The Master Barber Of Dublin

26 year-old Robert Flynn talks about the ever-growing barber culture in Dublin.

Friday afternoon, 5:30pm to be exact. A tired Robert Flynn, also known as ‘The Wolfgang Barber’ is fresh off his shift of cutting hair for the day. Hair that’s fallen off the heads of the customers that day, still lying on the floor, with a smell of talcum powder wafting in the air too. With a cheeky grin on his face, he sits down with me to talk about the barber culture and male grooming as a whole.

“Do you want a beer or some water?” he asked me as he opens up the fridge to show me the array of beers they have. I politely say no, but was happy for the gesture he made. I asked him how he was, he said he was tired but he’s happy to be here for the interview.

Roscrea born and bred, he doesn’t look like the average everyday person. In a bright pink t-shirt and black dungarees, I can tell he has his own personal aesthetic for sure. He definitely doesn’t care about other people’s opinion of his style. Something to admire about him. With his customers ranging from people such as Jamie Heaslip, Conor McGregor’s MMA Coach John Kavanagh, and the band ‘Kodaline’ to name a few. To say he has a wicked arsenal of customers would be an understatement.

He first got interested in barbering when he watched a YouTube video by a channel called ‘TrashLab’. The video was called ‘The Barber Life’. It showcased day to day life in an barber shop in America. After that video, Rob became obsessed with the barbering culture. First giving haircuts just in his house to his friend, to then working in a friend’s barbershop in his hometown of Roscrea, after his friend had had a hurling injury. After working there for a month with no pay and decided to leave. After that he moved to the rival barbershop, working there for 6 months, and was told by the owner that he was no good and wouldn’t make it as a barber.

Receiving that kind of criticism was hard for an aspiring barber to take, but Rob didn’t give up. He applied for a job at Sam’s barbershop in Dublin. He was given a trial and performed that well that he was asked to work straight away. After working there for a number of years, Rob has now settled in ‘Cut and Sew’, definitely the most popular franchise of barbers in Dublin right now.

Cut and Sew was definitely the starting point of the new revolution of barbers. They’ve totally changed the game in terms of creativity, aesthetic and experience. There’s a clean and tidiness about them that other barbershops just can’t replicate.

Rob’s clientele definitely have their own unique look to themselves also. His own style has definitely helped him attract people of a similar look. Because of how he carries himself, people gravitate towards that, because in most cases he doesn’t dress like the every day guy. “Even being a barber has helped me become more confident in my ability and my appearance.” Even his attitude to life and his outlook on things makes him a friendly character to be around.

“Irish kids care so much about their hair now because of the culture we grow up in.” When you first get introduced to someone, the first thing you look at is their hair, so you have to have a clean haircut. Social media has affected us in such a way, that you need to look clean cut and tidy. It’s this insecurity that’s sprouted from social media that makes us think this way.

“The barber culture is growing very fast. The punk rock and skateboarding subculture that’s become a mainstream aesthetic, has definitely helped spur the growth of barbering massively.” If you look at most of the modern barbershops nowadays, or even just mainstream media in general, the skateboarding subculture has now become trendy. In terms of haircuts and fashion. Most people are now a part of the skateboarding scene and that includes Rob. This helps him appeal massively to the younger generation.

For Rob “It’s a cocktail of both the actual cut and the experience of getting the cut, whatever the client needs you have to do it right and you have to do it well. Making yourself the full package is a fundamental of perfecting your craft.” And you can’t agree more with him. You want the customer to leave with a smile but you also want them to enjoy the experience.

Cut and Sew has grown massively since the first one seat shop was opened. Over the last three years or so, from social media and the word of mouth, they’ve built a buzz around themselves and are now the biggest barbering franchise in Ireland by far. In terms of quality of haircuts, the actual experience itself and the hospitality that’s provided, they trump every other barber shop.

When first starting, Rob needed to make himself identifiable. By calling himself ‘The Wolfgang Barber’, this immediately gave Rob a title that people could gravitate to. Not many other barbers have a specific name, so this helps Rob stand out in that regard. The elegancy that comes with the name ‘Wolfgang’ and the ruggedness of the title ‘Barber’, are the perfect combination of titles to make any customer wanting a haircut off Rob. It’s something that’s ruggedly beautiful almost.

There are key essentials you need to attain and maintain to be a good barber. “You have to be confident in yourself, but you need to draw a line between self confidence and cockiness. I feel like that’s the downfall of so many barbers of today’s generation. Their ego goes to their head and they believe they’re the best.” In that sense, Rob stays grounded. He doesn’t ever let his ego go to his head.

Rob has definitely come a long way. To think that a small town lad from Roscrea, who was determined to make it to the top of the barbering game and is now the manager of the fastest growing barber shop in Ireland, are definitely achievements to be acknowledged. Another achievement for Rob was getting to cut hair on stage in front of hundreds of young barbers aspiring to be just like Rob. “I felt like I was one of those kids in the crowd seven years ago, when I started this journey.”

Another achievement for Rob was being able to partake in a documentary called ‘Not Just A Barbershop’. The documentary showed how the culture was growing in Dublin as a whole. Watching this documentary myself, I didn’t even realize how much culture there was, not only in the barber shop, but in the community as a whole. Sometimes it’s hard to notice growth when you’re immersed in the itself. The culture is growing rapidly and will continue to grow.

Rob has plans to one day open up his own shop. He feels like he “could do it tomorrow” if he wanted to. With his style and flair, I look forward to seeing him open up a shop of his own one day and call it home. He’d be able to bring a different factor that no one would be able to replicate. We’ll just have to wait and see. “Patience is a virtue” after all.

Knowing Rob for almost two years now, I can only see him going in one direction, and that’s upward. He hasn’t put a foot wrong yet and doesn’t look likely to fail anytime soon. He’s making moves in the trade that can’t be replicated and definitely someone to watch out for in the near future. A true master of his craft, nothing less than greatness is expected for this Roscrea lad.

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