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Opening his own barber shop is a dream come true for former Saks apprentice


Former Saks Apprenticeships barbering apprentice, Nicky Tolhurst, realised his dream of opening his own barber shop, establishing Origin Barbers in Snodland, Kent.

This was the result of years of hard work, determination and passion which began when Nicky, who was 14 at the time, started helping at his local barbers.

During the early years of his blossoming career Nicky found it hard to find the support he needed, commenting that:

“My school weren’t very helpful in helping me pursue a career in barbering. Even though I’d already been helping in a barber shop since I was 14 and was really enjoying the atmosphere, they were trying to push me towards a career in construction or computing which really isn’t something I’m good with.” 

Luckily his dad was as supportive as they come and encouraged Nicky to follow his passion with some fantastic advice:

“If you can find a job you love, your never have to ‘work’ another day again!“.

Nicky’s dad found Saks Apprenticeships online and they enrolled him onto the apprenticeship scheme to help him develop the talent he obviously had and hone his self-taught skills.

Nicky, who earned an amazing distinction level pass, the highest possible grade in his barbering apprenticeship, remembers his time with Saks Apprenticeships well, saying:

I enjoyed my time with Saks Apprenticeships a lot, the assessors who visited the workplace were well trained and professional and went about their work in a discreet way to not draw attention to us in the shop or cause a disturbance. 

They took into account the way I was being taught in the shop and didn’t try to change it but added some different techniques and ideas that I could try.

The training he received, not only from the apprenticeship but also the talented and experienced barbers he worked with during his work-based training, helped him to achieve the highest accolade available, his distinction pass:

Saks Apprenticeships helped me get to where I am now by just being so supportive and thorough.

We covered all aspects of barbering in detail which gave me confidence in my abilities, and they also helped me secure work placements at 2 different barber shops where I was lucky enough to work under 3 very talented and experienced barbers from whom I learnt so much, they all had their different techniques which helped me become a much better all-round barber.

The support he received from his educator went beyond just teaching him the skills, knowledge and behaviours to become a fantastic barber, which also helped him learn and changed his life in doing so:

The support I received from Saks was life changing really, I’d always struggled with school and had put up barriers to learning after being humiliated in class a few times by teachers who assumed I was stupid.

It was my Saks assessor who first diagnosed my dyslexia and helped me understand why I had struggled so much in school.

She arranged for all my printing to be done in a different colour which helped my reading and she also taught me how to use the voice activation button on the computer to help me type by speaking. She also recognised the way I learn was very visual and encouraged me to carry on watching and copying as opposed to reading and trying.

All this training and support alongside Nicky’s own determination and passion was building up to Nicky opening his own salon, where he could develop his own individual brand and bring his ideas to life, and when the opportunity came up he grabbed it with both hands. “It was perfect for what I had in mind and I managed to refurb and rebrand the shop in only 4 weeks”.

Now that he is fully established in his relaxing and modern barbers shop, Nicky is looking to the future and will be hoping to expand his team and give new barbers the same chance he has had very soon. In the meantime, he offers some amazing advice to aspiring apprentices looking to break into the hair and beauty industry.


I’d say to aspiring apprentices don’t be annoyed by the menial tasks given to you by your bosses, you really have to make yourself useful to the shop and work hard to get the respect of your colleagues and then they will see the effort you’re making and reciprocate it.

Even now I take a great pride in keeping my shop clean, offering all my clients tea and coffee, and personally greeting them and hanging their jackets up!! It’s all part of the service and important to the image I want for my shop. 

I also can’t stress enough the importance of just watching, everyone wants to get straight in with cutting but I think it was the early years of just watching that taught me the most! You learn so much without knowing, so put them phones away and start taking notice of the way your colleagues cut!! You find everything is done in a methodical order and once you know the routine and what bit is coming next you’re ready to start practicing yourself!

Congratulations from Saks Apprenticeships to Nicky and his family on supporting each other through this amazing journey from helping out in local barbers, through the hard work of the apprenticeship, all the way to the top of the game with opening a shop of their own.

We are proud to have been part of the journey and hope to be so again in the future.

If you live in the Snodland area and would like to visit Nicky’s Origin Barbers, you can find their details here.

In partnership with Saks Apprenticeships