After losing shop to fire, owner rebuilds as Millionhaires Barbering Academy

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - When difficulties come our way, we sometimes feel like throwing in the towel and giving up. But for a local barber, a devastating event only added fuel to his dreams.

Antonio McCrary has been cutting hair since he was seven years old. It's his passion and he's been living out his dream for years. But imagine, you're in your 40's and you lose your business in a matter of seconds through no fault of your own.

McCrary pushed through the challenges thanks to perseverance and community support and now his barber school is breaking barriers and helping others realize their goals.

"In school, you have to have 20 chairs so we've gone over 20 chairs. We still have some mirrors to put up," said McCrary.

Not only can you see the smile, you can hear it as McCrary talks about his new business.

"Back here we also have the hairdryers. When I got this, this was all gravel. There were no walls. There was no rafter up here. It was just empty space," he said.

But it's much more than just a place to get a trim. This is the Millionhaires Barbering Academy.

"It was just going to be a barber shop, 14 chairs and we were just going to do it big and a friend of my mother's said this is going to be a school," McCrary told us.

He'll never forget how this happy moment came about as a result of a devastating loss.

Two years ago, his barber shop at 39th and Keystone Ave. burned down. We were there for the aftermath when Antonio shared his pain with viewers on March 28, 2016.

"I honestly don't know what to do at the present time. I have to find a place for us to go," he said.

From out of nowhere, Veaon Shelton, a stranger, offered McCrary and his employees booth space in his nearby shop called The Barber Salon. Competitors became family.

"They had went a few places and the doors weren't open to him, so he was extremely grateful to come here and get his business going," said Shelton.

That support helped Antonio rebuild his life to not only open the barbershop last year on March 1, his birthday, but to take it to the next level with the barbering school.

"I just saw doors opening. I just saw gates and windows opening. They will be licensed to cut hair and do hair. We're called barber stylists, that way they can do the colors, they can do relaxers and perms and all of these things. No matter where they go, they will have a skill that nobody can take away from them."

The Meadows area off 38th Street has seen new housing and retailers.

"The grocery story is doing real well. Dr. Tavel was almost booked a year in advance," he said.

Now, McCrary’s part of that positive transformation by providing both service and education.

"They'll know how to do taxes. They'll know how to do finances. They'll know how to talk to people and negotiate deals when they're going to do booth rent or opening up their own."

The rich legacy of the past lives on as the school is on the same land where the longtime Kaye's Beauty College used to be located. The stools and tables came from Kaye's. His feet are firmly planted in the community and in his faith which daily restores his soul.

McCrary says, "I know the Lord brought this so I'm just proud to be a part of it."

The grand opening is Saturday, March 31 from 5pm to 9pm. It's like a neighborhood block party at the Meadows with food, music, tours of the school, and a meet and greet with the staff.

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