Barber’s salon offers ‘listening skills’ course to stay afloat

A trendy London barber’s shop is branching out with a range of non-hair related ‘treatments’ in a last-ditch crowdfunded effort to stay afloat before, and after, lockdown is lifted.

Like many other businesses, The Barbery, in Southwark, has been crippled by COVID-19 restrictions and even after the initial lockdown was lifted, appointments slumped by 50%.

Now, in an effort to stay in business, owner Charl Ackerman has launched a crowdfunding project to raise £20,000 to keep the salon open until customers return at previous levels.

The businessman, who is passionate about mental health and is an ambassador for mental health app Devas, says: “Everyone knows barbers and hairdressers are good at listening. So, why not contribute to mental health by encouraging everyone to listen to each other better.

“Lockdown has led to an increase in UK mental health problems, and being able to listen is just as important as feeling able to talk. There is more to listening than you might think – small techniques can make a big difference.”

Top of the treatment list for potential crowdfunding donors – a course in ‘The Art of Good Listening’.

Ackerman adds: “To thank donors I wanted to offer something other than discounted haircuts or products. We had to be creative to make the rewards interesting, to offer an experience. The team and I brainstormed and came up with a list of skills we can offer that we think our clients might be interested in.”

Other items on offer include choosing the ingredients of their regular ‘Barbery Blend’, a complimentary home-made smoothie, complimentary facials and a 4-haircut deal.

Ackerman says: “I am trying to raise enough funds to keep our doors open, which means, paying our non-discounted rent until we are able to get customers through our doors for a sustained period. With London now confirmed in Tier 2, it’s unlikely life will return to normal anytime soon which means the future of our business remains uncertain.”

The Barbery was only 14 months old when the first lockdown was announced.

“The second lockdown was a massive blow and halted our small signs of recovery. The Government’s ever-changing advice and conflicting policies impacts public confidence and makes it incredibly difficult for service-related businesses like The Barbery to plan our medium term strategy for re-opening. Our resilience is wearing very thin but we are determined to stay open so that we can continue to listen to the needs of our customers and keep them feeling good about themselves.”