When activists brought breast cancer out of the shadows in the 1980s and 1990s, salon professionals played a key role in “pink” awareness and fundraising efforts. Dominated by women both on staff and in the clientele, the beauty industry was a natural fit. Three decades later, that snug fit is loosening and stretching to give other causes equal play and span more of the autumn season.
“We’re focusing the September/October period on giving back overall,” says Jen Wilder, vice president, marketing, at CosmoProf. “Often this is for pink causes, but this year CosmoProf is raising money and awareness for Beauty Changes Lives (BCL).” A minimum $5 donation gets salon pros a “Licensed to Create” shopping bag, with a follow-up November fundraiser and matching BSG funds all supporting Licensed to Create scholarships, a new initiative that CosmoProf is developing with BCL, an organization dedicated to supporting the school industry directly.
Still, many salons continue the “Pink October” tradition. The “Go Pink Project” at EG Salon in Middletown, Connecticut, is in its seventh year. “We launched ‘Go Pink’ the year we opened, and in 2016 it is still part of our salon culture,” says Georgi Marino, EG co-owner with Ellie Gagnon. “We thought we’d do a few dozen pink streaks for $20 each and donate the money to breast cancer causes. But we did 200 and raised $4,000!” Other salons signed on as the event grew each year to now include 40 local businesses. To date, Go Pink has raised $103,000 for treatments at Middlesex Hospital, a partner since 2013.
For some salon pros, cancer aware-ness has become a calling. With cancer in her family, Terri Johnston saw a need for hairdressers to help make patients’ journeys easier. In the mid 1990s, she took courses in wig fitting and opened a boutique with this specialty. She could empathize even further in 1997 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
At the salon she owns, The Inspiration for Inner and Outer Beauty in Rockford, Illinois, Johnston plans to soon begin referring all of her regular clientele to her nine stylists and limit her own styling to medical hair loss clients, who tend to return to their salons when treatment is over. Among her clients are patients diagnosed with alopecia and chemotherapy patients.
“I do a great business,” Johnston says. “I’m also an educator for medical hair loss. I don’t understand why more hairdressers don’t do this. It’s lucrative and very rewarding. I’ve received humanitarian awards, and I don’t have to advertise because three local hospitals send their patients. I’m busy every day doing work I love. When you can help a woman through the worst time in her life and make her feel good, that’s the best feeling. It’s better than collecting the money.”
Michelle Moore Bell has been dedicating her cosmetology talents to the breast cancer community for decades. This passion inspired the former salon owner to become a lead beauty professional for Look Good, Feel Better, and in her current volunteer work with the Susan G. Komen Los Angeles affiliate, Bell is involved with the Circle of Promise campaign to help empower African-American women to be proactive about their breast health.
Bell’s latest venture is founding The Wellness Group, a non-profit breast cancer awareness organization that will hold its 15th Annual Breast Health Awareness Celebration of Life Breakfast on November 5 in Los Angeles. For information, search eventbrite.com.
In Atlanta, Jackie Yates is developing a series of three books, starting with Shampoo You: A Book of Legendary Stories that are Curing Cancer, to raise money for chemotherapy research while sharing with the world the lighter side of salon work.
“We have all been touched by cancer,” Yates writes in an open letter to the salon community. “Shampoo You is a compilation of...funny stories that can happen in the salon, on the road or on stage, or heartfelt stories where lives have been changed by what we do every day.” Profits from book sales will go to American Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT).
The owner of Jackie Yates Salon, Yates does not intend for the stories to involve cancer. If you have a funny or heartwarming salon story you would like published in Shampoo You, email [email protected], or ask to join the “Shampoo You” closed Facebook page. Check modernsalon. com/healthy in coming weeks for excerpts from some of the stories that will be published.
October’s Healthy Hairdresser sponsor, Ouidad, has championed the fight against breast cancer for the past 14 years through its Curls for a Cure foundation, which has donated nearly $500,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
“In 2002, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, the same disease that took my mother’s life,” says company founder Ouidad. “I vowed to never let recovery be the end of my battle.” Ouidad donates $1 from each KRLY Kids purchase to BCRF, which throughout October also will receive $2 of every sale of Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Cream Shampoo. Ouidad matches dollar-for-dollar any donations made to its Curls for a Cure foundation, up to $50,000 per year. See page 109 to learn details about the Healthy Hairdresser Challenge, with a special gift incentive provided by Ouidad.
And for solutions to your clients’ hair loss challenges due to cancer-related treatments or other conditions, visit modernsalon.com/hairplus. This month, the HAIR+ Summit will come to Atlanta and cover all aspects of thinning hair and related solutions from extensions, wigs and nutraceuticals to topicals, surgical solutions and scalp treatments, all designed to arm you with the information, tools and confidence you need to get involved in the hair thinning conversation with your clients.