Antonio Galeno swivels the chair and picks up the scissors. He deftly cuts his client’s hair all the while greeting those that walk in the door and chatting with his clients. The grin never disappears from his face. He moves with confidence. He’s worked hard to start 5 Stars Barbershop in Peñitas, Texas, and with the help of the Buckner Family Hope Center, it’s flourishing.
Galeno wasn’t always a barber. He first worked construction and farming jobs. He didn’t love either and started dreaming of a different career.
“I started thinking it was time to go back to school,” he says. “I started to think about what things I could do that would let me grow something and make me feel like I’m doing something good.”
That’s when he decided to learn to cut hair.
“I finally came up with hair and beauty style,” he says. “I like this business because hair will never stop growing, and we will always want to look good. Always. I saw a big potential here.”
At first, Galeno worked for another barbershop, but a year ago, he decided to open his own shop so he could be near his family.
Opening the shop was easy. Galeno’s magnetic personality and skills attracted many new clients, but Galeno had never owned a business before, and he was struggling with the day-to-day operations.
That’s when his wife, Vanesa Rodriguez, told him about the Family Hope Center. Her parents were also involved in the Hope Center, and she would sometimes take classes there. She thought Galeno might benefit from going as well.
Galeno started attending regularly, using the computer lab to work on his business needs. When Family Coach Becci Ruiz found out he had just opened his own shop, she introduced him to DreamBuilder, an online interactive tutorial with step-by-step basics for operating a business. In addition to the interactive courses, students are given access to tools and templates they can use in their own ventures.
Galeno became a faithful student. He was at the Hope Center computer lab every day taking the classes before his shop opened for the day.
“When I opened the shop, I knew how to cut hair, and I knew I was good at it,” Galeno says. “But I just didn’t know how to run a business. I was having a really hard time. I would get clients, but then I wouldn’t know where the money is between work expenses and personal expenses. I started to get confused.”
DreamBuilder helped Galeno organize his business, keep track of his expenses, separating household from business expenses, and even about marketing.
“I love DreamBuilder,” Galeno says. “It helped organize everything for me and the shop. It also helped me see that I needed to love the shop and to identify opportunities.”
When Ruiz noticed his committment to growing his business, she talked to him and Rodriguez about participating in the family coaching program at the Hope Center, allowing them to work with a family coach to identify goals in building self-sustainability for their family.
“We noticed he would come into the Hope Center every day for a couple of hours, and he was very consistent,” Ruiz said. “I realized he was very serious about completing the course and improving his business so I knew he would be a good candidate for the family coaching program. Antonio dreams big, and we’re trying to provide and connect him with the resources he needs to fulfill those dreams.”
They started the family coaching program in September and have already worked through several business goals such as finishing the DreamBuilder online course and attending a business seminar on starting a small business, as well as meet with a business counselor for counseling sessions.
Now Galeno’s shop is running more smoothly. He regularly sees 30-40 clients a week and employs three other people to help him on the weekends. Recently, he opened a second shop eight miles down the road. He also continues to look for opportunities to further his business and has started creating his own line of hair products.
In addition to the business goals, Ruiz helped them identify goals for strengthening their family, and Galeno and Rodriguez regularly take financial, marriage and parenting classes through the Hope Center.
Currently, the major goal they are working toward is improving their living conditions. Galeno was able to purchase some land with a small mobile home. While he is proud of his little abode, it’s tight living for the family of four. By accomplishing his goals toward self- sufficiency, being active in the Hope Center and continuing to take classes, he and Rodriguez can qualify for having a home built for them by Buckner National Missions.
“We kept watching how motivated Antonio is and how he and Vanesa continue with the classes so we knew they were a good candidate for a home build since they are well on their way to sustainability,” Ruiz said. “We want to make sure that after building them a home, the families can continue to provide for themselves, and we know that Antonio has that spark to succeed.”
Galeno and Rodriguez still need to complete a couple of classes focused on family strengthening to qualify for the home build, including taking a fatherhood course and Work Life course, but Galeno enjoys taking them. The classes help make his family strong, and that is important to him.
“I have learned patience and faith no matter how hard it looks,” Galeno says. “I started learning about faith – to just wait. Things will get better when God decides to bless you, and he will bless you. I believe things are coming, and they’re coming for good. That is amazing for me. I believe on it and I have faith everything I want is going to come.”