Longtime barber opens school in Newport News' Southeast Community

Tara Bozick
Contact Reportertbozick@dailypress.com
Check out this new training school in the Southeast community of Newport News

A longtime Newport News barber wants to enliven the Southeast Community with a training school.

"We're going to run a real strict school, but the word is going to get out — if you want to be a pro, you're going to Mac's Barber Academy," said Horace "Mac" Lee, a barber with 45 years experience.

Lee, of Hampton, opened Mac's Barber Academy in place of his downtown barber shop at 1512 27th St. on June 14. The school has room for eight full-time daytime students and eight part-time students who would need to get 1,500 hours of experience in the field before taking the state exam to get a barber's license.

The idea is to provide an easily accessible school in the Southeast Community that can impart skills for folks to get jobs or start their own barber businesses, Lee said.

Lee, who also owns Mac's Barber Shop in Sherwood Shopping Center in Denbigh, wants to impart high standards of professionalism to students. His barber shops are known for their cleanliness and for staff wearing neck ties. The 63-year-old opened his first barber shop 22 years ago.

The full-time program would take at least 10 months with a training cost of $18,000 for the 1,500 hours, Lee said.

A few students have applied so far but Lee said he would like to get national accreditation so that students can get financial aid. Lee said he needs to operate for at least a year before applying. The state Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation shows Mac's Barber Academy has an active barber school license.

In addition to barbering skills, Lee would like to develop business acumen in the students. He believes customer service and a friendly atmosphere ripe with conversation sets barber shops apart from national chain competitors such as SuperCuts.

Eventually in a year or two, Lee's dream is to establish a permanent barber school in the Brooks Crossing mixed-use development. The 27th Street location would then return to becoming Mac's Barber Shop again.

Brooks Crossing developer Armada Hoffler hopes to attract businesses like Mac's Barber Academy to the development to continue neighborhood revitalization and to offer the Southeast Community a broader array of service, said spokeswoman Stephanie Maheu.

"We believe Mac Lee would be successful at Brooks Crossing, as he knows the community and its residents well," Maheu said.

Mac's Barber Academy would fill a void in the Southeast Community after the loss of other barber and cosmetology training schools, said Andrew Shannon, community organizer and founder of the Southeast Community Day Parade and Festival.

Not only will Southeast Community residents be able to walk to the school, but neighbors also will have access to affordable haircuts, Shannon added. Lee, a well-respected local business leader, can also encourage students and neighbors to strive for success, he added.

"I think it'll be excellent for the community," said James Sydnor, general manager at The Network cellphone shop nearby. "People will be able to get jobs and better themselves."

Bozick can be reached by phone at 757-247-4741. Sign up for a free weekday business news email at TidewaterBiz.com.

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