Published: 12:00, 21 July 2021
| Updated: 16:03, 21 July 2021
Winning £10,000 and being named one of the best barbers in the country is a mean feat for anyone, but it’s just the beginning for one Kent stylist who has his eyes set on bigger things.
Our reporter Sean McPolin took a trip to Faversham to have his lockdown locks cut by Rob Jones, who won a national competition against hundreds of other barbers.
The Sittingbourne stylist scooped the title as one of the nation's best after entering a competition he saw in Barber Magazine and was left in shock when he was accepted.
The 22-year-old, who went to Fulston Manor School before picking up the scissors and clippers, was up against some of his idols and people he looked up to and studied for tips.
And so, on Monday morning with 'Freedom Day' in full swing I thought what better opportunity than to meet up with Kent's best barber and let him have a go at my lockdown barnet.
My hair has gone on a journey since Boris Johnson plunged the country into lockdown last year.
It's been grown out, given the buzzcut treatment and grown out again, and it was even about 20 minutes away from being bleached when England were on course to win Euro 2020.
'I couldn't believe it at first, it was complete madness...'
But it's had been some time since my last haircut, probably just before Christmas, and that was done by my non-qualified but ever-willing partner.
As I rocked up and parked outside Scissor Handz salon at the rear of Preston Street, Faversham, I was met by Rob who had kindly come in on his day off. After five minutes it felt like I'd known him a lot longer, so it was no surprise to hear he was extremely popular around the borough and had no problem securing votes for the Gillette-run competition.
I sat down, explained my over-growing hair was in desperate need of a trim and tidy up, but I wanted to keep it long, and he got to work.
Explaining how he felt when he found out he was doing so well in the competition he said: “My mum rang me and was like ‘Rob, have you seen the leaderboard? You’re in the top five'.
“I couldn’t believe it at first, it was complete madness. I sent in some of my work and I didn’t think I’d even get picked, but all of a sudden I got a care package from Gillette who were running it saying I was nominated.
“And then all of a sudden I’m in the top lot against people with thousands of followers on social media. I came third in the end and got a £10,000 prize. I’m absolutely buzzing about it. Who thought a local lad like me could do that?”
The competition required clients to vote by scanning a QR code if they liked their stylist’s work, and Rob came third behind Marios Barbershop in Bristol and Mengo Male Grooming in Essex.
The dad-of-one is currently working at the Faversham salon, but it was the Scissor Handz salon in Senora Fields, Sittingbourne, just a stone’s throw from his house, where he decided on a career in cutting hair.
He said: “Funnily enough I was about 16 at the shop in Quartz Way waiting for a haircut when my mum told me I’d be good at it and I asked the owner - who is now my boss - if he had any space for training, but he didn’t.
“I quickly got into an apprenticeship at a shop in Sittingbourne High Street where I spent a couple years before coming here to work as senior men’s barber and I’ve loved it.”
Rob revealed he wants to hold onto the money for now and invest it back into his work.
“Cutting celebrities' hair is the goal,” he said.
“I’d love to do that one day and be sorting them out. I’ve had a few well-known people come in whether it be footballers or musicians.
“Hair cutting and styling and the industry as a whole has changed so much since I started. Men’s haircuts are now classed as like an elite essential for most people, as they all want good hair.
“You see the footballers about now with their own hairdressers and stylists and I’d love to do that. I work at Scissor Handz Wednesday to Saturday and then on my other days I’ll have clients book in with me if they can’t get in on my days at the salon.”
Like many others in the industry Rob's worklife was plunged into chaos when the Covid restrictions came in, but looking back on the scary months he said it was a "blessing in disguise" as he could spend time with his newborn daughter.
After an hour at the salon it’s easy to see why Rob, a big Arsenal fan, was so popular and shot up the ranks of the competition. He's likeable, chatty, and knows what he's doing. He can walk the walk and talk the talk.
Not to mention the finished product is up there with one of my favourite hair cuts and even attracted a number of compliments from my colleagues who were probably happy to see messy barnet gone.
The salon is in a great location and has a stylish design inside with its big mirrors, lighting and brick wallpaper.