Watch this space! – The Barber Magazine

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This months Boss Talk is with Joe Mills from Soho lounge, have a read to find out how his career took off.

How did you get into barbering, was it something you always planned?

I wouldn’t say it was planned. I started hairdressing at the age of 16 and soon realised that I had a passion for men’s hair. When I started out 34 years ago (ouch) most of my mates had flat tops and skin fades, so I had to learn and from then it just became part of the journey.

How would you describe your hair journey?

It’s been intense and life changing on lots of levels. My life would be very different if I had not made the leap to open my own business 20 years ago. I have met a lot of people along the way and consider myself lucky. I’m driven and have a very strong work ethic that has helped massively but not always in a positive way. I still get excited about work and this can be anything from working in the shops with clients, to working on a shoot with a magazine or a campaign shoot with a new photographer. There are things I could have done differently, but to be honest, I’m not sure I would have changed anything.

When did you start your business and what differences did this make to your life?

My salon, The Lounge Soho, opened in 1998 and my barbershop Joe and Co, opened two doors away in 2010. My latest venture, MILLS barbershop, opened in the flagship Primark in the centre of Birmingham in April. Being a session stylist or a behind-the-chair stylist is very different to be a business owner. Then you have a lot of responsibility for the people you have around you. If you fail, it has an impact on more people than just you. That sits heavily on me and I don’t take the business lightly.

What has been your best moment?

I think the best moments have been the realisation of certain ambitions. Opening the Lounge Soho was a big moment for sure, but each of the stores has felt like that. I feel a real sense of pride about them and the people who have helped me get there and continue to support me.

What has been your worst moment and why?

I don’t think there is a specific moment but being a small business owner has its stresses that exist continually and that never changes. You learn to manage them better as you gain more experience, but they will always exist.

What advice do you wish you’d been given?

You can’t do it all and to make sure the people you trust have your back.

How does your work/life balance fit with your professional responsibilities?

I am lucky that I spin a lot of plates and have a lot of help to allow me to do that; my management team make this possible. I am also a father and the time with my son is very important to me, so I must make work fit in around that rather than him fit in around work. Time management has always been tough, and I have always struggled with it, but I have learnt to prioritise things so that it can work out better. Finding the balance is the challenge as things change so much each month with shoots or shop-based things, but you must allow yourself some space or things fall apart quickly. I tend to wake up early and fire out a lot of emails to the team and then the same at the other end of the day. My team are used to it and they are not expected to work the hours I do or respond, but it allows me the head space.

Any further ambitions?

I’m 50 this month and still love what I do. I’m not done yet and have a lot in the pipeline for the next couple of years so watch this space!

Contact Joe here: @Joemillshair @millsxprimark @theloungesohohair @joeandcosoho

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