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How I did it - Chris Foster

For the month of March we are talking about education and experience. This week we talk to Chris Foster, a master barber and creative director with over 20 years experience in the business.

Chris Foster

Title / Occupation:

I’m Principal at The Foss Academy and Creative Director at The Refinery Mayfair and Harrods Barbershop.

Qualifications / Awards:

  • Barbering Ambassador for the Hairdressing Council
  • Hair Magazine Best Men's Hairdresser
  • Master Craftsman Barber Award, Hair Council
  • Foss Academy App nominated 'Innovation of the Year' HJ Business Awards
  • Honorary Phab Standard (Performance in Hair and Beauty)
  • Black Hair & Beauty Barber of the Year multiple times - and there's more!

My First Job:

Audie's Professional Hair Studios in Tottenham. My love for barbering began as a result of work experience I arranged when I was at secondary school (in the 90s - showing my age!). Hair pattern work in barbering was a massive trend at the time. I found it fascinating watching barbers become master craftsmen and producing amazing artwork in hair. Instantly I was hooked.

Audie Cummings had a major influence on me becoming a barber and the man I am today. He has an amazing work ethic and was extremely creative; I learnt so much from working with him. I recall I was singularly focused on doing everything I could to work for Audie Cummings; I worked for free for a whole summer - six months - just to prove my dedication to the art of barbering. It paid off and I believe it was the best investment I've ever made.

What I Do Now:

I am very fortunate to have many roles within the barbering industry. First and foremost, I am a barber/men's hairdresser and I still manage a busy column as the Creative Director for the Refinery Mayfair and Harrods Knightsbridge.

As an international session stylist and platform artist, my work has taken me around the globe, giving me the opportunity to work with leading fashions labels and brands. My hairstyling work has been seen on the catwalks at London, New York and Moscow Fashion Week.

I've worked on shows such as Daybreak and Sunday Brunch giving me insight into the fashion on men's grooming and have also worked on a brand new reality TV series called Beauty School Dropouts for MTV.

I'm also an entrepreneur and have developed the Foss Academy App, which is the UK's first total barbering education app, available to download on iTunes. I'm constantly looking at new ways to do things. I also serve as Style Director for the British Barbers Association, which is a great honour. The BBA is the voice of the barbering industry and my job is to find new ways to engage with our members.

Worst Day At Work?

When I was training at college, I had a client scheduled for a perm. It took me five hours to wind the perm. I realised after washing her hair that I had used neutraliser instead of perm lotion!

Best Accomplishment So Far In My Career:

Setting a goal of becoming a session stylist! Even though barbers don't necessarily do session work I have been blessed in my career and I've been involved with shows in some amazing venues including the Royal Albert Hall, and in countries like Ghana and Nigeria, all with wonderful memories. One show was a fashion and music extravaganza in Nigeria, with performances from Jay-Z and Rihanna. Fifty models were flown in from all around the world including Tyson Bedford and Naomi Campbell. The wardrobe for the show was held up at customs, which meant we had no time to prepare the outfits for the models. I was a one-man team looking after the male models, which created added pressure to get everything completed in time. We had to work through the night to tailor all the outfits and prep the models for the show on the next day - 24 hours without any sleep. On the day of the show, about two hours before rehearsals, we were told that the second catwalk had not been built, meaning there wasn't a runway - without which there would be no show! We still managed to do a show in another part of Nigeria seven hours later than planned at 3am; something I'll never forget.

Why It's So Important To Keep Learning:

Learning is the life blood of our industry. I created the Foss Academy because I wanted to change the perception of how the industry viewed barbering. The only way that can be done is through education and mentoring.

Is There A Typical Day In Your Life?

There are never two days the same. I love being able to cut hair one day, be training the next, then be working on a photo shoot the day after that. Mondays would normally be a day of in-salon training; I train across the UK and Ireland so I could be anywhere. You can also find me behind the chair working with clients. I love being around people! Being involved in the BBA means that a lot of my time is taken up in meetings, thinking and planning the next project.

Most Useful Piece Of Advice I've Ever Been Given:

Be patient; everything in it's time.

When I'm Not Working In Hair I'm...:

I'm a big fan of cycling. I love spin classes and generally keeping fit.

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