In the heart of Clevedon, North Somerset, you can find Adam’s Barbershop, a traditional but unique barbershop, owned by the eponymous Adam Piggot. Adam is an advocate for raising standards in the hair industry and a specialist in supporting clients with additional needs. His story is one of striving for more but also one of giving back.
Adam’s career started in 1997 as an apprentice hairdresser. He had been experimenting with hair from a young age and explains, “my mother was a hairdresser and I used to use her tools without her knowing to cut my friends’ hair. I dread to think what the cuts looked like! But they were always happy. I wanted to learn how to cut my girlfriend’s hair so I applied for the apprentice job in the local salon.”
Adam notes he was lucky that this local salon was owned and run by the European Men’s hairdressing champion Robert Hancock. “I didn’t quite realise as a sixteen-year-old lad what an opportunity this would present. Robert was the British World Cup Team trainer and I was his apprentice. This basically meant that I got to carry the toolboxes and make the coffee on the British National Team’s training sessions. I got to witness some of the best hairdressers in the world plying their trade in their spare time for the love of the job!”
Adam caught the competition bug himself and went on to win at junior and then at senior level competitions. Attending the competitions presented prime opportunities for development: “the more I competed, the closer I would watch the traditional barbers cutting hair to pick up some tips.”
Adam came to realise that barbering was his passion and the ladies hairdressing took a backseat.
He explains “the salon I worked in had a separate barbershop in it. I was responsible for sweeping the floor in both shops. I loved hanging around in the barbershop. The sound of laughter and banter was quite infectious! I spent more and more time sweeping their floor and was drawn to the sharper haircuts. Flat tops were very popular back then.”
After many years working for Robert, the next step for Adam was opening his own barbershop in 2007. This involved much hard work and determination, including working “six days a week and ten hours every day for around four years to build up the clientele and the business profile.”
As the business grew, Adam explains “I trained a friend of mine and he came to work with me. He’s still working for me nine years later! I now have a team of five barbers.”
After being on the tools for twenty years, Adam felt that it was time to branch out and started offering training services. It was his experience of training his friend that had inspired Adam to teach.
“Seeing how well my friend was doing after training him, I always felt really proud when he did a great haircut. That is what inspired me to share the knowledge that I’d acquired with others. I felt that the legacy of being a great trainer would last longer than just being a great barber.”
Adam connected with a local VTCT training provider and started teaching their barbering students to NVQ Level 2. He also took on one of their students as an apprentice to work in his shop.
He describes, “I found my calling in educating new barbers and found myself teaching some of the training methods that I had learnt twenty years previously as the apprentice making the coffee on the British team training sessions!”
Not one to rest on his laurels, Adam was also inspired to increase his own portfolio of qualifications.
He explains, “I had been on the tools for so long and running a business I never even considered gaining any more NVQs. When I stepped into the education world, I saw the benefits of deepening my knowledge and gaining additional qualifications.”
Adam undertook a VTCT NVQ Level 3 in Barbering as well as a VTCT Assessors course, gaining an assessor’s qualification. He reflects that the second time around, his attitude to doing his qualifications was different: “I was doing it because I wanted to, rather than a reluctant sixteen-year-old doing health and safety assignments after a day sweeping the floor!”
Having seen the industry change with the times, Adam feels “the hairdressing industry, and particularly the barbering side of it, has never been in such a good place. With Instagram and other photographic platforms to present our work on, the standard of work out there is considerably higher. Gone are the days that a barbershop was an old man’s place to have a short back and sides, a drop of Brylcreem and something for the weekend sir!”
So what’s next on the horizon for Adam? He explains, “My ambition now is to raise the standards and the expectations of the new barbers coming into the industry. To promote the industry’s ongoing mission in making all barbers and hairdressers licensed, qualified and conforming to the highest standards of safe working practices. I feel very lucky to be in such a great position, along with an accumulation of years in the industry, to push for the changes to take place.”
Committed to continuing to educate, Adam is now in the planning stages of opening his own VTCT- approved training centre. This will enable him to share his knowledge and passion for the industry, and directly contribute to raising industry standards by delivering regulated qualifications to the next generation of barbers.
Impressively, this is not Adam’s only new endeavour, as he is also working on creating training resources to help educate barbers and hairdressers on how to deal with clients with additional needs. With this project, Adam’s aim is to “educate and share my personal and professional experience when dealing with additional needs in the barbershops and salons around the country.”
This is a specialist area of his work that Adam is passionate about: “I have a child with Autism and I see at home and in the salon on a daily basis how hard simple daily tasks, like having a haircut, can be with a person with additional needs. I’m trying to promote the responsibility of hairdressers and employers to ensure that we are being inclusive in the services we offer and making reasonable adjustments. I have parents of autistic children travelling thirty miles for me to cut their child’s hair. This is great, but they shouldn’t have to travel so far to receive this service.”
Adam’s pathway is one of continual progression and evolution, from apprentice hairdresser to budding barber to business owner, educator and assessor. His career continues to flourish and expand as he undertakes new endeavours in education which ultimately aim to improve the industry.
Adam provides the following advice to anyone going into the industry: “the opportunities available to you in the industry are endless. You need to surround yourself with people that want to see you succeed. Success breeds success.”
We look forward to following Adam’s future successes in due course. In the meantime, you can follow Adam’s Barbershop on Facebook here. There you can find a clip of the moment Adam’s Barbershop appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.