Jermain Eu is not your average poly student – he’s also a barber apprentice. Juggling schoolwork, a social life and an apprenticeship can be tough for the average Joe, but it’s all in a day’s work for this busy guy.
So I paid him a visit, with my colleague in tow for a haircut at Mister Moustache Barber Shop where Jermain currently takes his clients, at the shop run by his mentor of one and a half years.
Hey Jermain, can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Jermain and I’m 18 years old. I’m a barber apprentice, and also currently a year one student in Nanyang Polytechnic studying financial informatics.
How did you first get into barbering? How is that different from being a regular hairstylist?
It was during the long holiday after finishing my N-levels, I had a lot of free time and started watching YouTube videos on hairstyling, where I came across a video on barbering. From there, I started watching more of such hairstyling tutorials and picked up an interest in men’s grooming techniques.
Actually, I didn’t even know what barbering was until I came to my mentor’s barbershop, where I got to learn about barbering culture and its history — barbering and regular hairstyling are actually worlds apart, from the techniques to the set up of your environment.
What is being a barber apprentice like, & how long have you been doing this apprenticeship?
I actually wanted to train at a professional hair salon, but figured it was too costly. So my mother suggested that I take up a hair cutting course at my local community centre, which is where I met my current mentor.
I was only 16 then, and I wasn’t sure if I could commit to such work, but I still decided to give it a try. My mentor has been training me ever since I started one and a half years ago.
What are some of the difficulties that you’ve faced juggling your passion & being a full-time student?
Being a barber apprentice is definitely tough. Guys my age are pretty cautious about who they trust with cutting their hair, so that was a bit of a hurdle I had to overcome.
It was difficult in the beginning, but I began to fall in love with the journey and it’s been pretty enjoyable so far because I have such a great mentor and a conducive environment to hone my skills. Overall I would say it’s been a tough but rewarding journey under my mentor.
School-wise, I had to give up my hip-hop dance CCA in poly to do barbering, as both required high commitment levels. I also had to squeeze in my apprenticeship between school work and work on maintaining my grades. Discipline is definitely a very important part of my journey.
What is the best piece of advice that you’ve received since the start of your journey?
Definitely, love and discipline for barbering. Discipline is something that’s helped me not to burn out during the tough times when I was trying to juggle school and the apprenticeship.
To me, the love for barbering is something that goes beyond mere passion, especially the satisfaction you get when you see your customer happy with the service that you’ve provided.
Are your parents supportive of your barber apprenticeship?
They are actually very supportive of my decision to become a barber. I cut both my dad and uncle’s hair, making house calls every month to their office in Woodlands. My mom still insists on me getting my diploma though, which is very necessary in Singapore nowadays.
How did you start building your own barbering brand & customers?
I started my brand’s Instagram page offering free haircuts to anyone who was willing to let me practice on them. I got a lot of support from my church friends, who brought along their other friends, who were extremely supportive and trusted me with their hair.
I really wouldn’t be here today without them, and they are some of my most regular customers up until today. My customer base also started to grow as I met more friends in poly, and of course by word of mouth!
What do you hope to see in Singapore’s barbering industry & for yourself?
I definitely hope to see more barber shops opening in the future. Having people become more open to the barber culture will hopefully create more opportunities for aspiring barbers. Maybe one day we’ll even make the Singapore barber culture known worldwide.
As for me, I am still hungry for knowledge, and I hope to be able to learn as much as I can for as long as time will allow me to. The possibilities are endless, and the learning and self-improvement never stops.
Head on over to his Instagram @jermaineu_ to check out his barbering portfolio and to book him for an appointment.
Mister Moustache Barbershop: #01-20, Blk 5 Everton Park, Singapore 080005 | Tel: +65 6815 4812 | Opening Hours: 11am – 8pm (Mon to Sat), Closed on Sundays | Website
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