- Meet Craig Nolan, the barber responsible for keeping Conor McGregor’s hair fresh, clean, and stylish.
- Nolan told us he took over a dishevelled unit in Crumlin, Dublin, in 2015, only made $US25 in his first Saturday of trading, and thought he had screwed up.
- But a later association with McGregor and the Irish fighter’s escalating popularity caused plenty of traffic to his Old County barbershop in McGregor’s hometown. He now has nine stores in and around Dublin.
- Nolan cuts the hair for many athletes including Artem Lobov, Dillon Danis, and Matt Miazga. But McGregor is his most famous client and one of his favourites, he told Business Insider.
- He gets calls from McGregor at all times of the day and night as the welterweight seeks a trim before a fight, a big event, or a movie premiere.
- McGregor has been embroiled in many controversies in recent years, but Nolan said he remains a “normal bloke” and a “genuinely nice guy.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
To get Conor McGregor’s distinctive look, you need an expensive gold watch, a large tattoo on your chest which shows a crown-wearing gorilla munching on a heart, and the fresh “hard top” haircut.
That haircut was tweaked by Craig Nolan, owner of the Old County barber shops in Dublin.
As the man who has been styling McGregor’s mane for years, he says he gets phone calls from McGregor at all times of the day and night to trim the famous Dubliner’s hair in one of his many stores, or even at McGregor’s $US2.2 million mansion in Castledillon, Kildare, near Ireland’s famous K Club golf course.
Nolan’s version of the hard top and his association with McGregor helped see his Old County business flourish, with plenty of boys walking through the doors of his stores all wanting to look like the UFC fighter.
It is a far cry from 2015, when he left a good shop in Dublin to take the keys to a dishevelled unit in Crumlin, with approximately $US500 to his name.
“I tried to make it stretch,” he told Business Insider. “I went to the pound shops, [do it yourself] stores, found wallpaper in the cheapest section, and used Gumtree to find a microwave for $US40. I tried to spend what little money I had, and if it didn’t work … I was f—–.”
On his first Saturday of trading in McGregor’s hometown of Crumlin, there was only $US25 in the cash register. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, what the f— am I doing.’ I thought I’d made a big mistake.”
He says he worked 12-hour shifts through six days of the week, and “worked my bollocks down.”
After a year, things began changing and people were noticing his craft, he said. One of those people became a regular – Lee Dunphy, the managing director at The MacLife, a McGregor-owned MMA website.
A childhood friend of McGregor’s, Dunphy recommended McGregor see Nolan for a trim. Now, whenever McGregor has a big fight, a suit-and-tie event, or a movie premiere, he gives Nolan a call.
What McGregor is like, according to Nolan
Nolan styles the hair for the bareknuckle brawler Artem Lobov, Bellator fighter Dillon Danis, and the American soccer player Matt Miazga.
But on what his most famous client, McGregor, is like, he said he’s “still a normal bloke.”
Since losing a 10th round stoppage in a boxing bout to Floyd Mayweather in 2017, McGregor has attracted negative headlines – for throwing a metal trolley at a bus injuring people on board, for slapping a phone out of a fan’s hand and then stopping on it and walking away, and for throwing a punch at an older man in a pub because he apparently refused a measure of his Proper no. Twelve whiskey.
The New York Times then reported in March 2019 that McGregor was being investigated by the Gardai – the Irish police – regarding a sexual assault.
He’s one of my favourite customers and a genuinely nice guy.
The UFC president Dana White said in August that McGregor had told him it was “someone else.”
“We chat anything and everything,” Nolan said. “When you’re with him he’s normal. He’s still very much grounded. We have a laugh. He’s one of my favourite customers and a genuinely nice guy.”
After a training session at the Straight Blast Gym in 2017, McGregor called Nolan. He told him his documentary movie, “Notorious,” was premiering that night, and asked if Nolan was free to swing by his house so he could get his hair cut and styled before the red carpet event.
“I was cutting his hair for the release of the “Notorious” film and we were in his house, these cars came, and in this kitchen they rolled out shoebox after shoebox of brand new shoes. There must have been 40 or 50 different pairs from stores in Dublin.
“We were laughing away after the haircut, having a yap in the kitchen. And he asked me if I liked them. And I said, ‘They’re really nice.’ And he said, ‘Pick one.’ So I picked a pair, and he turned around saying, ‘No, no … any but them, I’m wear them tonight at the premiere!'”
In the end, Nolan said McGregor let him take whatever he wanted. “He’s a sound bloke.”
McGregor’s popularity helped Nolan grow his barbershop business
Nolan told us he “may as well have a degree in doing the hard top” because of all the foot traffic caused by McGregor popularising the haircut when he was at the peak of his powers in the buildup to UFC 205, when he dominated Eddie Alvarez in New York in 2016.
Nolan said McGregor’s successes in sport, together with his undeniable charisma, led many young boys to walk through his nine barbershops to ask to get their hair done like McGregor. Nolan estimates 90% of people at the time wanted the hard top. “Conor really did kick it off,” he said. “He had a major part in young Dublin lads wanting that haircut.”
Though he says he tweaked it from its original style more than a century ago, he is loathe to take any credit for the haircut as he wouldn’t want to be thought of as “pretentious” but does say he “pushed it along.”
Nolan said: “I don’t know if I started it. Even 100 years back, people would have a variation on it and in 40 years time it will come back in a small variation.”
On the essential features of the hard top, he went on: “It’s a shaved part with nice, strong, square contours. I use a guardless fade process on Conor to get that clean, crisp look, which he loves. It makes the head shape really strong and suits his style.”
Nolan credits McGregor for there being a boom of popularity in the hard top, too – as well as for helping him now run nine barbershops.
Nolan told Business Insider that his plans for the future include continued growth and branching out into other countries.
So, in the not-too-distant future, there might be even more young boys mimicking Conor McGregor’s billionaire strut, rocking the hard top haircut, in a city near you.
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