Barbering is a truly diverse career. You can travel with it, open your own business, and educate others too. Lucas Kelly, a young barber from Christchurch, is carving a successful career as owner, employer and trainer at his barbershop The Barber Lounge.
In 2010 Lucas was struggling to find employment after a serious accident. To keep himself busy, Lucas spent more time on his hobby – cutting his friends’ hair.
Lucas never thought his hobby would turn into a career, but was keen to see where a job in barbering could lead. After gaining experience in a few different barbershops, Lucas decided he wanted to get qualified and open his own business.
He gained his New Zealand Certificate in Commercial Barbering through HITO, the Industry Training Organisation for Barbering, Hairdressing and Beauty Therapy. Through their Qualification by Experience (Q by E) process, he completed his qualification within a year, while continuing to work part-time and look after his son.
“I was recovering from surgeries and wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get ahead and then I found out about Q by E. This, along with the professional support I got from HITO really turned everything around for me and my career.”
In 2017, Lucas opened The Barber Lounge with two of his barber friends. Opening their own business has allowed the team to put into practice the skills learnt while training on the job and build a business that reflects their own style and passion for the trade.
“In 2016 we had dreams and aspirations to get good, to get qualified, to open up a shop and have a team. To have all those goals ticked off I’ll have to say is the most rewarding feeling, but we know this is just the beginning.”
Lucas has found that since completing his qualification programme with HITO the career opportunities are far greater.
“Having a qualification is an accolade. I can look back and know I did the hard yards to gain a certificate and be qualified. To be qualified is beneficial in the long-term and for prospects in the industry. Having the qualification means you do not miss out on opportunities.”
Future goals for Lucas and The Barber Lounge involve continuing the path of education. Being HITO qualified means that Lucas can now train his own apprentices. Lucas is keen to use his training skills to help at-risk youth gain a qualification in a trade that the whole community can benefit from.
“It is more than cutting, let’s be honest. You spend a lot of time talking to people and making them feel comfortable. That’s what The Barber Lounge is for.”
Lucas is planning to take some of his team with him to Auckland in July 2018 to compete at BarberCraft. This is a HITO expo for barbers to network, gain industry knowledge and compete in live competitions with other barbers from around the country.
A piece of advice Lucas likes to pass on to people in his life is “You are who you hang out with. You want to be a lion? Hang out with lions. To succeed in anything you do, make sure to surround yourself with the right people to help you get to where you want to be.”