We spoke to Joe Mills, the frontman of Joe and Co. Soho and GQ's Resident Grooming Expert on his greatest influences, the state of British hairdressing and his favourite Triumph & Disaster product.
In your own words, please can you introduce yourself and your brands?
My name is Joe Mills, and I have been cutting hair for over 35 years. I have been based in Soho for most of this time and have three different brands. The Lounge Soho which was one of the first real boutique salons in London, which we opened in 1998. It's predominantly a unisex salon which drove me to open Joe and Co Soho, which is our barbershop. It's been in Soho for the last ten years and is considered one of the best in London thanks to the team and the work we create. Last year we also opened Yard Sale which is a barbershop, vintage streetwear store combined with a record shop so basically all things I'm passionate about. I am also a session stylist and regularly work for all the big magazines working on shoots, or collaborating on articles about hair and style.
Who's your biggest influence in life?
My parents I guess as they always worked hard and were not scared to change things up if it wasn’t working.
What's the reason you think your brands have been so successful?
Hard work, careful planning, and the people around me for sure.
What makes Soho London a special location to have a store?
It’s a village in a city, it has a real sense of community, and it has always been a cool place to hang out. It has gone through many changes over the years, and it still bounces back.
What made you step into the industry?
Initially, it was as something to do it the weekend, and in the holidays, I needed a job, and i was an assistant. Then I realised that i enjoyed it and it became my focus and has been an amazing journey.
What would you change currently about the industry as a whole?
To be honest, in the UK there needs to be some kind of cohesion. The way the young talent is trained through, to how many shops trade. We need to have some kind of mandatory registration to protect us all and to be able to have a voice in the uncertain times.
How do you see the barber industryevolvingover the next 5-10 years?
I think a lot will depend on what the industry wants to achieve. I have seen a lot of positivity during covid and it would be good to see that grow. I think that if we invest in the young talent coming through then it can only go from strength to strength.
What attracted you to Triumph & Disaster as a brand initially?
I have always liked what you were doing and we needed to change up what we were offering our clients and it was a perfect fit.
Favourite Triumph & Disaster product?
Karekare Hair Tonic is my go to product.
How did you get into DJ'ing?
Through my best friend Stuart initially, then spending too much time hanging around record shops in Soho. I had a few clients back in the early 90’s that were club promoters, and it kind of just happened.
Biggest musical influence?
Originally my dad as he was always playing music and his taste is so eclectic which made me think outside of the box. Now i would say my son Milo as he is introducing me to things I would not normally seek out.
Most iconic hair style?
Rod Stewart’s shag cut as its so stylised yet has natural movement and almost that DIY feel about it.
Any advice for aspiring barbers and stylists?
Be humble, listen and watch. 90% of what we do is about relationships and managing expectations. You can't be taught this but if you spend your time being surrounded with good people, it will also make sense.
Next steps for Joe Mills, anything exciting you can share with us?
We have a lot going on at the moment. We are launching an at home hair app for London with the focus being on the salons and the team rather than just individual operators. We also have some location vans being built so that we can get back to doing shoots and supporting that side of the industry.