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It’s funny, I never knew that I wanted to cut hair, I didn’t know that I’d be any good at it. But now I am completely in love with it.
Meet London Barber - Tommy Cunliffe

Tommy is a barber. He’s also co-manager of the new Ruffians Barber shop in Shoreditch.

We first met Tommy a few years back when we collaborated with Ruffians to create an exclusive collection of wooden sunglasses for them to sell in store alongside the Ruffians grooming products and he’s been cutting our hair ever since.

Ruffians is the traditional barber shop experience reconstructed. Think stylish, yet masculine shop floor, a coffee bar and a fridge full of beer. Around you fellow customers are receiving beard trims, cut throat shaves and haircuts. There’s a buzz about the place as people chat and socialise long after the unrequired hairs have been vacuumed off their necks. Getting a trim is no longer a chore. Step into Ruffians and you’ll be transported to a time where your barber shop is the social hub of the community.

We visited Tommy in his new digs on Rivington Street, Shoreditch to ask him why barbering and why Ruffians.

What was your journey into barbering?

"After university, I was working in event management in Nottingham. But, I wasn’t happy. I hadn’t found my thing and so I started applying for other roles. As I was going to these interviews dressed in my suit, something didn’t feel right, nothing was falling into place. I thought, let’s go for a haircut. When I was younger, I would pop down to the barbers almost once a week - I’ve always loved messing around with my hair, playing with the clippers. And as I sat there in the chair, I wondered to myself, could I cut hair?

Later that evening, I researched what training I would need to undertake to become a barber. With enough finances to support myself and a few months later; I was learning to cut hair. After training, Ruffians owner Andrew Cannon took me on and I can honestly say, I’ve never once looked back".

How has this career change affected your life?

"It’s funny, I never knew that I wanted to cut hair, I didn’t know that I’d be any good at it. But now I am completely in love with it. And it permeates every part of my life. I can’t watch watch a film without thinking about it. I look at a character’s hair and think why have they cut or styled the hair in that particular way, how have they done it, and could I do it. And this has all come about from a point in my life where I wasn’t sure what I was doing with my career and thinking about the things that I liked and exploring that further".

Your passion has certainly paid off - two years in and you were winning awards?!

"Oh ok, I get quite embarrassed about it really. It’s an industry award and Andrew put me up to it. I got through to the final and was totally stoked. Never thought I’d actually win. When I went to go and collect my award, I was so nervous. I think I just said thank you and ran off the stage! What was great though was that same year we won Best Salon Team so we all went up together as one big family!"

Tell us about the Ruffians experience in Shoreditch?

"We here to make the guys in the local area look and feel great. But we also want this place to be a really sociable. Barbers can chat across the floor as it’s all open plan, people can work at the counter if they want to, or sit and chat with a drink on the bench outside. It’s all designed to create a place where people can come and relax whether they’re visiting just for a one off or come every week. We’ve already had loads of people who work around the area pop in to say hello which has been great. And soon we’ll be launching acoustic evening sessions".

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