Mansfield's back-garden barber turns lockdown idea into booming business
Aidan Brown had always wanted to run his own barber’s shop, so he built one himself in the back garden of his Mansfield home.
And what began as a little project to keep him occupied during lockdown has turned into a remarkable success story because business is booming.
"The response has been amazing,” said Aidan, 28, of Chester Street. “I can’t believe how busy the shop has been since it was allowed to open after lockdown.
"The first week was the busiest of my barbering career. In three days, I did 55 haircuts.
"People have been booking for months in advance. It has gone crazy.”
Fade House, as it is called, is little more than a glorified shed or summer house. But customers love its intimacy, which allows Aidan to utilise his other skills as a healthcare assistant in mental health.
Aidan, who also works part-time at the Millbrook Mental Health Unit in Sutton, feels men are using a trip to the barber’s to talk about problems that have built up during the Covid pandemic.
"I am a firm believer that a single haircut and a chat can change a person’s mood drastically,” he said.
"It is time men started talking, and Fade House will always be a safe place for them to do so.
"I feel that mental health is the most important part of a barber’s service. Lockdown has been hard on everyone, and some people just want a stranger to talk to.
"I like to get people talking about stuff, including the pressures of life. My barber’s appointments are like therapy sessions.”
Aidan has worked for nine years at Millbrook, where his girlfriend, Kylie, 33, is a trainee nurse.
He has been a barber for three years, training in Nottingham and, most recently, renting a chair at the Fellas salon in Edwinstowe.
However, business became unpredictable and he freely admits “there were some weeks when I had no clients at all”.
Covid made things worse, fuelling the idea of building his own salon, so that he didn’t have to worry about overheads.
"I did it for financial reasons, and built it in January to give myself a little project,” Aidan added.
"I was a bit sceptical, wondering if it was a good idea. But Kylie pushed me. She thought it was amazing.
"It’s a standard summer house, boarded inside, with graffiti on the walls. But it’s officially registered as a business.
"Basically, it’s a big, cool shed with awesome vibes and good haircuts!”
Aidan has been supported by friends, including Jamie Allen, who said: “Aidan has turned the negativity of lockdown into something positive, starting his own business.”
However, his customers also include people he’s never seen before, all attracted by feedback shared via Fade House’s Facebook page, where there is a link to its website at www.fadehouse.nearcut.com, and an easy-to-use booking portal.
Fade House is open every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with appointments scheduled 40 minutes apart to allow for Covid measures, such as cleaning.
Aidan added: “This is something I have always wanted to do, and what better place than in your back garden?
"It was a good idea, so I ran with it, and it has all come together.
"It is different to what everyone else is providing. Long may it continue.”