Hairdressers in the Pink
(This is a version of an excerpt from an article published in the Healthy Hairdresser section of the September 2014 issue of MODERN SALON.)
Neither Sherri Martens-Curtis nor Ann Nguyen has ever had breast cancer. Nguyen doesn’t even have a relative directly impacted by breast cancer. But Martens-Curtis and Nguyen each contribute to the fight against the disease in a remarkable way.
When Sherri Martens-Curtis and her mother, Linda Martens, owned a Miami beauty product distributorship together, the late Paul Mitchell dubbed them the “dynamic duo.” Linda was the creative force, an artistic hairdresser who was passionate about this industry, while her daughter took care of the managerial duties. When Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, the pair added an important piece to their workday: breast cancer fundraising and activism. Servicing more than 1,500 salons in south Florida, they had a good place to start. Although they’d always brought their customers into all types of charitable campaigns, this one was different.
“We had taken our own health for granted,” Martens-Curtis recalls. “We didn’t stay vigilant with mammograms. So we decided to involve the salon community when we became very active in our local Susan G. Komen (SGK) affiliate.”
The first year, their efforts raised $20,000. But as Linda Martens grew increasingly ill, neither woman had as much time and energy to devote to the cause. Although her mom’s death in 2006 was devastating, Martens-Curtis has carried on. Today, through her ElitePinkMiami.com, Martens-Curtis holds annual Pink Parties to raise funds and awareness. Paul Mitchell top guest artists are on hand, and everything is donated or discounted, from the d.j. and live performances to flowers, linens and publicity. Along with the annual cut-a-thons she organizes, the Pink Parties have raised $316,000 for SGK as of the end of 2013. Martens-Curtis earmarks 25 percent for national research while keeping 75 percent at the local level.
Martens-Curtis sold the distributorship but has steadily expanded her Elite Pink Miami efforts, rounding up 60 stylists to do the upcoming October 6 cut-a-thon at the Paul Mitchell School in Miami. She’s doubled her goal as well, aiming to raise up to $10,000.
Pivotal beauty show
Ann Nguyen’s connection with breast cancer began a few years ago at CosmoProf’s Spring Style Show in San Jose, CA. A lifelong altruist, Nguyen noticed a “breast cancer booth” at the show that was raising funds for Susan G. Komen and awareness about the disease. The brainchild of CosmoProf staffer Raynae Oswald, the booth offered baskets of manufacturer-donated beauty products and tools as prizes in a drawing; to enter, people just had to give a donation of $2. Nguyen wrote a $500 check instead, and since then has been donating even bigger checks as well as baskets of products and tools from her own salon, Unique Cuts in Redding, CA. She attends annually and has forged a fond relationship with Oswald.
“This lets me help people in a way I couldn’t do on my own,” Nguyen says.
Martens-Curtis, too, is grateful for the support she’s received from the industry her mother loved so much.
“I meet new people every year who either have lost someone or are survivors themselves and don’t know how to get involved, so I give them a way to help,” Martens-Curtis says. “We collaborate and make it happen. I miss my mom every day, but this helps me be less sad and pay honor to being her daughter.”