Salons including The Cutting Edge, The Styling Corner and Shear Paradise in Owego, NY; and Paula McNeil, Image Salon and The Klip Joint in Athens, PA, faced a long rebuilding process after they were destroyed in August by the destructive one-two punch of Hurricane Irene and a severe tropical storm just several days later.

Massive flooding forced these businesses to close, and it took weeks and even months to repair and rebuild. Today, these salons, along with three neighboring salons that offered work spaces to many of the displaced stylists (Hair Designs in Owego, NY and Mane Designs and SophistiCuts in Sayre, PA,) received a welcome holiday boost from the Matrix Chairs of Change initiative. Led by Matrix Vice President and General Manager Colin Walsh, and joined by Al DiTulio, president of the local A&A Beauty Supply Company, a team of well-wishers made surprise visits to each salon to celebrate their re-openings.

The group—including Matrix team members Kathy Cullin, Gail Cohen, Patrick O'Keefe, Kelly Thomasey, Ginny Guinn, Joe Santiago and Rachel Lockett and A&A team members Marty Dodge, Sheree McGonnigal and Kelly Walser—presented the owners with six months-worth of Matrix professional products to help them regain their business momentum, an Elchim blow dryer for each stylist and an assortment of product samples for clients.

The salons will also receive a full day education class with Matrix Artistic Director Daniel Roldan, gift baskets to raffle off to clients and incremental Matrix Friends and Family points. The Chairs of Change team also visited the three "helping" salons and celebrated them with products and gifts as well.

Their Stories:

Tammy Babcock, owner of The Cutting Edge, says that the disaster turned her life upside down. "One day we were working," she says, "and the next day our building was flooded with three feet of water and we were out of business."  Babcock was forced to gut her salon and tear out all of the floors and walls, but she was back in business in just five weeks.  "I was so concerned about my clients," she says, "but most of them waited and they were so happy when we reopened!" Babcock says that the Chairs of Change donations will make an enormous difference in her progress. "We have no money, so we have no products on the shelves," she says. And the products are only part of it. "They all pulled up this morning in a big bus with champagne and gave us all of these wonderful things!" she says. "It was an outpouring of love and support. Colin Walsh told me that by getting back to work, I helped the community, and I hadn't thought of it that way. It means so much that someone recognizes that we're still here. I was so surprised and so touched!"

Julie Newhart, a stylist at Shear Paradise, was stunned when the door of her salon flew open today and Team Chairs of Change danced into the salon.  Shear Paradise had taken on more than eight inches of water from the storm and was forced to close for three and a half weeks to redo the floors and walls. "It was overwhelming when the Matrix people showed up!" she exclaimed. "These gifts will truly help us get our business back up to speed.  There really is a Santa Claus!"

As the storm approached last August, Paula McNeil left her salon for the evening, not knowing what the next morning would bring.  When she returned the next day, she was relieved that the rushing water had stopped short of her door.  But even though the Paula McNeil salon didn't experience physical damage, there was no power or gas, and the business was forced to shut down for five days.  Once it opened, the National Guard wouldn't allow customers to park in the area, so they were forced to park several blocks away and walk. "When the Matrix team showed up at the salon today," says Paula, "it was like the Publisher's Clearance House!  Everyone was so cute and vivacious.  What a celebration!"  Paula has a long history of community involvement—she's always willing to donate to organizations that help people in need.  And, based on referrals from her many friends in the teaching profession, she gives free haircuts to school kids whose parents can't afford them.  "We'll definitely pay this forward in some way, too," she says. "I've never been given a gift like this. It's so heartwarming to know that there are people out there who care."   

When the Chairs of Change team burst through her doors, Lori Jackson of The Styling Corner thought they were on Extreme Home Makeover! "They came bopping in," she laughs, "and they brought a ton of stuff, which was great because we had put so much on hold for the two months we were closed. They brought some Matrix color and I used it on my mother right away!" The Styling Corner took in four feet of water during the storm, forcing them to close and gut the salon. In the interim, the six stylists set up shop at a neighboring salon.  "After the Matrix visit, we wanted to do something for someone else," comments Lori. "So we all pitched in and paid for a new furnace for the salon owner that took us in."

According to Walsh, the Chairs of Change initiative is extremely important to Matrix, because it enables the company to support its salon community in many ways. In a champagne toast at each location, he celebrated the beauty community's lifelong commitment to helping those in need, and added, "The Matrix Chairs of Change initiative is committed to giving back to every community and supporting stylists as they make positive change."

According to Walsh, the Chairs of Change initiative is extremely important to Matrix, because it enables the company to support its salon community in many ways. In a champagne toast at each location, he celebrated the beauty community's lifelong commitment to helping those in need, and added, "The Matrix Chairs of Change initiative is committed to giving back to every community and supporting stylists as they make positive change.