‘I didn’t believe it. I was still sitting down when they called my name!’

International Barber of the Year, Jason O’Connor from Kilrooskey, pictured outside Aesthetic Angels in Roscommon where he works. Pic: Kieran Croghan

Congrats on your award, Jason! How did you get started in the industry?

 I’m self-taught. Then I went to Athlone and worked in Notorious Barbers with Darren Galvin (also now working at Aesthetic Angels), before working here.


What attracted you to the industry in the first place?

 I tried everything else, working in the shops and stuff, but there was nothing I really fancied. I didn’t like school, so I wasn’t going to go to college – I’m more of a hands-on learner myself.


What’s a typical day like for you at Aesthetic Angels?

It’s busy, I’m kept going. I’m from Roscommon myself too and I know a lot of people around, so now that word’s gone round that I’m back, there’s more people (looking to book).


What aspect of your job do you enjoy the most?

Meeting new people and getting to travel. There’s a freedom to it as well.


The awards ceremony was a gala event held in the UK. It must have been an exciting experience?

It was yeah, very exciting. Was a good change of pace too.


How did you feel when they announced you as International Barber of the Year?

I didn’t believe it. I was still sitting down when they called my name – I had to be told, “They’re calling you up!”


Did you give a speech when you accepted the award?

I did, yeah. I thanked everyone who sat in my chair, day in day out, all the returning customers. And of course whoever the client was that put my name forward and nominated me for the award.


How did the nomination process work?

 There were thousands that were nominated, and out of them I made it to the top five, which is when I found out I was a finalist. They’ve 50 categories, hair and beauty and all sorts. (In the barber category) there was a few well-known barbers in the industry as judges, and they looked at my reviews, social media, and TikToks.


Would you have any aspirations of opening your own shop some day?

Yeah, definitely. I’m only 19 now so I’d like to travel and live life a bit first, and then settle down and hopefully have a few shops of my own some day. I’d also like to start educating at some point as well, teach the next generation.