SoCal coffee seller returns favor for now-struggling barber who helped him in early days

ABC7 SOLUTIONS: Business owners help each other out during hard times
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom has shut down hair salons and barbershops three different times since March due to COVID-19. Many people who own those businesses are wondering how they will survive.

Victor Vanuelos started Elysian Barbershop two years ago, but like everyone in his industry in Los Angeles, his chairs are empty.

"It's been really difficult to see my life savings kind of go away and not know, just basically just to hold my place in line... it's been difficult," said Vanuelos.

Sumi Ali also began a small business about two years ago: a new, online direct-to-consumer coffee roasting company called Yes Plz. That direct-to-consumer approach allowed for his business to see significant growth when the pandemic hit.

"We were kind of, from day one... we've been optimized for people's mailbox, so more people are drinking coffee at home in their kitchens and we're kind of made for that," said Ali.

When Yes Plz was simply a startup, Victor cut Sumi's hair for free because money was tight and Victor knew Sumi needed a good haircut for business meetings.

In an attempt to return that kindness, YesPlz created the Barber's Relief Blend Coffee and will donate 100% of the profits to the Elysian Barbershop to help them survive.

"Because we're fully native online, and only do subscription coffee we've kind of felt a disconnect to the community... and it's people like Victor who are a cornerstone of the community, so we just felt like we finally have our mask on and it's time for us to do anything we can to help these guys," said Ali.

The Barber's blend will be available through January. This giving back is something both men hope others will see as a solution to those who are struggling.

"I think collaboration right now with people that maybe are a little fortunate to have some sort of business going right now with others that don't is something that could really work out for a lot of people," said Vanuelos.

"We definitely don't want to pull the ladder up behind us. So I think anyone who's in a position to help should help," said Ali.
Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.