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05th Jun 2020

A Dublin barber on the future of the industry and his opinion on “black market haircuts”

James Fenton

Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, people have missed all of their everyday services but the loss of access to hair salons appears to be among the most lamented.

Never again will the Irish public take a quick trim or a full head of colour for granted with the closure of the industry back in March marking the beginning of potentially four months with a haircut for the Irish public.

Leo Varadkar confirmed on Friday that restrictions of salons will remain in place until July 20, although hairdressers are trying to persuade the government to allow them to reopen sooner, with strict health and social distancing measures in place. I spoke to Glenn McGoldrick of Menspire salon on Aungier Street, who feels that the date is just about right.

“There’s no point in rushing a reopening, we should just let it ride out as long as possible,” he tells me. “When we open, we don’t want to be worried. We don’t think it will be a good experience if people can’t relax or unwind. We want it to be a positive experience, not a fearful one. I wouldn’t enjoy working in that environment.”

Relaxing and unwinding is something that has been a hallmark of Menspire since they first opened in Dublin 2017. Glenn explains that “when the barber boom kicked off four or five years ago, we wanted to open a place for men that was similar to salons that were traditionally for women. Before that, men getting a haircut for any longer than 15 minutes was practically unheard of, as was spending more than €10 on a haircut.” Essentially, Menspire’s aim is to bridge the gap from the traditional barbers in Dublin and the modern hair salon.

Glenn’s passion for his trade and his clients is clear when he speaks and he was disheartened to hear of some hairdressers operating ‘black market haircuts‘ during the lockdown while salons have been closed. “I think it’s disgraceful, to be honest. We’re currently working on establishing guidelines to ensure the safety of staff and clients when we reopen. I know that customers are frustrated and they feel like they need a haircut but when you go into someone’s home, that’s not social distancing.”

Pointing to other countries, Glenn wants the government to provide a full breakdown of what will be required for salons to reopen. “Every country that has reopened has followed a similar pattern. Salons in Germany opened on May 5 and stylists are wearing gloves and visors that are changed after every client”.

While the lockdown hasn’t been an ideal situation for any business, Menspire have managed to push on with their virtual hair styling seminars. The company already had an established Menspire Acacemy but pivoted this into online training once the lockdown began. “The main focus of the brand is to establish a client base that can be educated by us,” Glenn says. You can read more about the Menspire Academy here.

Menspire has branches on Aungier Street and in Phibsboro and, like every other salon, it is due to reopen on July 20. The government has suggested that certain aspects of the roadmap could be brought forward but whatever the case, Glenn and the Menspire team will be doing everything to ensure clients can relax and unwind in a safe environment.

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