A former ‘Barber of the year‘ as well as ‘Afro barber of the year‘ Michael Damiano is a barbering force to be reckoned with. Michael is also apart of the Wahl Artistic Team and as our spotlight expert this month, we caught up with Michael to learn more about his career journey into the field of professional barbering and male grooming.
What was your first memory of appreciating good hair?
I grew up in a hair salon, both of my parents were hairdressers and owned their own hair salon – I was always around it! Because of this, I grew up knowing that hair was an important thing!
When did you decide that barbering would become a full time profession?
Well, my parents never forced or pushed me into it. I started to learn the trade to help my parents out, then slowly my friends would pop in the salon to see me while I was working, helping sweep floors and washing hair – they used to ask me to shape up their edges, or wash and style their hair for practice. As the weeks went on, more friends came in, at this point I couldn’t even cut hair! Eventually, I swapped over from hairdressing to barbering – I made the choice to look after the men that came in the salon.
What has been the most interesting part of working on Wahl global exhibitions?
It has to be the different cultures and what everyone around the world has to offer the barbering scene. How others do it, what they do different to others? How they present themselves? The way they cut? And of course, the process of showing each other things they may have not seen before!
Who influences you to be a great barber and why?
At the beginning of my journey, with my Dad influencing me, I wanted to make him proud bringing in something different to his shop – offering him another service in the business. When I moved into college, my tutor Paul Mills influenced me – I looked up to him and his knowledge of the art of barbering and I wanted to show him I could do it too.
When I was younger, my dad also took me to Salon International, showing me the industry like I’ve never seen before. I came across someone who showed me a new light of barbering – it was Mr Simon Shaw. I still remember watching him on that Wahl stage when I was young, inspiring me to get to a new level of barbering! How he was cutting and presenting and educating on stage. Wow. And so he became a huge inspiration in life and still is! Years later to be proudly apart of the Wahl team is a huge accomplishment, Simon has taught me so much and I’ll be forever grateful.
Have leading some of Wahls training courses changed the way you work?
Most definitely! Simon taught me how to turn myself into a presenter and educator. Educating is so fun!
How do you think social media has shaped the industry?
The good side is that it has given us the platform to show off our work, connect with other barbers and hairdressers and clients. We can promote what we can do and what we have achieved. Alan Beak for example is by far a huge industry leader and uses social media very well, he’s a inspiring leader.
I feel a lot of barbers and hairdressers are scared to promote their work because of other barbers and hairdressers show negative comments towards it, which is a huge shame. We are one big family sharing the same trade – we should show love and support for each other.
Are industry awards important to you?
It’s not the most important thing to me but I am very proud to have won awards. It helped me gain clientele, and promote myself, it’s a huge self achievement to be personally awarded and noticed for your own work! A fantastic feeling!
What was one thing you wish you were told before embarking on a barbering career?
That it can be very tough! Barbering is a beautiful profession which I wouldn’t change for the world! But it can come with a few sacrifices. To name a few – The back pains, the fatigue, knowing that you’re the last to be at the social gatherings or parties amongst your friends or not there at all because you’re the one making them look good! It can also be long hours so you will always be in demand.
What is the best advice you can give to stylists starting out?
Love what you do – what you put in you will get out. Don’t wait until you come out of college to start to build a clientele list… start now!!! It all starts from the moment you say you want to be a barber or a hairdresser. Build a social media page on it, and get going from now! Oh and buy a Wahl Clipper!
What work has made you the proudest?
Well, obviously the 3 times I have won barber of the year collections. And the India tour I did with Wahl, it was one of my first trips abroad!
Follow Michael on Twitter: @imagebarber