Five years ago, after a leg injury forced her to give up football and taking many different career paths, Leah Hayden Cassidy first picked up a set of clippers. She has since been dubbed one of Ireland’s most successful barbers and is one of the most recognisable names in modern barbering.
A well-travelled soul, it was in Berlin where Hayden honed her keen eye for fashion and developing her simple, clean, and editorial vision—a style which has become her trademark. Now based in London, Hayden alongside her girlfriend, a fashion stylist, inspire each other—creating projects merging both hair and contemporary fashion influences.
Despite barbering being a male-dominated industry, Hayden believes any hardships can be overcome and turned positive, she told BarberNV: “We all face challenges, not just by our gender but in our industry as a whole. It’s all about confidence for me and once you believe in what you are doing, I think it will shine through no matter what gender you are. I see myself as an equal to everybody and I’ve never played the ‘female barber’ card. I’m a barber and I let my work speak for itself.
“When I started there weren’t very many females in Europe represented in the areas of platform and education. And now, I’ve seen a huge rise in females believing in themselves and pushing themselves to the highest standards in this industry. I think the biggest thing is to support each other. We’re coming into an age where gender is less of an importance.”
Hayden became addicted to barbering even before picking up a set of clippers, as she recalls: “I remember maybe six months before I started barbering, I was following the likes of Kevin Luchnmun, Alan Beak, and some other talents. Observing how they created their work and following them on social media really inspired me.
“A lot of people ask me how I’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time and I think it’s a lot to do with my passion for the trade. I love that no matter how much you learn you will never know everything, it keeps things exciting and keeps me motivated to keep pushing myself.”
Her talent has seen her performing on stages across Europe, alongside industry titans. Last year, she was appointed to the Andis Education Team. Education has played a large role in Hayden’s formative development—something she is keen to pay forward. She told BarberNV: “My mam is a facilitator/teacher and a lot of my family are involved in different aspects of education. My first major in University was elementary school teaching. Later, realising it would limit me to teaching in America, I switched majors to psychology.
“I feel very passionate about spreading any knowledge I have and helping people understand and grow. I truly believe everybody has something to share, especially in this industry. We all cut differently and we all have our tips and tricks.
“My goal is to share as much information as I can with others so together as an industry, we can raise the standard of barbering. I was lucky enough to make some amazing friends in the industry early on in my career who shared everything with me, and I want to do the same.”
The desire to educate, tempered by her upbringing permeates through her social media presence. Having started her YouTube channel last year with the goal of spreading more knowledge through longer, more engaging videos—owing to the fact Instagram doesn’t allow for the same depth as YouTube. Hayden has learned a lot through hairdressers and barbers on the video hosting site, now sharing her knowledge with her 2.2k subscribers.
“I love that visuals and art and videography can capture so much,” she said. “Instead of a 15-minute video of me standing behind a chair, I’ve tried to incorporate a mix of good music, good visuals, and helpful tips. I’ve spent the last few months travelling, which has limited my time to dedicate to my content on YouTube, but I have some really exciting projects coming up which I will definitely share through my page.”
Looking forward to the year ahead Hayden has a lot of opportunities in the pipeline. Though there isn’t much she can give away this early, the Irish influencer looks to push her creativity further, continue educating, and learn more herself. She said: “I’m still very new in the industry and there is still so much I want to learn. I’m lucky enough to be based in a city with some of the leading stylists in the world and I’m going to take full advantage of that.
“I’m really excited about this year and I’m ready to push even harder. I believe in growing and letting my audience grow with me.”