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Man opens first Hispanic barber school in Reading

By Kimberly Davidow, Reporter
Published On: Sep 30 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 02 2012 04:51:48 AM CDT

A new barber shop and school are open for business in Reading.

READING, Pa. -

A new barber shop and school are open for business in Reading.

American Barber Academy officially opened for business after a ribbon cutting ceremony on Morgantown Road on Monday.

"I have a lot to look forward to," said George Ortiz Jr., owner.

Ortiz, 27, said he always knew he wanted to cut hair for a living. His mother, Norma Ortiz, said George was her competition when he was a young boy.

"When I owned my beauty salon, he used to steal a couple of my customers and do a little work on them, bring kids home from school, and he just loved cutting hair," said Ortiz.

After college, Ortiz opened a barber studio, the New Style Barber Studio, on Lancaster Avenue in Reading. As his business began to grow, he said he began to notice barbers he encountered were not state-certified.

So, Ortiz said he decided to take a leap of faith and open the American Barber Academy.

"This is something I've always wanted to do. I'm just grateful for the opportunity to be able to offer a new career choice to people," said Ortiz.

With the help of Reading's Department of Community Development, Ortiz cut the ribbon to officially open his business. Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer said the city gave Ortiz a $35,000 loan to start the school.

"If you want to be an entrepreneur, the city is here to help you get started," said Spencer.

American Barber Academy offers open enrollment all year long. Ortiz said his business also serves as a barber shop.

"It's great that I can use my success and my career to be able to train others," said Ortiz.

Spencer said the American Barber Academy is the first Hispanic barber school in Reading.

The school will provide more than 1,200 hours of classroom and clinic instruction, which will prepare students for the state barbering exam. It's something that Ortiz said may inspire others to dream big.

"I started getting my hair cut by George, and he told me about the school. Maybe one day I can open up my own shop," said Taylor Stubler, a student at American Barber Academy.