Posted on February 25, 2015
“If I could do hair for free, in a heartbeat I would. That’s how much I love what I do,” says 29-year industry veteran Georgette Vetock, owner of the Maryland-based salon Expressions by Georgette. Georgette was the first stylist to sign on with Sola Salons Pasadena last September, and as far as she’s concerned, “Hair is about being around people, talking to them and making them feel good.” Having loyal, satisfied clients is pretty darn gratifying — but, even better is that feeling Georgette gets when she donates time and energy to people who can’t afford to come to her studio.
Growing up, Georgette’s family “was always very giving,” the stylist explains. That attitude stuck, and Georgette nurtured it by, quite simply, treating others the way she’d want to be treated if she were in a bad situation. Recently, though, Georgette’s philanthropy became more organized when she happened upon a project providing free haircuts to homeless men and women taking shelter at area churches during Maryland’s cold weather months. It all started three years ago when Georgette got an unexpected phone call from one of the nearby churches. “I understand you cut hair,” the caller said to Georgette. “Would you be willing to cut hair for the homeless one night at our church?" Without pause, Georgette answered: “Absolutely!”
And, before long, she’d given 25 cuts to folks without homes. The most shocking part of the experience, Georgette says, was “the range of people there.” Having the opportunity to really get to know shelter residents the way only a stylist can while cutting hair and chatting — that broke down a lot of stereotypes. “Not all homeless people abuse drugs and alcohol,” Georgette says. “There were some, for example, who had gotten mixed up in reverse mortgage fraud and lost their homes.” “I didn’t know what to expect that first night,” continues Georgette. “But, a lot of the people were just like how you and me might feel sometimes: stuck in a situation that they want to get out of. Some of us are only one paycheck away from being in that same spot.”
Georgette’s experience was so positive that she’s continued on with the program annually. And, this winter she even rallied fellow Sola stylist Monique Munson of Verve Styling Lab to help with the cause. Now, the two like-minded stylists are teaming up to unearth other unique ways they can use their talents to give back to those in need. “Monique and I have brainstormed ideas for different types of community work,” Georgette explains. Ideally, they’d like to address a different community need each month. Ideas that have been tossed around include helping abused women or military wives, and offering back-to-school cuts for kids.
The next big project, though, will likely involve caretakers for hospice patients. “A few of my clients have their loved ones in hospice, and sometimes they have to cancel appointments because they can’t get to the salon for a haircut,” says Georgette. After several cancellations, a light bulb went off: “I realized caretakers are also going through a lot, and I got the idea that when you look good you feel better.”
Georgette and Monique are currently being trained in hospice with the goal of ultimately catering to caregivers and the dying by going on-site to provide cuts and other services “in order to save caretakers the guilt of leaving their loved one in,” as Georgette puts it. “We all have our own little niche,” says Georgette, adding, “There is so much need in every town, and there are all kinds of opportunities.” Volunteering your time and talent needn’t be a huge time commitment.
Georgette, in fact, is living proof that small acts can make a huge difference in individual lives. Small acts are also capable of inspiring others. “Everybody at this particular Sola,” Georgette says, “We’re all like one big family, and I’m really proud of our Sola. I don’t want to take all of the credit because it is all of us, it’s not just me.” If you’ve got talent – and, come on, we know you do; that’s why you came to Sola – now’s the time to connect with other stylists at your Sola and really think about what you have to offer your community.