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Back to his Nailsea roots


A new barbershop opening in Nailsea this month at 85 High Street.

No85 has been busy recruiting staff ahead of its official opening on Tuesday, February 22.

Former Nailsea School student Charlie Cowan, aged 20, established himself as a top gents’ hairdresser working for the past six years with his dad Gary who owns The Barbershop at Clevedon.

Charlie began as a 14-year-old Saturday boy sweeping up the hair clipping and progressed to become a senior stylist.

But Charlie decided now is the time to branch out and set up in business for himself with help from aunt and uncle Joanne and Carl Eastman and has chosen to return to his hometown for the venture.

Family and friends have been working all hours to get the salon ready.

Charlie is a fifth generation of his family to be in the hairdressing trade and can trace his roots back to his great, great granddad Edwin who worked in London as a barber in the late 1880s.

Edwin’s marriage certificate, pictured, of 1904 says his profession is ‘master hairdresser’.

Even uncles and aunts followed in the trade as well as his brother Tom, 18, who has started training.

Only mum Tracy Robbins chose a different career and works as an NHS mental health care assistant although most people know her locally from the time she worked at a barmaid at the Ring O’Bells.

Charlie who has taken out a lease on the former RSPCA charity shop said: “I’ve been a barber for many years in Clevedon and have a very established clientele, and I’d like to bring it to the town I grew up in.”

Charlie who lives in Silver Street said his new base is ideal as it is close to complimentary businesses and is in the centre of Nailsea close to a free car park.

The barbershop will open in the room at the front of the premises with three chairs and all mod cons.


A separate therapy centre for massage with sunbeds and reception is being built at the back of the building and the upstairs of the cottage given the closeness to the city and airport will operate as an Airbnb.

Before the pandemic in the five years up to 2020 there was a massive 54 per cent growth in the number of hairdressing, barbering and beauty businesses opening across the country.

When Charlie is up and running Nailsea will have five barbershops and at least eight unisex hairdressers for a population of approximately 17,000.

And that’s not forgetting the number of people offering a mobile service.

This will rival a town in Kent reported for having 28 hairdressers for a population of 75,000 people, according to The Guardian newspaper!

But with modern men spending more time in the hairdressers than the pub, says a mental health charity, salons couldn’t be busier.

While a men’s bun favoured by celebs like Chris Hemsworth is a bit yesterday a ‘skin fade’ – style achieved mostly with clippers and a comb guard rather than scissors – is on-trend.

For those who don’t know a ‘skin fade; is a cut that begin almost right down to the skin at the back of the neck and slowly (or quickly) taper to longer hair as it works up your head.

Charlie said: “Many males go to the barbershop once a week now as good grooming is a priority and popular styles like a skin fade need regular maintenance.”

The barbershop at Number 85 will cater for all ages and although Charlie enjoys styling youngsters’ hair he loves doing ‘old boys’ who always have a tale to tell.

He said: “Young people are brilliant, very chirpy and vibrant but I also like people with a story and those who tell me all about their day.”

And here is a snippet about Charlie – he was born in the Canaries Islands and when he arrived in Nailsea aged four he was Spanish speaking!

Charlie added: “My barbershop will be competitive with prices starting between £8-£15.”

Male grooming makes big contribution the hair and beauty industry which currently is said to be worth more than £7bn annually to the UK economy.

Charlie already has a massive ‘fan base’ in Nailsea and Clevedon and has decided to open with an online booking system only so as not to overwhelm staff in the first month.

To book go to


TOP KNOTCH: Spick and span and ready for business with booking form and copy of the Edwardian wedding certificate of 'master hair dresser'. Charlie in the AirB&B and below burning the midnight hair oils

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