Blogs (Media Centre)

From Kmart clippers to a bustling barber shop

TAFE NSW Granville

From Kmart clippers to a bustling barber shop

Image by Sarah McAskill


TAFE NSW alumnus, Timothy Miller’s love for barbering started with him experimenting on friends and family using a pair of Kmart clippers. Now, he is the proud manager of the bustling Lithgow barber shop and café, Tough Grind Barbers.

Mr Miller was working as a structural draftsman at an engineering firm in Sydney, when he realised his heart wasn’t in the job. He had been cutting hair on the side and decided it was time to turn his passion into a career by studying barbering at TAFE NSW Granville.

“I started off with simple haircuts on my brother which, with time and practice, developed into more complex cuts on friends and then paying customers. I realised then that I had found my passion and needed to turn it into a career, which saw me enrol in the Statement of Attainment in Barbering to upskill.

“The hands-on skills I learnt at TAFE NSW provided me with an incredible foundation in my barbering skills that I use everyday. I remember showing off my self-taught skills at TAFE NSW, only to learn that I was holding the clippers incorrectly.”

“I committed to one day a week away from my job to complete the course, and as I continued my nine to five job as a structural draftsman, my passion for barbering grew, making my current work become less and less fulfilling.” said Mr Miller.

After a weekend away in the Blue Mountains, Mr Miller jumped online to find a job in the area. Almost immediately a job popped up looking for a barber and shop manager to start up a premium barbershop in Lithgow.

“I pulled together my CV, cover letter and some of my barbering work, and after two months of planning I handed in my resignation and moved to Lithgow.

“Before I knew it I was on the shop floor cutting hair from 8.00 am to 7.00 pm with my wife, Sarah, serving coffee and managing the administration for the business.” said Mr Miller.

In 2018 Mr Miller went back to TAFE NSW Granville further develop his skills by completing the Certificate III in Barbering.

“I was able to complete the course within three to four months, as I gained credit for subjects that I had completed in my previous TAFE NSW course, and recognition for the skills I was able to demonstrate through my management position at the barber shop.”

Three years on Tough Grind Barbers employs six barbers, three who are completing their training through TAFE NSW Granville, five baristas, and has a large clientele booking their appointments six weeks in advance.

“Our barbershop is a warm, friendly and inclusive environment, where people come not just for a haircut and a coffee but for a friendly conversation.

“We take our trade very seriously and, thanks to the experience we’ve received from TAFE NSW, have high standards for our work at all times.” said Mr Miller.

Enquire now about studying barbering at TAFE NSW or for more information about semester one, 2020 courses visit or phone 131 601.

Media contact: Emma Cawley, TAFE NSW Media Officer, or 0412 478 415