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Source: Eastern Institute of Technology – Tairāwhiti

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Talesha Ker loves working in Taradale’s new barber shop.

This year has been a bit of a rough ride for many, but for some it has also brought positive change; fulfilling long-held dreams, kicking off a new career and launching a business. In June, Mr M’s Barbershop opened in Taradale. Entering the salon feels like you are stepping back in time; the interior is a mix of shabby chic, vintage and industrial design. Without a doubt, Mr M’s brings a funky vibe to Taradale’s main street.

Talesha Ker (Ngāti Maniapoto) is one of the barbers who, post-lockdown and straight out of her EIT Certificate in Barber Skills, ventured into the professional world of barbering. She says that she absolutely loves her job, beard grooming and cutting hair, making clients look and feel good, but most of all the relationships that she builds with Taradale residents. “There are some pretty cool people stopping in,” she says. “I particularly like chatting with the 80 plus fellas, they can be so funny and honest.”

Three years ago, Talesha moved from Stratford, Taranaki, to Napier. She left high school early and completed an allied trades course at EIT before enrolling in an interior design certificate online. She realised quickly however that distance learning wasn’t for her.

It was a pivotal moment when her partner asked her to cut his hair one evening. “I had done this for many years and never really worried about it but on that particular day I got nervous because I actually didn’t know what I was doing.” Talesha admits that she didn’t have a clear idea of barbering but her partner supported her to find a course and she came across the Barber Skills programme at EIT. “I was part of the first intake last year and I was hooked from the get go. EIT was very helpful in a lot of different ways.”

“I grew up with all boys and was a tomboy myself,” she says. “That’s probably why barbering is more my thing than hairdressing. Also, it’s not as stressful since men are usually not too fussy about their hair.”

Talesha says that she delved into the history of barbering, finding out that barbers used to have the same standing as doctors and dentists, and are now reclaiming their place.

Talesha is working three days a week at Mr M’s and two days as a barber tutor assistant at EIT while completing her last exams to be a fully qualified barber. In her free time, she loves creating things, macramé for example, she is into crystals, nature and indoor plants, with 30 different varieties growing in her house.

“My dream would be to travel with my job and one day start my own mobile barber business.”