Black History Makers: Meet the barber supporting business in Hackney
- Credit: Slider Cuts
Mark Maciver decided to become a barber at 13 when he picked up some clippers and cut his own hair, with horrifying results.
Despite his initial failings, he continued to trim hair for himself and his relatives and friends, and now owns his own hairdressing shop in Hackney.
Mark got his first job aged 18 at a barbershop in Holloway and three years ago he opened SliderCuts, which has played barber to many celebrities, including rapper Stormzy and boxing champion Anthony Joshua.
The 36-year-old said: “I was always looking at people’s hair on TV shows when I was younger. I was tired of home haircuts, and always dreamed of getting the hairstyles of TV stars when I got older.
“I feel really good about my achievements. It’s not something that I ever planned or expected. I’ve always worked to the best of my ability, and to get this recognition, I do feel very blessed.”
This year, Mark, who grew up in Camden but has lived in Hackney for 10 years, was put on the Top 25 Entrepreneurs List for the Black Business Show.
He fondly recalled trips to Hackney as a schoolboy, when his mum would buy him yam and plantain from market stalls.
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Mark said he was sad to see these businesses start to shut about 10 years ago as rents rose and Hackney became more gentrified.
As an employer of nine Black barbers, as well as Black receptionists and runners, Mark said he wants to do everything he can to help people in the area succeed.
“What’s really important to me is supporting local businesses and supporting people who are like me. People used to say to me that Black businesses can’t work, and they used to doubt us.
“I’ve always wanted to prove that we can have a successful business that is Black owned and Black run. It’s been one of my proudest achievements to provide people with jobs and good earnings.”
When the pandemic hit, Mark said he was reminded of a period 10 years ago, when he watched other Black entrepreneurs lose hope and consider closing their businesses down.
He took it upon himself to encourage them not to give up. He used his Instagram platform to post tips about sustaining a business during lockdown by looking into universal credit or speaking to landlords.
Then, in the middle of lockdown, Mark said Black-owned businesses saw a new wave of support sparking from the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020.
He said: “‘It’s the hot moment. Black businesses are getting a moment in the spotlight. I think because of that more people in Hackney are trying to support these businesses.
“Hackney has always been bubbly, but it’s now become a lot trendier. Shop owners need to use that to their advantage and do things that will help their businesses to last beyond this current moment of popularity.”
Looking to help shape the future of Black business, Mark employs a handful of young runners to help around, teaching them life and employment skills.
He said: “I’m doing my part, using the platform I have to help. I want to teach kids and keep them out of trouble by giving them skills and putting money in their pockets.”
He has set up a partnership with Youth UK, where he will run training sessions with aspiring Black entrepreneurs in the coming months and years.
While older stores, which once accounted for the Black community’s presence in Hackney, have closed, Mark said he chooses to focus on the future, where Hackney’s Black history will continue to be written.
“I hope there can be a resurgence,” he said, “Not just in Hackney but all over London. We have gone backward in a sense because Black-owned businesses and market stalls used to be everywhere.
“We need a big leap forward, and I’ll always be doing my part to make that happen for the next generation.”
This article was written as part of our Black History Makers series. For more articles in this project, see the Hackney or Islington Gazette edition of December 9.