HARLEM, Manhattan (PIX11) — A Harlem business owner who knows what it’s like to need a second chance is using his strong ties to his community with his barbershop to open up a new training facility to create dozens of jobs in his neighborhood.

For more than 30 years, Russell Smith, also known as Big Russ, has been making people in his community, young and old, look fantastic in his popular barbershop on Fredrick Douglass Boulevard.

Now, in addition to haircuts, he wants to give people a career. So with a fresh haircut at Big Russ’ barbershop in Harlem, there’s also an opportunity for job training. 

Cutting three generations of hair for more than three decades in Harlem, Smith hopes to use those community connections to help make a difference. But, frustrated with a lack of resources and an uptick in violence in his community, Smith decided to do something about it. 

He opened up a two-story training facility for new barbers in November. Smith partnered with a nonprofit called Harlem Mothers SAVE to make it happen.

Smith said that after two years of training, students would be ready to work as apprentice barbers and master barbers. The first class graduated last July. Now the next class will be more than 30 students.

If you want more information on the job programs, go to Big Russ’ Instagram page.