SYCAMORE – Julian Camacho has always loved cutting hair.
Camacho, 18, of DeKalb dreamed of being a barber, but there were no barber schools within 60 miles of his home – until now.
Camacho learned of Legacy Academy, a barber school in Sycamore started by Andre Powell, owner of In & Out Cuts in Sycamore, and Jonathan Thompson, owner of Roc’s Barbershop in DeKalb.
Legacy Academy, 309 E. State St. in Sycamore, was founded in March, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening of the school was pushed back. It officially opened Oct. 6, and five students are enrolled.
Legacy Academy teaches students the barber trade, allowing them to become licensed after completing a 1,500-hour course.
Camacho is one of those five students. He already has business cards and has started cutting clients’ hair.
“I’ve learned a lot already, like shear work and sanitation,” he said. “Cutting hair is like an art, a craft to me. I love tapers and blends. I’ve always been picky about my own hair.”
Christian Mascote, 20, Camacho’s older brother, said he only ever lets Julian cut his hair.
“He loves what he does and he’s really good,” Mascote said. “He has a hard work ethic.”
Students give haircuts at Legacy Academy under instructors’ guidance and supervision. Men and women with short hair can visit the barber school for $10 haircuts, with a small upcharge for beard trimming or shaving.
Legacy Academy now has partnered with the Kishwaukee Education Consortium, and starting in January, junior and senior high school students can attend a program at the school to earn elective credits. Students from DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston, Hiawatha, Rochelle and Sycamore high schools can participate in the program.
Legacy Academy will offer two Legacy Hope Scholarships to potential candidates interested in learning to become a barber. Applications for the scholarships can be obtained by emailing email@example.com. Applications are due by Dec. 15.
Legacy Academy’s founders and co-owners Powell and Thompson describe being a barber as “an art form.”
“Barbering has its own culture mixed in with art and fashion,” Thompson said. “It’s become very popular. Barbering has major financial and networking upsides. It’s more than cutting hair or owning a shop.”
“Becoming a barber is not an alternative to college because you can cut hair while you’re in college,” Powell said. “It can be a great career choice or a second job.”
Barbering also is a trade for women: 19-year-old Amy Scorzo is one of Legacy Academy’s students.
“I love barbering; it’s always interested me,” she said. “It’s a skill you can build and make your own. I’d love to have my own shop one day.”
Powell and Thompson hope to be more than instructors to their students; they hope to become positive role models who inspire students by sharing their own life experiences.
“We want to share our life experiences with them because we’re two guys that came from nothing,” Powell said. “There’s a joy in seeing them grow as students. You’re able to leave a positive mark on them by showing them what you know.
“We want to provide hope. When you don’t have hope, you don’t have anything,” Powell said. “Learning a trade or a skill gives you hope. You can’t take a trade or skill away once you’ve learned it. It’s something you’ll always have. Life is always one decision away from success and one decision away from failure, which is something I had to learn.”
Thompson said he hopes to “be a good role model by incorporating a legacy.”
“We hope that they take what they learn from us, add their own twist and pass it on to others,” he said. “Our legacy will lead to the beginning of their legacy. More than becoming barbers, our students will be decent human beings.”