Bronner Brothers starts fund to help the beauty industry

James Bronner, show director of the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, is starting a fund to help beauty operators hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.
James Bronner, show director of the Bronner Bros. International Hair Show, is starting a fund to help beauty operators hurt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: Bronner Bros. Inc.

Credit: Bronner Bros. Inc.

The beauty industry has been good to James Bronner.

So, the director of the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show decided to do what he could to help barbers, stylists and spa owners during tough financial times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic has affected most industries, but people in the beauty industry have been hit especially hard because many of the operators and owners don’t have the savings to support them. Additionally, the community served by the Bronner beauty show — mostly the African American community — has been hit disproportionately hard.

The Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show has established the “Beauty & Barber Relief Fund” that will award grants to licensed professionals who have not been able to work or who are experiencing financial hardships as a result of the pandemic.

Michael Hood (right) waits for the start of the barber competition during the 2015 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta in this Sunday, February 22, 2015 file photo. J
Michael Hood (right) waits for the start of the barber competition during the 2015 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta in this Sunday, February 22, 2015 file photo. J

Leading sponsors of the initiative include Royal Oils by Head & Shoulders and Gold Series by Pantene, both product lines developed for black hair. Applications for the fund close June 8.

The grants will range from $500 to $1,000.

“It’s not going to replace the lost income, but it will help in this time of need,” said Bronner. Members of his team are also helping those in the beauty industry apply for federal funds to help small businesses.

“I’ve never seen a time in the industry when your couldn’t do hair,” he said. “This is unprecedented.”

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Bronner Bros. was formed in Atlanta in 1947 by Nathaniel H. Bronner Sr. and his brother, Arthur E. Bronner. They launched the beauty show that same year, drawing about 300 people to the Butler Street YMCA. Last year, more than 30,000 converged on the Georgia World Congress Center for the show that attracts suppliers and stylists from around the world and is one of the nation’s top beauty shows.

In addition to the grants, Bronner said he hopes to help professionals and shop owners buy personal protection equipment, which will be necessary as they reopen. That includes items like gloves, masks, touchless thermometers, disposable capes and face shields. Bronner Bros. is also selling a hand sanitizer called, “Germless.”

“This is a big cultural change because the salon and barber shop have traditionally been one of the most social places in our community,” he said. “You sit down and catch up with the latest news and gossip. Some of the owners have had to remove chairs so they can be socially distanced. That discourages socialization.”

Others have discouraged walk-in customers. Others are requiring customers to wait in their cars until it’s time for their appointment. They are notified by call or text.

“It’s hitting us hard because in our business, we can’t stay six-feet away,” he said.

It’s also affected the company in another way.

The Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show is going virtual during the event, which will be held August 8 through 10. As a result, there will be less revenue for the show and the city.

Gerald James Sr. (center) participates in the barber competition during the 2015 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The Bronner Bros. will hold a virtual show this year.
Gerald James Sr. (center) participates in the barber competition during the 2015 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The Bronner Bros. will hold a virtual show this year.

By one estimate, the show brings in about $60 million in revenue for Atlanta, according to a news release issued by the company about the change in format this year.

Vinson Clemons, co-owner of Rick’s Salon, which has six locations in the metro area, has been a barber for about 25 years.

Never, he said, has he seen things this bad.

Just under half of the operators in his shops have returned.

“If operators aren’t working, of course it affects us tremendously,” he said. Bills still have to be paid.”

He’s praying things will get better, “and people start to heal from this virus.”

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