Shella our Cover Girl Female Barber

About Me:

28 Years in the Barbering Industry. 

Born in the Philippines and came to Australia with my mother in 1980.  I finished high school finding it hard to find a job in the first few months and landed a job at a Barber Shop in Brisbane CBD in 1993.

My mother was a hairdresser in the Philippines but I never knew my birth father and on sign up of my indentureship I required my birth certificate and on that showed that my father was a Barber back in the Philippines (coincidence)

Realising this, my passion for Barbering grew and found out that not only was I really good at it but actually loved it. I think I found that this was my only connection with my father as I had no photo or leads to finding him over the years. 

Shella Thornton – Female Barber

I was a real introvert when young, so this job helped me come out of my shell a bit as well.

After finishing my 4-year trade with the same Barber who was a Greek barber and showed me all that he was taught by his father, I moved around a bit learning more new techniques etc from other Barbers until I moved to Sydney and worked and managed a Barber Shop there for 4 years.

I then moved back to Brisbane, met my husband had our first-born son then our daughter and was offered a Barber shop in 2010 which was a scary step, but I thought we can only try and see if it works.  

I had the first shop for 2 years then stared looking for another and found one 10 mins away.  After 2 years of having that one I was looking again and found my 3rd about 30 mins away.  I seem to have a 2-year itch and was looking for a 4th after 2 years of the last and almost got there but backed away as we noticed a shortage of barbers around and I couldn’t be everywhere. As you can see, I’m a very on  hands on businessperson which is my weakness, I try to do everything.  I have learnt to step back the last couple of years, which does help especially if you have family. Balance is key.

My husband then decided to train up as a barber to help the business with staff and after 4 years of having our third we decided to close that shop and open a sister shop focusing more on corporate clientele which is doing really well.

Last year we celebrated 10 years in Business.

Again, I really do love my job and I think that helps and it doesn’t seem like work to me but there is a social side of it as well that I enjoy.  Remembering your client’s conversation from their last haircut, watching their children grow up and the trust that they have with you for such a personal service.  Clients love the fact that you remember them as well,  I mean everyone loves to be acknowledged and remembered.  They feel like they are part of something, and they are really because without my clients I wouldn’t be in business for the last 10 years.

Shella Thornton – Female Barber

Battles:

First battle was in 2015 in Queensland Australia in which I placed 2nd.   I was actually going to drop out of it as I found out that I was the only female in the battle with 9 other barbers.  My husband encouraged me to enter and to go ahead with it and with nerves and anxiety I did and placed 2nd in Qld.

Second battle was the year after in 2016.  I got a call from the same people who organised the Qld Battle and said you are required to represent Qld, because I was in the top 3,  for the Australian Title.  So, we were in competition with the other states Nsw and Victoria.  But again, I was the only female Barber in Battle.  

So down I went not expecting to place, was just hoping someone in Qld took a trophy home, and again I placed 2nd.  Even though I see myself as being 2nd others, especially  female barbers, call me The First Lady as I was the first Female Baber to enter and place in Australia.

I stepped back a bit after that and focused on work and training my apprentices and also gained my TAE IV as there was a shortage of Barber Trainer and Educators in our industry, which I did for a year before getting back onto the floor and on the tools.

Early 2019 I got invited to go to Taiwan and represent and showcase in the Barbering Expo in Taichung which was an amazing experience and one of my highlights to my careerand have made an extended friendship with Jackson in Taichung.

Coming back from Taiwan I noticed comps were still happening but none for female barbers to register so i thought hey ill organise and hold a Female Barber Battle here in Australia as it hasn’t been done before.

So, in 2019 FEIBI AWARDS was born.  I know how it feels when entering the other battles with the guys and I did expect some back lash as to why? And my answer was well why not?

I felt there needed to be one based from my own experience.

I held it in Brisbane and popped it up on socials and opened the registration process.  I was amazed at the numbers that came through, 25 beautiful Barbettes in total from all over Australia became our finalists for the first event.  The event was a success with a percentage of the ticket sales went to Jack Reed Foundation.  With the connections with Taiwan the first place winner and myself were to fly to Taiwan which where the winner was to compete with Barbers in Taiwan but with covid it was put on hold.  Covid has also put the yearly event on hold so 2020 was put on hold and possibly  2021 as well but I do have other plans on the drawing board for the female barbers in Australia.

Shella Thornton – Female Barber

Ambassador:

So, after years In business and adding more to my portfolio, I came across  iCandy Scissors Australia looking to network so I just contacted them and after a quick interview became their first Female Barber Ambassador in Australia.  I worked with iCandy and went to Adelaide to showcase with workshops and training.

A year after that Mark from iCandy contacted me about Andis and that they were going to be at the Sydney Hair Expo and were interviewing potential Ambassadors/Educators for Australia, so in between working at the iCandy stand I went up to the Andis stand and spoke to Jessica and did a few cuts for them and gave her my card.  After a few weeks a proposal was emailed though from the states inviting me to be their Ambassador/Educator and I am in my 4th year as an Andis Global Educator/Ambassador.

“Believe you can and you are half way there”

Shella Thornton (Female Barber) with her quote 'Believe you can and you're halfway there.'.
Shella Thornton – Female Barber

Over these years and with the experience I have had with being an employee and an employer and a female Barber in a male-dominated industry, I have had my fair share of questioning from both clients and colleagues in the industry about why I chose Barbering and I just reply with, I love what I do and enjoy it and that’s all that counts, and am hungry for more and encourage and support all the Female Barbers current or are just entering the industry to ignore the stigma and to stick to your guns and enjoy your job.

About Author /

Ruby launched ZeroGapped, the magazine for the barbering women of the world, after noticing that there was a gap in the market. ZeroGapped combines her love of publishing and barbering, in one spot online.

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