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Sola Stylists Bring Glitz and Glam to Night to Shine image

On February 10, 375 churches worldwide hosted the third annual Night to Shine, a prom sponsored by Tim Tebow Foundation for teens and young adults with special needs. Seventy-five thousand guests showed up for this year’s event! It takes all hands on deck to pull off an affair of this caliber, and approximately 150,000 volunteers offered up their time and services. Three of those philanthropists were salon owners from Sola Wilmington in North Carolina.

Alison Sessoms and Hutch Strickland – co-owners of Hue Hair Studio – couldn’t wait to get involved when they heard about Night to Shine. The duo teamed up with Cindy Dias – owner of Bella Veau at Sola Wilmington – to provide cuts, styles, and makeup application for hundreds of North Carolinian prom-goers. The experience was unforgettable — and not just for the guests, but for the stylists, too!

“We always try to do something for the community every year,” explains Alison. In the past, she and Hutch have collaborated with the Big Buddy program. “We have a passion for working with kids, and when we heard Night to Shine was coming to Wilmington, we decided to try it out,” says Alison.

Night to Shine was a busy night for Alison, Hutch, and Cindy! Global River Church donated its space as a venue for the prom, and the trio showed up at 6 pm, as prom-goers were arriving to the event in limos. “They’d come in, and we’d do their hair and makeup,” Alison explains.

She, Hutch, and Cindy spent four hours in a makeshift beauty parlor, working with two other stylists, catering to several hundred guests ages 14 and up. “The church really helped us out,” Alison says, noting that, “The room they set up looked just like a salon, with full length mirrors and salon chairs that had been donated for the night.”

The stylists spent up to 15 minutes on each “customer.” Some guests wanted a full face of makeup; others just wanted gloss on their lips. “For hair, most wanted up-dos,” Alison recalls. And there were shoe shine and tie stations for the young men attending the event. “Nobody really told us what to do,” Alison says. “They just sat down, and let us curl or put the hair up.”

The team of stylists worked with donated makeup from Sola Wilmington esthetician Melanie Fuller, who owns Kiss and Makeup, and hair product from Beauty and Pinups. “They donated small packages with product, too, so everyone got to leave with a gift,” says Alison.

Gussied up guests then headed to the dance floor, where volunteer DJs spun “all of the newest hits,” Alison says. Guests, she adds, would race onto the dance floor, and then come back to the salon to get done up again. “We’d do as many styles as many times as they wanted,” Hutch says.

Local restaurants donated food, and a feast followed the dance party. Each of the 375 participating churches went live on Facebook and Twitter during the prom. “You could log in and see it going on at the same time all over the world,” says Alison.

“I couldn’t quit smiling,” Hutch admits, adding, “It made me feel so good to see how excited and gracious all of the guests were.”

“We never felt stressed out, and we learned a lot,” Alison chimes in. She and Hutch are already planning for next year’s Night to Shine prom.

And as far as Alison and Hutch are concerned, having support from a community of like-minded stylists makes it much easier to incorporate philanthropy into one’s business model. “Everybody at our Sola chips in for everybody else,” Alison says. “There are always fundraisers and charity events going on, and we all support each other,” she adds, offering, “We couldn’t ask for a better network or a better place to be doing business.”