When Blacon resident, Michael Langford , 31 qualified as a barber he had no idea that he would end up travelling the North West and beyond cutting hair for children with autism or other complex needs. The twist to his business “Supertrims” is that Michael visit’s children’s homes dressed in full Spiderman costume. Michael works part time currently in his specialised barbering role, but is a full time Super Hero to his young daughter. To his knowledge, he is the only person in the UK doing this role. “Mobile barbers are few and far between, but doing what I do , specialising in kids with autisms or complex needs, there are maybe a handful in the UK, but no one else goes to homes dressed as Spiderman”.
His Super Hero life was not planned. Initially working as a barber, he was asked to do haircuts for children with autism and his experiences opened his eyes to the varied needs of his young clients. ” I cut a kids hair with autism and it took me 2 days to cut his hair because he was having a meltdown, but after 4 haircuts he ended up with a skin fade. With kids with autism they have sensory issues, they don’t like the noise or the touch of the clippers, so you have to work on it, be repetitive. Most children don’t mind a scissor cut, some I can do with clippers. ” He says that many children find going to a barber shop a huge challenge so travelling to homes made it easier for children.
“The more children I was doing, the more of a struggle I realised it was for them so I decided to do more and more, children with complex needs and autism, Asperger’s, ADHD , anyone with a difficulty getting into a shop, or sitting still. I noticed there was a shop opened that had novelty car seats for children having haircuts. I thought : all children like superheroes , children dislike their hair being cut by a barber, but who wouldn’t want their hair cut by Spiderman or Superman ? I went out and bought the outfit. Now I turn up in the outfit and no child refuses, even if they’re having a bad day. With Spiderman it’s all smiles, there’s no tears. ”
Michael’s business grew as he accumulated praise on social media. ” A woman said I had been recommended over 60 times as someone who can come into the home and give a child a perfect cut with the conditions that they face. I never thought this was something that I was going to do, but the more I did it the more I realised how hard it was for the children. ” Michael recently cut the hair of a young boy called Fraser with a rare genetic condition. “He was asleep on the floor and I cut his hair laying on the floor next to him. His mother paid tribute saying:
“I don’t think you realise just quite how huge a difference you’re making to kids and their families “
“It’s grown substantially/ I’m having people messaging me from Bristol, Wigan, Crewe, Holywell , Buckley and Flint. ” Travelling across the region on his motorbike in full costume and Spiderman helmet, he often attracts attention and is a hit with the public when out and about. “I get people taking photos at traffic lights” he says. “Providing I can get to places I am happy to cut hair. The idea in the next couple of years will be to conquer the North West of England!
“I was looking at opening a shop, but children with different needs can require special lighting or conditions. This is what I’ve learned in the last year and a half from going into the children’s homes and witnessing it in person. I have been approached by people that run youth centres for children with special needs and asked if I would cut hair in their centres as well. “When you take a child to a shop, there’s a stigma attached and they may have had a traumatic experience in the past. If you take that away and go to their home, it’s their comfort zone and there’s no stigma attached.
“If the kids want to play on their tablets or If they want to play with their cars, they run around and they come back. If you restrain a child with complex needs, that’s where there can be an issue. If you give them the freedom and don’t restrain them too much, you can get a haircut out of it. I don’t mind waiting.” The children’s responses to Spiderman turning up at their home can vary: ” Some are excited, they’re smiling. Others a bit wary they don’t know what’s going on , but then they realise its Spiderman. One child said to me the other day “I know your name!” I had to take my mask off because I can’t see through it to cut hair, ” It’s Peter Parker!” Michael jokes that at times he feels like Peter Porker following the repeated lockdowns. “The main thing is they all enjoy it”. Alongside the children’s reactions, Michael has many moving testimonies from happy parents.
” I ride back home on my bike smiling and singing to myself. He describes giving a 9 year old his first ever haircut, and another parent telling him “You have given us our first memory”. For someone like myself from Blacon, to give that feeling to someone is fantastic.
In the future, as his business grows Mike is considering expanding to cut girl’s hair. He also cuts hair for the elderly or unwell in sheltered accommodation. Having been unable to work during lockdown, he says business is now “non stop” and has had to buy a second phone due to the volume of interest he has received. Inspired by his late father, Michael says that , now, “everyone is saying they are proud of me. It’s a fantastic feeling. I was seeing posts up on social media of children with complex needs being refused by barber shops, the barber was laughing and people were taking photographs and it was disgusting . The children can’t help what they are and shouldn’t be singled out. I just want to make a difference , I do this to give something back”
Supertrims, autism and complex needs barber are on facebook