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National Apprenticeship Week: Apprentice Barber Tobie Sheath

20-year-old Tobie Sheath is an apprentice barber at Bonds Gentlemen’s Barbershop in Wareham, part of the Bonds chain of barbershops run by Mike Taylor and his team. Tobie is currently completing the VTCT Level 2 Diploma for Hair Professionals (Barbering) with Mike Taylor Education, one of the UK’s leading barber training schools.

Apprentice Barber Tobie SheathTobie explains he has always been interested in becoming a barber but had never found the right opportunity. He had actually completed his first year of a degree in Fashion Buying and Merchandising when he fell into barbering. He recalled “Lee (Dixon, the owner) opened his shop and I lived right around the corner…I used to get my hair cut where I now work.”

Tobie found he enjoyed barbering and determined he’d “rather be earning money than paying money back” for his studies thus changing to the apprenticeship route rather than continuing at university.

For Tobie, this is a key benefit of an apprenticeship: “I’m getting paid to learn something I enjoy so I feel I can’t really complain about anything.” Hand-in-hand with this, what Tobie also likes the most about his apprenticeship is the “on-job experience.”

He noted starting out as an apprentice “is scary and daunting because you are doing something you have never done before, but as long as you ask questions and have an interest in what you are doing, it’s great.”

When asked what was most unexpected about his apprenticeship, Tobie explained, “The biggest thing was how many different ways to use a pair of scissors. I picked them up and it didn’t feel natural, it felt alien at first.”

He also described how there is a lot of variety in the job: “You do the same thing every day but it’s with different clients every time. Every day is different; everyone has a different story.”

With a desire to perfect his skills, Tobie mentioned that it can be tricky to find extra time to really specialise and focus on specific elements. There is so much packed into the 40 hour week, but he would love to spend even more time practising the new skills he’s learning. He is clearly dedicated to his craft and wants to “become the best I can at it.”

When asked what his advice would be for anyone considering an apprenticeship, Tobie commented that he would recommend it “as long as you’re set on it, and you have the motivation to learn and progress.” He noted, “It’s perfect for me.”

Having been to some big Barber shows, where you can meet and network with many people in the industry, Tobie has an appreciation of the broad opportunities a career in barbering presents. He might have the opportunity to give some demonstrations at Barber UK this May, which will be a great experience and exposure for him.

So where does Tobie see himself 5 years from now? “I want to work under Mike where I work now; I’d like to see myself working in a shop with a good, constant clientele.” However, he is also open to moving location one day, noting “one day, I will get to the point where I will know everyone I’m cutting hair for.” When that day comes, he thinks he might accept the challenge to start afresh and build up a new clientele from scratch again one day.

To visit Bonds Barbershop website, click here. Follow them on Instagram: @bonds_barbershop