Children (and adults, let’s be real) can find getting a haircut anxiety-inducing, but one barber has come up with an unconventional solution. Gary Hemmant, from Aylsham, Norfolk, started working as a mobile barber for kids when he realised loads of his clients hated going to the salon for a trim – and lets kids sit on his bike while they get their haircut to soothe their nerves.
When the dad-of-four turned up to client’s homes on his Huoniao 125-8 motorbike, he noticed all the children were desperate to sit on the bike, so decided to make it a key part of his service. Just being popped down on the bike gives nervous children a decent distraction, keeping them occupied and sitting still while Gary cuts their mop.
Gary said: ‘I have seen so many children over the years struggle in barber shops with noise or with the heavy-handedness of some barbers. ‘Young children can get really anxious, especially if they have special educational needs and disabilities or sensory issues.
‘I initially wanted to start a home haircutting service that takes the kids out of the busy barber shop environment and lets them find their safe space at home, be it in front of their tablets, television or even just with their favourite toys and trusted family members around. ‘It all reduces the anxiety surrounding past experiences with having a haircut or even just being about in public which can be overwhelming for anyone if they are not feeling one hundred percent that day.’ The response has been ‘amazing’, with parents and kids loving the anxiety-soothing approach. ‘I have met some truly outstanding parents who are frustrated with having to upset their kids to keep their hair from going wild or becoming another frustration in the child’s life,’ said Gary.
‘More importantly some fantastic kids who have been able to have a positive experience and really enjoy having a haircut and start on the road to wanting to have their hair cut and become more confident. ‘The motorbike is a just a mode of transport to get from one client to another but it’s been a huge hit with some of my younger and SEN/Sensory clients, something to take the anxiety of having a haircut away even briefly and weather permitting actually quite a handy seat if they want to have their hair cut on the bike itself. ‘It’s also quite liberating riding a bike myself so it lets me enjoy the commute to and from people’s houses. Having suffered from anxiety himself, Gary wanted to help children overcome their struggles.
He has changed many professions before he found his true passion and is happy he now gets to do something he enjoys and helps children at the same time. Now he’s planning his next project; offering free haircuts for homeless people in his area. He added: ‘Working as a barber showed me what it was like to find something that ignites a fire in your belly and makes earning money not feel like a daily struggle.
‘I love getting to know people and watching them as people develop so to be a part of the solution for some of the problems is very rewarding for me personally and to the clients. ‘I personally have suffered with anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember – now getting an opportunity to help people on another level with all sorts of medical issues has just added to that flame and made me feel like I can help people whilst doing the job I love.’