Former Saks Apprenticeships barbering apprentice, Nicky Tolhurst, recently realised his dream of opening his own barbershop, establishing Origin Barbers in Snodland, Kent.
This was the result of years of hard work, determination and passion which began when Nicky started helping at his local barbers at the very young age of 14.
During the early years of his blossoming career, Nicky found it hard to find the support he needed, commenting that:
“My school weren’t very helpful in helping me pursue a career in barbering. Even though I’d already been helping in a barbershop since I was 14 and was really enjoying the atmosphere, they were trying to push me towards a career in construction or computing which really isn’t something I’m good with.”
Luckily his dad was extremely supportive and encouraged Nicky to follow his passion with some fantastic advice:
“If you can find a job you love, you’ll never have to ‘work’ another day again!“.
Nicky’s dad was determined to help his son succeed, and found Saks Apprenticeships online. He was enrolled on the apprenticeship scheme to help him develop the talent he obviously had and also to hone his self-taught skills through a regulated qualification.
Nicky, who later earned an amazing distinction level pass, the highest possible grade in his barbering apprenticeship, remembers his time with Saks Apprenticeships well, saying:
“I enjoyed my time with Saks Apprenticeships a lot, the assessors who visited the workplace were well trained and professional and went about their work in a discreet way. They took into account the way I was being taught in the shop and didn’t try to change it, but added some different techniques and ideas that I could try.”
The training he received, not only from the apprenticeship but also from the talented and experienced barbers he worked with during his work-based training, helped him to achieve his distinction. He talks very fondly of his education experience and the excellent support he received:
“Saks Apprenticeships helped me get to where I am now by just being so supportive and thorough. We covered all aspects of barbering in detail which gave me confidence in my abilities, and they also helped me secure work placements at 2 different barber shops where I was lucky enough to work under 3 very talented and experienced barbers from whom I learnt so much, they all had their different techniques which helped me become a much better all-round barber.”
The support he received from his educator went beyond just teaching him the skills, knowledge and behaviours to become a fantastic barber though; it also helped him learn how to learn and changed his whole outlook on education and changed his life in the process:
“The support I received from Saks was life-changing really, I’d always struggled with school and had put up barriers to learning after being humiliated in class a few times by teachers who assumed I was stupid. It was my Saks assessor who first diagnosed my dyslexia and helped me understand why I had struggled so much in school.”
Nicky’s educator set about making changes to support his learning, helping to ensure his success. “She arranged for all my printing to be done in a different colour which helped my reading and she also taught me how to use the voice activation button on the computer to help me type by speaking. She also recognised the way I learn was very visual and encouraged me to carry on watching and copying as opposed to reading and trying.”
All this training and support alongside Nicky’s own determination and passion was building up to opening his own salon, where he could develop his own individual brand and bring his ideas to life. When the opportunity came up he grabbed it with both hands. “It was perfect for what I had in mind and I managed to refurb and rebrand the shop in only 4 weeks”.
Now he is fully established in his relaxing, modern barbershop, Nicky is looking to the future and hopes to expand his team and give new barbers the same chance he had. In the meantime, he offers some important career advice to aspiring apprentices looking to break into the industry.
“I’d say to aspiring apprentices don’t be annoyed by the menial tasks given to you by your bosses, you really have to make yourself useful to the shop and work hard to get the respect of your colleagues and then they will see the effort you’re making and reciprocate it.
Even now I take great pride in keeping my shop clean, offering all my clients tea and coffee, and personally greeting them and hanging their jackets up! It’s all part of the service and important to the image I want for my shop.”
He also offers tips to apprentices to ensure they get the most out of their learning experience: “I also can’t stress enough the importance of just watching, everyone wants to get straight in with cutting but I think it was the early years of just watching that taught me the most! You learn so much without knowing, so start taking notice of the way your colleagues cut! You find everything is done in a methodical order and once you know the routine and what bit is coming next you’re ready to start practicing yourself!”
Saks Apprenticeships have congratulated Nicky and his family on supporting each other through this amazing journey. They say “We are proud to have been part of the journey and hope to be so again in the future.”
We at VTCT would also like to add our own congratulations, Nicky has grabbed his clippers with both hands and made a fantastically positive start to his career. We’re sure he has a very bright future ahead.
If you live in the Snodland area and would like to visit Nicky’s Origin Barbers, you can find their details here.
For more details of our Barbering, or other apprenticeships, click here.