• Spotlight: Effie Manton; Barber Extraordinaire

by Jack Baxter

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to Worthy and Spruce’s brand new series of articles; “Life On The Razor’s Edge.” Over the next while we will be shining a spotlight on the great and the good in the world of barbering and interviewing some of our stylist friends to find out what makes them tick.

To start the series off we’d like to introduce Effie Violet Manton from Sweeney’s in Cremorne, Sydney. Nicknamed “Eff Violent”, she’s a magician with a cut throat razor and is making a name for herself in a scene that’s been male-dominated for too long.

Eff, tell us a little about yourself.

I come from a big family with a strong male presence, which I suppose is where I get my passionate side from. I did my apprenticeship in a local mall around the corner from my family home. The owner of the shop, Nino, was the most pedantic but sweet old Italian guy. He, along with his amazing daughter, Christine Macalister, were both absolute ninjas with the scissors.

They ran the show and forced me to come out of my shell as a sixteen year old. They pushed me to do things I didn't think I could do before and shaped me into who I am today. I’ll always be extremely grateful to them and was very lucky to have been trained by two such talented stylists

"I'm definitely pro beards. I've never had one, and hopefully never will, but I'm still probably a little jealous of guys with them!"

How’s the local scene at the minute?

The scene in Sydney is great right now. The ageing local barber and their, ‘Emergency Schoolboy Haircut’ is finally on the way out, to be replaced by classic American and London inspired barbers instead.

I always say don’t use anything over a number 2 attachment. Use your scissors and just cut it. You’re being lazy otherwise. You've got to test your skills and challenge yourself. Fade away.

Where do you stand on the ‘beard boom’ of recent years?

I'm definitely pro beards. I've never had one, and hopefully never will, but I’m still probably a little jealous of guys with them!

I love tattoos as well. I’d be covered head to toe if I had more money! I’ve got most of my legs and back done now and I just got my first barber theme tattoo on my thigh a few weeks ago. Love it! I’ve done a few myself and friends have had a crack at the home “prison tatts” as well! They’re all terrible but I love them. It’s a lot harder than you think...

A look inside Sweeney's Barbershop, Cremorne, Sydney

Where do you draw inspiration from?

Definitely from other barbers. There’s always an unspoken respect for your fellow barber. Magazines, friends, classic films and photographs all inspire my work too. At least from an artistic point of view. Forming a style takes time and a real measure of talent. I look out for that and try to put that back into my work. Regarding the recent explosion of great barbers it’s all very supportive. It’s in recognising each other’s skill and loving the game.

As for a stylistic influence, I’m an old school Ramones, punk fan at heart but like to change it up from Cat Stevens to Beyonce. I’m an 80s kid too, so 80s through 90s fashion and culture probably come into play too. That said, I just can’t get enough of that dapper, slick 1950s look. The best hair in history was hands down James Dean. I don’t know what was more attractive - the face or that head of hair!

When you work do most punters come to you with a style in mind or are they usually pretty open to your own ideas?

First timers sometimes bring photos of something ‘on trend’ or a famous person which is fine but after your second haircut you generally just have to sit there and take what I give you! I’ll bounce ideas around with you but at the end of the day I know best.

At the minute I like a tight cut over the ears with a full head of wavy hair and decent length so you can pomade the hell out of it. You also can’t go wrong with a zero cut throat, low blend fade. That suave, classic gentleman’s style. I also cut my own hair. I get frustrated sitting down for too long and don’t trust many other people’s skills.

"The whole experience of a wet shave is amazing. It’s male pampering."

What about future trends?

I’d love to see a resurgence of the Mohawk too. Seriously, I've been trying for months now…. it's going to happen. It needs to! Punk Rock Mohawks for sure.

Talk us through the cut throat razor shave.

The whole experience of a wet shave is amazing. It’s male pampering. Not meaning to generalise here but girls get their nails did and guys go get wet shaves. It’s smoother, softer and a way more relaxing feeling. It’s something that you could do yourself, though maybe not very well, so treat yourself, it’s a luxury.

What could you not work without?

I’d like to say my scissors or my favourite razor but I’m dead serious, it’s my comb. It’s magical! Then my scissors.

Is there anything you don’t love about your work?

Not really. I don’t have any pet hates or anything but hair under my finger nails, down my shirt, in my socks. I get that shit everywhere!

What are your plans from here on?

Keep cutting and have fun doing it.

Eff, you spend a lot of time chatting to punters in the chair, what’s the best joke you’ve heard?

Ha! It’s lame but, ‘What do you call a row of men waiting for a haircut? A barbecue!’. Best dad joke ever!

Effie Manton of Sweeney's Barbershop, Cremorne, Mosman

If you'd like to hear more from the wonderful Effie, we strongly urge you to pay a visit to Sweeney's Barbershop in Cremorne (394 Military road, to be exact). Or show them some love on the Facebook machine here. A big thank you to Eff and the rest of the folks at Sweeney's for kicking off our inaugural edition of Life on a Razor's Edge.

Check back soon for the next edition. Or, better yet, sign up to our mailing list below to get more cracking articles like this in your inbox!

Till next time, this is Mr. Jack Baxter signing off.

Mr. Jack.


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