‘Barbering saved my life:’ Jacksonville barber tells rags to riches tale

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There are more than 604,000 Hispanic owned businesses in the state of Florida, according to the Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Many are in the Jacksonville area, including a barbershop on the Southside.


As Action News Jax celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, Action News Jax Ben Ryan spoke with Fernando Corps, a Jacksonville barber who turned his rags to riches, and looks to empower other barbers moving forward.

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When it comes to being a barber, it’s deeper than just cutting hair.

“Barbering saved my life,” Fernando Corps said.

Corps is the owner of Fade & Combs Barber Lounge, a business he’s grown since 2018 to now three locations across the Jacksonville area, but the 27-year-old is just getting started; his ambition dates back to when he was just a kid.

“I’m originally from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, I came here at the age of 13,” he said. “There wasn’t too many people I can talk to or understand or identify to get my haircut.”

Fernando said his grandfather got him a pair of clippers.

Watch: Gets Real: Hispanic businesses’ impact on economy

“My brother was my first client and my toilet was my first chair,” he said.

That’s how it began, but after his mother was diagnosed and died of cancer during his high school years, Fernando says he went through a rough stretch; abusing pills, smoking and drinking heavily.

“When there was nothing, there was no people, there wasn’t anybody, barbering was there.,” he said. “It was the only way I knew how to make a decent living.”

That’s when he began to take the art of barbering more seriously, turning a living into a lifestyle and a way to help others.

Now, he even makes Jaguars players look smooth on and off the field.

His first shop opened off St. Johns Bluff, the newest 2nd and 3rd locations are on Monument road and in Orange Park, trying to create more jobs for local barbers.

Read: Hispanic Heritage ‘Starlight’ Gala to celebrate a night of achievement in October

“I get good guys who have the potential but may not have it all figured out yet and I give them the opportunity and eventually we’re going to keep growing. We’re going to have franchise owners, we’re going to have benefits,” he said.

As a way to help others, Fernando helped create the Jax Elite Barber & Beauty Expo, which brings hundreds to thousands of barbers and product companies to Jacksonville ever since it began in 2020.

“We give training to people, financial education, shear education, all of that stuff because we’re in constant growth,” Fernando said. “People fly in, learn about Jacksonville, learn about our culture and learn about the barber industry.”

His next goal is to open a barber school, for those ready to take their skills to another level, with professional standards, building a business and empowering a community.

“I keep seeing that want to get a job that are super talented, have no license,” he said. “You have to follow what the system says and that’s getting your license.”

Fernando’s hard work and accolades awarded him the “Rising Star Entrepreneur of the Year” award from the Jacksonville Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He said it meant the world to him.

“When I got it, I remember crying because your mother bringing you here having so many struggles and having so many situations but you realize because of barbering you were able to get a home, establish a family and be rewarded,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m a pillar in my community and able to add something to the community.”

Fernando says his success comes from his faith and family.

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“One thing I did do, I worked everyday at it. One thing I have is a great team, from my brother, to my wife, to my team, to my family,” Fernando said. “If you don’t put in the time and you don’t put in the work and you don’t surround yourself with people that are smarter and better than you, you won’t be able to grow.”

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