Hair salons giving away free hairdos to the unemployed

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The economy may be doing poorly now, but that isn’t stopping business owners from being charitable. Some hair salon owners are reportedly giving free hairdos to those who are unemployed and can’t afford to pay.

A recent story in the New York Daily News reported on the charitable efforts of hair salon co-owner and hairstylist Deivin Jemmott. She has been offering free hairdos to the jobless at her Bedford-Stuyvesant salon on Nostrand Avenue, called Donna’s Hair Salon.

Jemmott told the Daily News that she first thought of giving away free hairdos while at a stylists’ convention, where hairdressers discussed charity work.

She has had her “free hairdo” sign outside of her salon’s window since August. The sign reads: “Looking for a job and can’t afford to get their hair done… We’ll help! Come in on Mon & Tues 10 am to 1 pm to get a free hair service.”

Although only five out-of-work women have actually taken advantage of the free hairdos at the salon, many still believe that it’s a great way to help those unemployed.

Patricia Jones, who is studying for her GED at an adult education center near the salon, told the Daily News that she believes Jemmott is really doing something good for the community, stating: “The economy is slow. People don’t have it like they used to.”

Yet Jemmott is not the only hair salon owner offering free hairdos to the public.

Esther Sesay of the Passion Hair Salon in Dumpfries, Virginia has been giving away free hairdos to its regular customers who are now unemployed, and to others in need within the community, for the past two years. Sesay and her colleagues first gave free hairstyles to people living in shelters.

“We wanted to give back to the community by giving away free haircuts and hairdos,” Sesay told theGrio. “We realized that so many people were losing their jobs or many of our regular customers could no longer afford to get their hair done.”

Sesay, who opened her hair salon in 2004, said she tries to help out people, especially the unemployed, as much as she can. In fact, she hopes giving away free hairdos will help her unemployed customers look presentable for job interviews.

“We usually get two or three people who are not regular customers, or sometimes clients who have lost their jobs, weekly,” she said. “Sometimes we even call our regular customers to come in when we know that they probably would need their hair done.”

In Sesay’s opinion, more salons should offer free hairdos since so many customers, who were once regular customers, can’t afford to keep their hair professionally presentable. The personal cost to her is an afterthought compared to the benefits she is conferring on others.

“Yes, we are suffering from the economy in a lot of the ways just like our customers who have lost their jobs or who have jobs yet need to cut back,” Sesay said. “And yes, it does impact us a lot too, but we are giving away more free haircuts, hairdos, and discounts just to bring customers in and to keep them in the schedule.”

New York celebrity hairstylist Patrick Wellington also thinks giving discounts to customers during this economic climate is great for keeping clientele coming back, and for helping customers look presentable at work — even if they are strapped for cash.

“People, especially African-Americans, have to constantly maintain their hair, so they don’t walk around looking unkept — especially in corporate America,” Wellington told theGrio. “if they don’t bosses will talk, and friends will talk.”

Wellington said he believes that since African-Americans’ hair is more delicate than other ethnicities and is often color treated, it is important to maintain it with the help of an expert.

“When our hair is not done or well kept, we get a negative view of ourselves,” Wellington explained. “Our hair is the one thing that makes us feel special, especially when it is done and nicely styled. Therefore, I always work to make my clients feel beautiful when I’m done with them… that’s my intention.”