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Young Ilkeston barber dreams big after landing famous football clients

Brad Knight, 19, has been given a head start in the world of hairdressing after landing some of the region's top football names as his clients.
Brad Knight, 19, has been given a head start in the world of hairdressing after landing some of the region's top football names as his clients.

“I’d like Knight&Co to become a household name, you have to dream big — but first of all we are getting this shop right and making sure every customer gets the best possible cut.”

Brad Knight is not just blowing hot air when he talks about the future of his hairdressing business, having opened his first shop on Bath Street in Ilkeston, behind the old Argos store, last year.

At 19, and just three years into his career, he is already in high demand locally and with a growing number of international footballers.

He said: “When I was training at Deakin & White I was trying to figure out how to get my name out there. Being a football fan, I thought if I could get one player in then it would help promote my work.

“I tried to contact a few players via Instagram, and Oliver Burke was the first one to take me up on it, when he was still at Nottingham Forest.

“He asked me to drive to his house to do the cut. After that I guess he went to training and got a good response from the other lads, because more and more of them started coming.”

Brad now counts many of the Forest squad among his regulars, including Matty Cash, Tyler Walker and Ben Brereton, who either visit the shop or get VIP home visits.

He said: “I was so nervous when I started working with them, but now they are like mates and it comes just as easily as doing any of my friends’ cuts. It’s still surreal when I see my work on Sky Sports though.”

Recognising the quality and dedication of Brad’s work, players have even returned the VIP treatment, ushering him into the jet-set life when they go overseas.

Brad said: “It started when Oliver asked if I could go to France to cut hair for the Scottish Under-21s when they were getting ready for a tournament. I dropped everything and got a plane the next day, all paid for by them.

“It’s amazing, one of the best things I’ve ever done, and now I’ve travelled all over to work with a few of the England youth squads too.”

Brad is already living the dream which started when he at Bennerley School.

He said: “I was a Saturday lad at Egos Hairdressers, and that inspired me to go into it as a career. I was already cutting my mates’ hair, but then went through all the training at Deakin & White before going on to Aspire in Sandiacre.

“I liked watching other barbers’ work, the environment, and changing the way people look. The best thing about the job is making other people feel good about themselves.”

The lessons Brad has swept up along the way all seem to be paying off now he is running his own business, which opened in September.

In May, Knight&Co was named Barber Shop of the Month by the online booking service Nearcut, which is used by shops across the country, with awards going to the highest grossing shops.

Brad said: “We’re doing everything we can to win new customers. That’s the biggest challenge, making sure people know we’re here —and doing all that extra work while making sure that every hair cut is perfect.

“We’re now getting clients who will drive 40 minutes to see us, all ages and all different styles. The key is to listen to your customers, understand what they want, and make them comfortable.”

A relaxed style is key to the success of the shop with clients playing pool or Xbox games while they wait.

Brad is backed up by stylists, Aaron, Tom and Liam, and seems to have taken his management approach from some of his famous clients.

He said: “Starting my own business at this age could have been stressful, but they make it easy for me. We’re a really strong team.”

The shop is open Tuesday to Saturday, cuts start from £9.50, beard trims from £2.50. For more information and bookings, visit www.knightandcobarbers.co.uk.