losing their hair, asking for a friend?
Keep it short, don’t try and cover up. Depending on the extent of loss, most can be fixed with a good barber. If the hair is just thinning, a good barber will make the most of your hair and still create a good style for you.
I’m a fan of the traditional hot towel shave and old style razors, both are single blade, how do you feel about the multi-blade disposables?
Oh now you’ve got me started. I will always promote the use of an old-fashioned single blade double-edge razor for everyday shaving use because; 1. The blades are far cheaper £1 or £2 for a pack of five blades compared to £10-£15 for the five disposable blades. 2. The blades are sharper and less forgiving and actually make you think about how you shave, rather than just running the razor in too many different directions causing razor burn and skin irritations.
When you see an unruly beard do you get an urge to shape it?
Yes! It kind of makes me twitch, my OCD goes in to overdrive and I feel like I have to get my hands on it.
How do you soften a beard, my best friend wants to know for her husband?
The best way is to start with beard shampoo and conditioner, and then finish with a beard oil or balm. The Great British Grooming Co. offers a great beard care collection, which works perfectly to soften out a coarse beard. The Beard Wash has been designed to gently freshen, cleanse and untangle facial hair leaving it soft and itch free. Then, just a few drops of The Great British Grooming Co. Beard Oil each day will soften your beard and eliminate any itch.
There is great heritage in what you do, for centuries barbers have been part of our lives, how do you keep the ideas fresh?
I’m constantly looking for new ways to improve what I do personally and what we do as a team. I am extremely fortunate that I get to travel the world with my job, so I get the opportunity to work with and learn from some amazing barbers and hairdressers. I am also constantly looking at new YouTube videos and tutorials to find new ways of improving my craft.
Having been in the barbering and grooming business for a long time now, what do you think has been the biggest change in the industry?
No doubt the rise of social media has been the biggest industry change. It’s been the catalyst to a completely different way of communicating. There are now multiple forums for people to come together and exchange ideas, techniques and products. I think social media is a great way to advertise your business; you have the opportunity to create global awareness.
Who has the better facial hair, Tsar Nicolas II, Hagrid or Magnum PI?
As if you even need to ask, Magnum PI every time! Tom still rocks that ‘tache even in his seventies!
Why hasn’t the’ tache become popular in the same way the beard has?
Well I kind of think it has. I think the ‘tache started the whole beard phenomenon with the introduction of ‘Movember.’ It has been running for eleven years now and has, up to now, raised £402 million for men’s health. Guys started growing their ‘taches’s to raise money during the month of November and then when the month was up, decided to keep it. The facial hair trend just kept growing and growing from there.
In the past hair was used in padding and stuffing of furniture. Do you have a remarkably comfy sofa?
No, my sofa is same as any other family home, full of sweet wrappers and old copper coins. We give all the hair we cut off in lengths over seven inches to www.littleprincesses.org.uk – who provide wigs for children with hair loss.
You teach the next generation of barbers, do you ever worry the people doing their first wet shaves must be nervous and an ear could get lopped off?
No, we are professionals. Plus, we teach with a special razor that has a wire guard over the blade to minimise any slips.
It must be rewarding though to be able to help people into a career and hand down the knowledge you have though?
Of course. I love my job and I love to teach to those as passionate about barbering as myself. I’m continually finding new ways to teach and improve my own haircuts. I don’t believe you can ever stop learning. If you think you know it all, you clearly don’t.
When working with young people teaching them processes is only part of helping them develop, what advice do you wish you’d had as a young man?
What other people think of you isn’t nearly as important as what you think of yourself. Making mistakes is one of life’s most important lessons – it’s how you learn and grow. Be in a job that makes you happy.
When you use the cutthroat razor do you still sometimes think, yeah this is cool?
I don’t really think about it anymore, it just feels natural to me.
Is the crux of barbering that it’s about helping people explore their own identities?
Barbering is about so many things, we cut and shave, we advise, we mentor, but most of all a good barber listens. It’s all about communication and learning to understand the needs of your client. I believe it’s twenty per cent skill and eighty per cent service.
Is there a pressure between running a business with a barbers and product range, yet still trying to be hands on and creative?
Yes, always. I’m the type of person that thrives on pressure though. I am creative by nature and I’m doing something with my hands every day. Whether it is with photography, social media, marketing, designing new barbering apparel or teaching. I have to be doing something creative everyday or my brain will implode.
What do you do to relax?
A two-week family holiday in Italy usually recharges the batteries. My wife and I plan to semi-retire there and open up a barbershop in the local town so I can still cut some hair.
You are based in Sheffield home of the Full Monty, has a chap ever wandered in and asked for a bit of downstairs topiary?
I can’t say that that has happened yet!
What is the best thing about Sheffield? I’ve only ever been for the sports I’m sad to say, though what a sporting heritage the city has.
Yes there are too many to list. I guess I would simply have to say Savills Barbers and Henderson’s relish. Oh, and local band The Everly Pregnant Brothers.
And finally do you get bored of Sweeny Todd jokes?
Who’s Sweeney Todd?
Words by Ross Pollard
Joth Davies is Brand Ambassador for The Great British Grooming Co., Master Barber and owner of Savills Barbershop. The Great British Grooming Co. will be back at London Fashion Week for the Grooming Room: Women’s Edit.