CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen many small businesses struggle to stay afloat or close their doors for good.
That was intimidating for Jamal Pittman, the owner of the new Barber and Beauty Supply Outlet in Cleveland Heights, but he pushed through the challenges to finally say ‘we’re open.’
“We’re talking about things that are staples with our communities. The connection with the barbershops, the connection with the hair salons, and then the products just tie into it,” Pittman said.
Pittman is finally fulfilling a dream that’s been nearly four years in the making.
“I went to a conference and heard someone speaking about the beauty supply industry in general, and how the dollars from the African-American community go into the industry but there's very little ownership,” Pittman said.
He says he saw that reality reflected in the Cleveland area and wanted to do something about it.
“Dozens of people that have come in and patronized and given their feedback is that to their knowledge, there isn't any other African-American owned beauty supply store in the greater Cleveland east side,” Pittman said.
So last year, he quit his full-time job and leased space on Cedar Road with hopes of opening at the beginning of this year, but then the pandemic hit.
“That put a halt on a lot of important shipments that I needed from vendors and suppliers,” Pittman said.
Pittman says he applied for grants and loans to stay afloat with no luck and even picked up a part-time job at an Amazon distribution center to keep the dream alive.
“I was getting the feedback from the people. I said you know I have to continue and push on with this because I can see how important it is to have this type of business in the community,” Pittman said.
Pittman said so far the reception has been positive and he hopes his success is an inspiration to others who may want to follow the same path.
“You can see the hope in people’s eyes,” Pittman said. “There's a need for more entrepreneurship, and especially during a tough time like this, where you can hopefully be a beacon of light for, you know, people to see you know there are still businesses opening, there are still businesses that are growing, they're able to hire people from the community.”
“Wanting to see more of our people own these types of institutions where we put so much of our dollars and our passion into it, to be on the other side is just a good feeling for everybody,” Pittman said.
In the next four to six months, Pittman is hoping to open a full-service barbershop and beauty salon inside the outlet to make it a one-stop-shop for all hair care needs.
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