Jose Rodriguez first set foot in Washington D.C. on March 24th, 1957. After paying a taxi to get downtown and spending the last eight dollars in his pocket, he began going door to door determined to find a job. Starting on 18th Street and Columbia Road, he walked down the block to every shop and restaurant, knocking on doors and asking for work. Today, he is the owner of his own business – a barbershop in an exclusive office complex downtown, has a large family including five kids and eight grandchildren, and is a living embodiment of the American Dream.
Originally from Puerto Rico, he came to the United States of America to find opportunities that did not exist back home. His immediate goal was to begin earning and ultimately provide a life for himself and his family. Relying on the American Dream that his hard work and perseverance will lead to happiness and fulfillment, he says, “there is no shame in any kind of work as long it pays.”
Jose admits that he had no real marketable skills when he got here. Back home he had been a country boy, and never got exposed to particular trades or crafts that would be fitting for the big city. He did however develop arguably the biggest asset anyone can have- a relentless and honest work ethic, and the tenacity to prusoe his dream. As he went door to door, he came across the once-iconic Colony House Restaurant, behind the Mayflower Hotel. The first person to hear out his job request was the restaurant’s manager. Conscious that he lacked professional experience, Jose offered to prove himself at no pay until he earned it, if the manager gave him any job in the restaurant. He started out as a busboy, and soon his hard work was rewarded with a steady salary. Within six months he got a barber’s license and began creating the life he had always dreamed of. When he was interviewing to get a license to become barber, he met an Italian man who owned a barbershop in the basement of a large medical complex in the office-dense Farragut neighborhood. Being able to understand each other due to similarities in their native languages, Jose was offered a job at the barbershop where he began learning the hair cutting trade.
After 36 years, of cutting hair, Jose caught a break and a storefront opened up in an office building down the block. With the entirety of his savings, he seized the opportunity and began running his own barbershop. For the past decade he has been cutting hair and running his own business “Jose’s Barbershop” at 1825 Eye Street, in Washington D.C. He employs five people and services locals who have become loyal costumers because of his integrity and friendly demeanor.
His American Dream not only lives with him but with his children. His oldest son Joey faithfully served his country in the United States Navy as a linguist and speaks Arabic and Farsi. Recently, Joey and his Jose’s other two children Terry and Eric started their own business together in Florida. With this talent and tenacity, Jose started a family of entrepreneurs that has already contributed to the value creating process embodied by the American Dream!