Describing herself as “a unique fool”, Clare was raised between the Yarra Valley and Wangaratta. A country girl at heart, she spent her teen years wanting to be a livestock veterinarian before finding greater fulfilment in cutting hair. Her love of barbering comes from a simple enjoyment of spending time with clients, as she truly feels “you can learn so much from the young and old and I truly believe that you never stop learning”. 

Whisked away by a Tokyo man, she discovered that a speciality for straight and stubborn hair. Her curious and humble nature means that she’s constantly striving to improve, meaning that she now travels to Japan at least once a year for professional development, studying new styles and techniques to bring back to Australia. Outside of work she can be be found demonstrating her strange talent for amazing horse impersonations! Read on to find out about how the Japanese barbering trade differs from the Aussie scene…

What do you take from the Japanese approach to plying your trade and how you develop your personal skillset and craft? How do you go about learning new “tricks of the trade” on your trips to Japan? 

I’ve found that the Japanese way of barbering is to create shapes with the hair to compensate for other features so that the haircut has longevity, softer blends so the hair doesn’t stand up and calming down wild cowlicks and troublesome crowns without just cutting them out (which creates a new problem for the next barber).

Do you remember the first haircut you ever gave someone and what got you interested in barbering in the first place? 

My first haircut was on my father. I was all of 10 years old and he asked for a #1 all over. My mother was meant to be watching but left me all alone, so I cut my father’s neck line far too high. When my mother came back all she could do was laugh as we cut my fathers hair to a #0! When I told my family I wanted to be a barber my farther said “I feel so sorry for those poor men”… I still laugh about it today!

What’s your favourite thing about Lilydale and favourite thing about working at Lefty’s? 

I love the beautiful Yarra valley. If you’re a person who loves the country, the Valley is the place to be – beautiful rolling hills and if you’re awake early enough, you can even see hot air balloons gliding overhead. Lefty’s Barber Shop is a wonderful place to work, the other staff are so friendly and we’re always learning from each other, as we all come from different backgrounds in the industry.

What’s the best thing about being a barber, and what are you less keen on in the job? 

All the amazing people you meet. Learning about their interesting jobs, receiving life lessons from our elders… It’s never a boring day, always full of mind growth. I came into the barbering industry when it wasn’t as popular. Being a woman, I got a lot of backlash from clients and other barbers at the beginning, but I stayed strong and proved them all wrong. Now I look back and laugh at it all.

Clare Martyn

Do any particular people or trends in the industry inspire you in your work? 

I wouldn’t be able to say anyone in particular, there are so many great barbers and hairdressers with new styles coming out daily. I like to think that I learn from anyone and everyone to become the best that I can be.

Are there any brands, products, equipment or other professional tools that you swear by?

I love natural elements. All my brushes are made with wooden handles (which I love the feel of, plus they last longer than plastic). Cleanliness is second to none though so I always suggest a good hand sanitizer and barber aid products to clean your equipment, it stops the spread of any nasties.

If you let your imagination roam, what’s your dream path in your future as a barber?    

I would have to say I’d love to own a barber shop in Japan, it’s a beautiful country and there’s so much to learn there.

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