Aotearoa’s Top Barber Tee Tupara: We catch up with Tee Tupara who has just been awarded the Editorial Barber of the Year for 2021. Tee is part of the impressive Mancraft Barbers team which operate out of two Barber shops in Taupo and Rotorua. Tee is also a previous winner of the Jasmine McBeth Scholarship!
Congratulations on taking out the biggest barbering Award in Aotearoa, how does it feel to achieve this?
It feels amazing and I am extremely honoured to win this award knowing how much talent there is in Aotearoa. I still can’t believe it.
Tell us about yourself, How long have you been barbering and what attracted you to this amazing profession?
I am relatively new to the barbering industry, I started my hairdressing apprenticeship at our sister salon Cremebrulee Hair Beauty Salon 4 years ago where I was fortunate enough to be a finalist for apprentice of the year and to win the Jasmine McBeth Scholarship.
I have had the opportunity to help out at Mancraft Barbers and fell in love with everything barbering has to offer from cutting, styling and beard work. I still think it’s amazing the different transformation on a male from when a client walks in to when they leave my chair.
What Men’s Cut are you really loving at the moment and what is your all time favourite Men’s Look?
I am loving the low tapered fades with a short to medium textured top. It’s clean and edgy. I’m still a fan of a good old mid fade with a slick back quiff or pom with a side part that gives a clean and sharp look.
Mancraft Barbers has a very cool name, does the salon vibe reflect that, what makes the salon tick, and why do customers keep coming back?
I agree with you on Mancraft Barbers being a cool name. It most definitely reflects that from the decor to my amazing and talented team mates. We are fortunate to work in such an awesome fitted out shop but I must take my hat off to our “boss lady” who designed such a cool shop to work in.
I know that our clients come to us because of the whole manly experience they receive from the time they walk through our door, till the time they leave. There’s always a cool vibe in there!
Where does Aotearoa’s Top Barber Tee Tupara get her inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from my teammates. I am surrounded by so many talented barbers that have worked around the world with 20+ years experience.
The Mens market for grooming products has just exploded recently, what products do you like & recommend to your clients?
We work with awesome products from Reuzel and Redken. I love that we have something to help guys with all hair types no matter what age you are. Using styling products just finishes off our cuts.
Talking about clients, what are they asking for right now, are there any new trends coming through?
The ‘undercover mullet’ has been on the request books a lot lately from students going back to school to adults for work that still want a bit of fun in their everyday hairstyle.
Getting back to your big Award, what tips can you offer other barbers who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t be afraid to think outside the square. Find that perfect model, he’s usually a local and sitting in your chair. When you come up with that 1 idea let your creative juices flow then execute it well.
Make sure you have an awesome photographer, we were lucky enough to work with the amazing photographer Fiona Quinn, our stylist Kiri Donaldson and our boss Patreece Corban who has been a recipient of Le Male several times .
Everyone has their own secret weapon what styling tools do you use?
My favourite tool to use is my old school cut throat blade, it gives me sharp clean lines which finishes off a precise cut. I also think it helps that I have a hairdressing background because it gives me an advantage having professional colour knowledge so I can create the complete look.
So where to from here, do you have any exciting plans for the future?
Short term goal is to complete my barbering apprenticeship and to hopefully keep this beautiful trophy in one of our Mancraft shops so I am working on that right now.
So where does Aotearoa’s Top Barber Tee Tupara like to go to chill out?
I’m quite keen to sneak down to Queenstown with my little man in my life during the winter months. I have never been down there during that time of the year or hopefully Fiji opens up sunshine and cocktails at the poolside with friends.
Footnote: Mancraft Barbers incorporate a special kids area where they do ‘kids cuts’ on a motorbike & a police car. They also have a mancave where they do mens facials, pedicure, manicure, all waxing, ear piercing, basically all Mens Grooming is on offer… the complete package!