Beyond the Salon: Stylists Making a Difference

Hairstylists are all about transformation and, for some, that obsession transfers easily from people’s hair to their lives. There are so many great stories out there of industry peers creating charities or raising money to make the world a little safer, healthier and kinder. Just look to From Ogden With Love, a program created by Matrix stylist Mandie Barnes’ (@hairbymandielynn) that provides haircuts for homeless men and women in Ogden, Utah, or Fearless Beauty (@fearlessbeautynyc), founded by Cutler Salon stylist Heather Packer to mentor and empower young women in India against gender inequality. But while do-gooding is nothing new to the salon industry, what is new is how much social media has done to help these initiatives go global, even viral. We talk to two artists who have found ways to make a difference in the world—and use social media to raise awareness and document their progress.

When likeminded people come together for a common cause, great things can happen. Walk the Walk Community (@walkthewalkcommunity) is a unique union of hairdressers and nonprofits who pooled their professional skills to help and educate people in need across the globe. Co-founded by stylists Cristin Armstrong and Manny Rolon, the community also includes Hear the Hungry (@hearthehungry), a movement to redefine and humanize hunger through social action and media; #TheHeartProject, which aims to raise awareness of mental illness; and #BeAwesomeToSomebody, a movement to help others less fortunate started by NYC hairdresser Mark Bustos, who famously provides free haircuts to the homeless in New York and around the world.

Walk the Walk aims to enrich at-risk lives around the world via haircutting services and education—and it knows no borders. “Our most recent initiative took place in Mumbai, India,” shares Rolon. “We—16 of us in total—went to India and serviced hundreds of people with haircuts as well as relief items that were either generously donated or purchased with fundraising dollars.” The team also included two photographers and a videographer with the sole purpose of charting their adventure on Instagram.

Walk the Walk’s social media efforts are managed by Armstrong, Rolon reports, adding, “Instagram allowed us to spread the message across our hairdresser community at such a rapid pace. What has been the most amazing is the response that we have received. Our industry is filled with compassionate and supportive people.”

Rolon attributes his own drive to do his part to his parents, who were devoted to giving back to their own community. “I made the conscious choice to collaborate with my industry peers to make an impact because I acknowledge the magnitude of the potential for change when we work together. I believe it is a social responsibility that we have as inhabitants of the world.”

“I don’t know that I deliberately chose to be socially active,” reflects Scottsdale, Arizona-based stylist Todd Kane. “I just had a burning desire to make a difference.” Kane, who lost his mother to cancer and whose husband is a cancer survivor, founded and serves as President of Love Out Lavender (@loveoutlavender), a 501c3 non-profit whose mission is to support fundraising efforts to stamp out cancer. The organization encourages beauty and fashion professionals and students to apply their creative skills toward developing and organizing events and promotions to raise money. And it does it in a social-savvy way.

“Love Out Lavender uses social media to share fundraisers, linking your social media community to your cause,” explains Kane, a Matrix Artistic Educator. “Each type of cancer has a ribbon color assigned, so you simply choose the appropriate ribbon for your cause and then incorporate that color into your work, whether it’s hair, makeup, wardrobe—whatever moves you.” Is it working? The group went from raising $10,000 in its first year to $250,000 in its third, and Kane attributes this to the natural coupling of beauty creatives and social media. “Most creative people are visual and have short attention spans,” he laughs. “This allows them to put their passion to work for good. Instagram uses images to transfer feelings of giving, faith, hope or courage, and tells stories of prevention, survival and cure, which are blasted around the world with hashtags targeting other people looking for a way to help, be inspired and make a difference.”

Many thanks to our sponsors Redken, Pureology, Matrix, L’Oreal Professionnel, Baxter of California, Level Loyalty and Salon Centric for making this digital supplement possible.

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