Young, local barber a cut above the rest

Shuaib Biscombe proudly shows off his trophy, certificate and prizes after the event.

A young, Stellenbosch barber competed in the recently hosted King and Queen of the Chair Barber Battle SA 2022 and came out tops as the winner in the Young Blood Category.

Shuaib Biscombe (17), from the Arts Barber Shop in Protea Street, Ida’s Valley, competed in the national competition on Sunday July 17 and after competing with 11 other contenders in his category, triumphed as the ultimate winner.

“It feels great, it felt a bit unreal at first, but after a while, I realised that I won. It’s an amazing step forward for me and I will take it as a motivation to move forward in the future,” Shuaib says about bagging the winning title.

For this third generation barber, training under the mentorship of his dad, Faizel Biscombe, who in turn was trained by his father, Fuaad (Archie) Biscombe, the win is a great achievement and boost for their family owned business.

One achievement, he says, he wishes his late grandfather, Fuaad, could have been here to witness. “I wish my grandfather could be here to see my achievement and I can only imagine how proud he would have been,” the young, talented barber says.

The competition, hosted by BoyzIIMenz hair studio in Lotus River, was the second barber competition Shuaib participated in, but says although he was less nervous competing this time around, the competition was still challenging.

He admits that coming up against other skilled and talented barbers in Cape Town, was a bit nerve-wracking, but overall the experience was a pleasant one. “The competition was a good experience. I wasn’t that nervous to compete this year.

“They gave us an half an hour to complete the challenge. In the first five minutes I felt nervous, but as things went on I became comfortable, relaxed and started having a conversation with my model whose hair I was cutting.”

Shuaib developed an interest in the art of cutting hair at a young age. “I was cutting my grandfather’s hair since I was 12 and although the haircut wasn’t that good, he always said that he liked it, even though it didn’t look good at all,” he fondly recalls.

Later as he grew older he became more present in the shop and started out sweeping the floor of the barber shop and this he says, is where he really started taking note of how his father operated.

As a trainee with such a valuable, almost legendary, family knowledge and background in cutting hair, what in his view makes a good barber? “You need to have a good character, it’s not just about cutting hair. You need to have a good relationship with clients, stay humble and treat people with respect.”

Lastly, he adds patience is a key element in the barber industry.“You need to have patience when cutting someone’s hair. You can’t be in a hurry to cut someone’s hair, this is what I learnt from my grandfather.”

Amid modern hairstyles, cuts and techniques, he will forever treasure the age-old wisdom and training from both his father and grandfather. “My grandfather would use a balloon to teach me how to shave someone’s beard. If the balloon would make a noise, that would mean I’m applying too much pressure and pressing too hard,” he explains.

“My father also taught me a lot and I personally look up to him. My father and grandfather are my two role models.”

His future plans are to continue the family’s legacy. “After school I plan to study Business Management at Boland College. My goals are to take over the barber shop after my studies, to continue the legacy of our 3 generation barbers and extend the business by opening another Arts Barber Shop in Cape Town.”

Follow this inspirational barber and his family-owned business on their Facebook Page, Arts Barber Shop or on Instagram.