We’re now just days away from reopening, so it’s time to wrap up our series of Lockdown Barber Blogcasts before our teams reunite and we can finally get those doors open. Don’t forget, our barbershops reopen on Monday 12th April! We cannot wait to welcome you back, sort out those lockdown locks and hear plenty about your own year of experiences.
Not content sticking to lockdown 101s baking bread and walking the dog, Soho Head Barber Katherine has also put her hand to brewing beer, mastering the barbecue and most recently completing a ‘Life In The UK’ citizenship course. It’s safe to say she has truly maximised her time at home during lockdown…
Katherine LeBlanc, Head Barber - Murdock Soho
My Lockdown Transition
It's been quite the change. I live in north London and my commute on the tube takes me to Leicester Square every day. I then walk through Chinatown to get to our Soho barbershop so I would usually weave through about 400 people on my way to and from work most days (just enough to really get the blood boiling). More recently my mornings have consisted of a quiet walk in the park followed by watching cooking shows on tv. Sometimes I do squeeze a workout in, but I have very little willpower…
My Lockdown Style & Grooming Habits
I grew up working in a women's hair salon and let me tell you, you only need to be told once to not come in to work “looking like you just got out of bed”. Girls can be cut throat! So it’s been nice to adjust to a more relaxed barbershop environment in recent years. I would probably describe my personal style as casual chic; I'm always wearing 6 inch heels no matter what (I’m pretty short so I feel the need to cheat at that). I've been doing it for so long that I'm actually more comfortable in heels. Sometimes even after a long day I’ll forget to take them off. I don't have any particular brands that I always go for but I do love a good purse, my favourite would be Marc Jacobs, but any nice bag will do!
My lockdown style has consisted of wearing lululemon's and sweaters all day. I haven't worn jeans in weeks. I do miss dressing up, putting makeup on, doing my nails and doing my hair. It's something I would do every day on a normal basis, so it's been weird not having anything to get ‘done-up’ for. Loungewear is great, but I'm 100% down to put all that away for a while now.
I have to admit there has been the occasional home haircut, but apart from touch-up trims I haven’t done much to it. I miss using Sea Salt Spray for sure. I’m looking forward to getting back to using our products in the shop.
My Favourite Lockdown Hobbies & Purchases
My biggest lockdown purchase would be my barbecue. I bought a Big Green Egg at the beginning of the last lockdown and I have to say although it was a bit of an impulsive buy, it's been so fun being able to enjoy the nice(enough) weather and cook some food on the balcony while having a couple of drinks. It's definitely boosted the morale of everyone in the flat.
I've done the thing just about everyone else picked up over the lockdown period too, which is making sourdough. I've made at least 60 loaves of bread, sometimes two or three a week and at this point I don’t want to think about kneading dough ever again! I've also made my own beer which was actually super fun and successful enough to drink.
I’ve also just passed my ‘Life In The UK’ test, which was basically a full-on learning class over two months. Being from Canada, I realised I actually don't know anything about the history of the UK so it was great to do this because now I know everything about Henry VIII, so that's pretty cool… right?…
My Lockdown Saviour(s)
My lockdown hero is without a doubt my dog Otus. He's been my absolute MVP this year, looking super cute and constantly making the days better. Taking him out for walks all around the neighbourhood has been great for some healthy distraction.
What I Learned During Lockdown
During this lockdown I've learned to appreciate every moment. When you’re stuck at home with nowhere to go and no one to see, you have time to reflect on what's important to you and what you want your future to hold. I’ve been able to focus on what makes me happy and now know to take advantage of every opportunity in the future.
Positives I’m Taking From Lockdown
The positive thing during lockdown was definitely the down time. Not having to rush and hurry all the time and spending quality time at home. With work and a social life you don't realise how much time you actually don't spend at home. I've really worked on making my home a nice, cosy environment that I want to spend time in. Which is something I wouldn't have done otherwise.
Getting Back To The Barbershop
I'm really looking forward to getting back to the shop and seeing the team. We're expecting to be really busy and I can’t wait to get back to the vibe we all love and for our clients to regain the buzz they used to feel coming to see us. We all suddenly went from seeing each other and our clients every day to not really seeing anyone for months. It will be nice for everyone to get back to some kind of normal routine.
It will be as important for men to get back and see their barbers as it will be for the barbers to get back to their clients. The world has been in such a weird place for the last year that everyone could benefit from a bit of normality and stability. The energy of the shop, the city opening up again and summer being just around the corner will hopefully bring everyone's mood right up. I have two artists that I love to put on when I'm in the shop and that's Amy Winehouse and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The first track I’m putting on when we’re back will have to be ‘The Zephyr Song’.
Throughout this lockdown a lot of men have kept growing out their hair and beards and this is the perfect time for people to try new styles they wouldn't have tried before. I anticipate longer hair and longer beards sticking around, with more guys now adjusting to a more natural, low-maintenance look. What’s really important is to not actually let the maintenance slip on any longer styles - your barber still has a very important role to play in the upkeep!
My Post-Lockdown Neighbourhood Pit Stops
I hate to admit that when I go for lunch on a workday, I generally go to Whole Foods. I try to eat healthy at work and it's one of the closest places with lots of options.
When we get back to the pub my order will have to be a pint of IPA. I've missed craft beers! Also the buzz of a crowd around the bar at the end of a working day. The best bar nearby the shop would be Disrepute, which is right by Carnaby Street. It’s a little underground cocktail bar that’s 10/10. I would even recommend the Duke Of Argyll pub just over the road from us, but only because at this point I'll have a drink absolutely anywhere! If you're not in Soho, then the best pub to visit in London is definitely The Stag in Belsize Park. They have a huge beer garden which is perfect in summer and serve food fresh off the barbecue - you won't regret it!