Barbers have always been leaders in their communities, barbershops have always been staples of their communities. So how can a barber take that to another level to preserve the craft and to create opportunities for those who desire to grow?

Christina Lane | Co-Founder Champions Barbering Institute and Barber Shop 

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Jamaal and Christina Lane didn’t always see themselves in the hair industry, much less as pioneers. Yet, as the founders of the Champions Barbershop franchise and the Champions Barbering Institute (CBI), the first-ever Black-owned barbering school in Oregon, they have made an undeniable contribution to their community and the growth of the barbering craft.

“Barbers have always been leaders in their communities,” says Christina. “So how can a barber take that to another level to preserve the craft and to create opportunities for those who desire to grow?”

A self-taught barber, Jamaal opened the first Champions barbershop in Northeast Portland in 2008, the realization of a vision he developed after a car accident in 2001 changed his life. It was the Great Recession, and the barbershop served as a symbol of hope. His vision continued to grow after Christina joined the business.

Christina faced a major career transition when she was laid off at the clinic where she worked as a medical assistant. Recognizing the opportunity to bolster her husband’s natural talents with her administrative expertise, she joined Jamaal and turned Champions into a family-run operation. Before long, the couple opened another location in Beaverton due to the high demand.

Despite their success, a recurring frustration for the Lanes was the lack of preparedness of young barbers. “If they never look at it as a business, they’re steadily running in circles,” says Jamaal. “People start to hide stuff. People don’t want to tell you that they’re 10 years into the barber industry and don’t have a bank account.”

In response, the Lanes created the CBI. The school, located in NE Portland, provides extensive training on hands-on barbering techniques, as well as customer service, money management, and personal development. In addition to NE Portland residents, the school serves students from Gresham, Scappoose, Woodburn, Silverton, and other areas throughout the state, as well as Washington. To date, the CBI has served 50 students, including 29 graduates. Nearly all of those graduates have gone on to work in the hair industry, and two have even opened their own shop.

The Lanes pride themselves on requiring 1,140 hours of education, compared to the 746 required by the Oregon Board of Cosmetology. For them, persevering the craft and preparing their students to own their own businesses.

Going forward, they hope to continue expanding the Champions brand, and also propel CBI graduates to start their own shops. “We love to see the win-wins and that people are soaking up all we were offering them and applying it,” says Christina. “We both understand the value in taking ownership of where you want your life to go and just stepping up to get things done that need to be done. That’s who we’re charged to be.”


Author: Bruce Poinsette
Photos: Intisar Abioto
Published: November 2019


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