Barber girls cut stereotypes

BSG Karen Waldron June Donaldson Gilliann Wellman
BSG Karen Waldron June Donaldson Gilliann Wellman

One of the UK’s first barbers to be set up by a woman that now has locations around the country is celebrating 30 years in business.

In the early 1980s there were hardly any women working at barbers, but unisex salons were taking off and more men wanted stylish cuts.

Having learned the skills of barbering and face shaving in Oxford, Karen Waldon spotted an opportunity and put her savings into the first Barber Shop Group store in Wendover.

Ms Waldon wanted a ‘masculine and traditional’ but ‘luxurious’ environment, with women cutting men’s hair at low prices to high quality.

She said: “I had to train everyone as no hairdresser could use clippers.

“‘That’s not a barbers’, I heard one man say in the local newsagents, ‘It’s got women in it, they can’t cut men’s hair’.”

Despite this opposition, it is now one of the UK’s most successful and largest groups, with 16 shops and its own hair care products. Ms Waldon even brought her parrot Sam into the store to liven things up and each shop now has a resident parrot.

To mark the milestone, the team have been offering a year’s free haircuts to three customers through a raffle, which has raised £4,050 to be split between Prostate Cancer UK and the NSPCC.

But even after 30 years, Ms Waldon is not thinking about retirement.

She said: “To retire would mean I was working and this is my passion and never felt like work.”