Stormont’s decision-making is facing a number of questions, with the sharpest queries possibly coming from hair and beauty workers.

working in a barbershop can be stressful – competition is opening up around you, you’re constantly adding new services and skills, and (hopefully) more and more clients are coming back through your doors.

So, to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we dug up our conversation with The Bluebeards Revenge ambassador Ken Hermes who shared a few helpful tips on reducing stress in the barbershop.

Start with the right barbershop

Before anything else, you have to make sure the shop suits you. Ken says: “Choose or create a shop that works for you. If you enjoy coming to work, you often won’t sweat the small stuff. This means putting real effort into thinking about the look and vibe of the shop. It also means considering the staff as well as the environment; working with like-minded people is conducive to a healthy work life.”

Make the most of organised an rota

Barbershops are fast-paced, complex businesses. Everyone is looking after their own chair and clientele, but it’s all happening under one roof. As a result, keeping a close eye on rotas is one of the biggest ways to reduce stress in a barbershop. Ken says: “By planning rotas weeks (or even months) in advance, taking into account any holidays, absences or shop closures, shops can limit difficult conversations and stressful situations as everybody will know where they stand. This also enables shops to have a structured holiday policy, so nobody will experience last minute let downs. Get this right, and nothing will catch you unaware.”

Walk-ins versus appointments

Tradition says that walk-ins are the bread and butter of any barbershop, but a well-thought-out appointment system could help to alleviate stress (not to mention being a requisite post-pandemic). Ken says: “Having a robust booking system will make any shop run smoothly. Appointments will stop shops having to deal with queue jumpers, while making sure everyone knows what their day looks like. That’s not to say you can’t handle walk-ins alongside appointments; just make sure you install a fair queuing system and clearly explain to customers that appointments take priority.”

Maintain a tidy barbershop

It’s well known that claustrophobic clutter can cause stress. Is there an easy fix for this? A quick spring clean, of course! Ken says: “Always start by maintaining tidy work stations. Does the shop need all of its tools and products out at once, or is it a case of less is more? Shops should be making sure that the till area is tidy too as this easily becomes a dumping ground. By creating (and sticking to) a regular cleaning rota, there’s no excuse to work in an untidy or dirty shop again. Ensure that staff-only areas are kept tidy too. Breaks are often few and far between, so need to be relaxing, when they come around.”

The “F” word – finances

Make sure you keep on top of finances, both personal and business, as often as possible. Ken says: “As a busy barber, finding the time to sit down and do your accounts can be tricky. The result is a blind panic when it comes to finding accurate records at the end of the financial year, and making sure the numbers match up. By simply saving a percentage of your earnings each week in a separate bank account, and filling out a spread sheet, the stressful side of self-assessment and taxes will seem a lot gentler.”

Remember how lucky you are

When times get hard and stress builds up, take a step back and remember how fortunate you are to be in an industry that’s as exciting as barbering. Ken says: “Remember why you got into this job. Barbers don’t work in offices and they don’t have to wear suits, unless they choose to. We are creatives in a world that often lacks creativity. We became barbers because we didn’t want to enter the corporate world. This job can be a lot of fun. Sure, it has its stresses (we all love a screaming kid as the first customer of the day) but we really make a difference to our communities and to people’s lives. Visiting trade shows can help to remind you of your passion for hair if you feel you are losing it a little.”

For more lessons on managing stress and men’s mental health in the barbershop, visit

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