Operating Through Empathy: Barbershop Owner Creates Community Change, One Head at a Time

(Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash)Barber and Philanthropist Provides a Platform for Social Change, But Not Without Facing ChallengesThis story is part of a series produced in partnership with GIFTKC, a Kansas City-based nonprofit that funds and supports local Black-owned businesses. This series highlights some of the businesses GIFTKC was founded to support, while exploring the social and economic inequities they face. As we work to overcome systemic racism, we must let the creative solutions that already exist within Black communities lead the way.

As the owner of 180V Salon in Kansas City, Missouri, barber and philanthropist Joey Thomas spends his days listening to what the people in his hyper-segregated city want and need. Barbershops are one of the cultural cornerstones of the Black community, so Thomas has used this platform to help discover and fill needs not being met in his community.

Joey ThomasThomas is the co-founder and executive director of the Know Joey Foundation, a nonprofit that supports at-risk youth with education and entrepreneurial development. He also serves on the boards of the 18th and Vine Development Policy Committee, Community Action Agency, and KC Credit Union, to help others gain access to capital and create lanes of opportunity for underserved populations. While Thomas has dedicated his career to uplifting others, now he’s struggling to receive financial relief for his own organization.

COVID-19 lockdowns disproportionately impacted Black-owned businesses, shutting them down at nearly twice the rate of white-owned businesses. The financial hardships of the pandemic have been especially devastating to Black entrepreneurs. Banks offer them less funding and loans due to historically discriminatory practices, such as redlining. Further, traditionally Black-run businesses like barbershops face the hidden challenges of a business structure that disqualifies them from receiving COVID-19 relief from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Originally posted at B The Change