The pandemic has created a health crisis along with a financial nightmare for businesses big and small.
With all indoor barber shops closed because of the coronavirus concerns, the schools that teach the trade are having a tough time.
Right now it looks like the LA Barber College could be its next victim. The minority owned trade school in the heart of downtown has been operating for over 15 years, teaching more than 5,000 students who have gone on to graduate and become licensed barbers, even business owners. But after the shutdown orders in March because of COVID-19 the school has fallen deep in the red.
Local news from across Southern California
They estimate their losses at well over $50,000. They are unable to teach and collect tuition but have continued to pay for state board fees along with utilities. With the bills piling up, administrators fear they will never be able to open again leaving so many people without the opportunity to learn a skill that could be crucial for their livelihood.
"I call it the career of second chances. So barbering can't go away because it gives minorities the same opportunity as others," said Michelle Matthews, administrator at LA Barber College. "To own their homes and cars. It would be a loss."
A majority of their students come from minority communities and all walks of life. Some even enrolling straight out of high school. One former graduate said that the Barber College taught him how to succeed and that's what has helped him stay afloat during the pandemic. He's now worried that if they go out of business it would put an end to so many people's dreams as they search for a career.
"They motivated me to be ready for the real barber world. They told me a lot besides the barbering such as managing money, managing life and how to be positive. They motivate you as an overall person, not just a barber student," said Derien Velasquez, licensed barber and former LABC student.
Administrators said the LA Barber College has dedicated itself to teaching as well as giving back to the community, providing free services for veterans, homeless and local families.
Last year, they provided well over 4,000 free haircuts. Now, they are turning to the community for help. The trade school has set up a GoFundMe account hoping donations from the public will keep the college up and running once they are able to reopen. They know it's a long shot but they again are hoping for a miracle at this point.