Part 5 The Angels Amongst Us
Have you ever wondered how a negative experience can alter your life and move it forward in a positive way? In part five of the series Powerful Sheroes and Heroes in the Beauty Industry, we talked with a hairstylist and co-partner of Suite One Salon.
Julie, stylist of 19 years, mother of three kids, co-owner of Suite One Salon, and founder of Carestream Inc., asked her clients what they would have done differently while raising their kids. Repeatedly, the reply was, “I’d expose them more to giving back to our community.” She took this to heart, and three years ago on Thanksgiving, she set out with her three kids to a neighborhood shelter, Catholic Charities, and cooked a meal. She had heard of others doing this, so she thought it would be easy enough, “I’ll cook and bring my kids down and it will be great.” Except Julie doesn’t cook.
“Oh great, now I’m here, I’m trying to do a good thing, and now I’ll give food poisoning to everybody.” She didn’t. But she didn’t love the experience, either. She noticed the storage room was actually set up to be a barbershop, but they weren’t currently using it. They couldn’t find any barbers to staff it. Julie asked if she could clean it out and use it for haircuts. The shelter staff loved the idea, and Julie’s nonprofit work began.
[tweetthis]”To serve is to gain the world inside your heart.” REBECCA BEARDSLEY[/tweetthis]
Julie and a friend set a date to begin cutting hair. Sixty-seven haircuts later, the staff at the shelter had to kick them out. Even with the pleading to take time and eat or drink some water, Julie and her friend just kept cutting. She describes her time that day as a “beautiful experience.” She thought to herself, “Wouldn’t it be great to do this at different locations?” The idea for Carestream Inc. was born.
Born and raised in Las Vegas Julie’s parents taught her about service through their actions. Her mother participated in church events and volunteered, and her dad was known to stop and help people who had car trouble or buy a homeless person lunch. She was influenced by this and wanted to have the same influence on her kids. They come to the events and sweep up hair and help where needed, and they enjoy it.
Julie raised the funds for her first AirStream trailer that fits six stylists. She wanted to provide a sanctuary for her guests and give them a luxury experience. Complete with shampoo bowl, they are able to give their guests luxurious shampoos to a population that doesn’t necessarily have access to, let alone the touch of another human being caring for them. The guests receive socks, pajamas, and other items donated by partners. Partners come to her – she has never sought donations of items.
“Carestream is a charity that brings hairstylists and volunteers together, to provide free haircuts and other services to the less fortunate in the community. In our first year we gave over 900 haircuts, 50 massages and 4,000 supplies. Carestream works with schools, shelters, veterans and hospitals to empower children, men and women in need.”
Last year Carestream Inc. hosted a Valentine’s Day event at a foster home, where the kids received makeovers and Valentine cards and goodies. It was the first time some of the kids had received such gifts. Julie feels it is vital for hairstylists to get out of their comfort zone. They gain so much by using their craft to give back to the community. The act of giving reminds them why they got into the business. Most volunteers are people Julie doesn’t know, but they now come to her to help out.
Her dream is to have Carestream Inc. in every state. She believes a haircut helps those in need gain pride and gives them an extra boost when they are looking for work or just trying to make it out there. They are budgeting for another Airstream, and 100% of their donations goes back into Carestream Inc. Nobody is paid.
This work has allowed Julie to operate in other states as well. When she travels, she cuts hair at shelters. If you find yourself in Las Vegas, she invites you to stop by and cut hair. Her dream is large. If you would like to donate to Carestream Inc., click here.
This invitation is what I find with the partnerships I am forming in the community with my own work. The lack of competition and the willingness to partner is so refreshing. The mission becomes much greater than you or I, it becomes about the person sitting in front of you. When you walk back in to your salons, you feel different. Your world is bigger, your understanding of yourself and others impacts how you relate to others there.
Go out, find those in need, and do what you know and love. The payback is more than you can imagine. Join the movement of barbers and stylists making change across the nation. Denying the impulse is your greatest danger. Even if it doesn’t pan out the first time, your work in the community will evolve if you remain open. You will meet people in your community, and breaks down barriers, and misconceptions. The experience can light up the connection inside ourselves. To serve is to gain the world inside your heart.
Talk to people who are doing this work. Ask them if you can volunteer. Get out there!
My daughter shared this amazing video with me this weekend. The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie