With the push to make workplaces more diverse and inclusive, there’s pressure on employers to look beyond the norm for their next hires. However, one industry that isn’t currently making the cut is the barbering industry, but The Barber House in Birmingham wants to fix this and hopes its very own Ellie Sampey will spearhead the way for change.
With only 10% of the workforce made up of women, female barbers are still widely seen as a phenomenon rather than the norm. What’s more, the idea that barber-houses aren’t just places for haircuts and beard trims, but sacred all-male zones, has cemented the idea that barbering is not ‘women’s work’.
However, having worked as a fully-qualified barber for almost two years, Ellie is proof that working as a barber is all about skill, not gender. She has achieved her Level 2 Apprenticeship, and specialises in gentlemen’s shaving and beard sculpting, in both modern and traditional styles.
Ellie’s journey into the industry hasn’t always been straight-cut; when she first took on her apprenticeship as a barber a lot of people asked why she wasn’t training to be a hairdresser instead. But as the daughter of Dale Sampey, the owner of The Barber House, the tricks of the trade were already in her blood. When she found her receptionist position in the barbershop not ‘hands-on’ enough, she traded the phone for clippers, and the rest was history.
That being said, Ellie knows that without the exposure to the sector early on, it wouldn’t have been the career path she would have thought of or been encouraged to pursue; it’s this ideology that leads to the skills gap and the waste of so much potential.
With this in mind, she is keen to show other women that they can – and should – enjoy the world of barbering. She wants to help them break the mould, dissolving the divide between hairdressers and barbers by exposing opportunities in barbering to women everywhere.
The Barber House is no stranger to forging the way for the male grooming scene in Birmingham; it was one of the first traditional barbershops to arrive in the city and its commitment to a detailed approach is what has kept high-profile visitors – from Cillian Murphy to Lenny Henry – in its chairs.
Speaking about her ambitions, Ellie said: “We need to support our fellow female barbers and build each other’s profiles so more people can see it as a viable career for women. Social media has been an incredible platform to showcase our skills, but it’s important to show regular women working as barbers day-to-day, so we can make it part of the norm. Being a barber is about skill, precision, creativity, and passion: not gender.”
Dale Sampey, the owner of The Barber House as well as Ellie’s boss and father, is keen for more women to follow Ellie’s lead. He commented: “Ellie is one of our most skilled barbers, delivering high quality results for our customers time after time. Her rapport with her clients, her commitment to her skill, and her eagerness to continue learning the trade make her a natural barber. For me, what sets Ellie apart is her expertise, not the fact that she is a woman.
“At The Barber House, we’re so proud to have the a team of the best barbers working for us and we hope we can continue to train, hire, and retain talents like Ellie. She is an asset to the team, a testament to the trade, and we’re lucky to have her continue to push the industry to be better. There’s a lot to be learnt from the lessons of engineering and nursing, which have made positive strides to level the playing field for both genders. We’re completely committed to barbering making the same changes and the entire team at The Barber House is striving to achieve this.”
The Barber House is located at Neville House, 14 Waterloo Street, Birmingham and offers both a traditional walk-in and all-new pre-booked appointment service. To find out more and meet the expert team of barbers, visit: www.thebarberhousebirmingham.co.uk.