Phorest FM: Live From The Salon Owners Summit 2023 With Tom Chapman
Tom Chapman — inspirational speaker, author and founder of The Lions Barber Collective — joins podcast host Zoé Bélisle-Springer to discuss the Collective’s projects and growth since he last was on PhorestFM in 2020. He also shares tips on active listening and spotting signs of behavioural changes, mental health problems and suicidal thoughts in salon clients.
Tom Chapman is an award-winning barber, author, public speaker, global barber director, and international educator who started his career with Toni & Guy in 2002. In 2011, he opened Tom Chapman Hair Design in Torquay, UK, and began educating two years later. Since then, Tom has educated all over the UK, USA, Canada, and Brazil. In addition, he has been on stage across Europe, reaching the finals of many national competitions, including Wahl Barber of the Year and the 2017 & 2019 Creative Head’s Most Wanted Finals, and has seen his work grace the cover of various industry magazines, including HJ Men.
In September 2015, Tom founded The Lions Barber Collective, a group of international barbers raising awareness for suicide prevention. Today, the Collective campaigns for the awareness of mental wellbeing and suicide prevention, believing that the barbershop is a great, safe place for men to talk, and through BarberTalk, he hopes to train hair professionals across the globe to Recognise, Ask, Listen and Help those in their chairs.
Tom Published his first book, The Barber Boom, in 2018, with his second book, BarberTalk – Taking Pride in Men’s Mental Health, released by mental health charity Trigger Press in March 2019. Since delivering a TED Talk at TEDx Exeter in 2018, Tom has been featured on BBC TV and Radio, Channel 4, and FOX News (USA), and has had multiple appearances in National and International press. Additionally, he received a Points of Light award from UK Prime Minister Theresa May for his outstanding volunteer work.
Tom Chapman: As a barber or a hairdresser, we have the impact to save people’s lives, and it’s worthwhile doing. It’s not about trying to fix or solve or diagnose or cure. It’s about bridging the gap between the communities that we serve and the resources that are available. We are in an amazing position. The infrastructure of the hair and beauty industry is incredible. We’re on every single high street, from tiny villages to massive cities. We are effectively reaching and reachable. So we’re going to crack on and get straight into it. And this is the story and a few bullet points around how the Lions Bible Collective started and why.
Live From: The Salon Owners Summit 2023 [01:25]
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Coming to you live from Dublin, Ireland, for the first time in three years and introducing a brand new concept on the show, I’m Zoé Bélisle-Springer, and I want to thank you for tuning in for this bonus “Live From…” episode brought to you by the PhorestFM podcast, powered by Phorest Salon Software.
On our “Live From” episodes, you can expect coverage from salon industry events we attend, where business owners like you can network with the best of the best and gain actionable insights. We’ll be sharing attendee vox pops & interviewing some of your favourite keynote speakers and industry professionals, getting to know them better and getting their takes on industry-related topics.
Subscribe to the PhorestFM newsletter to know where we’ll be next and when you can expect these bonus episodes. Go to phorest.com/fm and hit that subscribe button.
This month, we’re airing 5 PhorestFM “Live From…” bonus episodes with exclusive vox pops and interviews from The Salon Owners Summit: Ignite, 2023: The Global event for Growth Driven Salon Owners.
The Salon Owners Summit is Phorest’s very own two-day conference full of education, inspirational speakers, product updates and workshops.
Born with the salon owner in mind, it’s been designed to give owners in attendance the tools to tackle the year ahead and offer plenty of networking opportunities.
Introducing Tom Chapman [02:45]
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: So I’m here with Tom Chapman. He’s an author, barber, educator, ambassador, spokesperson, and founder of the Lions Barber Collective, an international network of barbers who’ve come together to help raise awareness for the prevention of suicide. Tom, you were actually on the PhorestFM podcast in 2020, I think?
Tom Chapman: Yeah, a little while ago. But it’s great to be here in person, in real life!
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: In real life!
Tom Chapman: Seeing people that normally… it’s like the last two years or so; it’s just been torsos missing… It’s just been head and shoulders, and that’s it. But, yeah, it’s great to be here and great to be working with Phorest as well—more and more.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Absolutely! It’s great to meet you in person; we only ever met through Zoom or whatever it was.
Tom Chapman: Exactly. It’s essential, like human contact, engagement, and real conversation, where you can see people in real life. And that’s the biggest thing with the pandemic; what’s made it hard is the lack of connection to other people, which got damaged. We all need to love and be loved, and we all need to belong. And you take those things away from us, and we struggle big time.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: We’ve definitely seen that on a global scale. So when we initially had you on the podcast, and I say we because Killian was there back in the days, we talked about Lions Barber Collective. So where are things at now, three years later?
Tom Chapman: I tell you what, the pandemic, if anything, gave me the time where I wasn’t cutting hair, I wasn’t travelling the world doing hair shows, and where I was literally at home, focused on the charity. And it just brought everything forward, accelerating the whole thing. The hair industry was sat at home, right? So there was a captive audience. We got loads of people trained. I think we trained nearly 1000 hair and beauty professionals during that time.
It gave me the opportunity to be able to grow and develop the charity, and look at how we’re going to move forward. And because of that, the trustee board gave me a job full-time. So I now work for the charity full-time, which I didn’t pre-pandemic.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Amazing!
Tom Chapman: I get up every day, have a sense of purpose, and love doing what I do. So this is everything I do now.
Lions Barber Collective: Recent updates and news [04:53]
Tom Chapman: But we have BarberTalk. We also did Hair and Beauty Talk now. We are doing a non-industry version called Here to Talk, which we’ve done with companies like eBay and Packard.
It got great engagement and a great response. And we’ve done many pop-up barbershops this last year, in 2022. We were going out, using the vehicle for haircuts and engaging with people in different spaces; everything from the young farmers here in the UK to a lot of construction sites, cutting hair, setting up barbershops, getting these guys engaged and talking. And some of the statistics that came back from that were incredible. 85%, nearly of them said they felt more comfortable after our haircut with one of our trained volunteers to speak about the mental health of their own or others around them than they did before that.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Wow!
Tom Chapman: So we’ve had an amazing response from that. And we’ve been doing lots of festivals and lots of events. And I’ve literally just had an image come through of the design for our McLaren Artura, which is going to be racing a British GT this coming year with the strict message, “Do not share this anywhere.” It’s just incredible to think that there’s going to be a Lions Barber Collective McLaren racing around the track this season.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: That is amazing. Congrats!
Tom Chapman: Yeah. It’s so exciting.
Setting boundaries between work and downtime [06:06]
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: You’ve been keeping busy.
Tom Chapman: I’m always busy. Since the last time we spoke, I’ve also written two books.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Where do you find the time? How do you find the time?
Tom Chapman: I think it’s time management. It’s using time well, right? But you work, be working, and then when you’re not, try to engage with those around you and try not to work. And that’s something I have definitely got better at. There was a period between the middle of September until… it would have been the end of November, where I was only at home for 72 hours because I was away doing events and that. And then, over Christmas, I booked out two weeks and did absolutely nothing. I didn’t check my emails; I didn’t do anything. I was like, I’m not doing it. And I’ve got better at separating that and having that downtime. And I was itching to get back last week when I came back to work full-time and I was keen and ready. And we can all take something from that. We can all be a little bit better at that. We spend a lot of time when we’re working thinking about home time or family time, and then when we’re at home, we spend a lot of time thinking about work and trying to change that; it’s difficult, right?
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: It is, yeah.
Tom Chapman: It’s about being present in the moment of what you’re doing.
The fundamentals and importance of active listening [07:14]
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Well, talking about being present. We’re at the Salon Owners Summit. You’re delivering a presentation but also a workshop. Actually, the workshop is already presented. It was called “How To Listen So They Will Talk.” What was that all about? What would you say are the fundamentals of active listening? Because I think a lot of people think they’re very good at listening, but really, we’re good at listening to react or to respond. So what are the fundamentals?
Tom Chapman: I think you hit the nail on the head there. We’re very good… We listen until we hear something we can relate to, and then we stop listening and wait for our time to tell our experience or our version of the story or whatever it may be.
And I think for us, what we’re doing in that training is talking about recognizing the signs that someone’s struggling: asking good questions, genuine questions, and making that person feel like you genuinely want to know what they’re going to say and then listening so they feel heard.
Not telling them, you know, how they feel, not interrupting, realizing that you don’t have to fix and solve everything. And as an industry, that’s what we do: we fix and solve problems. People come in looking bad, and we make them look beautiful. Right? Stepping back and going, look… It’s liberating and empowering when you realize that I don’t have to fix and solve your problem, but by listening and being quiet and genuinely taking in what they’re saying, you can aid them to aid themselves.
Because I feel that we all know what we need to do to solve problems in our lives, but we very rarely have the platform to soundboard that and get it out of our heads where we catastrophize things, and it’s just chaos.
And when you sit there and say, “Well, how does that make you feel? What do you think you could do to change that?” Not, “When I was doing this. I went through this, and this is what sorted me out.” Actually, “What do you think you can do? When do you think you could start that? Do you think that’s a good idea?” And giving it always to that person.
A good example I use in training often is a client who comes to sit in my chair and they got a great tan. Obviously, they’ve been away somewhere. So you say to them, “Where have you been? You look like a good tan.” They say, “Oh, I’ve just got back from Brazil.” Instantly, my brain goes I love Brazil. Brazil is my favourite place I’ve been to for work. And then I go, “Wow, I’ve been here; I’ve done that. I love this; I love that.” And what I should say is, “I love Brazil. It’s an amazing country. What did you do when you were there? That sounds great. Did you go here?” And keep on throwing it back to them.
When we’re listening, it’s that whole thing of we have one mouth and two ears. There’s a reason for that. When you’re listening, be quiet. And it’s hard; it’s really hard. But the power of silence is incredible. And by staying silent, the other person will want to fill it, and they will open up further without even realizing it. And it’s been shared with me a lot of time in sales at work as well, and in psychiatry, therapy is staying quiet and letting that person continue to speak. And it’s a very rare opportunity for most people.
We talk about open questions all the time, and they are fantastic. But one of my favourite questions is actually a closed one, and that’s: “You don’t seem yourself. Would you like to talk to me about it?” And that’s a yes or no question. But if they say no, I always follow up with, “Just so you know, I’m here if you want to.” And that either gives them permission to know that you’re a safe space — they might come back to you later — but more often than not, you can almost hear the cogs working in their head. So you stay quiet, and after about 10-20 seconds, they go, “Yeah, actually, I’m going through this.”
And all they needed was that reassurance to say, “This is safe. I’m not going to judge you. I won’t tell you I know how you feel or understand because I don’t.” We all have our own upbringing, experiences, beliefs, and morals, which form how we feel about stuff. So I can never say to you, I understand, but I can say to you, “I don’t know what you’re going through. I don’t understand, but I’m here to listen. Please tell me I’m not going to judge you.” And then just be quiet, which is difficult.
Checking in on people about their mental health [11:20]
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Yeah. Do you have anything to recommend to anyone listening? Obviously, you just mentioned that closed question example, but for someone who wants to check in with a friend or a family member, are there any quick check-in questions that can make it feel a bit easier for someone who has a hard time bringing that subject up?
Tom Chapman: We’ve had people come on our course who said in the beginning… Like we ask, “Why are you here?” Many people have told me, “I’ve lost people to suicide, and I didn’t recognize anything was going on.” It’s such a common story. “We didn’t notice. We didn’t see it.” By the end of that course, people have told me, “You know what? I did realize that they were spending more time in their room or socializing more, but I justified it to myself because I was scared of asking the question, and now they’re not here anymore.”
So all I say to people is we know the people around us and their normal behaviours. We know what they like to do. If somebody changes their behaviour even slightly, they’re not coming out as much, responding online as much, or they’re obsessing over something new. Check in on them. Just ask them: “I’ve noticed you’re not yourself. Is everything okay?” And the questions don’t have to be scary.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Yeah.
Tom Chapman: And I don’t think the questions are scary. We are scared because we may not be able to cope with the response. And I think that’s the biggest thing. Don’t be scared to ask questions. Ask them early. And again, we talked about it in my workshop, but asking someone if they’re suicidal, should they say things like, “I can’t go on. I’ve had enough. What’s the point?” These are very serious statements which we often brush over.
If you ask someone if they’re suicidal, it will not cause anyone to take their life. It will not put the idea in their head. But if somebody is suicidal, it’ll give them the green light to be able to open up and speak to you.
So we don’t ask that question often enough because we are scared — the person asking it.
No one wants to suffer alone. No one’s going to be offended if they’re not suicidal. They won’t be upset that you don’t want them to die. They’ll be happy about this like you care about them.
So be prepared to ask questions should you need them, and don’t be scared to ask, “How are you feeling? Is everything okay? Just so you know, I’m here to talk to you.” Again, that’s a simple thing. And I’ve been telling people publicly for the last seven, eight years now, “It’s okay to talk to me.” And because of that, people tell me stuff even if I don’t want to hear it! I don’t even have to ask a question anymore. I’m not saying to do that, but it’s just… a safe space.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Yeah.
Tom Chapman: That’s all it is. And as soon as you become that for those around us, our clients, our colleagues, our friends and our family, we’ll all be better off. And you don’t need to be hugely skilled to ask a question. Just listen.
To learn more about the Lions Barber Collective [14:08]
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Yeah. So where can people learn more about the movement, and how can they join?
Tom Chapman: Yes. The website Lions Barbers Collective, you can search for it online, that will tell you everything. You can do the free training version there. You can get in contact if you want to be a volunteer here in the UK, at least. And there are a couple of things. I’ve got TedTalk out there. If you Google “Tom Chapman TedTalk”, you’ll be able to see a brief nine-minute version of the story. And also, there’s a documentary on Amazon Prime called “The 1.7 Million Pound Haircut” that came out during the pandemic. That tells the story and shows behind the scenes of what we do. And a really nice part of that is I met the parents of the guy whose life we saved first, which really sort of cemented this as an idea. So it’s quite a good journey to see what we’re about.
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Lovely. Well, thank you so much, Tom. It’s been a pleasure once again!
Tom Chapman: Always a pleasure. Lovely to see you!
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Lovely to see you too!
Vox pops from the Salon Owners Summit 2023 [15:08]
Daisy: I’m Daisy, and I’m from Frank Di Lusso Hair Salon. We’re enjoying the speakers because there are a lot of people that are out of the industry that you don’t realize how much they know [inaudible].
Mitchell Eubanks: My name is Mitchell Eubanks, and I have a salon, the Mitchell Wade Salon, in Central Florida. What would keep me coming back is exactly what I’ve experienced, which is just like the camaraderie we’re all like… It doesn’t matter where you’re from; we all have the same challenges and successes. So it’s great to get feedback from each other.
Anna Michelle Jackson: I’m Anna Michelle; I’m from Amp Studios in Virginia. This being the first one post-COVID, I thought this was huge. It was my opportunity to come and be in Ireland. It was really like a no-brainer. It’s been brilliant. Really good!
Final words and ways to support the podcast [12:30]
Zoé Bélisle-Springer: Thanks for listening to this bonus “Live From…” episode brought to you by PhorestFM, powered by Phorest Salon Software. If you enjoyed it and you’d like to help support the podcast, please share it with others, post about it on social media, or leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. Together, We Grow.
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