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Portland barbershop helping others find purpose with 'Be Great University'

Champions Barbering Institute has launched a program called Be Great University. It's designed to help people figure out their next move in life through uncertainty.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Business is beginning to buzz again at Champions Barbering Institute on Northeast Killingsworth in Portland.

“The hair cutting part is actually fun, and the art of it is fun,” said co-founder Jamaal Lane. "But the people is what I love most about barbering."

Lane and his wife Christina found CBI a few years ago. When you walk through the doors, you get more than a haircut, you get a community.

“It's a place where great, like-minded people are able to come together and recharge themselves," Christina said, "because we're all a reflection of one another."

“And we also dig deep into what it means to be the person that you desire to be, and how you get there,” said Jamaal.

Teaching and observing, Jamaal goes over everything from Oregon state barbering laws to how to craft the perfect fade. After the pandemic shut down their other three shops, the Lanes saw an opportunity.

“We created a curriculum and a program that is has a lot to do with how we do things here at the school,” Jamaal said.

“We'll get students by just putting the word out there and let people know that be great is a solution for them to develop themselves,” added Christina.

So born was the idea of Be Great University. A business aimed at helping people find fulfillment and their next move in life. Dyland Cruz is a barber by trade, he enrolled paying the $249 tuition. He’s one of the first “graduates.”

"I have the foundation, I have all the wood," said Cruz metaphorically. “It was more the drywall, being able to figure out the different portions of what I'm building, but they gave me a better quality wall and better quality inside of what I had already been building.”

“There’s only two choices,” Christina said. “Either you're going to go after it with everything that you have within you, or by default, you're going to think about it and it's never going to go anywhere.”

For Jamaal, it’s all about relationships. Whether you’re still finding your way or simply sitting in the chair. “When people are able to be themselves with you and feel comfortable enough to share things that they may not share with other people, it means a lot.”

He said don’t worry if you come in a little rough around the edges. You’ll have support from whoever is standing behind you.

“What we want to do is create a community where people can come in, be great and not have to deal with all that outside noise and be in a trusted environment where they can exercise,” said Jamaal. “Find that greatness and also help others do the same.”

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