Jay and sign picAs he approached the age of 40, Jay Troutt was still wondering what he wanted to be when he grew up.

His diverse resume included jobs as a janitor, in construction and at the YMCA but Jay had reached a point where he hoped to establish himself in a specific field. Recently married, Jay realized that his priorities had shifted and thoughts of a family were now impacting his employment aspirations.

“I wanted a career, not just a job,” he said.

It was around that time that Jay decided to enroll at a school called Total Cosmetics to become a barber. Before long, he found he had a knack for cutting hair and relating to people.

“I loved it right away,” he said. “I knew this is what I wanted to do.”

After passing the state exam on his first attempt, Jay latched on with a hair styling business at the North Town Mall in 2011, staying for five years and building up a significant clientele. After time, he realized it was time to set out on his own. In February, Classic Cuts opened on Monroe in Spokane’s north central neighborhood. Jay and his wife, Brianna, were suddenly small business owners.

“It’s always a little nerve-wracking when you venture into the unknown,” Jay said.

Jay and Brianna, proud parents of two kids, say they are thankful to SNAP for making the transition less daunting. Brianna worked with Cara Weipert, director of SNAP’s Women’s Business Center, to set up an LLC, sort through the maze of tax requirements for a new business and, in Brianna’s words, “help put a lot of the pieces together.”

Jay Troutt pic 1“When you’re first starting a business, being able to go to a resource like Cara and not having there be a cost is a huge benefit,” said Brianna. “When I sat down with her, she gave me an easy format to follow.”

The Troutt family transition also included Brianna earning her MBA and organizing the foundation of Classic Cuts. The support from SNAP has meant supplementing her education with courses that address the legal issues of running a business as well as topics like accounting and contracts.

“You learn a lot in school, but you realize there’s always more to learn,” Brianna said.  “I think I had this stigma of asking for help at first but any negativity was gone within a minute of talking to Cara. She’s just a joy.”

Jay had heard of SNAP before but had no idea the agency featured a thriving micro-enterprise program that provides counseling and classes as well as loan support.

“The only thing I knew about SNAP was that they help people having trouble paying their power bills,” he said.

Jay is quick to point out that the first-year business “is not a black barbershop on Monroe, but a barbershop on Monroe.” One of his more notable clients is Kyle Wiltjer, who just completed his last year as one of Gonzaga’s star basketball players.

“I see all kinds of people here,” Jay said. “We’re personable and relaxed.”

Business has been brisk since Classic Cuts opened in the winter. Jay has one stylist working with him now with room for five more. No hurry to get the stations full, though. He prefers quality over quantity.

“We do have space but it has to be the right fit,” Jay said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do.”