Chris Donnelly remains undaunted. He has seen the comments on social media – “Oh no, not another barber shop” – but he’s looking forward to the challenge.
Chris is planning to open Donnelly’s barbers on April 12 or as soon as the government allows hairdressers to get back to work.
He took over Xpressions in March after Tulin decided to sell her business after more than 28 years in Ladywell high street.
The shop is in the process of being refurbished and will open with a new look – dark obsidian green and wood to project what Chris hopes will be a cool, modern, up town image.
Chris lives in Brockley and is no stranger to Lewisham. He spent “six good years working for Chaplins of London” – a traditional gentleman’s barbers with branches in Deptford and Crofton Park.
He worked most recently in Crofton Park – five days a week. “Chaplins was a place where working hard pays off.” He says he will miss it and wishes them well.
He decided to set up his own business during the stop start working of the last 12 months of lockdown. “I’m 37 and decided now was the time to give it a go.”
“It’s a big challenge,” he admits. “But barbers are in demand and I am sure there’s space for another specialist barber shop in the area.”
He is planning to offer scissor and clipper cuts, beard trimming, hot towel shaves, fading and finishing.Chris also plans to sell a range of sustainable grooming products for men.
So how did he get into barbering?
Chris studied project management in Leeds and worked for Leeds City Council for four years. He also worked for the AA and in a few other roles before he realised this wasn’t what he wanted to do.
“I decided to go into barbering. I was too old to become an apprentice so I went to the London School of Barbering and completed a course there.”
“It was tough – five haircuts a day for 10 weeks. It was also tough getting started. I worked at one or two shops and then joined well known grooming products supplier Mr Natty.
He sold grooming products and cut hair in big stores such as John Lewis, JCrew, Urban Outfitters, and House of Fraser.
Chris says men get haircuts far more often than women so he is looking forward to being busy in Ladywell.
Chris wants Donnelly’s to be welcoming and friendly. “We’ve all been to the barbers and felt out of place.” Clients should feel comfortable and at ease in Donnelly’s.
He hopes to offer a personal service. “If you like talking to people then barbering is a fun job. You are catching up with a friend every half an hour because your clients do become your friends.”