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The Right Cut.

This is an inspirational story of a former convict who saw both a need and an opportunity in his community and decided to not only make a change in himself, but the law.

William Burt of Waterloo, Iowa had made mistakes in his life. Lots of mistakes, including mistakes that sent him to prison. In his mind, he justified some of his illegal activities by saying he was “providing for his family.”

It took his son asking him the question of “if providing for your family is the most important thing to you, how can you do that [in prison]?” to open his eyes.

Burt looked around and saw a need in his community for people who could either not get to a barbershop. After cutting hair in prison, he went to “barber school,” graduated and decided he would open a mobile barber shop.

The problem was that Iowa had a law that did not allow for mobile barbershops.

That launched Burt on a crusade to get the law changed. He was later joined by the group Americans For Prosperity in the fight.

Several years later, the legislature unanimously repealed the law and the repeal was signed by the governor.

Mobile barbershops were now legal in the state of Iowa.

We love this story for so many reasons.

The first is the Burt did not say “someone needs to do this.” He took up the challenge and was later joined by others.

Secondly, he did not ask for government money to fund his actions.

Third, and most importantly, this is a story of redemption. A man who made mistakes, admitted those mistakes, served his time, turned his life around and now is not only making a difference in the lives of his family, but that of his community.

If you are wondering if such a ridiculous law outlawing a mobile barbershop was in place in there state of Florida, there is and there isn’t.

Florida Code Chapter 476 has the regulations for barbers and section 476.034 says what a “barbershop” is:

476.034 Definitions.–As used in this act:

(3) “Barbershop” means any place of business wherein the practice of barbering is carried on.

Obviously, a mobile barbershop would be a “business wherein the practice of barbering is carried on.”

However, in rules finalized on June 3, 2020, there were some changes made, but this regulation was left in place:

(14) All barbershops are to be equipped with adequate toilet and sink facilities on the premises or in the same building as, and within 300 feet of the barbershop. To be adequate, such facilities shall have at least one toilet and one sink with running water. Such facilities shall be equipped with toilet tissue, soap dispenser with soap or other hand cleaning material, sanitary towels or other hand-drying device such as a wall-mounted electric blow dryer, and waste receptacle. Such facilities and all of the foregoing fixtures and components shall be kept clean, in good repair, well-lighted and adequately ventilated to remove objectionable odors and shall comply with the provisions of Rule 64E-10.044, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). (emphasis ours)

Unless one had a bigger truck / van, a fully serviceable bathroom is going to add more space and cost to a mobile barbershop. We believe that would make a mobile barbershop prohibitive in costs. What should be remembered is that the mobile barbershops are generally coming to their clients who have toilet facilities in their residence.

It makes no sense to us.

Also, to be a licensed barber, one must take 1,200 hours of training. That’s more than a year of school in a Brevard County Public school.

Just to cut hair.

Such regulations often provide barriers into the marketplace and prevent employment.

While we fully agree with schooling for sanitation and health concerns in the profession, there is no way that takes 1200 hours. Much of the training is for other areas that barbers will never use such as hair dying, chemicals in hair, etc.

However, it could be worse.

Natural hair braiding is a beauty practice popular among many African, African-American and immigrant communities in the United States. Braiding is a very safe practice as braiders do not use any dangerous chemicals, dyes or coloring agents and do not cut hair. Yet in many states, braiders have to endure hundreds of hours of unnecessary coursework and pay thousands of dollars before they can legally work.

[….]

Braiding laws vary dramatically across the country. In seven states, natural hair braiders are forced to become licensed as either cosmetologists or hairstylists. Yet few of these states actually teach natural hair braiding styles. Instead, braiders have to learn cosmetology practices they have no intent on using in their career, like giving manicures or bleaching hair. Complying with these regulations is an ordeal, with licenses requiring up to 2,000 hours of training and costing upwards of $20,000 in tuition fees at cosmetology schools.

In 14 states and Washington, D.C., braiders are regulated by separate, specialty licenses, with eight of those states requiring anywhere from 200 to 500 hours of coursework before a braider can work legally. (emphasis ours)

We put up far too many barriers for people to enter the marketplace and workforce. Usually those barriers are advocated for by people already working in the field who don’t want the competition as opposed to any real health of safety benefit for the community.

But that’s getting even further off of what we wanted to focus upon in this post which is William Burt.

Congratulations to him for getting the state to change and antiquated law, but more importantly, congratulations for showing that a criminal can turn their life around.



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