Sid Sottung runs two award-winning barbering academies in Nottingham, having previously travelled the world as both a stylist and educator. Sid took time out of his busy schedule to talk to Concept Hair about barbering, teaching and sweeping the floor.
Concept Hair: Hi Sid! Can you tell us how you first got into barbering?
Sid Sottung: I was 14 and my mom said it was about time I went out a got a job, so I started work at a local barbershop and fell in love with barbering. Eventually my mom said it wasn’t a safe environment for me, so pulled me out of there and I started training in ladies hairdressing.
CH: What happened next?
SS: I worked for Vidal Sassoon in New York for 17 years and then became an educator, teaching at academies in Los Angeles, New York and then in London – doing both men’s and women’s hair.
CH: Are you still in love with barbering?
SS: Very much so!
CH: Why did you make the move from working in the salon to becoming an educator?
SS: Teaching has always been my passion, even when I was at school. It’s not that I was trying to tell the teachers how to do their jobs, it’s just that I wanted them to teach with more passion. I’ve always really wanted to help people.
CH: What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out in a barbershop?
SS: Practice before perfection! Young people have to learn to have experience. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’m still learning. I can share my experience, strength and hope but you have to go out there and experience the world for yourself. If you’re making the tea, or if your sweeping the floor – do it to the best of your ability, do it perfectly. It will help you when you’re cutting hair because it gives you that work ethic.
CH: What’s the proudest moment of your career?
SS: We’ve won Training Academy of the Year at the Barber Awards, I’ve opened two academies in my name, I have my own product line, but the thing that makes me proudest of all is when I see someone I’ve trained do their first haircut. I also get that feeling when I see my staff go up on stage at a hairdressing show and when I see someone I’ve trained go on to open their own barbershop. It’s an amazing feeling.
CH: What are the challenges facing young people getting into barbering?
SS: Young people need to realise that if they get few likes on Instagram it doesn’t actually mean anything. Barbering is about making a customer look and feel great. It’s about creating a relaxing environment in which men and women can come in and feel comfortable. Barbering is a craft, it’s an art, but it’s also a job and you have the ability to change someone’s life, to make them feel good about themselves, with a pair of clippers and scissors.
CH: What does the future hold?
SS: In December we opened two new barbershops in Leicester and what we’re doing is launching a franchise model, so people will be able to purchase a Sid Sottung barbershop and get access to all of the training and support they need. In the academy, we’re working a lot with Captain Fawcett on beard products, we’re doing a lot with the Great British Barber Bash, so the education side of things is growing as well as the salons.
This interview first appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Concept Hair.