Where is That Boy Who Grew Up in a Beauty Salon Today?
The boy who grew up in a beauty salon, today owns a destination for quality education, his own Barber & Beauty Academy right here in the County of Berks.
George Ortiz Jr. who founded American Barber & Beauty Academy was always an entrepreneur at heart. He grew up on the south side of Reading where the front of his home was his mother’s hair salon (Norma’s Beauty Salon). So, hair and beauty were something he grew up around. After attending college for business for a couple of years and searching for his passion, he decided to attend barber school and obtain his license. He was nineteen years old when he got his first job at Fanee’s Barber Shop and learned to work side by side with Serge and Alex, now owners of RBI. He has a special place in his heart for those guys as they were an instrumental part of his early career.
Barbering was always a passion, but being in business for himself, being an entrepreneur was who he felt he was and had a burning desire to achieve that for himself at an early age. At 21 he asked his grandmother to co-sign a loan for him for $5,000 which allowed him to open his first barbershop, New Style Barber Studio in Shillington. New Style Barber Studio was a 3-chair barbershop that he used to truly fulfill what he felt was missing in the industry, which was a clean, professional, and family-friendly place to enjoy a wonderful grooming experience. It seems like a commonsense business concept, but barbershops at the time were failing at this miserably. Within 6 months, by just word of mouth, he was already overwhelmed with business and operated successfully for several years. After a few years of operating, his biggest challenge was finding like-minded and qualified barbers to work alongside and help his business to grow. It was a problem that inspired him to open a school. His success and approach towards barbering were truly a recipe for success, and he proved it. He knew if he could bottle that up and use it to educate other young barbers that not only would it be life-changing for a lot of people, it would turn around an entire industry that was struggling terribly but had so much potential.
In October of 2012, they cut the ribbon opening the doors to the American Barber Academy, located at 110 Morgantown Road. It was in 2016 that they were successful at becoming a National Accredited Institution. This allowed them to participate in TITLE IV, which opened the door for qualified students to obtain Pell grants and Financial Aid to attend the program. Over the years hundreds of students have graduated from his program and many are now employed and/or own most of the barbershops in Berks County. It would be hard to go into a barbershop in Berks and not find one of their alumni, something of which they are immensely proud.
After several years of operating as ABA, they accomplished all that they could within their 2,200 sq. ft. building and they were primed to grow just when they earned that the former AW Golden Building was being renovated. In July of 2020, it was rebranded as the American Barber and Beauty Academy, and we were able to build out and customize a 10,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art school that features a Student Salon, Spa, and Barbershop. They partnered with Brands like Dermalogica Skin Care, Redken, and OPI, to offer some of the best products to their clients and provide their students with a quality education. Their enrollment went from sixteen barber students, to now over ninety combined barbers, cosmetology, and esthetic students. Their goal is not just to be known as another school to obtain a license. They strive hard to be known as the destination for quality education, as well as a destination for clients to receive a quality service for a price that is unmatched, in an environment you would only find at a high-end Salon, Barbershop, or Spa.
This year they were awarded #1 top Honors for Entrepreneurial Excellence from the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce. They owe a lot of thanks to their wonderful staff at ABBA. They have a tremendous staff that truly values quality education and goes beyond for the students to ensure they have all the tools they need to be successful. Also, they want to thank their customers that regularly come in to patronize the students providing them with the opportunity to gain the valuable experience they need to perfect their craft. And lastly, their students and alumni who trust and believe in them to deliver quality education and who take what they learn at the academy and make them proud by making a successful career out of something they love. Congratulations Georgie, not only for following your dreams but also for helping others to grow and follow their dreams.
For more information contact:
American Barber and Beauty Academy
733 Lancaster Avenue, Suite A
Reading, PA 19607 T 610.927.5664