The Barber of Indianola
At 21 years old, TarFredrick Fant is a quiet, humble young man. But that doesn’t mean he’s not confident in his ability to cut and style hair.
“I feel like I’m the best barber in the world,” TarFredrick said with pride, not immodesty. “I want the chance to show people that.”
Through the Indianola Promise Community and its workforce development program called GREAT, TarFredrick is now showcasing his talents as a newly minted barber with his own shop called Next Level Cutz, which has been serving the residents in this Delta community for the past two months.
“The Indianola Promise Community and GREAT have been very important to me to get my start. I’m very thankful for them,” he said.
Through the GREAT program, or Getting Ready to Excel, Achieve and Triumph, TarFredrick was able to complete a 1,500-hour program of classroom study and practical experience that has put him in position to become a state-licensed barber this August, all at no cost to him. He, along with his cousin, Christopher Faint, are the first two participants to graduate from the program as barbers.
Partnering with local barber Bryant Smith, owner of an Indianola barber college, the Indianola Promise Community has enabled TarFredrick to meet his goals and dreams of owning his own business. Other partners include S&S College of Hair, the Capps Center, and the Mississippi Center for Justice.
“This is a job where TarFredrick can earn a good living as a skilled professional, and that’s something he will have the rest of his life,” said Lolita Gladney, who oversees the GREAT program. “Something like this can completely transform a person’s life. It gives him an opportunity for a free education and then expand on it.by opening his own shop.”
GREAT also offers study for those interested in becoming welders, pharmacy technicians, carpenters, nursing assistants and medical office assistants. The program gives young adults in Indianola, such as TarFredrick, the opportunity to gain skills that will assist them with employment and furthering their education. GREAT is open to Indianola residents who are:
- — between 18-24 years old
- — graduates or attendees of Indianola’s Gentry High School
- — recipients of a high school diploma or GED
- — interested in a career in the programs offered through GREAT
Since GREAT was established in Indianola in 2015, 19 young men and women have completed the program. They include two barbers, five carpenters, four pharmacy technicians, one certified nursing assistant, two welders and five medical office assistants.
For TarFredrick, the program has meant he can now live his dream of becoming a barber while supporting his toddler son.
“I’ve always wanted to cut hair,” he said. “It just looked fun to me and it gives me a chance to meet new people and learn new things though hair shows and competitions. I get to create and to be an artist. Because that’s what this is. It’s art.”
Gladney is continually seeking new recruits for the GREAT program, which she sees as an integral component in building the community.
“The program is bigger than one person; it’s bigger than TarFredrick,” she explained. “When someone like TarFredrick graduates and opens his own business, it means that he can employ others from the community and create jobs where employment can be hard to come by. Tar Fredrick is a person other kids can look up to and say: ‘If this guy can do it, then so can I.’”