British Hairdressing Awards 2021 preview: How growing up in Barnsley inspired the careers of five top UK male hairdressers

Five of the UK’s most successful male hairdressers hail from Barnsley. Robert Eaton, Josh Wood, Simon Shaw, Chris Moody and Andrew Barton gathered together in their home town to discuss how it shaped and inspired them. Stephanie Smith reports.

The five hairdressers recently gathered in Barnsley, from left, Simon Shaw, Josh Wood, Andrew Barton, Rovert Eaton and Chris Moody. Picture David Lindsay.

It was not an easy journey, being a Barnsley lad who grew in the early 1980s and became a hairdresser. “There were a lot of stereotypes about what you should do,” says Chris Moody. “You probably had to strive that little bit more and work that little bit harder, and perhaps that is what gave you a little bit more drive and focus.”

Might this explain why five of the UK’s most successful male hairdressers are Barnsley boys? Well, in part but, as fellow hairdresser and colourist Josh Wood points out, in the early Eighties, the area had a prosperous economy with many miners earning good money, and a vibrant nightlife scene that called for dressing up and trying new hairstyles. “If you had gone to a different place, there probably wouldn’t have been the same demand,” he says.

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Chris and Josh were joined by three fellow Barnsley hairdressers, Andrew Barton, Simon Shaw and British Hairdresser of the Year 2021 nominee Robert Eaton, to discuss and celebrate the careers they forged in their home town.

A balayage style working with regrowth, created by Robert Eaton and the Russell Eaton Art Team. Robert is nominated for British Hairdresser of the Year 2021.

“There were certain pubs where certain people went,” says Chris. “People would stop and look, a bit like that scene from An American Werewolf in London when it goes really quiet and they miss the dartboard and stare at you. There is something about Barnsley on a Saturday night, and the dressing up and the glamour and the hair. My wife comes from Sheffield and the first time I went out with her there on a Saturday night, it was so bizarre, as people were just wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and I was all dressed up to the nines, clouds of Lynx body spray floating around.”

Simon believes education played a key part in their success. “I don’t think there is any secret potion that Barnsley, and other rising stars in Barnsley, took,” he says. “We all came from the top five salons in Barnsley, who have trained hundreds of hairdressers: Lesley Francis, Moodies, Russell Eaton and Dimensions – they still continue to produce talent.”

Rob says: “What I notice in Barnsley is the loyalty – the clients and the people and the town want to see Barnsley people doing well. It’s a warm town, everyone is friendly.”

Andrew has found that coming from Barnsley has its advantages. “When I came to London, I purposefully tried to change my accent, and then I did some TV work and they were keen for the regional accent, and encouraged me to keep it,” he says.

Andrew Barton at work

They all agree that being a hairdresser can be rewarding in more ways than one. Andrew says: “They can earn a great income, standing behind the chair, having a great life right here in their own towns, being part of the community.”

Simon says: “I never imagined a welder’s lad from Barnsley would earn the money I earn. Each of us has nice lifestyles, nice houses and cars, and hairdressing and barbering has helped us to do that.”

Josh adds: “I love running the business. I’ve just finished a couple of fashion shows in Milan and Rome with Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana – when they think hair colour, they think me, and that is a pretty proud moment.

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The five hairdressers recently gathered in Barnsley, from left, Simon Shaw, Josh Wood, Andrew Barton, Rovert Eaton and Chris Moody. Picture David Lindsay.

“I am on the executive board of the British Beauty Council and, as a whole, the beauty economy is bigger than the car industry, but we don’t get the same representation in government”.

Rob believes hairdressers find genuine contentment in their career. “It’s a happy environment where they make people look and feel great. It’s a career that has longevity as well.”

Chris now dedicates almost all of his time to hairdressing education. “Education transforms how people feel and transforms their lives. We don’t just deal in hair, we deal in self-worth. It’s an amazing legacy and gift. We change lives.”

Andrew Barton is creative and communications director of Headmasters UK salon,

BARNSLEY BOYS From Robert Eaton's nominated collection for British Hairdresser of the Year 2021. The winner will be announced later this month. Picture by Richard Miles

Simon Shaw is global artistic director of Wahl UK,

Chris Moody is a UK and international hairdressing trainer and educator,

Josh Wood is co-founder of Josh Wood Colour and global colour creative director for Redken,

Robert Eaton is creative director of Russell Eaton salons in Barnsley and Leeds,

Additional words and images of the five hairdressers in Barnsley: LWPR

Can Robert Eaton bring the British Hairdresser of the Year award back to Yorkshire again?

Robert Eaton with his award for British Hairdresser of the Year 2019. The 2021 winner will be announced later this month.

Robert Eaton, inset, has been nominated as British Hairdresser of the Year 2021. He won the award and brought it back to Yorkshire in 2019 (previous Yorkshire winners were Andrew Barton and Mark Hill).

The British Hairdressing Awards take place on November 29 at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in London. Yorkshire salons come under the North-Eastern category nominees, which are: Rebecca Dickenson – Rebecca Dickenson Hair; Sophie Gibson – Hooker & Young; Michelle Rooney – Hooker & Young; Emma Simmons – Salon54; Jonathan Turner – Hooker & Young; Matthew-Anthony Whiting – M&A Hairdressing