LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY)- A veteran’s journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur; National Veterans Small Business Week.
The week of November 4th-8th is dedicated to celebrating the nation’s 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses that contribute to the U.S. economy. Each year the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) celebrates, connects, and empowers service members during National Veterans Small Business Week (NVSBW). This marks the sixth annual NVSBW.
Veteran entrepreneurship is growing in Acadiana. Resources like the Louisiana Veterans First Business Initiative help residents search a database to find a business within their area to support.
“I just liked getting my hair cut. I never touched a pair of clippers until I went to school,” said Nick Duplechine, owner of All American Barbering.
He’s a military veteran who worked in the corporate field for about 20 years then decided he was tired of making money for someone else. “I am the 100% owner of this company. All American Barbering. I love it. I wish that I’ve done this years ago, but there’s a reason for everything,” said Duplechine.
Approaching his year mark as a business owner, he explained how difficult it is for some veterans to make it in society.
“Some veterans have it a lot worse than I did. There’s a lot of PTSD out there and some social skills. It’s a lot different than hanging out with a bunch of civilians,” he added.
He considers his shop a safe and relaxing environment for everyone. “It’s what a barbershop is supposed to be. A barbershop is supposed to be a place where people come, talk and just have fun,” he said.
This has become his gateway to happiness. He believes the recent initiative has played a huge role in fostering growth and prosperity for their community.
“I know a lot of veterans come here just because I’m a veteran. I never served with them, but they know I’m a veteran. They see the sign on the door and know we have something to talk about,” he added.
Over 250 veteran-owned businesses are registered statewide on the Veteran First database.