Welsh-born Samantha Lloyd was the first woman to break the ban on female barbers in the United Arab Emirates.

For generations sections four to nine of the Health Requirements for Barber Shops, created by the Dubai Government’s Public Health and Safety department, stated women were not allowed to work or even be present in barber shops—the only exception being in hotels with a four or more-star rating.   

“I applied to the British Barber Association (BBA) in the UK and they passed me over to Chaps and Co. They were advertising for positions and he knew they were looking for a female barber, but this hadn’t been approved in UAE yet.”

Recognising this opportunity would open a lot of doors, not just for her own career, but for other female barbers seeking to ply their craft in the region—she immediately took the chance and applied for the Chaps position.

“I knew I would be the person for this role as the first female barber of the UAE because I’m strong, passionate, and professional with a bubbly personality. I have become known as a result of this title, as well as my skill as a barber, which is something I have always wanted in my career. It has been challenging to work in a country with such different laws and religions, but it’s incredible to be part of and I have learnt so much from the different cultures.

“It was very challenging trying to win over sceptical men who aren’t used to having a woman cut their hair. I showed them my skill, professionalism, and personality and this wins them over by the end of their service. I make the client feel comfortable in my chair and confident when they leave it.   

“There have been many challenges since I began in this role in Dubai, but I have always been strong, determined, and professional even in situations I was not comfortable in. I do not show anyone I’m afraid. I have to show strength. High standards proved to my clients I am trustworthy and can build a positive relationship.”

Despite the uncomfortable situations and an uphill battle winning over the male bastion’s clientele, Samantha has proven women can achieve anything in the industry. Through her determination against the laws, regulations, and scary challenges more doors have been opened for the Welsh barber. Breaking down social stigmas in an incredibly conservative part of the world, admittedly wasn’t the easiest experience. However, Samantha has received television, radio, print, and social media coverage and has achieved so much as a result.    

“I will continue working hard to keep my brand up there in the barbering industry. However, this wasn’t the easiest experience and especially in one of the most law-abiding countries in the world. I broke their laws and they look up to me for stepping up, being strong, and making myself a success. Dubai is known for always achieving the best and biggest, and I am proud to be a part of that.”

Despite possessing one of the most difficult career achievements, the female barber is measured, humble, and considers this only the beginning for her success. Being an asset to the region, working in Dubai’s design district alongside a collection of the most talented artists and fashion designers, Samantha was approached to help advertise a new Vans range; aimed at those who work on their feet all day.   

“These shoes are called VANS IN THE MAKING and they were designed with new grips on the sole and memory foam inside to mould to your feet. I agreed to take on the photo shoot and I used my barber shop to be more relatable to my everyday life. I had the best time and valuable experience working with the team at Vans. It was an amazing photo shoot for my portfolio and enormously beneficially to my social media brand.”

Signing off, Samantha is now on her way to Australia with big career goals ahead of 2019. She’s already made history for women in the industry, not fully content with just shattering ceilings we’re sure there’s a lot more to be said about Samantha Lloyd’s journey.   

“All I can say is that this is just the beginning of a massive project ahead. Australia is going to be another amazing journey and ultimately my career path.”