Tennessee Barber Expo 2021

After attending the Premiere Hair Show in Orlando, I went to the Tennessee Barber Expo for an event which focused on Barbers and our needs.

While it was a smaller show (pretty much every show is a smaller than Premiere), in many ways, it was more valuable for me. The classes offered were more focused towards barbering, instead of the hair industry as a whole.

This was the second expo, coordinated by Tyler Trotter, the owner of Clean Cut Grooming in Knoxville, TN at the World’s Fair Convention Center. From the moment I met him, I was impressed by his high energy level and personal attention to making everything run perfectly.

I know what is involved with Terminus Legion putting together a tailgate for a couple hundred Atlanta United soccer fans… it takes our group about 20-30 people to make it happen… Getting an event ready with over 1000 attendees in classes, Barber battles, and vendors from throughout the southeast with just a handful of people is really impressive.

Tyler’s personal story is a fantastic story of recovery and redemption that the barbering industry offers. He tells his story on his YouTube channel, and what he has done, and as many barbers as his actions have affected, is nothing short of a great story.

Part Seminar, Part Trade Show

One of the challenges I have had with hair shows in the past is that I had to pare down the number of classes and workshops in order to have enough time on the floor visiting vendors and bringing new equipment and products to my station.

I didn’t have that problem at the Tennessee Barber Expo. Classes were done for attendees in the morning, and the show’s vendor floor and barber battles took place in the afternoon and evening. So in one visit, I was able to attend classes with new innovations and barbering techniques, and get brought up to speed with some of the latest technical and digital marketing.

The Seminar and Classes

Tyler brought in some of the most highly regarded instructors in the industry, including LeBron James’ barber, Marcus Harvey, and Chris Bossio with Headlines Barbershops and Tomb 45 barbering equipment, who in one hour broke down marketing concepts to such basic levels that I am reconsidering my entire brand!

Jason Patridge of Olde World Barber Shoppe did the most thorough walkthrough lesson centering around cutting with shears that I can remember seeing. Shears are often overlooked by barbers, especially the newer ones. One of my favorite videos on YouTube includes a scene with a barber preparing to cut a business person’s hair with a pair of shears, trembling in fear until he finally faints!

The other cutting demonstration was presented by Wahl’s instructors, Trevor Moots and and John “Titan Barber” Carmona, who discussed the theory behind haircuts, or the “why” we take the steps we take and use the techniques we use when we use them.

“The Floor”

The main feature on the sales floor was a large stage set up for about a dozen barbers to compete in various “barber battles” and style competitions. Barbers showcased their skills in design, speed fade-cutting, and other events.

The competitions ranged through the entire event. It was one of a very few times I have seen that many barbers at one time cutting in various styles. I am a big fan of seeing others cut, just as I was a huge fan of hearing other musicians play back when I was playing the saxophone.

Various companies also had items for sale. I picked up a couple of handy items, including a space-saving wireless stand for one of my clipper sets. I know, it seems like a minor purchase, but I have been looking for one for a long time, and could not find a charging stand for this particular set. You never know what you are going to find at these shows.

Most of my time was spent at the Tomb 45 booth interacting with their barbers as they cut throughout the day. I’ve been cutting for three years, and having the chance to ask questions and get see the way their barbers approached haircuts was very enlightening.

One of my favorite guys also had a booth. Youssef the Barber, is widely known as The Dread-Butcher because of his work removing locks which have been growing for years. Cutting off locks which have grown for so long can be a tricky endeavor, and is easy to mess up.

He brought in his OnePlug charger which replaces the maze of power cords that many barbers accumulate as they add clippers to their stations (I have seen as many as twelve!).

Next Year…

I am really looking forward to next year’s show. I don’t get to Knoxville very often, and if my impression of Tyler is any indication of what to expect, next year’s expo should be even bigger and better!