StepUp Ministry helped James Ivy find courage to pursue his dreams
James’ love of hair started in childhood but his barber skills were born from necessity. After life led him down the wrong path, he found his way back to a meaningful career with help from this United Way partner.
James Adam Ivy Jr.’s grew up in the era where men wore suits and ties. When he couldn’t afford the high top fades that were in style, he started cutting his own.
His father, who was always impeccably dressed, supported his dream of one day opening his own barber shop.
“I remember going to the barbershop with him and being around older guys, a lot of guys with wisdom. I learned a whole lot,” James said.
He decided to go to barber school as soon as he could but a course that should have only taken him 11 months to complete ended up taking 9 years. Failed relationships, vices, and even incarceration led him off course.
James is the first to admit that he made poor choices that led him to living in the South Wilmington Street Center, an emergency and transitional shelter for men experiencing homelessness. His relationship with his parents, and especially his father, helped him make it through.
“My father always knew what I was going through. He always knew that I was greater than what I was. But he always told me to never give up.”
His parents taught him that you can lose your way but there’s always a way back. James took that to heart and contacted Angela Coleman, StepUp Ministry’s Director of Adult Programs. She invited him to join StepUp’s 48-week program.
“They helped me put together the pieces and rebuild,” he said. “I started surprising myself. I was making goals. I started to feel myself almost power up like a superhero or something.”
James had always had plans for his barber business saved in the back of his head but with StepUp’s support, James had focus. He finished the requirements for his barber license and devoted all of his time to making his new barbershop, Executive Grooming Services, a legitimate business.
Executive Grooming Services launched in 2015 with the mission of enhancing the state of humanity one executive service at a time, never forgetting to remain connected and give back to the communities which supported and cultivated James’ lifelong passion.
James credits StepUp Ministry with giving him the support he needed to turn his dreams into reality.“I found the courage through StepUp Ministry to walk boldly into my destiny. I’m the strongest man in the world right now when it comes to my courage because I don’t fear anything.”