Sean Aylward redefines the barbering business
The New Creative
by Cassandra Bernard
The Humble Barber, Sean Aylward, says his business is about more than just trimming beards. The barbers in these shops work hard to craft and shape to suit their customers’ lifestyle and comfort levels.
The first of the two shops opened in April 2015 in Summerside, and then expanded to Charlottetown in January 2016. Aylward says his first time in a barbershop was in Fogtown, St. John’s. “I sat down with a local bottle, hanging out and talking with each other about some local issue in the city, it was heaven,” he says. Since then, Aylward opened his shops designed to mimic barbering today; blending the old with the new-traditional materials with modern decor elements to create a welcoming and positive environment.
Aylward chose the name “The Humble Barber” because to him, being humble means being proud of the things you work hard to be good at without overstating it. “I work very hard to be a great barber, and I’m going to keep working hard to get better,” he explains. “People think that we only do ‘hipster haircuts.’ Our customers range from 10 months to 94 years, tradespeople to judges, so we do it all. We post the cool ones to social media, so it’s easy to make that mistake, but the reality is most of our cuts are very well done, regular looking do’s.”
The Humble Barber shops have been trying to get approved for a liquor license, the same as many spas and hair salons have in the province, but so far have not been successful. “As an entrepreneur, it’s very frustrating to be told by pensioned bureaucrats that I can’t have access to income that my industry peers do,” he says. “Our government has had an amendment which would allow me to serve since June 2015, and it can be approved at any time if they wanted to. The decision makers clearly don’t care, despite the amazing amount of public and party support. To willfully allow such an unfair competitive disadvantage, which can be easily fixed, is pretty disgraceful,” Aylward explains.
Aylward says he is focused on making the two shops look and perform as well as any other. “Myself and my team are constantly training and analyzing everything we do to do better work and provide a better service, and Caley [Aylward’s wife] and I are always looking at ways to make the shops look better. We want our customers to be just as proud of the place they get their hair cut at as the person cutting it.” The business is proud, and humble, of all of their accomplishments. “I don’t shout this all day, but I won’t shy away from it if asked. I want my customers to have that same confidence about themselves,” says Aylward.