While Jonathan Arias has a few endeavors, including Modern Cut Apparel, he gets the most fulfillment from Cuts and Convos, a non-profit that provides beauty services to low-income residents in Michigan.
They not only provide the services that will help their customers seek employment and feel better about themselves, but they also use that time to speak to them, reach out to them and have empowering conversations with them.
The Problem Being Solved:
The mission of Cuts and Convos is three-fold, says Jonathan.
- “We want people to look good, when you look good you feel good. It’s a cultural truism.” And, he adds, “Who needs to feel good more than the homeless?”
- They want to help people become gainfully employed. “If you’re not clean cut or shaven you don’t get in the door. Your chances are shot,” says Jonathan. He’s talked to many people that have wanted to go job hunting but didn’t have the funds to clean themselves up.
- They want to empower people through empowering conversations. “They are a captive audience when getting their hair cut.” They talk to them about anything from the legal system, to their spirituality and their health.
[Tweet “When you look good, you feel good @cutsandconvos via @startuplansing”]
Where the Idea Came From:
Jonathan learned to cut hair when he was young, at his mother’s insistence and it was a skill that others found highly useful throughout college. “People were always asking me for haircuts.”
He took this skill to his church during undergrad, helping with a program that provided a wide range of assistance. There was one particular customer that Jonathan will always remember. “I finished his beard, showed him and he looked at me and said, ‘perfection.'” After that, he knew he wanted to continue to help but the opportunities never materialized.
After starting a company, Jonathan realized he just wasn’t fulfilled. “I didn’t want to do something just for money.” Cuts and Convos was the (somewhat opposite) response to that. (It fulfilled him but made no money.)
[Tweet “I didn’t want to do something just for money @JonathanMOG of @cutsandconvos via @startuplansing”]
Since then, he’s worked with partners such as the Lansing City Rescue Mission, Christo Rey, Homeless Angels and Haven House.
Cutting hair, to Jonathan, is helping people shed their pasts. “It’s powerful. I’m doing God’s work.”
“It’s worrisome that there are so many homeless people and people that need our help,” says Jonathan, “but it’s exciting to think about blessing so many people.”
The homeless or low-income individuals or families.
Jonathan’s biggest challenge so far has been finding volunteers that can do hair. “We need people that understand our mission.”
[Tweet “We need volunteers that understand our mission @cutsandconvos via @startuplansing”]
They are looking to connect with beauty schools, barbers and beauty school grads.
“Once you get into the community and start interacting,” says Jonathan, “You realize these people are people and they aren’t that different from you.” He’s noticed a barrier that seems to say, “Us and Them” that needs to be crossed.
“They are just regular people. They’re not lazy or dumb, they just have different circumstances.”
To get the equipment they need, Jonathan has sought funding from places like SoupGrant (which they won, twice). They are also going to start a crowdfunding campaign.
So far, much of it has been funded out of pocket, but they don’t need much. “Even if we just got 5k, the amount of people we could reach would be nuts,” says Jonathan.
Jonathan says their last event had 11 volunteers, but they had to turn people away because it wasn’t enough to meet demand. Within the next year, they would like to have 15 volunteers.
They would also like to grow the board in numbers and diversity.
“I would love to coach people to start something similar and spread the impact,” says Jonathan, “It would be great if it became national.”
For those in the non-profit space, Jonathan says, “Be genuine. Love on people. It’s all a people business. If people see you are genuine, they’ll want to get on board. Love the cause.”
[Tweet “Be genuine. Love on people. @JonathanMOG of @cutsandconvos via @startuplansing”]
Connect With Them: