Cleveland barbers Jermaine Smith, James Stone, Jesus Corporan, Alan Seats, Kelly Rice, Jr. and Tara Crookston have graciously agreed to mentor Fade It Forward® students.
Wahl’s Fade It Forward® program, the most robust philanthropic program in the barber industry, aims to remove the financial burdens from barber students who would otherwise be unable to accomplish their goals of becoming professional barbers. Launched in 2018, Fade It Forward has awarded more than $350,000 in scholarships to nearly 30 young adults from four cities (Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, and San Diego).
L – R: Kendry Frias, Alan Seats, Jalen Dennis, Jermaine Smith, Chad Medley, Jr., Kevontae Sumlin, Urban League’s Nate Phillips, Tara Crookston, Brandon Thomas, Kelly Rice, Sr., Faith White, James Stone, Brooklyn Hatchette and Wahl Professional’s Julie Gustafson with Kelly Rice Sr.’s granddaughter.
Bringing out the Best in Barbers
Beyond offering at-risk youth scholarships to a local barber school, the Fade It Forward® program also offers personalized tutoring to help them pass their state licensing exams, connection to social services for those in need, transportation stipends to get to school, and a one-on-one mentorship program with a local professional barber. Over the 40-hour mentorship program, students learn how to build a book of business, assist in day-to-day operations, and maintain professional relationships with coworkers. Though they are not licensed to cut hair, they learn the business of being a barber by doing a bit of everything around a shop to keep it running smoothly. This includes washing and folding towels, sweeping floors, observing their mentor’s barbering skills, and learning what it takes to build a clientele.
Once they have graduated from barber school, Fade It Forward® scholarship recipients receive tutoring from a Wahl Professional educator to help them prepare for their state licensing exam. These exams are theory-based, complex, and are often stressful for barber school students. The Wahl Professional tutor, provided at no charge, is able to focus their studying efforts and help ensure their success on the exams, their last milestone before beginning their professional barbering career.
“The barber community is fairly small, so building a network is important. We are giving our Fade It Forward® students that entree,” says Julie Gustafson, Senior Manager, Marketing at Wahl Professional. She adds, “They will learn cutting skills in school, and will keep learning when they’re licensed, but the mentorship program is about showing them what it means to be a barber in the community, how to conduct themselves professionally, and how to build their business.”
Garland “G Whiz” Fox, Wahl Professional Educator and co-founder of the Fade It Forward® program, believes that Fade It Forward® teaches students what makes barbering a special profession: “Barbering is about community. Barbering is about taking care of everyone around you, not just in your household, but each individual person that comes through your life. You have to pay it forward. In this case, FADE it forward.”
“This is going to create the pathway for them to be successful, to impact their families, and impact their communities that they are going to be working in,” added Kelly Rice, owner of Keratin Barber College in Cleveland, OH, who is proud to be a part of the Fade It Forward® program.
The Cleveland Fade It Forward® students are expected to complete their mentorship and graduate from barber college within the next two months.