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This 16-Year-Old Singaporean Runs His Own Barbershop & Inspires Us All

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Siti Ayeeshah Zaki •  Jan 04, 2022

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Irian Firqhan, 16, is a work of wonder. Through determination and a lot of passion, not only has he been able to focus on his studies, he's also a proud barber at his very own barbershop! THETRUEBARBERSHOP was set up by his parents after they noticed that their teen was serious about pursuing a career in barbering. Now, Irian is one of the three young barbers at THETRUEBARBERSHOP, cutting and styling men's hair in their free time ?

Irian Firqhan, The 16-Year-Old Singaporean Barber

Juggling studies and barbering is undoubtedly no easy feat, but Irian has managed to do it. According to Irian, his passion for barbering began as early as 12-years-old:  ''My father always brought me to get the 'gentleman haircut' as early as 12-years-old, so I've been familiar with this detailed haircut since then. However, since I was really young at the time, I didn’t know the interest had been imbued in me. As years went by, I found friends that shared the same interest in haircutting, which I felt was another push of encouragement for me to pursue this as a passion.''

The Corridor Barbers

At age 15, Irian began to learn hair cutting and styling with his friends. After a while of cutting and styling each others' hair, they decided to go to an academy to learn the basics of hair cutting and styling before supplementing their education with youtube tutorial videos!
[Shown: Corridor hair cuts!] Credit: THETRUEBARBERSHOP

Although the journey was tough, he grew in confidence and skill and began to branch out and cut his family member's hair: ''My very first haircut was bad. Although I knew the method (it seems easy to execute a fade in videos!), it's totally different when you go hands-on. The very firsthaircut I carried out was on my father’s close friend. The anxiety and the fear of your first hair cut on somebody’s hair... It was totally a stressful episode. It was not disastrous but given the little confidence I had, it was a big thing for me. It was the longest cut ever and I will never forget it. Fortunately, at the last bit, I managed to salvage the haircut!''

[Shown: Corridor hair cuts!] Credit: THETRUEBARBERSHOP Expanding on their mini business, Irian and his friends decided that they needed a space to practice their newly-learned skills. Using the corridor space right outside his room, he managed to get a mini barbershop set up. Citing his parents' support, he mentions, ''they (parents) even allowed me to use the house's electricity for all my lightings!'' Even his neighbours joined in and supported his mini venture. Providing outdoor chairs for his customers to sit on, Irian and his friends felt encouraged to push for more. Talk about that kampung spirit!
[Shown: Corridor hair cuts!] Credit: THETRUEBARBERSHOP

''I was lucky to have very encouraging uncles. Some even provided me with chairs for my cutting, ring lights and such. It was not a grand setup but it was decent enough for me to pursue my passion and gain all the experience I needed to overcome my fear of my haircut's end result,'' Irian told HHWT.

Running A Barbershop At 16

Seeing his passion grow and truly flourish, his parents, who were already running their own food stall business in Geylang, decided to open a barbershop for Irian and his friends, 2 other barbers: Jufri and Naufal. ''Seeing his hard work and efforts in studying for his N-Levels while juggling his passion...It was something we were very proud of. Since the other 2 barbers were also doing other corridor haircut businesses and working part-time as barbers, we decided to build a platform for these boys to earn money while attending school,'' Ayu, Irian's mother told us.
Credit: THETRUEBARBERSHOP

When asked what it's like running his own barbershop, Irian tells us, ''It’s always fun working in a barbershop. But when we started THETRUEBARBERSHOPSG, the fun came with a pinch of difficulties. Seeing that it’s an investment that my parents forked out on, the pressure to ensure the barbershop runs smoothly, ensuring the service is topnotch as well as the need to have customers come back is indeed tough. However, we managed to make it work!... Overall, working in a barbershop is enjoyable. It’s a place where I can work my skills while meeting and conversing with people from all aspects of life.''

Credit: THETRUEBARBERSHOP As of last year, Irian has completed his N-Levels and is currently waiting for the April 2022 Higher Nitec intakes! However, balancing the two didn't come easy at first.

''Back then it was a real juggle between school and work. I had to excel in both. I didn’t want to disappoint my very supportive parents who trusted me with my own time management, so I could only work part-time at the barbershop after school on a minimal number of days per week. On other days, I’d be home for my revision. As and when there is a haircut request, I would just cut hair right outside my house.''

Irian is so passionate about barbering that he does not have a favourite haircut! He believes that every haircut is important, and needs to be treasured to its fullest: ''The weird thing about being a barber, you can't really choose one specific haircut. Every haircut carried out has to be with the fullest of spirits, as this concerns the customer's hair. They say hair is always one’s main pride. As such, I do not have a specific favourite haircut; every haircut on every head is precious.''

Hair Styling In Irian's Future

When asked whether he would pursue this in the future or move toward other passions, Irian tells us: ''I definitely will choose barbering. It is something that I've always wanted to pursue, which is why my parents were willing to risk and invest in this business, although they have zero knowledge of it. Despite all the struggles I have gone through, I will always choose barbering over and over again. It is a passion that I have been building and will want to keep on pursuing this forever... Barbering has brought me many new friends, too. Be it customers or other barbers; it is always fun getting to know people from different walks of life. It is not all about the hair... It is definitely more than the hair when you're a barber!''

Credit: Irian Firqhan from THETRUEBARBERSHOP

Having had such a fantastic time pursuing his dreams while juggling his studies, Irian is confident that teens his age should be able to do the same.

''To the rest of the teenagers my age, chase after your dreams no matter how many times you fail, you will still get there because time is all you need. Never give up and never take things for granted, especially the support of your parents. Believe in what you can do, set your priorities right and never lose your focus. Never risk your education for passion because it is possible to grasp success for both if your vision is set forthright.''

What an inspiration! If you're interested in getting haircuts from THETRUEBARBERSHOP, head down to their Instagram  to check out the very talented teens' haircuts and maybe book yourself a haircut! ?