Occupying 3 locations in the South Easts most vibrant locations - London, Brighton & soon Hackney Wick, the OS boys George Oakley & Joe Stevens have been on a mission to combine contemporary men’s hairdressing and a un comprisable ethos to bettering the industry since 2014.
To call OS Lifestyle a barbershop is to do it a bit of a disservice. Yes, you can bag yourself a top-notch trim but what will keep you coming back is its immense dedication to sustainable practices. They announced earlier this year that they are the first carbon negative barbershop in the UK.
As well as offsetting their carbon footprint with eco-friendly projects such as reforestation, OS even goes so far as to recycle the hair of its clientele to create mats for oil spills.
Ready to get your style on and make a positive impact?! Look no further for the perfect new 'do!
What's the story behind OS Barbers?
George Oakley and I co-founded the business in 2014. We started off running barber shops and have now grown into a lifestyle brand that provides customers with great haircuts, and top of the range bespoke and branded products. We take a lot of pride in our barbershops, which have a welcoming atmosphere, high quality service, and some of the best playlists around.
What’s your background, how did you find yourself delving into the world of hair?
We both have always been ‘people’ people and enjoyed talking, communicating, and learning about different people – and separate to this we’ve always been interested in hair and styling, at first on more personal levels. When we finished school, naturally going into a career where we could combine these two things led us into hairdressing, which over time transitioned into straight up barbering. From day one we fell in love with the industry and the opportunities it has had to offer.
What made you strive to become a lifestyle brand - and not just a standard barbershop?
It’s felt like the natural evolution of what we do and what we believe OS can offer. We had worked on products prior to the pandemic, but when it hit it offered a true downtime from what we love doing in our barbershops. It provided a unique opportunity to focus our efforts on areas of the business. Launching a shampoo bar is something we always wanted to do, and this led to the creation of our Sea
Salt and Pine Natural Shampoo bar. The product combines two of our passions – natural products and the environment. We want to continue this path as a lifestyle brand and are looking at an education platform for sustainability; wellbeing, and a collection of Earth positive t shirts.
What makes OS unique?
We’re unique because we don’t just consider the quality of haircuts as success. We look at adding value to every part of our community life, for our staff, for our customers, for ourselves. We are inclusive to everyone and hold a non-judgmental space that we believe has helped us create something special.
To date, OS has earned plaudits with the likes of ASOS Magazine, TMRW and Barber NV Magazine; and was a Modern Barber magazine finalist for the Best Team Award in 2020. But which has been the highlight of your journey with OS so far?
We’re proud of everything we’ve achieved so far but being recognised for the work we are doing to create a great working environment has to be the highlight for us. Our staff are so important to our growth as a business, so we want to make sure they feel like this is their business as much as ours.
If you could pick anyone in the world to be in your barber chair - who would you pick and why?
The beauty of running a barbershop is that we’ve learnt so much from the different array of people that come in and talk to us. We’ve had doctors, teachers, psychologists, influencers, life-coaches – and so much more. We’ve even had high profile politicians! So, in terms of non-celebrities, it’s just interesting
to have people in from different careers and walks of life that we can learn from.
In terms of celebrities, as a Chelsea fan, I would love Frank Lampard to pop in…
What can you expect when you visit OS?
We’ve worked hard on all the elements of a shop that complement the haircuts. We have very clean, Amsterdam inspired interiors, that bring in textures of paint and wood to create a cosy feeling. We have our playlists playing in the background from minute one of every day, which coupled with the interior creates our OS vibe. With regards to customer service, we pride ourselves on years of honing our craft in terms of making customers feeling comfortable in the shop and with our staff. Whether it’s drinks, meaningful conversation, or just creating a relaxing space where they can chill – we believe we have flexible shops and staff to offer something for a diverse range of clientele.
Why is a sustainable ethos so important to you?
It's been hard to ignore the issues that global warming is causing, in addition to other environmental issues. Beyond the business, at first on personal levels, we all started to think ‘what can I do differently that might help make a difference’. This quickly transcended into ‘what can we do as a business to be best in practice environmentally’. The barber industry produces so much waste, but we are living in a time of developments with regards to repurposing hair, recycling foil, and a whole host of more environmentally friendly products. This is just the start. We are only a small company, but we feel that we have a responsibility to our customers, to our local areas, and to the world that we love.
What advice would you give to other barbershop owners trying to make their workplace more environmentally friendly?
Don’t be overwhelmed by the problem at hand. Many people and businesses hear about things live global warming, and feel it’s all doom and gloom, and that they can’t help. This is not true. Start simple and build from there. Look at elements like recycling, your providers, the companies you work with, and the products you use. All easy changes to make that in turn can start to make a difference globally.
What album/track/genre do you listen to while you’re working?
At OS we don’t focus on one specific genre, album or track – there’s too many hours in the day! We try to produce extensive playlists that create an environment that our clients can enjoy. We have evolved our playlist selection to a fine balance between a diverse range of genres and relevance to amplify the OS ethos. We also love finding new music ourselves, so try to bring as much ‘new’ to the table as possible to keep it fresh. On this, we often have our clients tell us that they come to our playlists to discover new music, which is amazing.
What drew you to creating your own soap range - do you intend to expand this range with any other mens grooming products?
We’d always been keen to create a high quality environmentally friendly product, as a result of our personal interest points, and to grow the OS offering from more than just haircuts. In terms of the future, we’re looking to add to our product range over the next year or so. Watch this space!
We chose Evo because we felt connected with the brand from the beginning, We believe in Evo’s ethos, especially when it comes to their transparency as a brand. It became clear to us very quickly that the quality of the products and the impact on the planet is their priority. Most importantly, we love working with the products and our customers love them to.
What is your go-to evo styling product and why?
We love the sea salt spray, using real sea salt. It’s a great all-round product that adds texture and volume and is perfect for all hair types.
Something you’d like to see more of in the industry?
We believe the barber and product industries have an important role to play from an environmental POV. We want to hear more businesses and brands opening conversations with other businesses and consumers to start doing the right thing and being more eco-friendly.
What does the future hold for OS?
We’re always looking to improve and build on our barbershops, products, and brand as a whole, so it’ll be much of the same as we continue to grow.