"If I’m stranded on a desert island, I’m taking Nicole Scherzinger, Rita Ora and Margot Robbie. I’d be dead in a few days, but I’d die a happy man. "
The Journal went to hang out with award winning barber Dean Gleeson at his shop in Leigh on Sea in Essex, with over 15 years experience Dean tell's us how his shop is more than a place to get a quick short back and sides. He prides himself in giving each and every client and immersive experience where people can relax, talk and forget about any problems for a small while at least. We ask how he got into the industry, his opinion on the "crash course" and who his dream client would be...
So tell us who is Dean Gleeson what's your background?
What’s going on on guys, my name is Dean Gleeson, and I’m the co founder of Mengo male grooming in Leigh on sea, Essex. I have always been a local boy, and I actually grew up with your very own @hobojimmy. There are definitely some stories I could tell you about our younger years!
When and how did you get into barbering?
I’ve been in the hair industry industry for 16 years now. God that makes me feel old. I guess you could say I fell into it really. I was that boy growing up, who had no idea what he wanted to do. I bounced around from college (when I wasn’t bunking off with jimmy), to jobs I didn’t really want to do. Then my friend, who is now my business partner, asked if i wanted to come give hair dressing a try. I was a bit reserved at first, as back then, being a hairdresser carried a bit of a stigma with it, but after a bit of thinking, I thought, fuck it! I picked up the scissors, and I haven’t put them down since.
What's the Ethos behind the brand Mengo?
When we opened Mengo, we didn’t just want to be a barbershop, we wanted to create a community. We pride ourselves on making people feel great about the way they look, and create an environment that allows them to be relaxed during their time in the chair. A lot of our customers have become good friends over the years, and I always look forward to opening the doors.
Do you think there is correlation between barbers and tattoo artists? especially in todays society.
Yes for me, barbering and tattooing go hand in hand. I love my art, and have become pretty covered in ink, I’m actually getting a bit gutted that I’m running out of space. I actually took a little sabbatical from cutting hair, and became a tattooist full time for 5 years. I still do the odd day now, and in the future, the goal is to open a shop that has barbering and tattooing under the same roof. I think the two industries work so well together, because they both give people to chance to express them selves, and look pretty fucking cool whilst doing it!
Do you think the Gentlemen's grooming industry is growing larger? Where do you see it heading?
The mens hair dressing industry is definitely getting bigger. The main reason for this is men are becoming vain bastards haha. I’m only messing, but men are definitely taking more pride in their appearance, and it’s become a lot more socially accepted to do so. The day of the short back and sides, with gel slapped in the top has gone, and it’s been replaced with guys adopting new styles and proper grooming. Another reason for the growth, is people see it as a proper trendy job to do. The stigma has been dropped, and cutting hair has actually become cool. If you play this game right, you could end up with an A lister sitting on your chair. There isn’t many jobs that could give you that opportunity right?
What's your thoughts on these barbering crash courses?
Don’t get me started on crash courses! Look, they can definitely be beneficial, but it has to be to the right audience. Crash courses are great for people who have been in the industry for a while, and want to expand their skill set and knowledge. The problem with crash courses for beginners, is it has created a generation of barbers that don’t want to work for a living. The point of an apprenticeship is that you learn the industry inside out. You start with the shit jobs, then by showing dedication and discipline, you work your way up. This builds a huge respect for the job, and adds so much more value when you become qualified. Crash courses create average barbers, who think they are going to be millionaires working 3 days a week. I’m an old school guy, and putting in the hours is the only way to get the best results.
If you could have cut one iconic celebrity hair style from the past which one would it be?
When it comes to iconic celebrity hairstyles, there can only be one for me. The king of rock and roll himself, Elvis Presley! The hairstyle is as cool now as it was back then, and that really says something. I love the modern skin fades, but you can never beat the classics.
You're stranded on a desert island what 3 things do you take?
If I’m stranded on a desert island, I’m taking Nicole Scherzinger, Rita Ora and Margot Robbie. I’d be dead in a few days, but I’d die a happy man.
Here at The Hobo Journal we love to travel hence the name, Where is your favourite place on Earth and why?
My favourite place on earth would have to be Sri Lanka. We went there on our honeymoon, and everything about the country is eye opening. The culture, the scenery, and more importantly the people. Sri Lankans are probably the nicest people I have ever met, just genuine, authentically nice people, and that’s rare to find in todays society. The thing that stood out to me, was how they just enjoy living, no social media bullshit, just waking up everyday and enjoying life.
More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer