“I moved to Chicago from Mississippi in 2007. I finished barber school and got my license in 2011. And in 2015, I went in with one of my business partners and we invested in the shop.

“Everything ran smoothly, but during the pandemic crisis I was off work for 10 weeks. This is my profession, and I had to sit down and wait for 10 weeks until the state opened back up.

“I try to build rapport and relationship with all my clients. They would see each other at the shop and now we sort of have a networking system shattered.

“One guy told me he really, really missed me. But it wasn’t really about the haircut. A lot of people want to come in… to see how your week has been and they want to tell you about what’s going on with them. As a barber, we are like counselors to a lot of people.

“I applied for unemployment on the first week we shut down. And I was applying every week since then. I was calling different people, they were giving me the runaround or you can’t reach them.

“I didn’t receive an unemployment payment – it was backpay – until the day I returned to work, on June 3. Thank God for my wife, she was working from home and she was able to handle the bills and different things. That was a rough experience.

“Everything is looking OK now, as long as we are allowed to continue doing what we do.

“We keep everything sanitized and disinfected – that’s what we’ve been doing since Day 1 as a business because you learn in barber school that keeping a clean environment is the most important thing when dealing with people’s health. We all have sanitation training.

“Only difference from what I was doing in the past is wearing a mask and doing appointments. I didn’t really do appointments before, but I’m getting used to that system.

“A couple of businesses that I know have shut down [permanently]. If taxes go up it’s going to be kind of hard for some small businesses to survive. A lot of small businesses really don’t make a lot of money because of overhead… You have to be smart about how you manage it.

“We’re just blessed to be back up and running. Now I’m waiting to be able to finish up my instructor training!”

Ramon Gladney
Got U Faded Barber Shop
Chicago, IL