A cut above the rest

James Kon

Four local youth have overcome hurdles in the pursuit of their dreams to become barbers in Brunei Darussalam by setting up Barberku (My Barber), the first male barber shop under the Youth Development Centre’s Incubation Programme.

The youth, the first cohort of Street Art Haircut programme of Youth Development Centre under the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, are Mohammad Khairulddin bin Abdul Motalip, 27; Abdul Mateen bin Haji Zainal Abidin, 25; Abdul Rauf bin Haji Ismail, 24; and Mohd Shahrol bin Sahari, 25.

Located in a room at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium’s VIP parking area, Barberku has received an encouraging response since it started on September 4.

Two owners recently spoke with the Bulletin regarding Barberku and their passions for cutting hair. Abdul Mateen said, “It all started when I stumbled across YouTube videos about people cutting hair. I found it to be calming and made me interested to be a barber.

“My wife told me to contact her friend, Mohammad Khairulddin, who is now one of the co-owners. He was the one who told me about the Street Art Haircut programme of the Youth Development Centre.

“From the programme, we learnt how to clean our equipment as well as how to cut hair. The course was two days per week.

Abdul Mateen bin Haji Zainal Abidin attends to a client at Barberku. PHOTO: JAMES KON

“We also learnt about barbering through YouTube and practised by cutting our friends and family members’ hair. For the first haircut during the course, we had our instructor, Azhar Ahmadkhan @ Jae, to guide us.

“The following day, I cut my friend’s hair without any guidance. It was the longest two hours of my life. I took quite some time to think of how to start and give the best haircut.

“The same friend has been getting his hair cut from me ever since,” said Abdul Mateen. “Alhamdulillah, from those haircuts, I managed to gain confidence and improve on my skills.” When it comes to cutting hair, Abdul Mateen said he enjoys taking up people’s requests as a challenge.

“Some people want different kinds of hairstyle. It was overwhelming at first but I took the challenge so I can keep on learning.”

Sharing a message for the youth, he said, “It’s okay to venture outside your comfort zone. It will be uncomfortable in the beginning, you just need to ride through it.

“As the old saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Don’t give up , better things are coming your way.”

Fellow Barberku owner Mohammad Khairulddin said that he started cutting hair in September last year. “I am more focussed on men’s grooming, especially in the traditional way of men’s shaving.

“In 2017, I saw a Facebook video on barbering. It was about a barber shop in the Netherlands. I was inspired by it and decided to quit my job of eight months in 2019 to venture into the barbering industry.” He became an apprentice at a barbershop.

“My friend at the barbershop introduced me to the barbering programme at the Youth Development Centre. Alhamdulillah, now people can see the potential of barbering as a career. My advice is don’t be embarrassed and have a strong will. “It takes time to learn and master the skills. Working on my skills, I even accept clients who want to cut their hair at 1am. My door is open for them because I know if I cut more hair, I gain more practice and can improve further.”