Customer Photo of Patrick Jenkins

Patrick Jenkins

Owner of A Better U Beauty and Barber Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico

When A Better U Beauty and Barber Academy owner Patrick Jenkins was about 11 years old, there was little he looked forward to more than running out to his older cousin’s car to retrieve the bag containing her hair clippers.
His cousin was a beautician, and Pat was mesmerized by the clippers. “I just liked how you plug them in and they come on,” Pat says. Of course, he had no training in how to use them.

But inexperience didn’t stop pre-teen Pat from getting a few customers. “The older men where we lived in rural Louisiana would say, ‘Let this little boy cut your hair ‘cause he has steady hands.’”

“I trained that way – a lot of freehand.” 

Fifteen years later with a $500 loan from DreamSpring, Pat opened his first barbershop — a small, single-chair space in southeast Albuquerque. “That money helped me then so much,” he says. “DreamSpring has been outstanding to me. That’s why I went back to them.”

Pat returned to DreamSpring 15 years later as his vision for the barbershop evolved.

“I used to tell people I wanted to open up a barber school, but I was just talking because I didn’t have the money. It was 2007, when the economy was struggling.” 

Nevertheless, Pat opened ABU Beauty and Barber Academy that year. He succeeded, he says, because of his nephew, Shawn Ledet, who helped launch the business as an invested partner, and because of a $20,000 loan from DreamSpring to furnish the business. The combination salon/barbershop/training school saw such success that in 2018, Pat moved into an even bigger space, where today he averages seven full-time employees and 50 students, with half that on a waiting list.

His entrepreneurial journey has helped support a family that includes four children. More than 40 barbershops spanning Santa Fe to Socorro have come out of the academy. The school has even become a family affair with Shawn staying on as Pat’s partner, Pat’s sister conducting marketing, his nephew’s wife serving as an administrator, and Pat’s son Jonathan now enrolled as an ABU student. 

It’s a father-son legacy perhaps foreshadowed in 1999, when a picture of Patrick holding toddler Jonathan in his first barbershop graced the cover of DreamSpring’s Annual Report. 
Regardless of blood ties, Pat calls all of his students “my kids,” and he enjoys mentoring them almost more than he loves cutting hair. “I want to help kids with their drive and energy, and I want to help businesses around the community,” Pat says.