Sophie Collins is no ordinary barber; the 27-year old was crowned the best wet shaving barber in Wales in 2017 before being invited onto This Morning with Piers Morgan, where she shaved weatherman Alex Beresford live on air.
She has also graced the pages of the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Daily Express and even the BBC homepage.
Sophie, from Soph’s Barbers in Llanbedr, Ardudwy has had to overcome a number of challenges throughout her eight-year career, starting with the fact that many close to Sophie told her she would never make it as a barber as at the time it was very much perceived to be a male dominated industry. She also had to deal with he embarrassment of a number of male customers simply refusing to allow her to cut their hair as she was a woman (of course the vast majority have since returned and are now happy clients).
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m the owner of Sophs barbershop, which is based in beautiful North Wales. I opened the barbershop back in 2014, and continue to operate with just the one chair. I am now 28 years old and previously qualified as a hairdresser prior to becoming a barber. I’ve always had a real passion for cutting hair from a very young age but was a late starter in the industry.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not really. I just went with the flow as I knew where I wanted to be. Sometimes you can over plan and thing never develop as you would hope. I set myself an overall target and have worked hard towards my goal of becoming a barbershop owner.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes I’ve faced quite a few over the years but they just make you stronger and have never put me off my job. The biggest challenge I’ve faced is having men walk into my shop expecting me to be a male barber which to their great surprise I wasn’t. This even led to some of them walking out of my shop in disgust – which is obviously hugely upsetting and frustrating. Others made me feel awkward by saying they would give me a chance to prove myself. This actually acted as a huge motivation tool as I knew if I gave them the best haircut experience they would return and probably tell their mates about the standard of my cutting.
My second biggest challenge was being the first ever female barber to make the final of Britain’s Best Shave, a prestigious completion organised by The Bluebeards Revenge male grooming brand and industry watchdogs British Barbers’ Association. I held the title for being the Welsh champion for two consecutive years and this has really helped to build my confidence and profile across the country.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
My biggest achievement was winning the Welsh title in Britain’s Best Shave 2017 and 2018, and becoming a female finalist as to date no other woman has ever managed to get into the final. I’ve also been on This Morning where I shaved the weatherman live on air with a cut throat razor. This was certainly a rather unique experience. I am now an official ambassador for The Bluebeards Revenge and this gives me the perfect opportunity to promote barbering and encourage more females into the industry.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Becoming a finalist in Britain’s Best Shave 2017 helped me to appear on This Morning with Piers Morgan, as well as plenty of national and regional media coverage. But more than anything I have kept on doing what I have been doing from the start, being the best I can be and trying to promote the industry as much as possible.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
This is certainly something I am looking to get involved with, as I want to be able to share some of my tips and techniques with up and coming barbers. I believe if you have a good mentor like I did from the start, you can come along way. I love my job and feel I can encourage more women to do the same. Many females struggle with confidence, and tend to think they are not good enough, when all they need is some encouragement. I suppose I’m now a role model and are living proof that women can do well in competitions.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
I would get women like myself out there more in the media, promoting the industry and my achievements. This is one reason I love working with The Bluebeards Revenge as the barbering industry has been perceived as a male dominated industry. Fortunately, there’re a number of women out there that we don’t know about and some are still thinking whether to enter the world of barbering or not. They just need a little nudge and encouragement.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Good question. To believe in myself more and believe I could have been an even better barber. I wish I had entered more hair and barber competitions in my early days, as it’s the taking part that counts and this experience prepares you for bigger and better things. For example: stage talking, mentoring and so on.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I have a few hair cutting competitions coming up in March and May, so I’m very much looking forward to these. I’m also looking forward to my work with The Bluebeards Revenge this year and helping them to develop new products and promote the brand at trade shows.