Conner Wickens owns Bell Street Barbers, right in the middle of Reigate. He bought the business about 4 years ago having already worked there for 2 years, while also working as a model.
“I saved up quite a lot of money in the modelling industry, but when my nan died I also had some inheritance. So I thought I could either blow it all on trips to Ibiza, or I could do something smart. I wanted to invest it somewhere, so I spoke to my boss and she said she’d be willing to sell.”
Things were fairly quiet when Conner first took over and it was just him working in the shop, but within a year he’d grown the business to full employment with four full-time barbers. To ensure everyone gets their haircut, the shop is open 6 days a week: there are early starts at 8am from Thursday to Saturday, and late night Thursdays and Fridays till 8pm.
“I like the social part of it. Meeting new people, day in, day out; learning about their lives; doing new haircuts all the time. We’ve got a diverse clientele so we’re dealing with everything from straight to afro hair. It’s never the same thing every day.”
“We specialise in skin fades – bald on the sides to long hair at the top – and there’s very high demand for those. It’s mainly just gents, but we do get some girls looking for boyish cuts.”
A born and bred local lad – honourable mention to Reigate Secondary School – Conner became a barber in 2015 after his first hair-cutting course at East Surrey College. He then went on to hone his skills at the London School of Barbering, and finished off his learning in Sunderland at Smiths Barbering Academy.
Did the lights of London ever tempt him away from his hometown? “Not at all. In London I’d be starting from the bottom and that would be quite hard, but lots of people know me here. And I like Reigate: it’s a smart town with a bit of history, a buzzing atmosphere and a lovely park with scenery that’s unreal.”
Bell Street Barbers
27a Bell Street