Barbering has always been an important trade, but in recent years it has taken on extra gravitas, with the men's grooming industry undergoing a major boom.
With more men than ever before sporting beards and slick hairstyles, the days of a 'short back and sides' or a 'two blade all over' are long gone.
With that knowledge in mind - as well as their collective years of experience both in Ireland and abroad - Luke Delaney and Fabian Posca established The Fireplace Barber Shop on Dublin's South William Street in 2015.
We caught up with 28-year-old Dublin native Luke to discuss how he got into barbering, why he took the leap to set up his own business with his partner-in-style Fabian, and what sets The Fireplace Barber Shop apart - both stylistically and aesthetically.
Did you always want to be a barber, or was it something that came later in life?
It's crazy to look back and see how it all started. Since I was a kid, I was always fascinated with hair. Long, short; once you had hair on your head, I was your friend. Strange - some might say kids normally like Action Men and that type of thing but, no no… Luke just wanted to play with hair. As a kid. my father would bring us down to the local Barber shop Finnegan's Barbers now known as the Waldorf Barber Shop. I could sit there for hours just watching the barbers do their thing. I found it quite therapeutic.
You've had 15 years' experience at this point. How did your passion in barbering translate into a career?
At the age of 12, I saved up my confirmation money, went into town and bought my first scissors and clippers. I had my poor family's hearts broken because I felt like they needed a hair cut every day – well, at least that's what I thought. From there, I managed to get a Saturday job in the barber shop my father brought us to as kids, except this time it was in their Westmoreland Street shop. I was 13 years old. Here, I spent every Saturday sweeping the floor and watching some of the most talented barbers I've ever come across to this day. Finally, when I completed my Junior Certificate, there was smoke on my heels and straight into my 4 year apprenticeship I went. Fast forward ten years and the Fireplace Barber Shop was born.
Obviously it's something that takes a lot of training to master. Who or what has been your biggest inspiration as a barber over the years?
My first inspiration was my former boss, the owner of the Waldorf Barber Shop. This is someone who I still respect to this day - not only for her passion in barbering, but also as a very successful businesswoman. I tend to pick qualities from a lot of different people who I have admired over the years and try to instill some of their qualities into myself and my work.
You spent time working in Australia and Los Angeles before returning to open The Fireplace Barber Shop with Fabian. How did you guys first meet?
After years of working for some of the big barbering names both here and abroad, last year I decided 'It's now or never'.. In fact, the Barbershop was an afterthought. The previous year, I was in the process of setting up a Teaching Academy with a Barbershop I had been previously been working with - but after months of preparation we decided to postpone the launch, due to timing. That evening, the Fireplace was born. I went home, poured myself a glass of wine and searched the internet for suitable retail units in the city. The first one that popped up was number 27 South William Street. Fast forward to the 20th September 2015, and the door was officially opened.
Myself and Fabian had met on a few occasions over the previous years, but it was not until Fabian came back to Ireland in 2015 to attend a workshop that I happened to be teaching on that he grabbed my attention with his natural talent for barbering. I thought to myself, I need this guy. However, his plan was not to stay in Ireland but to go back home to Berlin. Once he was back home, Fabian worked a few days per month in Cologne as a guest barber – but a few weeks passed and eureka! I had a light bulb moment. Fabian was willing to move to Dublin full-time and after endless chats and many empty bottles of wine later, he was made the other half of the Fireplace Barber Shop.
The shop has a very vintage, old-timey look to it and you offer hot towel shaves, etc. – what was the thinking behind that aesthetic?
The shop is a true reflection of mine and Fabian's taste. A lot of time and careful consideration went into the layout and interior of the shop. We wanted the feeling of simple relaxation, as if the client were getting their hair cut in the comfort of their own sitting room. Above all, for me and Fabian it is so important that we felt like it was a place of comfort, not work. With only two barbering chairs - one placed each side of the fireplace - it gives us privacy between ourselves and our clients. Our main goal at the Fireplace is to ensure we make it a positive and memorable experience for each and every client, rather than a chore.
You guys are best placed to see the trends that are coming through your door – what are the big ones at the moment, and what haircut/style trends do you see emerging in the near future?
Trends, trends, trends. If we take a look back over the years, you will see fashion trends have come full circle. That said, thank god the mullet is not making a comeback. Our biggest request for hair styles at the moment is the old classics - we're long past the 'short back and sides and bit of a fringe'. Yes, Irish men are coming into their own, and our most requested hair style is the ‘classic fade on back and sides, and side-part or slick-back'. And still, one of the most popular is the pompadour. In my opinion, all of these cuts are timeless and will remain one of the most requested cuts. They're certainly not a passing fad.
Speaking of trends, what are the worst that you've seen over the years?!
Where do I start?! Does anyone remember the rat’s tails back in the '90s? Well I do - horribly horrific, is all I can say. Mullets, again, were another shocker for me - thank god they are far a few between these days. Sorry, all you mullet folks - just not my thing.
The beard thing has become huge in recent years, and I notice that both yourself and Fabian are sporting exquisite examples! Why do you think beards have become so popular over the last five years or so?
'When is doubt, grow a beard' seems to be the word on the street. I must admit, I'm a lover of the beards, myself - I just wish guys knew how to maintain them. It takes a lot of maintenance and time. Beards are definitely not a passing fad, but like everything, it will have its day; already, we're starting to see less and less of them. The true beard folk will be happy with this as they can now reclaim their status.
But it's not just beards that have become popular in the last few years, all aspects of male grooming has seen a massive increase. Why is this? Because finally, us men realise it's OK to take pride in our appearance. We have become more fashion and image conscious in recent years and let’s hope it stays that way. For the first time, men can actually appreciate and know the difference between a good and a bad haircut, which has led to the surge in more male grooming emporiums and barber shops opening up.
If there was one person that you could get into your chair at The Fireplace Barber Shop to work your magic, who would it be?
That's a hard one, as there are so many... but this one is a no-brainer. A man has been getting a lot of press attention over the last few months: Donald Trump. Need I say anymore?
Finally, what advice would you give to young aspiring barbers?
I can honestly say I’m happy to go to work. I love my job, because I made my passion my career and for that, I feel very lucky. If you have no passion for it, well, my advice is not to waste any more time and find something that you love. Find something that makes you want to get up every morning and enjoy this one life we have. If you want any advice about becoming a barber, you're always welcome to pop in to us for a chat for a nice fresh coffee, or a craft beer (Hop House 13, of course).
My next venture is the Fireplace Academy, which is due to launch in September; we'll be doing everything from basic barbering to advanced barbering, shaving courses and up-skilling. We'll also be holding a number of workshops around different locations in Ireland, so keep up to date on all the latest from the Fireplace and visit our website, or simply contact us through our social media.
Brought to you by Hop House 13. Drink responsibly.