Jax offers all the classic barbershop services, but comes with a twist; it is located in a clothing store, which makes for a fun and relaxed experience and a great atmosphere. Jax tells us about how her business came about and what sets it apart.
Hi Jax. Have you always lived here on the Coffs Coast?
No, I grew up in Rotorua and Auckland, in New Zealand. I left New Zealand in 2011 bound for Canberra, where I began working as an apprentice mechanic, because I couldn’t find work barbering. In 2013 I moved to Coffs Harbour to be with my family. I couldn’t find work to continue my apprenticeship, so I fell back on my barber training instead, and this is where I began my full-time career as a barber.
How does being a barber differ from working as a hairdresser in a salon?
It really comes down to the work you’re doing. Barbers are trained to cut men’s hair, do fades, shaves, cut-throat razors and other general men’s services; whereas, hairdressers are trained to cut women’s hair. These two industries require completely different training.
What made you decide to become a barber?
Well, I’ve actually been cutting for fun since I was about 15. I would say it really took hold while on ship for the RNZN, Royal New Zealand Navy, on the HMNZS Pukaki, to be exact. In my spare time I would set up in the tiller flat, which is in the aft or rear section of a ship, and I would cut my shipmates’ hair. I guess you could say I soon became their go-to barber. The more cuts I did, the more I knew this was something I really wanted to pursue. I eventually lost interest in my Naval career and knew it was time to follow my passion for barbering.
Did you do your training here in the area?
No, I began my training at Mr. Barber School in Auckland, New Zealand. I was extremely motivated and passed the 12 week course with flying colours. I finished at the top of my class; I was the only one out of a class of 20 who actually passed the course at all! As a barber you learn on your feet; every day there is the potential to improve your skills. I take my job very seriously, and I always strive for the best quality cuts.
What does an average work day hold for you?
I average around 14 cuts a day. I allocate enough time to each customer, so I am not rushing through a cut or a shave.
What is it you enjoy most about being a barber?
Well, probably the fact that it doesn’t feel like work to me. I love my job! The transformation process, making guys look good and feel good about themselves. It’s very rewarding!
So your workspace is part of a clothing store; it must create an interesting atmosphere. How do you find running a business alongside another when the two are quite different?
Yes, I am located in eDegrees, and we complement each other quite well. It makes for interesting conversation with customers. Sometimes you hear people come in who are wowed by the idea of a barber in a clothing store. We share a lot of customers. When I began considering the option of running my own business, the idea was welcomed by Graeme and Amy, the owners of eDegrees, and they offered unwavering support helping me set up my barbershop. I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue my passion for barbering under my own name. We work well together, and the atmosphere is uplifting.
Do you have a lot of regular clients, or do you get mostly walk-in customers in that setting?
I have a great customer base of regular clients from all over the Coffs Coast, but I welcome new customers. I have a web based booking system, where people can jump on and book their appointments. I generally book out days in advance … so get in quick! Ha ha!
How do you think the industry has changed in the past few years?
There hasn’t been significant change in the industry itself; however, men are embracing the experience more and more, enjoying the time out while getting a cut and maybe a beard trim or a shave. If you talk to any woman, they’ll tell you how much they enjoy the experience of going to a salon. Why shouldn’t guys be able to enjoy a similar experience?
Your business concept is a bit outside the box; do you think people’s perception of a typical barber has changed as well?
Yes, I do think people’s perception has changed with the times. It’s not uncommon to see multi- faceted businesses nowadays. Culture Kings began doing this years ago, and many have followed suit. Together, Jax Barber Shop and eDegrees offer a chilled environment in a prime location.
What do you think sets you apart?
Running by appointment only allows me to give the customer the full barbershop experience. I’m fussy, and attention to detail is important to me. I finish each client’s appointment with a hot towel. My hope is they should leave feeling fresh and looking forward to their next visit!