Former Richmond School student, Kai, 18, is one the first students to enrol on the new level 2 Diploma for Hair Professionals- Barbering (Apprenticeship) at Darlington College, combining studying with gaining a qualification and developing industry skills by working in a traditional barber’s shop.
“I was quite creative at school studying textiles, art and theatre studies at A level,” said Kai, of Richmond.
“I was working part-time as a waiter in a local restaurant, which then turned into a full-time job, which was good experience in customer service and for meeting people, but it wasn’t really fulfilling any of my creativity.”
A chance remark at a friend’s barbecue led to Kai exploring the possibilities of studying the cutting edge of gents’ grooming.
“My friend’s mum is a tutor at Darlington College and I overheard her talking about the new barbering course that was starting in September,” said Kai.
“I’d thought about hairdressing in the past and barbering really did appeal to me so I jumped at the chance.”
Within a week Kai had contacted the college, enrolled on the course and secured an apprenticeship with local barbers The Men’s Room, a former public convenience building on the corner of Friary Gardens, Richmond, owned by Dan and Bev Kilvington Mason.
“It’s been amazing,” said Kai. “I love being in the barbers shop and learning from Dan who has been in the industry for over 30 years and being at college one day a week.
“The college course is really good, there is a great group of people who are extremely supportive, the work is very intense, but not too overwhelming and being an apprentice means that I get paid while I’m learning.
“Barbering is a fantastic skill and something that I can take with me wherever I go, whether I choose to travel, open my own shop or perhaps even teach one day. It’s a great foundation for a future career.”
Co-owner of The Men’s Room, Bev Kilvington Mason, added: “Kai has settled in really well and we have already made him an offer of a full-time job when he qualifies.
“Gents grooming is a massive industry so I think that we will be looking to Darlington College to provide us with more apprentices in the future.”