Rebel With A Cause - Interview with Alan Findlay

Rebel With A Cause

In this instalment of our ‘celebrating Scotland’ series we catch up with Alan Findlay, co-founder of Rebel Rebel Barbers; a large, cutting-edge salon on Union Street in central Glasgow.

Alan’s portfolio covers an impressive career, which has included working with stars backstage at music festivals T in The Park, V Festival, and Creamfields, as well as tending to the barbering needs of the athletes at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games.

He’s also been mentoring aspiring barbers for 20 years, and set up the Rebel Rebel Academy to train and inspire new generations of barber rebels. Here we chat to him about his background, professional ambitions, top barbering tips, and more.

What set you on the path to becoming a barber?

After leaving the army at 19, I spotted an advert in the local job centre for an apprentice hairdresser and thought: “F*** it, I’ll give that a try”. It turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.

Where did the name ‘Rebel Rebel’ come from?

When we first opened shop in September 2007, we decided to go about things totally differently from a traditional barbershop. We chose the name as we felt it suited our rebellious nature and fitted with our desire to do something bold within our industry.

What makes your business stand out?

Rebel Rebel is a barbershop for men and women who make appointments, and we have a customer satisfaction guarantee on all our services. Our staff members are trained in our academy, in both long and short hair skills, to keep ahead of the changes in hairstyles and trends as they evolve over time.

What’s your cutting style at Rebel Rebel?

Welcoming and relaxing. We consult carefully; execute with precision; pay attention to detail; finish with style; and chuck in a wee bit banter for good measure!

If you had to pick one professional tool, what would it be?

The Fejic Rake Comb. It’s a great, all-round barbering comb.

What are most common hair fails among customers?

Too much product; less is definitely more, as long as you use the right stuff.

Speaking of which, what’s your favourite hair product for men?

In my opinion, the Kevin Murphy ‘Night.Rider’ matte texture paste and ‘Free.Hold’ styling crème are the best styling products available for men’s hair.

Have we reached peak ‘beard boom’ yet?

Not at all; beards are here to stay and are now a well-established ‘genre’ within the barbering industry.

Phew! So, what beard care products do you recommend?

I’m loving the Brooklyn Soap Company beard oil at the moment.

What’s your top tip to anyone who’s after a new look?

Visit Rebel Rebel and bring photos of the style you want. Communicating style choices verbally can be a grey area, as the terminology used to describe haircuts may differ from person to person. Barbers can’t read minds, but we can interpret photos.

What’s next for you and Rebel Rebel?

My business partner Colin and I are about to open our second shop in Glasgow’s West End, and we’d love to add London, Amsterdam and New York locations to our barber shop empire.

In five years’ time, I’d like to see the business going from strength to strength, with another two shops open and our government-endorsed barbering academy working to full capacity.

Would you recommend a career in barbering?

Absolutely, I think it’s a great job and career. Especially now that employees in our industry are being properly trained and more barbers are developing their own products and brands.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t take yourself too seriously and always look for a silver lining in any difficult situation.

Who’s your hero?

Leonardo Da Vinci. The man was a genius and accomplished so much in his life.

What do you do in your spare time?

I’m engaged to Anna, and have a nine-year-old daughter, Mikella. I also have a keen interest in science and space exploration, which keeps me busy when I’m not spending time with my family and friends.

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