Since first opening its doorways almost 17 years in the past, Robert Jackson’s barbershop, Bo-Lee’s Kinds & Cuts, has by no means been quieter.
Earlier than COVID-19, Jackson, recognized to most as Bobby or Bo-Lee, would see folks come within the store simply to hang around and crack jokes. Now, they’ll’t are available in a couple of or two at a time.
“This was initially a spot of camaraderie, the place folks can come and specific their emotions and feelings and giggle and speak,” Jackson stated. “It completely destroyed that friendship that the majority barbershops and salons expertise.”
When the pandemic started, the 46-year-old entrepreneur and pastor of The Youngsters’s Church Outreach Ministries modified how he dealt with enterprise. It compelled him to shut for about three months, and it brought on his household to should “do some issues that weren’t the norm.” Even when he began seeing clients once more, the added value of shopping for the provides essential to open safely made it costly to be a barber.
“We are able to hardly discover Clorox wipes, and we simply began getting round to getting hand sanitizer,” he stated. “We have now to transform to disposable capes and issues of that nature, and it’s arduous to discover a can of Lysol anyplace. These are all among the necessities of being a barber, which could be very costly and virtually not possible to satisfy all the factors.”
For a number of of his clients, the pandemic compelled him to chop exterior or of their houses. Different regulars stopped coming altogether. Shedding enterprise had a direct affect on his revenue.
“For a number of months, I had to attract unemployment, and that affected my family,” Jackson stated.
Jackson’s enterprise was removed from the one one compelled to shut its doorways due to COVID-19. The rapid aftermath of the pandemic’s arrival within the spring, there have been shutdowns throughout the area. In April, unemployment charges hit a report excessive for Northeast Mississippi, averaging 17.8% throughout the area. It was amongst increased charges within the area, above the statewide unemployment charge of 16.3% in April, in keeping with the Mississippi Division of Employment Safety (MDES). That very same month, preliminary unemployment insurance coverage claims rose to 157,712.
Whereas these numbers have lowered since, the financial affect stays. Mississippi reported an unemployment charge of seven.4%, or 95,200 unemployed folks, and 14,844 preliminary unemployment insurance coverage claims and 208,579 continued claims as of October.
Jackson is aware of he wasn’t alone in being affected by the pandemic. A number of of his clients misplaced their jobs, and he stated there have been many individuals who misplaced their houses and automobiles as a result of they have been used to residing a sure means. A few of his church members have had family members contract COVID-19. They serve within the hearth division, work in nursing houses, or are academics, and their lives have been difficult as a result of they need to work together with society regardless of the virus.
As a pastor, the pandemic halted everybody coming collectively, Jackson stated. Church members have been accustomed to hugging, shaking fingers and having fellowship dinners. They haven’t skilled that in months, which is one thing his congregation has missed.
“That’s the second most necessary a part of the church itself, is the fellowship,” Jackson stated. “It completely destroyed our fellowship in a bodily sense, and now we have now, for the final 4 or 5 months, been having our companies on Zoom.”
His circle of relatives has not been proof against COVID-19’s affect. He has a spouse and three kids at school. His oldest son, additionally named Robert, attends school in Massachusetts. For his youngest two, the time once they have been studying at dwelling had totally different results on every. Whereas his daughter, 16-year-old M’Kya, is a straight-A pupil and adjusted shortly to her new studying atmosphere, Jackson’s youngest, 12-year-old Isaiah, does a lot better with one-on-one instruction. When the time got here to debate returning to in-person lessons, the 2 returned as a result of digital studying had fatigued them.
The pandemic additionally had a monetary affect on Jackson’s spouse, Pat, who has labored at Booneville Head Begin for over 20 years. There was a interval during which she couldn’t work, and Jackson stated the improved unemployment advantages by the CARES Act helped tremendously. Whereas she’s again to educating, they’ve moved to a digital studying program, however the household nonetheless worries about if her job will shut.
As an entrepreneur – Jackson additionally performs saxophone and finishes concrete whereas additionally being a barber and pastor – Jackson used his expertise to maintain his household afloat.
“I’m a hustler, so I did extra development throughout that point, and odds and ends, no matter was wanted to deal with myself and my household,” Jackson stated.
Studying how you can pivot has been a continuing theme all through Jackson’s life. He’s lived and labored in Booneville on and off since he was 17. He was born and raised in Joilet, Illinois, however his household migrated to Booneville in 1991 with the aim of getting him away from “gangs and warfare” to start out a brand new life. He was a senior in highschool when he arrived in Mississippi, however didn’t graduate after being kicked out due to his angle.
Jackson spent the following few years bumping round, touring from place to position, going from job to job. He finally landed in Massachusetts when his oldest son’s mom moved there. Whereas there, he attended the Rob Roy Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts, to turn out to be a licensed barber. He accomplished this system in 2000.
In 2003, Jackson accepted his name to evangelise. He married his spouse in 2004, the identical yr their daughter M’Kya was born and Bo-Lee’s Kinds & Cuts opened.
One vibrant spot through the pandemic was getting a authorities mortgage to assist him transform his barbershop after almost 17 years. He utilized for a small enterprise administration (SBA) mortgage, however there have been a number of different grants he utilized for that didn’t come by.
“Even after making use of and ready, it was all the time, the instances I despatched, there was all the time a factor the place the cash ran out, and I didn’t profit from it as another folks might have,” Jackson stated.
This compelled him to make different decisions to make sure he had sufficient revenue to pay his mortgage and the remainder of his payments. He leaned on prayer, swallowed his satisfaction, and did what he needed to do to assist his household.
“There have been some jobs, some issues that I took on, to make sure that my household was nonetheless snug in the best way that they reside,” Jackson stated.
Over the previous three months, Jackson has continued reworking his barbershop. Together with his church subsequent door, Jackson shifted to slicing hair there. Whereas again in enterprise, it feels totally different from earlier than.
Jackson realizes from expertise that some clients are nonetheless fearful about being in companies. Earlier than March, he was used to seeing 30 to 40 clients by appointment solely in per week’s time. That bought all the way down to seeing 20 folks per week through the pandemic. Fortunately, enterprise is choosing up.
Whereas Jackson ended up having to see a few clients at dwelling, the exercise added danger and was difficult. It turned tiresome to go from totally different areas, however Jackson did so as a result of his clients wanted haircuts. For the purchasers he sees on the store, he requires temperature checks and masks to stroll by the door. He’s seen some clients who’ve been affected by COVID-19, whether or not contracting it themselves or figuring out somebody who has. He’s been lucky to date to not contract it himself, however acknowledges there’s an inherent danger in what he does for a residing.
“Every single day that I come to work, I put my household in hurt’s means, however we pray and we belief God,” Jackson stated.
Because the church turns into extra distant bodily, Jackson is reminding his congregation how God “doesn’t reside in a constructing made by fingers.” Jackson believes that in some methods, the change has brought on Christians to determine a extra private relationship with Christ, however Jackson additionally worries that concern might trigger folks to reevaluate public gatherings like these of a conventional church service.
“In taking a look at our society in the present day, I don’t know if that church will ever be once more. We pray that it does,” Jackson stated.
Wanting forward, Jackson needs to enroll in laptop lessons to get extra technical data on how you can proceed on-line church. He hopes to show his members how you can cope with the assorted adjustments the world faces due to the pandemic, whether or not socially or economically, and how you can put together for sudden turns in life.
“I might inform them to maintain their head up and don’t lose hope,” Jackson stated. “Man has sustained many, many adjustments in life over time, the centuries and a long time, and there’s nothing that I’ve seen but that we received’t overcome.”