View all

A recent Healthy Hairdresser article profiled the saga of Cindy Crowe-Layne, who has made it her mission to do beauty makeovers for women coming out of prison in order to help give them confidence to start a clean life. Crowe-Layne has a further story tell: she comes from what she calls "a family of drug addicts and alcoholics,” including her alcoholic mother and a first husband who died from his lifestyle of substance abuse. How did she break that cycle? Even Crowe-Layne is not quite sure.

“I played around with it, but I didn’t like the dark side—the throwing up in a toilet, blacking out,” says Crowe-Layne, a former salon educator who now is an Aveda educator living in Zionsville, Indiana. “I learned quickly that I didn’t want to live like that.” She soon realized that no one wants to live like that. The 1999 indie movie “Human Traffic” resonated with Crowe-Layne as it depicted the dead-end lives of young people who spend their weekends strung out and partying. Seeing the movie motivated Crowe-Layne to do what she could to give recovering addicts a more meaningful identity.

“I wondered what it would be like if I could help one mom be at home with her children the way my mom wasn’t,” she recalls. “I understood what it was like growing up with an alcoholic mother, and I wanted to work with the moms, not the children, to approach the problem at that generation.”

Now long happily remarried, Crowe-Layne is involved in the industry’s “Cut It Out” campaign to stop domestic abuse and has formed her own nonprofit organization, BirdsBeFree, not only to do beauty makeovers for women coming out of prison but also to raise money for their children’s food, clothing and education.

“I have compassion for recovery,” she explains. “I love hanging out with people in recovery. There are beautiful stories out there that give me hope. A couple of times I’ve thought, ‘What am I doing,’ because it hurts so much to hear how these women’s behavior has affected their families. In my mind I’m hearing my mother tell her story through all of these women. I used to stare at my mom. She was just beautiful. She’d bleach her hair, dress up in go-go boots and miniskirts, and out she’d go. She was fun, the life of the party. That was in my formative years, and I think it influenced me to become a cosmetologist. Maybe now I want to be the one person to say, ‘You’re beautiful,’ to women like my mother.”

If you’re interested in doing makeovers for former women prisoners in your community, contact Cindy Crowe-Layne through birdsbefree.org.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about