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February 16, 2021

Virtual series highlights Rochester business owners’ experiences

The two-part virtual series will take place from noon to 1 p.m. Feb. 18 and 25 and will feature four local small business owners, some of whom are graduates of Venture Jobs Foundation’s Jobs Kitchen Accelerator Program. The nine-week program teaches small business owners how to create or refine their business plans through mentorship from community members and guest speakers. Graduates of the program also have the possibility of receiving financial assistance to help new or existing businesses.

The Kitchen Lunch Bites speakers will share such information as how they raised money and built their businesses and what resources are available for businesses.

Two of the featured speakers are Gilberto Vargas, who operates GVIII Barbershop in Rochester, and Rosa Marie Curtis, who recently opened her business, Marvelous Mind Academy, a child care center in Rochester.

Vargas became interested in cutting hair at an early age, noting that he would watch his cousin work in his barbershop that was located in the basement of their grandmother’s house.

“He started teaching me,” Vargas said of his cousin, “and I started practicing when I was 8 years old.”

Vargas’ passion for cutting hair continued through high school, when he first began charging for barber services. After graduating from Irondequoit High School, he attended Utica College for a year before making the decision to continue his studies at Monroe Community College in 2010.

At that time, MCC offered a four-month barber program, Sharp Edges, for students interested in earning barber licenses. Vargas worked as a barber for five years before opening his own barbershop, GVIII Barbershop, on Monroe Avenue in 2016.

After three years of being a business owner, Vargas decided to take some additional courses at MCC to further learn how he could improve his business. One day while attending classes, Vargas said he saw a flyer in the hallway with information about a competition hosted by Venture Jobs Foundation called Launch Your Business.

According to Vargas, the competition was open to individuals interested in opening new businesses or for current business owners. Participants were given the resources to develop feasible business plans that would be submitted for review at the conclusion of the program.

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