Jeff Brodie

Dawn Cauthen-Thornton | May 15th, 2019
Jeff Broadie (Todd Youngblood)

Jeff Broadie (Todd Youngblood)

In life, there are multiple paths to travel to arrive at the same destination. Oftentimes, people need a second chance after taking a wrong turn. Entrepreneur Jeff Broadie is just the person to give it.

Broadie is no stranger to hard work. For the last 20 years, he has opened four barbershops and a barber school in the Charlotte area. He has mentored, educated, and employed countless men who wanted to either start over or simply start their own careers in the grooming business.

Now, Broadie and good friend Tonya Rivens, are making history by partnering with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s department to open the Ausie Rivens Barber School, the first barber school program within the Mecklenburg County Detention Center. The school, named in honor of Ausie Rivens, the grandfather of Tonya, will educate at least five students per session, ages 16-18.

“Tonya’s grandfather, Ausie, was the first black barber in the town of Cornelius, NC,” explains Broadie. Cornelius is a suburb approximately 20 minutes north of Charlotte. Ausie Rivens opened his doors at the height of the civil rights movement, when other shops were only serving whites. He was committed to serving both races, equally. The barbershop is still open today, thanks to his committed granddaughter, who also serves as Mecklenburg County’s Public Information Manager.

“When we started the process for the school in February 2017, we talked to the former sheriff, Sheriff Carmichael. He liked the idea and now Sherriff McFadden supports it as well,” says Broadie.

The barbershop and barber school owner knew that there would be work involved considering the idea is nontraditional and innovative. “To open a barber school, the law requires you to have at least 10 chairs. We asked them to amend the law and allow us to have five chairs, since this is a new venture.” The NC State Board of Barber Examiners spent almost 2 years combing through their plans and paperwork and finally issued an approval in October 2018.

The program is funded by the city of Charlotte and utilizes instructors from Broadie’s barbershops, ‘Just For You’, to teach the students Monday through Friday a total of 30 hours weekly. Broadie also teaches alongside his instructors. But he’s not only a teacher, he’s a mentor to these young men and the countless students that have matriculated through his school and work in each of his shops. He’s also mentored others on how to effectively open their own barber shops.

To select the students for the Ausie Rivens program, a four-person panel interviewed each one and selected the top five. Those that were not selected for the inaugural session that began April 1st will be placed on a waiting list to start later, provided that they are still residing in the detention center. “If a student turns 19 and ages out before completing his hours, the city will pay for him to complete those hours at any barber school in the state. We have also partnered with Harnett County to complete hours at their facility if they are transferred there,” says Broadie.

The students selected were so excited that they have penned themselves the ‘Fab 5’. They’re all ready to embark on this journey and take advantage of the opportunity that has been extended. “The program comes with stipulations though,” explains Broadie. “The most important is they have to stay out of trouble or they will be removed.” Since Broadie is a mentor at heart, he helps the students by implementing his motto, “Reach them before you teach them”, which he does faithfully.

Broadie and his team of instructors are all cheering for the success of these youth, as are the staff members at the detention center. They all want this inaugural class to be the first of many, until they reach all who want to participate. The center currently houses 65 young men and the plan is to utilize them as clients for the current students to practice on, and introduce those interested, in upcoming sessions.

Jeff Broadie and his partner Tonya Rivens already see the program as a success as the first of its kind. Broadie has received calls from other states to possibly partner with them on similar programs

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