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What happens when you’re a woman whose passion – and talent – is barbering? You work hard for your spot no matter what. Or you can ask Irish-born, London-based Hayden Cassidy how she’s become one of the most renowned personalities in the barbering world, a male-dominated (and generally, male-oriented) industry.

Even though it has evolved throughout the years, Hayden says that “A lot of barbershops are still quite macho” and that there are stereotypes around them. “It’s this environment of tit talk, football talk… so being a female can be quite intimidating”, she says in the documentary video directed by London-based photographer Conor Clinch. Actually, the photographer also confesses he hasn’t felt comfortable in barbershops growing up, when he tried to avoid places where toxic masculinity prevails. “As a kid, I felt really uncomfortable in any toxic, masculine environments such as football games or pubs. Barbershops were no different”, he tells us.

But it’s 2020 folks, and some things come to an end. Hopefully, macho stereotypes will be gone soon. At least, that’s what Hayden hopes and also sees when working on a day-to-day basis. “This industry can be amazing, inspiring, and I’ve met some incredible people along that way that’s kind of pushed me and supported me”, she says. “I’ve been lucky enough to travel to amazing countries and be able to showcase and be supported doing what I do”. So there’s still hope for everyone. One of her main wishes, as she expresses in the video, is to “one day, when somebody asks me what it’s like to be a female barber, I hope I can say it’s the same as being a male barber.” Today, we speak with the photographer about his relationship with Hayden, their common Irish roots, and avoiding male-dominated spaces.
Conor, how did you first meet Hayden and how is your relationship with her like?
I first met Hayden through her partner, Dani a couple of years ago. For as long as I’ve known Hayden, she has always been so passionate and driven about her career in the barbering world. I found this dedication to her trade quite contagious, and whenever I am around her, I feed off her passion and drive to succeed. Since meeting each other a few years ago, we’ve built a close bond through both of our works, so as Hayden is heading towards the peak of her career right now, this documentary felt natural.
Both of you are Irish, do you feel some sort of connection because of where you come from? Or did you discover you shared some similarities while recording her, maybe?
Definitely! No matter where you are in the world, you’ll find the closest Irish person and become their best friend. However, I’ve lived in London for almost six years now, and Hayden and her partner Dani moved to the UK about two years ago. I was excited for them to be in London and since they’ve arrived, I’ve enjoyed watching both their careers escalate.
You’ve dedicated a documentary video to her, capturing her thoughts on being a female barber in a male-dominated industry and how she overcomes this situation with optimism and hard work. Why did you decide to focus in her on the first place?
I always found barbershops really intimidating growing up. As a kid, I felt really uncomfortable in any toxic, masculine environments such as football games or pubs. Barbershops were no different and I hated having my hair cut. The barbering industry has changed so much in recent years. Traditional, macho barbershops are slowly being pushed out in place of more modern, high-end services. The old in-and-out concept of a haircut is few and far between nowadays as some men prefer to opt for a more luxurious, grooming experience. However, it still remains a very ‘men-only’ environment, so I felt it was necessary to highlight Hayden and her optimism to work hard and challenge the barbering stereotype. 
Despite knowing the industry still lacks female presence, Hayden seems optimistic. And she’s very happy with what she does. What did you like the most about her? What’s in her attitude and personality that makes her such a magnetic character to record?
Her energy and passion to succeed are what really made me want to document Hayden. She puts her life and soul into everything she does and this film was no exception.

David Valero

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