#COVID takes more than a little off the top at Southeastern School of Cosmetology & Barbering
Birmingham, Ala. — Andre Moore has spent decades in Birmingham preparing students for lifelong careers in cutting hair, fixing nails and helping other people look their best.
Most recently, he has owned and operated Southeastern School of Cosmetology & Barbering, an institution in western Birmingham where he worked 20 years before venturing out to run his own school.
He had operated Andre’s Hair Styling and Barber Training Center for eight years when his retiring former director, Jim Cunningham, offered him a chance to purchase the Southeastern name. Moore happily said yes.
The transition included a short gap in operation when Moore relocated the school from Five Points West to a building he owns in nearby Central Park.
He was just clearing the required state inspections at the new location when COVID hit.
“It just took everybody by storm,” Moore said. “Everything stopped. The cash flow stopped. The students were displaced.”
During the initial shutdown phase, hair salons, nail salons and other cosmetology services were not allowed. Neither Moore, the school’s only employee, nor his instructors could serve the public at all during that time.
As restrictions lifted, Moore was able to adapt classes to pandemic realities, utilizing virtual technology and staggering in-person classes to ensure appropriate distancing.
He was fortunate that his school did not rely on a typical semester structure. Its ongoing enrollment allows students to start at any time, and to attend by day or by night. The flexibility is helpful in an environment still shaped by COVID.
Also helping Moore survive the pandemic’s early days was BhamStrong, a local relief fund launched last spring through the city of Birmingham’s Office of Innovation and Economic Opportunity.
The loan fund included $1.2 million approved by the City Council and an additional $1 million from area businesses. BhamStrong oversaw the public-private fund along with the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and the Birmingham Business Resource Center.
At least 85 local businesses received assistance, and Moore is grateful that his school was among them.
“BhamStrong really saved me,” he said. “That helped me keep the lights on. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Moore also praises the resilience of his students, who adapted and persevered despite disruptions created by the pandemic. “Even though there were bumps in the road, they hung in there, and I never felt like I was shut down or out of business,” he said.
Contact Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.