CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The rebirth of The Dooby Shop School of Cosmetology in Charlotte's West End neighborhood is breathing new life into the Beatties Ford corridor -- by uplifting the community and offering its students a second chance.
"I saw a need for individuals that needed more training that were coming through my salon doors," owner Teresa Swan Hutchison said following a ribbon-cutting ceremony unveiling her remodeled shop.
A $40,000 grant from the Center City Small Business Innovation Fund paid for new workstations, salon equipment, lighting, and painting among other renovations at The Dooby Shop.
For Hutchison, the road to renovation has been a long journey.
She started in cosmetology 30 years ago, and at one time owned and operated 10 salons in Charlotte. Hutchison eventually converted her Beatties Ford location into a privately funded school where she could enroll high school dropouts, convicted felons and others looking for a fresh start.
"That's the population that I served in this area," Hutchison explained. "So it was my passion to make sure that I was giving that back to as many individuals as I could for as long as I could."
The school's private status prevented its students from seeking federal financial aid, so Hutchison offered subsidized tuition with flexible monthly payment plans.
"All of the over 100 of the students who have graduated from our school, are debt-free with no student loans," she said with pride.
The Dooby Shop School of Cosmetology's new renovations are allowing Hutchison to seek accreditation which will ultimately expand her impact.
Currently the school's nonprofit "Skill Builders Institute" is able to feed more than 150 per day and participate in holiday events -- including neighborhood clean-ups and back-to-school events. Now more students will be able to volunteer, making a larger impact on the Beatties Ford Corridor.
"I teach my students that in order to have something you have to give," Hutchison said. "I always tell them, 'You have to keep your hand open because with a closed hand you can no longer give or receive anything.'"