Derry barbers up for Barbers of the Year NI
Clare’s Barbers, situated at Rosemount Avenue, Derry, is up for the Barbers of the Year award at the Northern Ireland Hair and Beauty Awards.
Owner and barber, Claire Elish Craig, was nominated by her daughter, Chloe, who posted on Facebook for Clare’s clients to fill out a survey and allow for Clare and her barbers to be nominated.
The decision is now down to an external judging panel after Clare submits supporting evidence for her nomination.
Clare said that the response to the survey and nomination from her local clients was “overwhelming."
The business, open since 2014, is Clare’s first barber shop. She said: “I have been hairdressing and barbering since I left school, some 31 years ago now.
“I trained with James McGarvey who was my old mentor and master barber. He retired at the age of 85, that’s when I went out on my own.
“I went on to do my advanced level and accessor award in barbering. I have given my all to this trade.
“I feel I have carried a lot of the values over from James; offering value for money and a friendly ear for our customers.”
Clare’s husband, Michael, has been a great support for her business, “My husband has his own job working with special needs children in Ardanshee school, but he is always organising things for me, my back bone.”
The Derry couple have three children, and now three grandchildren. Clare says her first born granddaughter is “a shining light.”
Clare said: “She has shown us that nothing is impossible with all the obstacles that she overcomes.
“Through the past year and a half, it’s been a nightmare for business.
“We were closed for months, then opened briefly, then closed again. The cost to make the shop safe for customers, mentally, I thought, is this it? Will we ever be able to get back to business? Will the business still be there whenever we are allowed to open?
“I was extremely scared with Covid when it was time to open again. I kept asking, will my customers be safe? Will my staff be safe? Am I doing the right thing? It was definitely very tough.”
When asked what winning the award would mean to her, Clare said: “All the years barbering, to me personally, it would mean the world.
“A lot of my clients who were teenagers when I started, are now coming with their own children. In some cases, I have three to four generations from the same family.
“My shop is just not another shop, it’s an integration into the local community where people come to have a haircut, a chat, unload their worries, and I to them, and they sometimes have the occasional beer.”
The award ceremony will be held December 12 at the Europa Hotel in Belfast.
Clare added: “I want to give a special thanks to my daughter, Chloe, for nominating me. I would never have done that myself.”
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