Meet John Keegan, Award Winning Barber and creator of the Ellie Comb

18 July 2017


Hi John, would you be able to quickly introduce yourself and talk us through your journey as a hairdresser? What got you hooked on barbering?

I started hairdressing at 13 years of age, way back in 1997. My uncle was a manager of a petermark salon in Dublin and he needed first year trainee stylists. I never intended to be in hairdressing but as soon as I started the job and started training a quickly relised that this industry was for me. I enjoyed hairdressing but after I qualified as a ladies stylist I left ladies hairdressing and went into barbering. I started barbering in Dublin 2001. I was lucky in a way as barbering was getting popular and creative, so my hairdressing training and barbering training togeather helped me develop my own unique style in men's hairdressing. The biggest thing that got me hooked on barbering was competing in competitions. I love getting models prepped for these shows, the buzz, the stress, the whole atmosphere. I've been lucky enough to have over 30 awards at national and international level. 


You are the proud owner of The Academy Barber and The Academy Belle, a barbershop and academy reflecting your love for your craft – which kind of courses do you offer? How often do you think hairdressers/barbers should attend training courses?

We own and operated the academy barber and the academy belle hairdressing with a training studio for both mens and ladies hairdressing training. Upskilling in our industry is a must now and our industry is at a creative high with a lot of exceptional stylists and barbers out there recreating and revolutionising our industry's looks and techniques so I would advise everyone to do some sort of upskilling or retraining courses twice a year. I myself still do this, and I have 20 years experience. The day you think you know it all is the day your career is over!
We offer men's barbering and men's hairdressing training at all levels starting with fundamentals and ending with a bespoke creative scissors course. For ladies training, we collaborate with Mazella&Palmer - we love the M&P training here and we believe in it greatly so it was a no brainer for us to collaborate with the world's best hairdressing education brand!


Men’s grooming recorded a 13% growth in 2016 as men are increasingly interested in their appearance and products that have been developed specifically for them. Have you noticed any difference over the past few years at your barbershop and academy? Do you think this market is likely to grow even more in the next coming years?

The men's market has just gone mad the last few years. It has gone so creative where pretty much anything goes hair wise now. I do think though the old red and white barbershop will struggle now - barbershops are turning into barber-salons, the clientele now wants that bit more than before. I think longer hair will make a bit of a comeback now for men or should I say more scissor cuts than razor work. The fade or razor work will still have a good place in men's hairdressing and barbering but I think that will be for a particular age group / market.
Will the grooming market grow... I can't see it slowing down anytime soon to be honest, us men we are worse than women now for grooming!


You just launched The Ellie professional Definition Style comb, specially designed for men’s styling - how did you come up with this unique design?  Are you planning to extend the range any time soon?

The ellie comb is the best comb on the market for stying men's hair - it is made and designed by a professional for professionals and their clients. I am known for my unique definition styling in men's hair and I was sick of plastic combs where the teeth of the comb would break or the size, weight and balance of these combs just were not doing the job. So I came up with making a comb from steel … yes steel with a unique slim design with an added circle at the bottom of the teeth to catch the hair in a tube like fashion and in turn, gives you the perfect definition styling. Why steel you ask … well its simple! It won't break and it's cool as hell! LOL

We are developing a whole range of steel combs and the ellie definition comb is coming out in black and white and wait for it... it is also available in 24 carat gold! We got a our first order for this for a vip client .The Ellie Definition Gold Styling comb is whopping 1200 euros but hey, we have one sold, you never know who would want one! In fact we are bringing out a 24 carat gold styling comb in September so watch this space, we will gladly give Outillage one to promo and give away on the launch of it! (Outillage note: Spoiler alert people!)

So really we have a lot coming up with The Ellie Range … Can't wait!


Which tools do you always have in your equipment bag? If you had to choose only one, which one would it be?

My favourite cutting comb is the white Mazella&Plamer Comb, I love it, it just works great! But I have to say, you can be great with cutting hair but crap at blowdrying and finishing, so my favourite tool is Y.S park blowdrying dragon brush - a must have in men's hairdressing and barbering.  

I have a massive range of tools collected over the years but my favourite for styling is the Ellie comb …clearly* 


Any exciting plans for 2017/2018? 

Any plans … where do I start lol, yes we have developed a new men's program. To be honest, I have it ready since january but we have to wait untill 2018 for this as a very big hairdressing colour brand has come on board and wants it for them, so we are excited for 2018 in the education side. We're also working on the ellie range expansion and hopefully open another barbersalon by October ... So ye we have a lot on and can't wait to be honest!


* The M&P white comb, Y.S. Park Dragon Brush and Ellie comb are all available at Outillage! Click on the links below to purchase:
The M&P White comb (worldwide shipping)
The Ellie comb (worldwide shipping)
The Y.S. Park Dragon Brush (UK only)