Last year brought about some changes to NZARH and one of these was the inclusion of barbering into the hairdressing family and the addition of some barbering events into the NZARH Hairstylist of the Year competitions that were held in host cities around New Zealand.

Niq James, NZARH Comeptitions Chairperson, caught up for a coffee and a chat with one of our barbering industry leaders, Lucas Kelly, from The Barber Lounge in Christchurch, and found out about his journey and what the industry means to him.


How did you get into the industry?

I had an unfortunate accident playing rugby league in 2010 that saw me undergo 5 cervical disc operations to repair the injuries. This had a mammoth effect on my trade as a painter/decorator and ultimately left me out of work and for the most part in a stalemate situation with nowhere to go. So I made something out of nothing by buying a pair of clippers and decided to try barbering……… and with a “Fake it, till you make it” attitude and a self teaching approach I realised I was onto something. This was the start of my career in the barbering industry. From my kitchen to a cold garage, then after 2 years as The Basement Barbers we got picked up by PHB for a tutorial tour around New Zealand …then we had a 2nd and a 3rd tour. After an editorial spread in HeadWay magazine I decided to get my National Certificate in Barbering through the QbyE process with HITO. This was a way to formally recognise the skills that I had.

With my wife Victoria and good friend Malo Kasala we decided on a name, a look and a vibe. We opened The Barber lounge to share the news.


Why is training apprentices important to you?

I think having skills or natural talent is important, however, attending an accredited provider with the resources for theory and practical components absolutely helps elevate most, if not all, students to complete their apprenticeship and attain a qualification in their chosen career path in the hair and beauty industry.

Why did you join NZARH?

Like it says on the website, “NZARH is the only organisation in New Zealand that represents the needs of hairdressers and barbers in business today.”

The Association was established to give support to salon owners and employers of hairdressing and barbering apprentices. Being a member also gives us the opportunity to attend business courses, enter competitions and receive member only benefits with selected companies.

You and your crew competed in the NZARH Hairstylist of the Year live competitions in Christchurch recently, how was the experience for you?

It was amazing to be surrounded by such talented people. It was like walking around an art gallery! We were blown away by the work that we saw and the positive, inclusive feel of the day. The competitions promote high industry standards and ideals and gives people the opportunity to show their creative skills in a competitive environment through local and national hairdressing awards. Entering the competitions made us step out of our comfort zone to achieve true growth. It helped us gel more as a team and has made us teach wider and reach higher.


Your team achieved a fair few wins at the NZARH 2019 Hairdressing and Barbering Competition in Christchurch.  What’s next for you and The Barber Lounge?

Get more experience, enter more competitions and pass on information and skills. Teaching others to change their lives by using the talent they have for doing hair. There is a confidence that comes in being qualified, it helps to elevate the confidence of the barber and encourages giving back to the industry and community.


Thanks for sharing with us Lucas and we look forward to seeing you and your team competing in 2020!