Young Sidmouth barber gets top grade in professional qualification
- Credit: Archant
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.
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"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'.
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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.