For the first LOVE Bristol of 2015 I’m really excited to have Brad from Harry Blades & Angry Daves give an insight in to his daily routine and what life is like as the owner and co-founder of HBAD. I happen to have had my hair cut with Brad since before he opened up his shop on the Christmas Steps, and since starting up this blog i’ve always wanted to feature him as one of my interviewees.
Please give a warm welcome to Brad
Hi! Let’s start from the beginning, can you tell me a little bit about your background, and what brought you to Bristol?
It’s a long story but basically came to Bristol as a stopgap in between jobs. I had been based in Oxford and doing a lot of work in London up until then. Some of my best friends lived down here and decided to take some time out in the West Country and that was almost 10 years ago. I fell in love with the city very early on and haven’t wanted to leave.
Why did you choose the Christmas Steps as the location for your shop, and what was your biggest challenge in opening it?
Mainly because the rent was affordable enough for us to do it. We also really liked the area. It was not as vibrant as it is now but we loved it and thought that it would totally fit with what we had in mind for the store. We always wanted the shop to be somewhere that people discover rather than it being in an obvious location. A risky strategy but it has paid off. I like the idea of the shop being a badly kept secret.
Where does the name HBAD come from?
HBAD stands for Harry Blades & Angry Daves. Dave already had a shop called Angry Daves that sold streetwear and limited edition imported trainers, when we decided to add the hair element to the business we felt that Angry Daves may project the wrong image a little so we added the second name to soften the blow. Initially Harry Blade was chosen because it rhymes with Angry Dave. A bit of an anti-climax answer but I think a lot of these types of things come about like that.
What’s a typical day for you?
My typical day usually consists of parenthood (early starts for the school run) and cutting people’s hair off (very late finishes).
I imagine you mostly cut guys hair, as opposed to girls – is that right? If so do you ever imagine that you would only do men’s hair? (Please say no!! ha!)
We do a lot of men’s hair, yes. It has always been a huge passion of mine. However I love doing women’s hair however I have always been hugely dissatisfied with the atmosphere and approach of most hairdressing salons. At face value we lean way more towards barbering, but what we are trying to do is give people a third option. There is hairdressing, barbering, then a small collective of shops that are approaching things in a similar way to us. I would far rather people see us more like a custom tattoo shop but for hair. The dynamic within the shop is way more informal much like a traditional barbershop but as we do women’s hair too that changes things slightly compared to it being an all male environment. What we are trying to do is introduce a new approach for women, much slower, and less mass-produced. Something that is totally customized for them. No condescension, just working with the client to bring out the best in what they have, and to fit their personal style rather than pigeon holing them. There are a million high street salons that can do that.
I feel that in recent years women’s hair has become slightly maligned and is not seen as being nearly as ‘cool’ as barbering is for the guys. I lay the blame for this directly at the feet of the ‘industry’ for turning hairdressing into a cartoon of itself. This something I would definitely like to play my part in changing.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I have a fantastic team that I work with and spend a lot of the day laughing with them. They are brilliant and a total joy. I am very proud of what we are achieving together. That and the relationship I have with my clients and the creative satisfaction that I have from working hard for them and them being excited and pleased with the work that we are doing. It is not the easiest job sometimes but I love everyday that I am behind the chair. It is where I belong.
Where do you look to for inspiration?
Everywhere. Walking around, Magazines, Blogs, Social Media, and I am enormously privileged to be able to travel and work with other professionals from all over the country and the rest of the world. I feel like I am constantly learning.
What advice would you give to any other aspiring start-ups?
Never borrow more than you absolutely have to. A good accountant is always useful, and to stick to your strengths. Don’t try and do it all. I have nearly burnt out several times from taking on too much. I have a fantastic relationship with my business partner and we have both found that we excel in very different areas and when we work together, but stick to our strengths, things go a lot better.
What’s next for HBAD?
We are currently in the process of building a Barbershop on Park St underneath Fifty Fifty. It will be a slightly different concept. I definitely have no intention of the original store becoming a chain. It will also give me the freedom to showcase more of the women’s work at the Christmas Steps site as well as the gentleman’s barbering. I think that will be more than enough for this year.
Lastly, some questions about Bristol: where’s your favourite spot in Bristol, and what do you love most about the city?
That is impossible to answer. I adore the city as a whole. The rough and the smooth. Bristol has largely been responsible for making me everything that I am now, and will always be deeply grateful to the city and the people in it for giving me that. I hope that what we are doing will return at least a little bit back.
Thanks so much Brad!
You can read more of my LOVE Bristol posts here – I do these because I want to promote local, independent shops and love learning about how our city thrives on them. If you’d like to be featured on one of my LOVE Bristol interviews, just send me an email or get in touch on Twitter!