An ETSU alum with a heart for the community will soon be rewarded for his service.

Craig Charles, a former ETSU football player, is set to receive the 2017 Rising Star Award for his dedication to his community and his business. Each year, the East Tennessee Small Business Development Center chooses a local entrepreneur to honor with this award.

This year the award will go to Charles for sharing his knowledge of barbering with hopeful students.

Charles is the owner of Crown Cutz Academy, a barber college located in downtown Johnson City. The college opened in early June 2017. Crown Cutz trains students to become professional barbers. According to the Crown Cutz Academy website, there is not another barber school like Crown Cutz Academy within 90 miles of Johnson City. This inspired Charles to take action and begin a school of his own.

Crown Cutz Academy began with six students. That number has grown to 13 during the school’s first year. The barbering program is a 15-hour course load, which takes around nine months to complete as a full-time student. Students are trained both in a classroom setting and in the barber shop.

Charles said the Rising Star Award was an accreditation devoted to business ventures that supported the community. To him, the award is a representation of gratitude from the East Tennessee Small Business Association—a personal thank you for the hard work he’s done.

“It’s about starting something and following through,” Charles said. “It’s about helping the community…The fruits of your labor will be beared.”

In addition to holding classes, Crown Cutz Academy offers $5 haircuts to students during the second week of every month.

Crown Cutz Academy is located at 809 North Roan St. For more information about Crown Cutz Academy and its services, visit or find them on Instagram @crowncutzacademyjc.