Local Lifestyle

Reuben Kirke, better known as “Scoobs”, is a talented young barber from Grafton with a bright future ahead. Image: Contributed.

Cutting a stylish new venture

His career is growing as fast as the whiskers, stubble and hair he cuts and trims for his clients.

Young Grafton barber Reuben Kirke, better known by his nickname “Scoobs”, admits while he has always been creative and he’s always liked hair, he wasn’t sure he could pursue hairdressing or barbering professionally until he learned and acquired the skills to “do the job properly and make customers feel good.”

After completing his apprenticeship at one of Grafton’s most popular hair salon’s Di Mattia and Co, the enthusiastic 22-year-old said his confidence has grown in abundance and he now has his own registered business, Scoobs the Barber.

“I’ve always been one of those people who takes an opportunity and runs with it to see what happens,” he said.

“I think it was a big gamble initially when I first started, because I did want to see if I could do the job right, but I really enjoy barbering and so far, things have been going pretty good.

“I worked at Di Mattia and Co for five years and Kerrie (Di Mattia), the owner and manager, was awesome to work with and I really enjoyed my time with her.

“She showed me a side of hairdressing I never really knew about and her style is very avant-garde and creative which I liked.”

At the beginning of his apprenticeship, Scoobs trained in all aspects of hairdressing but as Ms Di Mattia recalls, it quickly became evident he had a passion for cutting hair, especially mens hair and it wasn’t long before his focus shifted to barbering.

Describing him as having “a natural ability to genuinely connect with people of any age,” Ms Di Mattia said Scoobs always made time for people at the hair salon, especially the elderly clients who still ask after him today.

Ms Di Mattia was also the one who christened him with his nickname.

“Quite simply he reminded me of Scoobie Doo the cartoon character when he first started with us,” she said.

“It’s cool that he still uses it.”

Describing himself as humble and not “someone who likes to talk himself up”, Scoobs says his number one priority as a professional barber is to provide his clients with good customer service.

“I really enjoy my time with my clients,” he said.

“I make sure their comfortable in their seat and it’s pretty amazing how giving someone a really nice haircut changes their opinion of themselves sometimes and that’s the most rewarding part of the job.

“I like quality over quantity and I can spend more time with a client as a barber than I can as a hairdresser.

“When a client chooses to come to you, that’s pretty special.”

Scoobs is also especially skilful with a straight cut razor.

“Compared to the electric razors, they give a more intricate shave because the trimmer razors don’t pick up everything,” he said, adding a lot of his clients prefer the straight cut razor and it’s more traditional methods.

“I think it’s part of the barber service to shave with a straight cut razor.

“It’s very traditional and I’ve always liked having the vintage barber look.”

Currently, Scoobs the Barber operates as a pop-up business from a vintage suitcase the young barber picked up an old wares store.

Between 3-5pm each Friday, he sets up his portable headquarters at ‘headspace’ Grafton in Duke St where he sees “between three and four clients” and offers people the opportunity to have a haircut, a shave and a chat as he demonstrates his traditional barbering skills.

Dubbed Fresh Cut Fridays, the set up was arranged when ‘headspace’ Grafton centre manager Jason Grimes and community engagement officer Mark McGrath, both clients of Scoobs, put forth the business proposal which the local barber was more than happy to accept.

“It’s been a great initiative,” Scoobs said.

“I got talking to Mark one day and told him I had some free time and that’s how it got going.”

Scoobs said he enjoys having the set up each week at Grafton headspace, a youth mental health foundation, as it allows clients an opportunity to freely approach him.

“I think it’s quite intimidating for some people who are dealing with social anxiety to go into a barber shop with several people inside and wait in line,” he said.

“But this way, they can come up to me and talk open-mindedly and I feel I can give them a nice service and make them feel comfortable by being myself.”

Along with his weekly Grafton Headspace appointments, Scoobs also works at Acmena Juvenile Justice Centre where prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, he visited every second Monday.

He also works weekend shifts at Grafton café Heart and Soul, to give his working environment “a bit of variety.”

“I really enjoy what I do,” he said.

“But I really love working as a barber.”