Small Town, Big Dreams

Carlos Jimenez opened Swarthy’s Barber Shop on Fair Oaks Avenue nine years ago, and since then has added a barber academy and a program to give haircuts to parolees, to help them get jobs. His plans for the next decade are even bigger. Photos by Henk Friezer

IF past is prologue, Carlos Jimenez could have a bright future.

The 41-year-old opened Swarthy’s Barber Shop at 1014 Fair Oaks Ave. nine years ago, and eight years ago his daughter was born.

He started, in 2015, a beard and hair academy — an apprentice program that has graduated 15 students.

In his spare time during the past decade, he’s been working with parolees to give them a free tie, shirt and haircut to get them ready to get a job.

“Certain sectors are underserved and do not have the opportunities that I have had,’’ Jimenez said. “I think everyone’s world would be better if everyone is a little better.’’

And now comes Jimenez’s dream for the future, and it is as big as it is beautiful.

He wants to get together a group of health professionals and others to participate in a mobile wellness program that will go to low-income places, first in the city and region.

Jimenez already has been participating in such programs sponsored by the Light of the World Church — cutting hair for the poor and people in need.

“We can make this world a better place if we make everyone’s day a little better,’’ said Jimenez, who lives with his family in Pasadena.

His idea is in the “drawing board” stage, and he realizes he needs funding to make this dream a reality.

The outside of Swarthy’s Barber Shop (right). The shop is located across Fair Oaks Avenue from the Rialto Theater, which is reflected in the mirrored windows.

Meanwhile, he’s about to see some things come true in his personal life.

His son is on track to graduate from UC-Riverside, becoming the first person in his family to graduate from college. His daughters are at Pasadena City College, one studying in the nursing program and the other studying to be a forensic pathologist.

And then there is his business, which he now plans to expand by offering custom clothing, suits, shoes and leather accessories.

Jimenez has come a long way since that day when he saw a “For Rent’’ sign in a shop window. His wife Jennifer, who grew up through middle school in South Pasadena, had told him that looking around was the way to find something in this town. Within two days of spotting the sign, Carlos said he was signing a  lease.

“I want to keep the shop going as long as I can,’’ he said. “This is a small town which is full of life.’’

And in that small town, Jimenez dreams big dreams for the 2020s.