When asked about his first meeting with his wife, hairdresser Howard Rogers recounts a slightly atypical encounter. “She hated me,” says Howard.
“I met my wife in the shop and it was hate at first sight, which eventually grew to love at first sight. 43 years we’ve been married.”
Howard (65) has been cutting hair for over five decades, having started on a casual basis long before his first job in his mother’s hair salon in Burnley Road, Briercliffe, in 1968, but after a lifetime dedicated to the job he loves to this day, the DIY-loving Harle Syke barber is finally cutting back his hours.
After taking over his mother’s salon and renaming it Hair by Howard (lovingly known as ‘Hairy Howard’s’ by locals), Howard, who names the ‘amazing’ Vidal Sassoon as his idol, has a long history in the trade stretching from 1940s perms and customers travelling across continents for a snip.
“People have come to us for years,” says Howard. “I’ve got some fabulous customers, they’ve been very loyal. One of them had her first perm in the shop in 1940 when she was 12; I have a lady who travels up from Sheffield, and has been doing for 14 years. When I left school [at 15] I knew I wanted to go into hairdressing,” Howard asserts. “I’ve done nothing else, and loved every minute, and after 50 years I still love it and am still learning. The minute you stop learning in any job, you give it up. I’ve had a great career.
“The nice thing is I’m coming out of it but it’s still carrying on as a hairdressing business, whereas a lot of businesses are shutting down. It’s touching. Hopefully it’ll carry on for another two or three generations.”
For someone so ingrained in the industry, taking a back seat and working less days represents quite a change, but Howard, who admitted that “It’s taken me a long time for me to get to this [gearing back and working less],” is leaving the business in the very capable hands of Joanne Chapman – the fourth generation of hairdressers to work in the salon.
Change is part of life, and just as Howard loosens his grip on the reins to indulge in another of his major hobbies – amateur dramatics – with his Burnley FC-mad wife Joa (63) so too has the name of the salon evolved to the decidedly more discerning “Halo Hair Boutique”, where “Hairy Howard” will remain a much-loved fixture. “I’m not actually hanging up my scissors,” Howard insists. “I’ve had to go to elocution lessons to say ‘Hello, Howard at Halo Hair Boutique!”