Five years ago, celebrity men’s groomer Jason Schneidman grabbed a pair of hair clippers and called his business partner Blake Levy to meet him on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue in Hollywood, California.
What started as a simple act of kindness quickly turned into a journey that neither of them ever imagined.
Since then, Schneidman, who was once “brought to his knees” by a crack cocaine addiction, and Levy have been helping countless men and women who were stuck on the street due to drugs and alcohol get back on their feet — one haircut at a time.
Now, they’re ready to take their efforts a step further by creating a structured sober living facility in Southern California that’s equipped with a “community of retail and restaurant employment opportunities,” Schneidman told Fox News.
It will be geared toward anyone who is struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction.
The caveat? They have to be willing to do the work to turn their life around, he said.
“This structured sober living that I went through taught me how to become a man,” Schneidman said. “And that’s what I want to share with people that are like me.”
The upper part of the facility, where he hopes to house roughly 12 people who are struggling with addiction, will be centered around recovery, he said. Each day will be structured and include activities “conducive to sobriety,” from in-house meetings, outside meetings, outside therapy sessions to yoga retreats.
Below that space will be an area featuring retail shops and restaurants, which will cater to the public and provide employment opportunities to the people who went through structured sober living.
It’s about “getting back into the workplace, you know, being accountable, having the tools necessary to be successful in life,” Schneidman said.
Moreover, it’s about doing the work necessary to “stay sober one day at a time.”
Proceeds will go directly toward helping people get off the streets and break their drug or alcohol addictions. It’s work Schneidman and Levy have dedicated their lives to for the past five years.
Schneidman, who became known for styling some of Hollywood’s most prestigious celebrities from Bruno Mars to Hugh Jackman, vividly remembers the day he picked up a backpack and set out to help people who were “sick and tired of being sick and tired,” alongside Levy.
It was a feeling Schneidman knew first hand 17 years ago after getting hooked on crack cocaine. His driver’s license had been revoked, there were warrants out for his arrest and his family and friends “were completely done” with him.
“I had nowhere to live,” he said. “I was living in garages. I was living in my car and I was broken, you know, and somebody helped me.”
Ever since, he’s been using his “experience, strength, and hope” to encourage those to find a better path.
“I was taught in recovery that I need to share my experience, strength and hope with another addict or alcoholic in order to stay sober and to feel amazing,” he said.
Schneidman and Levy’s efforts eventually went from giving haircuts to organizing community events with dozens of barbers, stylists and estheticians while simultaneously raising funds to get these men and women the essentials they need to survive, Levy told Fox News.
The duo started filming their interactions with the intention of helping the person in front of them, Schneidman said.
What happened was their story spread around the world. Suddenly, people from all walks of life — from major companies to even some of Schneidman’s celebrity clients — were reaching out to pitch in in any way they could.
“There are amazing people in the world that have hearts, you know?” Schneidman said. “People started donating clothes … I had treatment centers that offered scholarship beds to me.”
And even though the pandemic altered their ability to give haircuts out on the streets, their efforts to help never stopped.
Last April, Schneidman, Levy and a team of helpers packed up Easter baskets full of supplies from food, candy and hand sanitizer and dropped them off all over the city for the homeless.
It’s not easy work but Schneidman was recently reminded just how much of an impact they are truly making.
Angela and Joshua, a couple who attended one of the community haircut events three years ago, recently thanked Schneidman for playing a role in changing their lives.
At the 2017 haircutting event, one of Schneidman’s volunteers – a female hairstylist — worked on Angela’s tresses. With a new style in hand, she and Joshua moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico for a fresh start. It was a decision that Schneidman and his team played a part in.
“It’s like (the stylist) didn’t even care how terrible I looked. She didn’t care that I had this constant look of stress on my face,” Angela told Schneidman and his actor friend KJ Apa, who drove from L.A. to Santa Fe, to see how the couple was doing.
The stylist, Angela thought, treated her like a person. “She looked at me right in the eyes and she said ‘So what are we thinking?’, Angela recalled.
Schneidman said that this isn’t a life he necessarily chose nor does he consider himself a saint. Rather, he says he’s a former drug addict who learned to use the lessons instilled in him while in recovery and his passion for cutting hair to help others.
Regardless, he’s fully invested in continuing this life-changing work.
“I’m 51 years old and this second part of my life is going to be directed towards service,” he said.
Together, Levy and Schneidman have opened “The Men’s Groomer Shop” in Venice where they cut hair and sell their own hair products line. They also established a nonprofit, The Men’s Groomer Foundation, that works to get people off the streets and back on their feet.
As part of this effort, they also began providing sponsorships to clean beds at a sober living program.
“A haircut, a hello, or just acknowledging that ‘I see you’ is all it takes sometimes,” Schneidman wrote on Instagram.
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