Barbers raided for license
checks offer free haircuts to
the community...

Strictly Skillz is a predominantly African-American barbershop located in a high-risk area of Orlando. The shop's owner, Brian Berry, is a college-educated barber with more than 10 years of industry experience. His shop has had no major violations, yet was targeted along with a dozen other predominantly African-American and Hispanic barbershops in a series of highly controversial raids by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

Berry's shop was raided in September, 2010, he and his barbers were handcuffed and detained in front of their customers, but no violations of any kind were found. The controversial raids received intensive media attention, which damaged Berry's reputation and negatively affected business at Strictly Skillz. As a result, Berry filed a civil lawsuit against both agencies on behalf of his shop and barbers. Julison Communications worked with the barber's attorney to handle messaging and media relations surrounding the announcement of the lawsuit. Additionally, to help with perception of the shop, Julison Communications proposed that Strictly Skillz host a Community Day at the barbershop where Berry and his team of barbers would give out free haircuts and provide entertainment and refreshments for those in the community. Julison Communications worked closely with shop owner Brian Berry to develop messaging. On the day of the event, Berry's Community Day was covered by all five local TV affiliates, the Orlando Sentinel and several local radio stations.

In all, more than 46 TV news stories were generated throughout Central Florida highlighting Strictly Skillz' Community Day and the goodwill that owner Brian Berry was building. Additionally, the Orlando Sentinel wrote a full-length feature story which was prominently displayed on the newspaper's website. Berry and his team of barbers gave more than 200 free haircuts in total. The community rallied around the barbershop and Berry received numerous phone calls and emails praising his shop for helping those in the community.