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Feature Barber: Meet James McKay

Plan B Headquarters Barber James McKay“How long have you been in the industry?”

I’ve been in the industry for 15 years. I was a stylist for 6 years before transitioning into barbering. I always really enjoyed doing guys cuts, straight razor and shaves. I made the switch because I just fancied a change really. I trained in London, England with an in-house apprenticeship at a barber shop in Camden. I just recently moved to Kelowna from Penticton, but I’ve been in Canada for over a year ago. I didn’t want to live in a big city again after leaving London, but Penticton was a little too small, so Kelowna is a happy medium.

“Why did you choose to become a stylist/barber?”

Funny story… my aunt always said I was going to be a hair dresser when I was a little kid because I was always playing with her hair. I was working as a welder originally, but saw an advert for hair school in the paper and decided to go for it because I was just fed up with getting dirty really. When I saw that advert, I remembered what my aunt had said and it just clicked.

“What techniques do you specialize in?”

Combining the techniques of hairdressing and barbering is very on trend right now. I’d have to say one of my strongest skills is in doing fades. I love doing straight razor work with straight lines, mixing the sharpness of barbering with the styles of hairdressing. Old school technique with a new flair is how I would describe it.

“Describe your personal style.”

Pretty European compared to the average Canadian (*laughs). I’m a little bit quirky I guess.

“Tell us about your worst personal haircut/hair day.”

I had to get someone to stop halfway through a haircut once. You never want to tell another stylist or barber that you are a barber when you’re getting your own hair cut because it can make them nervous, but this girl was doing a terrible job and she noticed me noticing. When she asked if she was doing something wrong I said “Actually yes, can I just fix it myself?” and I did right there in her chair! I felt bad but I didn’t want to walk out with a terrible cut.

“If you could be any Hollywood movie character, who would it be and why?”

Tough one… I’m into my Marvel so I guess it would have to be Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man. Tony Stark just has a quiky, out there personality- he says what’s on his mind and he likes to party.

“If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 albums with you, what would they be?”

Some EDM by Gorgan City, because hopefully I get rescued and we can have a party. Definitely some Dr. Dre, it’s a classic and then anything by Dallas Green.

“If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only take 3 movies with you, what would they be?”

Well the new Captain America: Civil War movie isn’t out yet… So I guess I would say Iron Man, The Wolf of Wallstreet, and definitely Pulp Fiction.

“What’s your most embarrassing moment?”

I’m trying to think… Oh! The time I had an obvious rip in my jeans in public and forgot to wear underwear… I was getting out of a taxi on a night out, looked down and noticed everything was on show, so I pretty much got right back into the taxi. I had to go home and change but when I got back I received a standing ovation from all my friends which made it even more embarrassing.

“We’re not trying to pick you up…but what’s your astrology sign?”

Pieces. Not that it matters, I only really pay attention to it when it will serve some end.

“Do you have any nicknames?”

I picked up a few over here- English or plays on my name like Jamesey, J, Jim Jam, etc. I started getting the handle “The Wizard” when I was in Penticton because my haircuts are magic (*laughs).

“What’s one product you simply cannot live without?”

Layrite Cement. I just love the feel and the smell. It has good hold, washes out easily and is very versatile for many hair types. I use it myself and my clients.

See James’s bio & some of his work