Sydney Berry, owner of the Seattle-area distributorship, Salon Services & Supplies, Inc., loved hair since she was 10-years old, and took the usual route from stylist to salon owner. But in 1980, she moved from Nebraska to Seattle and instead of trying to rebuild a clientele, she applied for a sales consultant job at a distributorship then Sebastian of Seattle and now Salon Services & Supplies that was just getting off the ground. She has been there ever since, progressing from sales manager to general manager to president, then to owner
But her 1990 diagnosis with breast cancer changed her professional focus. âIt initiated a lot of different thought processes for me. After being in hair for so many years, now I was involved in the loss of hair,â she says. âItâs hard to rebuild what you believe you look like, and I realized thatâs not a part weâve undertaken as an industry.â
She learned what breast cancer patients need and what stylists can do to help them, and when she recovered after a 1993 relapse, she put her knowledge into action.
Berry and her company raised money for wigs and for books for newly-diagnosed patients, as well as for breast cancer research foundations and events like the City of Hopeâs âSpirit of Lifeâ award and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
She also participated in salon forums, talking to owners and stylists about the transformation patients undergo during chemo and radiation and how to help them cope. âWhen you are going through breast cancer, or any cancer, there is a loss of self. You feel so bad physically, you donât look like yourself,â she says.
âOne thing that was so frustrating was I wanted to be able to look at myself and say âYep, Iâm still there,â and I couldnât. Mentally, youâre doing everything you can to connect with just getting through the day, and youâre looking for anything you can do to get a little feel of âIâm going to be ok.â And thatâs what salons can do.â
The response has been rewarding. âThis industry is great,â says Berry. âOnce they understand, they will do anything they can.â
Personally, Berry says her experiences have made her jam-pack every day and appreciate every moment.
âIt definitely makes you cognizant of life, and the gift of life,â she says. âSo many times you speed through life, and this is a wake-up call. It makes you aware of the tenuousness of life.â