Christopher D. Felder, Founder of The Long Island Barber Institute, Inc. (LIBI), registered his enterprise as a New York State corporation in May 2004. By December 2006, all planning and development was in order and licensing as a private career school in the Barber trade was received from the New York State Department of Education. LIBI was ready to make its debut.
LIBI has not been a boiler plate project for Felder. There were very few models for him to follow. In fact, LIBI is the only licensed proprietary school on Long Island offering state board practical training in Barbering. Much must be done to open doors to a barber school. Providing training in the Barbering is highly regulated for the protection of patrons. To Felder’s advantage, he had come from three generations of master barbers and barber shop owners and had family members to learn from. Ironically, he never saw himself in the profession – Education and Business were his academic pursuits with teaching as a career goal. However, his learned barber skills, kept him financially afloat in college. Receiving a BA in Secondary Education, Felder taught high school History and Social Studies but was soon disillusioned by curriculum limitations imposed in the classroom. He left secondary education but quickly found his niche. For the next 15 years Felder worked as a Master Barber and part-owner of Upscale Haircutters Barbershop in Hempstead, New York. Upscale Haircutters Barbershop placed well within the industry, winning The Best Barbershop of the Year – 2004 Choice Award by 98.7 KISS FM, one the most popular radio stations in New York. Upscale, Inc. became Felder’s platform to give back to the community he cared so much about. Felder sponsored donation of holiday turkey gift baskets in a much publicized event in cooperation with players from the New York Jets national football team. Upscale Inc. also became renowned for their Fathers’ Day Buffet and Customer Appreciation Day. After establishing LIBI, The Upscale Apprentice Scholarship was put in place to help disadvantaged students. “Giving back” and partnership with community is essential to Felder.
As with many entrepreneurs, Felder’s early years as Founder / Director of his enterprise were spent wearing many hats; Instructor for both Theory and Practical Applications, Administrator, Bookkeeper and overseeing all management and operational aspects. Presently he proudly has leadership and camaraderie of a staff of highly capable and dedicated administrators, managers, and instructors. Felder believes the glue that holds his team together is an individual commitment to LIBI’s mission… “to provide quality barber education that will enable students to learn through theory, and develop practical skills necessary to pass the state board examination; receive their license and become gainfully employed within the barber field. We are committed to the training of individuals who will become professionals in barber styling to the millions in New York and throughout the World.”
Felder holds final authorization of all levels of LIBI’s operations… administration, human resource management, academic structuring, public relations, and business development and has seen his efforts rewarded. Enrollments for LIBI increase every year. Accreditation statistics report 85% of LIBI students complete their required education prepared for immediate employment. June 2015, LIBI celebrated its eighth graduation and to date all LIBI graduates taking the State Board Examination pass successfully – giving LIBI a 100% licensure rate.
Felder foresees LIBI enhancing its capacity to accommodate a larger student cadre and to continue providing the highest quality of training that meet state and national standards.