In The Chair with Mark Sproston


Table of Contents

MARK THANKS FOR AGREEING TO SIT IN OUR CHAIR, WE ALWAYS START WITH THIS QUESTION AS NOT ALL OUR READERS WILL KNOW WHO YOU ARE SO IF YOU CAN TELL US A LITTLE MORE ABOUT YOURSELF IT WOULD BE MUCH APPRECIATED?

My name is Mark Sproston aka The Shavedoctor and I am CEO of the Shavedoctor Company and Shavedoctor International Shaving School. I went into barbering in the late eighties didn’t enjoy cutting hair believe it or not but had a real passion for wet shaving as I could see half of my clients struggling with every day shaving issues.

However in those days shaves were only ever offered to a customer if the shop wasn’t very busy and you weren’t encouraged to spend any quality time shaving them, it was literally 10 minutes in and out which I didn’t like. So I decided after seeing so many men continuing to struggle with shaving that I would launch an online male grooming website offering shaving and skincare advice and recommending products that we stocked too.

We exhibited at some of the UK’s health and beauty shows shaving visitors to our stand and it was at the UK Spa show back in 2006 that changed the whole direction of the company as we were being constantly asked if we could train beauty therapists the barber shop shave. We did some extensive research and in January 2007 we launched the Shaving school teaching hair and beauty professionals and eventually barbers.

Since then I have been asked to work on product development with the likes of King of Shaves (which is where my nickname, The Shavedoc came from) , Dermalogica and Elemis to name but a few.

SO WE’VE HEARD OFF DR KILDARE WE’VE LISTENED TO DR DRE AND WATCHED DR ZEUS BUT NOW WE HAVE THE SHAVE DOCTOR, MARK BEFORE WE GO ANY FURTHER I HAVE AN ANNOYING ITCH………….. HMM MAYBE THAT QUESTION IS NOT SUITABLE FOR THIS FORUM ………….HOWEVER I DIGRESS PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT SHAVE DOCTOR AND THE RANGE OF PRODUCTS YOU PROVIDE?

The Shavedoctor is all about education, teaching professionals how to shave so that they can then inform their customers how they should be shaving properly at home if they wish to learn and should they have shaving issues.

Coupled with this we have developed a professional range of shaving products which took us 4 years of intensive research and testing on humans not animals to create containing high performing ingredients like ‘Leptospermum Petersonni’ (clever blend of lemon tea tree oil) which has powerful anti-bacterial properties for flushing out every day dirt, grease and grime.

Our Shave Gel Oil has been designed to give the skin Ultimate protection from the harsh elements of the razor blade(s) and heavily reduces shaving rash and razor burn experienced by over 68% of men around the world today.

TRAINING LOOKS TO BE A BIG PART OF YOUR COMPANY WITH YOU AND YOUR TEAM TRAVELLING ALL OVER THE COUNTRY AND EVEN FURTHER AFIELD TO RUSSIA TO DELIVER TRAINING. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR COURSES AND WHAT OUR READERS WOULD NEED TO DO TO ATTEND AND WHAT THEY GET AT THE END OF IT?

When doing my research before launching the Shaving School I found one or two training companies that were offering a 1 day course only, bring one model shave him and go home and get confident using the open blade razor, I thought how can you teach someone to shave competently and confidently by just doing one shave so I went about designing a 2 day course where the students would shave 10 models instead.

The students will have 3 hours of theory in the morning which includes H&S, client consultation, handling techniques, product training, processes and procedures not to mention help and support of how to get the most out of marketing and delivering the wet shave in their business. The students will gain either a Gold or Platinum certificate depending on their ability shown over the 2 days and is fully recognised with leading Insurer TowerGate through the Hiscox group.

We look to get a good mix of models too from young to elderly, Caucasian and black skin, head shaves and beard shaping so that the student will feel confident in shaving any client without hesitation. We deliver 95% of the Shavedoctor courses at our clients premises and we have a training base in Staffordshire and West London should they wish to come to us.

In 2013 we launched our first Shaving School overseas in Greece and in April this year were very proud to launch Shavedoctor Shaving School in Moscow with more overseas shaving academies planned in 2016.

WE HEAR SO MUCH ABOUT TURKISH SHAVES, HOWEVER IN YOUR HUMBLE OPINION WHICH COUNTRY DELIVERS THE BEST SHAVE?

I have to say that I have had some great shaves from barbers all over the world and have experienced some bad ones too however the UK, US and Italy rank my best.

THERE ARE SO MANY BLADES ON THE MARKET FROM THE WELL KNOWN WILKINSON SWORD THROUGH TO FEATHER AND DERBY’S CAN YOU TELL US IS THERE A DIFFERENCE AND IF THERE IS WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN WE ARE TALKING TO OUR CLIENTS?

I have used many razors that will accommodate many different blades however I always prefer the Tondeo blade. The blade is engineered and made in Germany and unlike the Wilkinson, Derby and Mekur blades they are a lot thicker and have the gothic arch cutting technology rather than the bevelled edge which means the blade stays sharper and lasts upto 4 times longer and the client will get a more comfortable and closer shave too.

With thinner blades the majority of them have been manufactured with a microfilm layer on the top which supposedly protects the blade but once this microfilm layer has been worn down and usually from the first shave (pass) it will go blunt fairly quickly especially on a strong beard and you are then having to replace that blade with a new one half way into the shave.

SO WE CAN ATTEND YOUR COURSE WE CAN BECOME STOCKISTS OF YOUR PRODUCTS BUT WHAT IF ANY ARE THE REGULATIONS SURROUNDING DELIVERING A TRADITIONAL SHAVE?

There are currently no regulations however when we attend events in the Chelsea and Westminster area we or our client will have to apply for a temporary barbering licence to enable us to deliver the shaves, I have not come across any other authority in the UK where we have had to do this and we have trained in every county in the UK.

In our training courses we do spend a little time on this subject and we make our client (student) aware that they MUST inform their insurance company that they are looking to introduce the wet shave to their business, some insurers will just add it to the policy without charge and a small number will increase the premiums by as little as £40 per year.

YOU’RE AN EXPERT AT THIS MARK, CAN YOU LET US IN ON SOME TRADE SECRETS ON HOW TO ACHIEVE THE BEST POSSIBLE SHAVE?

Exactly, they will stay my trade secrets, no joking apart preparation is so important in delivering the wet shave not enough time is spent in softening the hair and massaging the skin which stimulates blood flow before the first hot towel goes on.

Secondly client consultation, where simple questions about your shave regime is not even asked, you must get to know how and how often your client shaves including do they experience shaving irritation themselves when shaving at home.

We ask 15 very important questions before shaving any client and this will then tell you how you shave them and for how long as you don’t want to over work a client’s skin that only shaves twice a week or less which is what we call ‘sensitized skin’. Advising your client how they should be shaving at home is always a winner, your client will thank you for giving them shaving advice that they probably never had from their father and they will be back for more for sure.

SO YOU’RE SAT IN THE DELOREAN TIME MACHINE NEXT TO DOC BROWN YOU HIT 75 MPH AND FIND YOURSELF IN 2021. WHAT DIRECTION DO YOU SEE THE INDUSTRY GOING OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

Do you know I get asked this question all the time, I see a huge growth in ‘male grooming’ salons and I see an explosion over the next 5 years where men want not just a haircut but other regular services like wet shaves, hair removal, pedicures and even manicures as the demand in the wedding market for Grooms to look their best on the big day continues to rise.

The male grooming industry is currently booming and has grown 25% year on year for the last 5 years and this is set to continue until around 2025 as men are now more in tune to how they want to look and feel and that includes our bearded men too as beard shaping in barber shops has become extremely popular together with beard shaping products.

Its also really good to see that barbering is not playing ‘second fiddle’ to the hair salons too and that barbers across the world have an opportunity through new and specific barbering events and specialised magazines to showcase their talents of which their clients will get to see too, so it is really taking barbering to another level and long may this continue.

SO WHAT’S NEXT FOR SHAVE DOCTOR WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM?

Well, 2016 is going to be a really exciting year as we have just signed a 5 year exclusive distribution deal with a large US distributor to sell our brand new NEO and AVA razor that uniquely delivers the Shavedoctor Shaving Crème through the blades which is housed inside the razor handle itself, there is no other razor like this in the world so we have been told we are bl**dy brave as we will be going up against Gillette who have 86% of the shaving monopoly globally.

Infact as I am writing this we have been informed by FHM editorial team that we have received a runners up award for ‘BEST RAZOR LAUNCH 2015’ so feeling delighted and very proud of the team and what we achieved in a short space of time.

We are also launching into India, Australia and China with our razors early 2016 and on the training front will be launching our 3rd overseas academy in Sweden.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST MARK, WHERE DO YOU DRAW YOUR INSPIRATION FROM AND WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESS?

I get inspired by seeing the students I have trained since 2007 shaving with confidence and competence and that rewards me immensely. Some of my students who have attended my courses have arrived not knowing how to hold a razor never mind shave a client and to see some of them now is inspiring.

Hearing every day from new Shavedoctor consumers that have had shaving issues before using our products they are no longer suffering with shaving rash or ingrown hair problems also inspires me to create and develop more products as the trust and credibility grows in the Shavedoctor brand.

If I had to point out any weaknesses it is my inability to say NO and can sometimes take on too much work because I like to help and support people where and when I can even if it doesn’t benefit me, some might say that is a strength although my wife wouldn’t say so.

I would like to think my strengths are; Passionate about the industry I work in and my clients and their customers, Extremely hardworking and focused which I need to be as we continually grow the brand globally, Don’t Take No for an answer, Ambitious and motivated.

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