The Barber Factory

Nester Lebron, owner

“This is more than a business. Our customers are our community, our family. They feel comfortable when they hear us speaking Spanish.”  


Close up of a customer  getting their hair cut. The barber is using clippers and a plastic comb. Their reflection can be seen in the mirror.

Nestor, a bald man with medium skin and a black and white beard, wearing a  maroon apron, examines his supplies in front of a mirror while people talk in the background.

‘Service Oriented. Community Driven’ is printed on the front door of The Barber Factory. Inside is what you’d expect in a barbershop – guys ribbing each other, kids picking out their post-cut lollipop. But Nestor Lebron’s shop offers more than a trim and a shave. From hosting bake sale fundraisers to giving backpacks full of school supplies to local students in need, Nestor is committed to serving his community.

Nestor seated at the front window of his shop wearing a maroon hat and apron with his logo, open scissors and with the letters “T,” “B,” and “F”.

Like most barber shops and salons across the country, The Barber Factory was hit hard by the pandemic. During the months of quarantining, Nestor organized a network of other barbers citywide and helped them prepare for reopening by distributing face coverings, disposable customer aprons, and other materials.

Black and white photograph of a four story tall building. It is adorned with a Jewish star and a plaque near the top “Kletzker Brotherly Aid Assn.” 
Independent Kletzker Brotherly Aid Association building, 5 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side. Photo by Edmund V. Gillon Jr., Tenement Museum collection

Often throughout history, like Nestor’s network of barbers, communities come together to care for each other. Mutual aid societies, like the Kletzer Brothers Aid Association, organized to help their communities with medical care, burial arrangements, unemployment, and social services. It was to one of these aid societies that Nathalie Gumpertz, a German immigrant and 97 Orchard Street resident, turned to for help after her husband abandoned her with four children during the Panic of 1873.

An oval photographic portait of 97 Orchard tenent Nathalie Gumpertz with hair pulled back, wearing an elaborate dress.
Portrait of Nathalie Gumpertz c. 1890. Tenement Museum collection

During the Great Depression, the Baldizzi family received aid from “Home Relief,” an early form of government assistance provided by New York State. However, what they received wasn’t entirely enough for the family of four to live on, so Rosaria Baldizzi, an undocumented immigrant from Italy, found work in the garment industry (seen below, second from the right) to supplement what assistance they received. Her daughter Josephine recalls her mother concealing her employment from their Home Relief case worker to keep their government assistance. To inform them would have meant losing what they were receiving, and the job itself wasn’t nearly enough to feed them all.

Black and white photograph, 13 people with light skin seated at a long table with sewing machines, garments. Rosaria has dark hair and is smiling.
Rosaria Baldizzi (second on the right) in a Manhattan coat manufacturing shop, 1940s. Tenement Museum collection

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