Digital Exclusive: Back to school, business for barbers

Digital Exclusive

STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As communities across the globe are weighing COVID-19 precautions and reopening, many are looking at demands and various paths forward.

Back to school is on the minds of many and after seeing this pandemic? Some are re-evaluating what they want to go to school for.

“I was pretty shocked that we had several students who came off the quarantine and wanted to come in. But then I found out by asking them what some of their reasons were. Basically they were trying to find stability in a trade that wouldn’t go away and a lot [of people] have lost their jobs,” said Allen Brown, owner, operator and instructor for Success Barber Academy and the Pocono Barbers shop along Main Street in downtown Stroudsburg.

A global pandemic taking its toll on millions from all walks of life.

“We had a young lady who was a flight attendant and she said so many flight attendants had been terminated. She wanted something more that would be stable if we had to go through this again. She would have something that would be a skill,” Brown said.

Skills that start early for many. For Zahir Jackson, this is a passion that has just recently been made official in the classroom. He’s no longer just ‘cutting hair.’

“Barbering has been my thing for a year so I actually love it. Having the clippers in my hand? Just tell me what to do. I’m doing it,” Jackson said.

So much more than a good fade, straight razor shaves and trimming. It’s a path forward.

“I’m going to open up my own shop in the future. It’s also not for me. It’s for the neighborhood I want to do it in and for the kids so we can get them off the streets. It’s my thing and nobody’s going to stop me from doing it. I’m going to keep going,” Jackson said.

While the demand is high for barbers and haircuts, it hasn’t exactly been glamorous the last few months.

“I’ve always heard that barbering was recession-proof and we learned otherwise. I can say that coming out of a rough turn in the economy, barbering is a great trade to fall back on. We are slowly getting back to where we were but that’s just the thing. People are always going to need haircuts,” Brown said.

If Success Barber Academy is the before, across the way in this downtown Stroudsburg locale is the after: Pocono Barbers. Another case of honing skills early, Sherife Curtis knew he had to take the next step.

“People wouldn’t hire me because of me not having the license so I knew for a fact that I had to get that license before I’d be able to apply myself in the barbering world,” Curtis said.

Now established, Curtis and many at the shop are free to make the most of shops being open.

“If you want to make a living, there is a lot of money to be made in hair. And you can take care of yourself in a very good way,” Curtis said.

Like other trades, barbering may not be a fit for everyone. But there’s something to be said for having a skill that, as Brown says, “will be in need as long as peoples’ hair keeps growing.”

“I don’t think that it is ‘essential’ but we’re definitely needed. That showed because when we reopened, we were pretty much bum-rushed. There were a lot of arguments because we had to have a way to set up appointments. We didn’t have the time frames for each particular haircut so there was a lot of overlapping and there was such a demand; never like I’ve ever seen before in 30 years of barbering,” Brown said.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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