So it’s the end of an era for The Dandy Gent, as one half of the founding team, Craig Evans, has decided to cut free from the bounds of his barber chair and enter a new phase of his career – on the road.
After much soul-searching, Craig has decided to enjoy a more relaxed family-orientated pace of life, still serving many of his regular clients, but in their own homes!
Armed with a City and Guilds in hairdressing, nails, postiche and massage, Craig started barbering in 1985 at a barber shop in Alvaston, Derby as part of the Government’s Youth Training Scheme (YTS) earning just £18.73 a week – £5 of which went to his mum for ‘board’.
The YTS (originally Youth Opportunity Programme) was one of those schemes known for employer abuse – and sure enough after 2 years of (according to Craig) hard graft – he was duly shipped out leaving space for the next enthusiastic – and cheap – youngster to fill.
Somewhat scarred, but unshaken from his barbering quest, Craig moved onto McFlys in Ashbourne where he spent 13 years in relative barber bliss. In 2000 he moved to London, spent 18 months hob-nobbing with the Chelsea elite, then 2 years trend-setting in the ‘posh-end’ of Manchester where he eventually met and fell for his lovely wife, Helen.
Around 2004/5, Craig and Helen moved back to Derby, where Craig re-acquainted himself with another ‘special’ person in his life, Mr Shane O’Shaughnessy – a drinking buddy and friend of some 36 years.
The Man Barber era
Shane had a computer shop at the time, on Surrey Street in Derby, with a room in the back – the new home of Craig’s latest barbershop adventure.
Having re-kindled Shane’s boyhood passion for haircutting, a skill imparted to him by his grandad, Craig taught Shane for a couple of months to see how he got on with barbering as a career option – and the rest, as they say, is history. Shane took up formal training, the computer shop was closed and the premises was turned into Man Barber run by Craig and Shane together.
The duo became something of a double-act and, for those of you who have ever seen them work together, the entertainment value was quickly recognised. Man Barber grew and flourished with much frivolity – and some pretty near the knuckle banter. The guys moved to the current shop at Nuns Street and the client list and barber team kept on growing.
“We’ve always had a great working rapport.” Said Craig. “The banter was not always politically correct, but armed with a ‘safety-word’ ARMAGEDDON we would let each other know if we were getting too carried away – we hopefully never truly offended!”
In 2009 Helen and Craig had their first child, Jack, which prompted Craig to take a step back to enjoy more family time. Shane was now at the helm and rebranded the shop The Dandy Gent to coincide with the launch of his new range of shave and beard products.
The Dandy Duo Splits
As most of you reading this will know, The Dandy Gent has gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years with eventually a second shop opening in Derby in the Cathedral Quarter. Sadly, this did lead to the splitting of the popular duo as Shane went to Irongate and Craig stayed at Nuns Street, but they were both still doing their thing; growing their respective shops with their skills, easy manner and ever-ready humour.
Says Craig “I’ve had a fantastic time working at The Dandy Gent and throughout my whole barbering career I’ve made many, many friends. One of my clients I have been cutting since he was 18 months old – he’s 31 now and followed me from shop to shop! Several clients have followed me from Manchester – and even from my London salons!”
A time to move on
Craig, now with Jack aged 12 and his second child, Grace, aged 9, has enjoyed his family time over this year’s enforced pandemic lockdown and sees this as the perfect time to step away from his Nuns Street chair.
“Many people are working from home now, so this is the perfect time for me to continue a more relaxed working life, spend time with the family and start cutting hair in clients’ homes.” Smiles Craig.
Both Craig and Shane agree that the other has been brilliant to work with and both said they are the best they’ve ever worked with too!
“We’ve always had a lot of laughs, but aside from that Craig has always been really supportive – my right-hand man you could say. I really don’t think I would be where I am now without his encouragement and support over the years.” Said Shane.
Never say never
“I was sad when we had to split between the two shops, breaking the double-act was a hard decision for us to make. But as Craig said recently ‘never say never’ – there may be the chance for the ‘Dandy-Duo’ to get together again in the future. Watch this space!”
Craig with Pete Koukoularidis – one of the first customers at Man Barbers
“Barbers like Craig are more than just hair cutters they are therapists that you have a long-term relationship with. We’ve been friends for years now and my only regret is that my hair has diminished and meant that my appointments don’t last as long these days.”
“It’s the banter I’ve always loved – I’ve spent hours here alternating between Shane and Craig for my haircut and sometimes spending well over an hour enjoying the chats.”
Pete will be one of many of Craig’s clients who will continue to enjoy his company and skills making the most of his new mobile service. If anyone is interested in contacting Craig to discuss his mobile service you can do so via our Facebook page.