Breathitt County native Lloyd Roberts credits HCTC for success as cosmetologist, small business owner
Looking at Jackson native Lloyd Roberts, one would be hard pressed to guess what he does for a living. The tall, broad-shouldered redhead sports a shaved head with a long biker-style beard—you might guess he works on motorcycles before you’d ever guess his actual profession.
“I am a licensed cosmetologist,” Roberts says with a smile, seated comfortably in his antique barber’s chair in his newly opened Studio 6 salon in Jackson in Breathitt County. “And I wouldn’t be where I am today without the education I received from HCTC (Hazard Community and Technical College).”
Roberts is the first to admit that education wasn’t always on the top of his list of priorities. Just shy of one year from graduating high school, he dropped out of school and started working locally as a diesel mechanic.
“I was a diesel mechanic for most of my life and it’s really took its toll on my body,” Roberts confesses, rubbing his knee absentmindedly. “I decided if I’m going to do something that’s rough on myself, I might as well do something I’m going to enjoy.”
Having always had an interest in barbering, Roberts decided to explore his options for school—but first he had to get his GED.
“I dropped out of high school and here I am, 18 years later, [going back to get] my GED,” he says. “That’s what this all started from. I wanted to go back to school to do hair. That was the key factor for me.”
Roberts went through the Adult Ed office on the Lees College Campus in 2018 to complete his GED, which he did with flying colors. Afterwards, though, he realized there wasn’t a barber school near enough to him to be able to attend, so he looked at his next best option—the cosmetology program at HCTC.
“I was supposed to start in Jackson, but they closed that class down and brought it up here (to the Hazard Campus). I was a nervous wreck,” Roberts admits, laughing at the memory now.
“Like I said, I’m almost 40 years old, starting completely over in a mostly woman-oriented field,” he adds. “It was a big change. But all the teachers, faculty, and staff have been great and easy to work with.”
Luckily, Roberts wasn’t making that change alone. His stepson, who had just graduated from high school, decided to take the leap with him into becoming a cosmetologist.
“There’s me and him, then my wife does makeup; she’s a licensed makeup artist,” he lists off, adding that his aunt also has 30 years of experience in cosmetology. “So, this is mostly family in the business here.”
Roberts and his stepson graduated from the program in May 2022 and started working at Studio 6. While some might say this isn’t the greatest time to be opening a new business, Roberts disagrees.
“I’ve noticed, especially because they’ve shut down salons and barber shops for months during the pandemic, and when they opened back up people were so far behind and stuff—and even before the pandemic people stay so far behind—people from Jackson and Hazard were driving all the way to Campton or Winchester or Lexington to get the same services they could get here if it was available,” he says. “We’re a one-stop shop here. If you’re getting married you can get your nails done, your hair done, and you makeup done all in one place.”
Roberts says had it not been for the cosmetology program at HCTC, he probably would have gone backward instead of moving forward when the pandemic hit.
“I probably would have crawled back underneath a truck when this pandemic hit if it hadn’t of been for this because there wasn’t a whole lot out there to make what I was making,” he says. “But I’d have been a short timer because, like I said, I’m 40 years old, knees are shot, back’s kind of shot.”
If anyone is considering coming to HCTC or starting a career as a cosmetologist, Roberts urges them to come to HCTC.
“To anybody that would want to start into this career, I would say do it. Don’t hesitate—just do it if that’s what you want to do,” he says.