Do you consider a career as a barber an ‘old-timey’ occupation? Don’t tell that to Faiz Ismail though, who is looking to spin the stereotype on its head. Here’s how this millennial entrepreneur plans to take over the grooming world in Singapore. 

After being inspired by the rockabilly movement – and the pompadour and slicked-back greaser hairstyles that came with it – back in October 2013, Faiz Ismail soon realised that while ‘quick fix’ salons are aplenty, there weren’t as many proper gentlemen barbershops in Singapore, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Faiz’s solo pursuits didn’t come without its doubters though, especially so when a supposed mentor commented “what makes you think you can fly solo?” after the former voiced out his ambitions of starting his own barbershop. But it was never in Faiz’s nature to quit – four years since his foray into the industry, the 25-year-old is now the founder of a successful grooming business backed up by his all-men team of professionally-trained barbers. And he’s only getting started. 

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Photo: Faiz Ismail 

Was barbering something you wanted to do since young?

Actually, no. I was studying Chemical Engineering back in Singapore Polytechnic, but it was during that time that I fell in love with everything rock & roll. I loved wearing leather jackets and began sporting a shorter hairstyle too. I’ve always been fascinated with Alex Turner, the lead singer of Arctic Monkeys, and it was during my tertiary days when he changed his look from long to short hair – aka the ‘rockabilly’ moment – so that was when I started to mould my own look after him. He’s a big inspiration.

How did your family react upon hearing your decision to pursue barbering as a full-time career?

My mum was very supportive and was always there for me, but my dad hated my decision from the very beginning. My business venture was self-financed right from the start, and all I wanted was love and support, especially from my dad, but our differences built up so much over the years that we didn’t talk all that much. It was two years ago that he gave me his blessings after a heart-to-heart talk. He’s now proud to say that his son is a barber, and I’m really happy to be able to provide for my family.

Talk us through your barber certification process in Rotterdam.

It was at The Old School Barber Academy where I trained with the master barbers of Schorem, who are still a big hit in the industry today. My partner and I were the first Asians to enroll into the course and we went there with the intention to learn from barbers who have decades of experience. It was during this time that I learnt how to properly manage the guys working for me and also how to be a proper boss.

 

A post shared by DeepCuts Barber’s (@deepcutssg) on

Before opening your barbershop, you started cutting hair under a HDB block. What was the experience like?

It was actually outside of my ex girlfriend’s place – her flat was on the ground floor – where I set up my makeshift store. I was still in National Service at that time so I only charged $10 for a cut, but it was really a story of humble beginnings. Along with me, I had a crew of three other guys and everything was from scratch, from our standard of haircuts to our booking system – we actually had 10 to 15 exercise books where we wrote down our clients’ appointment details etc. It was a crazy experience, but I wouldn’t trade that memory for anything else in this world.

Any patrons from your old store who are still coming to you for haircuts today?

Yes! We have around 20 to 30 customers who are still patronising us. And whenever they come, we always talk about the good ol’ times. It’s actually a good thing for me as it helps to keep me grounded and reminds me to not lose sight of what’s important.

Did you ever consider joining another already-established barbershop or did you always have plans to start your own?

I’ve always had plans to start my own barbershop, because sometimes I feel like other people don’t have the same aggression for perfection and progression as I do. I’m a strong believer that everyone has to be aggressive in whatever they do because if you’re aggressive, you will never lose.

 

A post shared by DeepCuts Barber’s (@deepcutssg) on

What were some of the challenges you faced when you first started your business?

For me, it was more of an emotional struggle as I was only 21 years old when I started the business and I didn’t know how to manage people who were around my age. I was never a team player, so I always thought that I could do everything myself. But when I realised that I couldn’t do it on my own, I had to be more of a leader. Not to mention that everyone on my team came from different backgrounds and has varying levels of understanding when it comes to running a business, so it was a challenge getting everyone on the same page at first.

Negative comments are inevitable when running a business. How does the team deal with it?

Some of them will get really affected, but I never penalise them. In fact, I always blame myself first as I feel like I wasn’t a better teacher. We do have a lot of ARs (after review) where we discuss ways to learn from our mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s just work – some days are bad, some days are good. I always tell them that you just have to learn from it and move on towards becoming a better barber and a better person.

 

A post shared by DeepCuts Barber’s (@deepcutssg) on

Moving on, what’s next for you and the company?

My plan is to open a barber academy to help regulate the barber standards in Singapore. However, I’m still relatively new to the industry so I feel that I need at least a couple more years before I’m qualified enough to teach others.

What advice would you like to give those who are looking to start their own business?

Don’t give up, be patient and always be aggressive. Understand your market, your people, and your motives. Most importantly, have a strong belief in whatever you’re doing.

This article was adapted from the September 2017 issue of Teenage. 

DeepCuts Barber’s is located at 61 Kampong Bahru Road, Singapore 169368. Visit www.deepcutsbarbers.com to book your appointment today. PS: Do you know someone who has an inspiring story to share? Tell us in the comment section below, or drop us an email at [email protected]!

More related stories: How One Student Sailed Around The World On A Year-Long InternshipLocal Artist Shares About Pursing His Passion Beyond SingaporeMillennial Lady Boss Spills On What It’s Like Being A Kopi Hawker

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Between exam crunch time, assignment deadlines and juggling everything else in between, most would inevitably choose to sacrifice their sleep – where else would you have the time to do everything else, right? While we don’t advocate giving up a good night’s rest (try to get in at least eight hours of snooze time every night!), we’ve found some ways to improve the quality of your sleep so you can wake up feeling as refreshed as possible. 

Cut back on screen time and other distractions

There are many studies talking about how the light from electronic devices can affect your sleep (more on that later), but making sure your bedroom is free of distractions is the first step to ensuring good quality of sleep. Using your phone as an alarm clock? Place it far away from your bed to avoid getting sucked in to the endless scrolling that is Instagram/social media. Similarly, shut off your laptop/tablet to reduce the temptation of binge-watching your favourite dramas – basically, make sure there’s nothing for you to do in bed other than sleep.

Filter your lights

Having trouble hitting the sack? Try reducing the amounts of blue light you expose yourself to in the late afternoon and evenings. Present in natural sunlight and emitted in large amounts from electronic devices, the bright lights from your various gadgets might be affecting your circadian rhythm (the body’s natural clock that tells your brain when it’s time to sleep) and tricking your mind into thinking that it’s still daytime. If it’s unrealistic to stop using your gadgets an hour or two before your bedtime, toggling into Night mode on your phones or dimming down your screens should help your brain adjust to your bedtime. 

Control your food/drink intake

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or heading to the kitchen for a midnight snack, avoid heading to bed on a full stomach or going to bed hungry to reduce the risk of sabotaging your own sleep with these avoidable bodily urges. This means controlling the snacks you eat during those intense mugging sessions too!

Build a good snooze environment 

Studies show that humans spend close to 1/3 of their lives in bed, which only goes to show how important a comfortable sleeping environment is. Apart from making sure your bed is 100% comfortable, use heavy curtains to block external lights from filtering in, and keep the room temperature to one you’re comfortable with to ensure you don’t wake up mid-sleep ’cause it’s too warm/cold. If you share a room with a sibling/family member with different sleeping habits, communicate with them and find a compromise that’ll aid both of you in getting restful sleep. 

Exercise regularly

Studies have shown that people with regular exercise tend to rest better at night and feel less sleepy during the day. If you’re too busy to commit to a full workout regime, try engaging in a 10-minute brisk walk to improve your sleep quality. With that being said, avoid rigorous exercise when it’s close to your bedtime as working out will speed up your metabolism and increase body temperature, which can interfere with your sleep. In contrast, light yoga or stretching exercises can serve to promote better sleep. 

Reduce night time anxiety

The stress we feel on a day to day basis can make restful sleep difficult. Before heading to bed, it’s important to unwind and clear your mind – take a relaxing bath, soothe your overstimulated mind by reading a book, practice deep breathing, or even jot down your feelings (and what’s causing you that anxiety). Being in a relaxed state will help your mind prepare your body for a good rest ahead.  

Eliminate jarring alarms

If you’re a serial snooze-button hitter, you’d be familiar with the grumpiness and lethargy that usually accompanies your mornings. This lack of energy (despite perhaps having had a full night of sleep) could be due to the fact that heading back to sleep after being jolted awake once, actually resets your sleep cycle – you’d most likely to be in a deeper, earlier phase of your sleep cycle the second time your alarm ring. Alternatively, having an alarm ring at the wrong time of your sleep cycle can also trigger similar effects. To counter this effect, try downloading sleep apps like Sleep Cycle, that analyse your sleep and wakes you up in the lightest sleep phase for an optimum and more refreshed start to the day! 

What are some of your tips to getting good sleep? Share ’em with us in the comment section!

More related stories: 17 Places In Singapore You Can Study At Without Being Chased Away5 Pro Tips To Help You Fight Procrastination8 Easy Psychology Hacks To Get Ahead In Life

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Campus

Students Share Their Tried-And-Tested Study Hacks!

25 Sep 2017 by Isabel Pang

With mugging season in full swing, studying smart is definitely the way to go. Up your study game with these tips from top students!

Read the Rubrics

Despite complaints against Singapore’s rigid education system, that’s actually the best part because everything is governed by a rubric system (which basically means a specific academic grading or scoring system). To give yourself an edge, familiarise yourself with the marking scheme and play to that grading criteria. Find out the assessment objectives and discern which portions might play against your strengths and focus on improving your weaknesses – don’t wear your brain out on things you’re already good at.

Tip shared by Alexander Gee, ACSI 2015, IB 45/45

Simplify Memory Work

Faced with a mountain of text to memorise? Try Rachel’s method of condensing content-heavy subjects into bite-sized information onto rainbow-coloured cheat sheets that help make chunky revision less dull. She also swears by acronyms – instead of memorising the term ‘Population, Savings and Income tax’, she remembers ‘Ivy Stole Prata’ instead.

Tip shared by Rachel Lim, Nanyang Junior College 2015, A levels 88/90 rank points, NTU College Scholarship

Stepping Out of The Zone

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – while you’re assuming the hermit mugging position, remember to take breaks. Whether it’s hitting the pavement or indulging in a rich bar of chocolate, your body and mind needs this time to recharge. 

Tip shared by Titus Ong, Best All Rounder Student in Industrial and System Engineering NUS 2017, GPA 4.7

The Optimum Thinking Space

As Olivia found, productivity levels are heavily affected by your study environment. In her case, she requires wide open spaces where she can relax and people watch during her short breaks. Finding the right environment for you takes a bit of trial and error. You might concentrate better with a bit of background noise (like at a cafe), or perhaps you’d do better with easy access to snacks – even having natural light versus fluorescent lighting can affect your study efficiency. Need a list of places to study in Singapore? Check out our list of study spaces here!

Tip shared by Olivia Low, Temasek Polytechnic 2017, GPA 4.0

Collaborate With Your Classmates 

If it isn’t viable to organise group studies, why not make use of technology to conduct an online session instead? Ying Ferng attributes part of his good grades to his friends – despite living in various parts of Singapore, they come together over Skype during the study break. Not only do their pleas for help receive a faster response than through their WhatsApp group, they keep each other going throughout, and even take synchronised study breaks! 

Tip shared by Kok Ying Ferng, Ngee Ann Polytechnic 2017, GPA 3.9

Go Beyond School Materials

For those in poly/university, you’d have experienced firsthand that while lecture materials would be adequate to facilitate the lessons, the key to scoring well lies in learning beyond the textbooks. For a deeper understanding of each topic, Si Kuan cross references recommended textbooks and constantly tracks his progress against lesson objectives.

Tip from Thio Si Kuan, MSRDP Scholarship, PhD in Mechanical Engineering NUS

Learn From Your Old Test Papers

Don’t throw out past exam papers just yet! Wayne sifts through these old gems to pin point the errors he made, and plans his studying around learning how to rectify them. Not only does it help prevent similar mistakes in the future, his method also helps to track personal progress. 

Tip shared by Wayne, De Yi Secondary School 2016, O levels 4 points

 Get Your Foundation Right

Neat study tricks aside, the key to acing your exams is really laying a good foundation for each subject. Seri remains grounded and starts by paying attention in class (no matter how boring the lesson might be!) and going on from there. Whether it’s complex-looking math equations or memorising scientific formulas, you’d find that applying each one comes easier upon understanding the concept behind it. 

Tip shared by Seri Khairuniza, ITE College West, GPA 4.0

Featured Image: FreePik

What are some of your personal study tips? Share your tricks with us in the comment section!

More related stories: 5 Pro Tips to Help Procrastination, Increase Your Study Productivity With These Effective Tips, 17 Places You Can Study At Without Being Chased Away

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Campus

How A Young Local Artist Found His Voice Through Art

20 Sep 2017 by Johanna Teo

His parents might have had a career path in mind for him, but that did not stop Quinn Lum from pursuing his passion of being an artist. We speak to the university student on defying societal norms and taking the road less travelled.

“When you graduate, we are going to retire. Now we are feeding you, and in the future you have to do the same for us,” was what his parents told Quinn Lum, a student from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Like many traditional Asian households, such a “future” would look something like this: scoring straight As, getting into a good university, and eventually securing a stable job. But Quinn had his own plans.

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Not one to comply to societal norms, the 23-year-old turned to art as a form of exploration; translating his desire for artistic freedom into bold colours and abstract silhouettes. And his perseverance paid off – Quinn’s recent works have been showcased in exhibitions including the China International Photo Festival 2015, and he was also awarded the Most Promising Young Artist Award at UOB Painting 2010 and Gold with Honours in the Singapore Youth Festival Arts and Crafts Exhibition 2012.

Sitting down with the NTU School Of Art, Design and Media undergraduate, we find out what it’s like growing up in a result-oriented environment, and how he is using his artworks to create conversations close to our hearts.

How did you first discover your love for the arts?

It started way back in kindergarten. I remember my teacher instructing us to colour a Donald Duck picture. And because I loved Power Rangers, especially the green ranger, I decided to colour the whole thing green. When I brought it home, my mum, was like “How can a Donald Duck be green?”. She ended up sending me to a community arts centre where I learned how to draw and paint, and the rest is history.

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Fallen Crown by Quinn Lum

Where do you usually find inspiration for your works?

It varies from my daily experiences, but walking really helps. If I’m really stuck, I would set my phone and laptop aside, and just walk around to observe the things around me. In fact, that was how I got started on my latest work. I was walking along a path when I realised that it was brighter than usual. When I looked up, I realised the tree that once stood outside my former primary school was chopped off. Hence the name, Fallen Crown.

How would you describe your creative process?

Initially I would dig deep, and try to see what are the issues I should be addressing. If you go into the arts scene, people are interested in what they can learn from you, so finding that question really takes time. It might be painful because you’ll delve into portions of your life you don’t want to revisit. But because you face the issue head on, you’ll learn and grow [from it], and you move on.

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Report Book by Quinn Lum

 

Growing up in a result-oriented family, in what way has it impacted your artworks?

I’ve touched on the topic but not in a conscious manner. I remember there was this assemblage I did in Secondary 2 – the teacher was trying to get us to convey what we felt, but somehow I felt trapped. Like as if there was a barrier around me and it was too clinical. It was only a few years back that I got to realise this was what I’ve always wanted to say. It was my voice; and finding that voice wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

How did your parents react when you decided to pursue the arts?

It was a compromise. I told them that I was going to be an arts teacher. And they were thinking “Okay that’s not bad, there’s a stable paycheck and you can do what you like”. I was teaching at National Junior College after my national service, which really showed me how important the role of education played in with regards to the arts. And the best way to do so, I thought, was to be engaged in the arts scene before going back into teaching. So I decided on a full-time arts degree in NTU, and that brought me to where I am right now.

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32.5/40 Do Not Go Below This by Quinn Lum

What are your thoughts on the local arts industry?

I feel that there needs to be a lot more fluidity – be it in terms of freedom or expression. I also think it’s important for different communities to bounce action-and-reaction off one another. With more collaboration, communication and understanding taking place, it can really spark off something different.

Looking back, what’s something you would say to your younger self?

Back then, I was too busy thinking about how to make it big; how I could hone my craft to reach the next level. But that was a very linear thought process. Like, “How am I going to take better pictures?” But in today’s society, everyone can do that – just look at Instagram. More than anything, I would like to ask myself: “Where would you want to bring this conversation to?”, and “What would you want to do for yourself?” rather than just trying to please others.

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EXposé by Quinn Lum

What’s a piece of advice you have for aspiring artists?

Having a voice is very important. Talk about what’s next, and what can we do. You’ll definitely face pressure from your teachers and parents, but if you want to be in the arts, start doing it when you are young. Immerse yourself in the environment, meet likeminded friends, and get the conversation going.

All images: Quinn Lum/ This article was adapted from the September 2017 issue of Teenage

 

You can view Quinn Lum’s collection of artworks and photography series on www.quinnlum.myportfolio.com

More related stories: How One Student Sailed Around The World On A Year-Long InternshipLocal Artist Shares About Pursing His Passion Beyond SingaporeMillennial Lady Boss Spills On What It’s Like Being A Kopi Hawker

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5 Pro Tips To Help You Fight Procrastination

13 Sep 2017 by Lynette Goh

We are all guilty of procrastinating – which inevitably leads to frustration and anxiety when your to-do list piles up. Don’t fret, here are a few tried-and-tested tips to help you fight the P-bug and get productive instead.

#1 BREAK YOUR TASKS DOWN INTO SMALLER STEPS

Between the ever-piling workload and looming deadlines, we tend to put things off until the last minute, and end up scrambling to get it all done in one day. Consider breaking work up into smaller, more doable parts. Start by getting the menial bits out of the way, such as responding to e-mails and doing research, before focusing on the larger task at hand. Think of it as mini goals to complete so you’ll get a sense of accomplishment after each one, helping you to stay motivated. Remember, a little goes a long way!

#2 TUNE OUT DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS

You’ve gotten into the zone, but all it takes to snap you out of that smooth work flow is a tiny ping from your mobile device. Know when to set your phone aside and only allow yourself to check social media during study breaks. If you’re not comfortable going off the grid entirely, simply disable all push notifications and put it on flight mode when you get down to work.

Bonus: Turn to ambient sound generators such as Noisli or A Soft Murmur to block out distractions while helping you relax. 

#3 FIND A STUDY BUDDY

If you find yourself having a hard time concentrating while studying on your own, grab yourself a like-minded study buddy who can keep you in check should you start slipping into procrastination mode (and vice-versa). Having a trusty friend around lets you bounce ideas off one another and brainstorm solutions together, making the arduous process a less painful one. Just be sure to pick the right pal and not end up distracting each other instead!

#4 SWITCH UP YOUR ENVIRONMENT

Take a look around your current workspace – does it make you feel inspired or does it stress you out? If your answer is the latter, a change of scenary might do you good. Instead of sitting in front of your laptop all day in your unkempt workspace, head over to the library for some light reading or set up camp at a cosy cafe with a cuppa in hand. Working in a conducive environment not only helps to maximise productivity, it also puts you in a healthier state of mind to get your brain juices flowing.

Bonus: Adding personal touches to your workspace (where possible) such as plants or family photos, to your workspace will make it feel like a place you’d actually want to hunker down for hours at. 

#5 TREAT YO’ SELF

Whenever you tick a task off your to-do list, celebrate your successes – no matter how big or small – by rewarding yourself. Be it treating yourself to a meal, indulging in retail therapy or buying yourself that concert ticket to see your favourite band, make it a habit to give yourself a reward when it’s due. This gives you an incentive to work harder towards your goal, so you can go ahead and let loose knowing fully well you’ve earned the reward. You deserve it!

Featured image: Nick Morrison on Unsplash 

This article was adapted from the September 2017 issue of Teenage.

What are your personal tips for fighting the procrastination bug? Share the wisdom in the comment section! 

More related stories: 17 Places In Singapore You Can Study At Without Being Chased Away8 Easy Psychology Hacks To Get Ahead In LifeIncrease Your Study Productivity With These Effective Tips

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