Young Sidmouth barber gets top grade in professional qualification
PUBLISHED: 11:30 09 January 2020
Cutting-edge hairdressing skills and a talent for talking to people have earned a young Sidmouth barber the highest possible grade in his professional qualification.
Dennis 'Junior' O'Brien, 22, is the first trainee to achieve a distinction in barbering at the Skills Group training academy.
After learning basic hairdressing from his mother at her salon in Temple Street, he spent one day a week in Plymouth to gain the qualification.
His final assessment involved being observed for three hours as he carried out a wet shave, two haircuts, a full beard trim and partial beard trim.
"It's quite challenging with someone watching over you," he said.
"Trying not to be too nervous yourself, having a conversation with the client too, that's challenging but rewarding."
Helen Morrish from Skills Group said the distinction was awarded not only for excellent barbering, but also for superb 'people skills'.
Dennis said this is an aspect of the job he particularly enjoys.
"A lot of people come to the barbers just to have a chat, some people don't even have their hair cut, they just sit down and have a coffee on their way up through town," he said.
"It's nice, it's becoming a lot more social. It's not just in and out in 10 minutes for a haircut, you get more of an experience.
"A lot of people open up to you because they haven't got a lot of people to speak to, they'll talk to you about their life, and they get something out of it.
"I get something out of it too, I like listening to other people's problems."
Dennis came to barbering after trying several other jobs.
He worked as a labourer and a mechanic, a restaurant manager and a barista, before finding the answer much closer to home in the salon his mother runs from an outbuilding behind her house.
"I really enjoy it," he said. "It's definitely what I want to do, without a doubt. I had tried it all, it's so hard to find what you're passionate about.
"I like the smile when a customer leaves and you've made them feel better about themselves. That's what I really take out of it, not the money, nothing like that."
Nicky Junior Garden Salon is at 49 Temple Street, Sidmouth, 01395 515 899.