When Rodney Dennis opened Levels Barber College in 2020, he wanted it to be more than a business, but a benevolent force in the community. After a successful career as barber to high-end clientele, including professional athletes, Dennis wanted to give something back to Canton. “We don’t only teach people how to cut hair and how to shave,” said Dennis. “The biggest thing is I get to change lives and help people…with family stuff, credit stuff, court stuff, driving stuff…anything like that.”
Dennis was referred to ECDI by his former barber instructor and after working with ECDI to improve his credit and become SBA eligible, he was approved for a loan.
“The money helped me with marketing, advertising, mailing distribution, and with payroll,” Dennis said.
Dennis attended an ECDI pitch event where his pitch won a grant. At the event, Dennis was introduced to the mayor and city council of Canton, who “continue to help,” he said. “ECDI really helped me out.”
Levels provides the most affordable haircuts in town, in a dignified, professional atmosphere. “We’ve done thousands of haircuts in the community…for the cheapest. For that single mom who can’t afford forty dollars [each] for four kids. My mom was a single mom, that’s why we give free facials to all moms.”
Although Levels serves the community, Dennis’ students benefit the most. The school gives out thousands in tuition. “We accept anybody with a ninth-grade education,” he says. “I got students that just finished high school and want to learn how to cut hair. I have people who don’t wanna work for nobody, they want to be an entrepreneur…We’re the only school in Ohio that takes felons… if somebody went to the eleventh grade, had a kid, then dropped out because they had to work, I’m taking them also…I want everybody.”