If you spend enough time at Salon 10 on Atlantic Avenue, you’ll know the culture of social, economic and political activism in black beauty salons during the Jim Crow era still breathes and bristles.
As seats of early African-American entrepreneurship, these parlors are in prime position to build community.
“We connect the dots,” said Kathy Hudson Marshall, a Salon 10 stylist who spearheads outreach. “We see all the needs in our community and we have a captive audience, so we started doing more outreach from within the salon community to, hopefully, inspire and encourage and empower women and young people.”
On Halloween, stylists at Salon 10 Healthy Hair Concept wore pajamas to work, but not as costumes. It was their Party with a Purpose Pajama Party in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Throughout the month, Salon 10, in partnership with Raleigh Rescue Mission, conducted a clothing drive, as women and children who are domestic violence victims often show up for help in pajamas.
Stylists also received training on how to recognize signs of abuse and ways to approach clients and confidentially assist them in getting help.
Now Salon 10 is turning its focus to children, hosting model auditions for its I ROCK FashionRella Show & Holiday Party from 4 to 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Body of Christ Dream Center on Fox Road.
Marshall is working with local social service agencies that help children and families to fill a 15-spot VIP guest list of children to get a free hairdo, hair care and grooming tips, and a take-home swag bag of hair-care products. Each child will also receive a holiday gift picked from donations to Salon 10’s toy drive, which begins Dec. 1.
“I ROCK is a spotlight on children to give them a reason to be Radiant, Original, Confident and Kind,” Marshall said.
In addition to a fashion show of casual wear and princess dresses and costumes, I ROCK will also address issues of bullying and self-esteem. Each model will have a chance to take the mic to proclaim, “I ROCK because I am ...”
They’ll fill in the blank, Marshall said.
Stylist Lisa Hargrove believes black salons’ cultural double-duty as havens for social change and political activism is as far-reaching when it comes to healing those who are suffering.
“We ask ourselves, ‘How can we build them up?’ so this is a time we can all be ourselves and learn from each other instead of kicking people when they’re already at a low point,” said Hargrove, the salon’s color specialist and educational director. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much make-up you wear or hair color put in if you’re still hurting.”
The outreach from the salon extends into other community efforts.
Brandi Delany is one of Marshall’s longtime clients who volunteers for a variety of causes. Often, she said, Marshall pitches in to spread the word with fliers in Salon 10 and donations of gift certificates and other items, such as pillows to help a Midtown homeless shelter.
“It’s different than when I was a kid,” Delany said. “I don’t remember salons being anything but a place to sit around and talk, or buy new things someone was selling. It wasn’t purposeful.”
What Delany may not have noticed as a child certainly makes perfect sense to her now.
“Salons and barber shops are great places to get the word out,” she said. “That’s especially true in African-American communities because we all go to those places, so it’s definitely a way to reach different parts of the community in one swoop.
“And when kids see that in salons and barber shops, I think it will help them to maybe do more when they’re adults.”