Cuts, color, image overhauls, therapy sessions, confidence boosts, first-class pampering, fighting human trafficking—is there anything hair professionals can’t do? Wait—hair professionals are helping to fight human trafficking? The idea seems almost as ludicrous as the fact that human trafficking and slavery even exist in our modern world, but that’s exactly what the Justice and Soul Foundation was created to fight.
Changing a Life
In 2009, Matthew Fairfax and Lauren “Kate” Ebright—a salon and a hairstylist from Seattle who bonded over a mutual calling to help the 20.9 million adults and children bought and sold worldwide into commercial sexual servitude, forced labor, and bonded labor—took a trip to Cambodia to see the problem firsthand. For these big-hearted hair professionals, there was simply no ignoring what they witnessed. The justice and Soul Foundation was born with a vision to provide a path to a new life for sexually exploited and at-risk youth by empowering survivors to become confident and self-sufficient individuals through professional training in cosmetology. On July 28, 2014, Fairfax and Ebright celebrated the grand opening of the Kate Korpi Academy and Salon in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The academy provides human-trafficking victims with cosmetology training, while the salon offers employment and helps fund the academy. Fairfax uprooted his life, leaving his salon in Seattle behind to live in Cambodia and help run the Kate Korpi Academy and Salon full time. He’ll be the first to admit, though, it takes a village. The academy and salon are dependent on three resident educators, who also relocated from salons in the United States, as well as guest artists who volunteer at least a month of their time to live in Cambodia to educate students and earn money for the academy by taking clients in the salon. “I knew from the day I heard about the issues of trafficking that the salon industry not only could help, but that they would want to,” Fairfax says. “We have manufacturers across the board helping, and now we have volunteer guest artists scheduled into 2019. I am so grateful to be in this industry and to know all these talented supporters helping our students on the road to restoration!”
Growing the Soul
Next on the Justice and Soul Foundation’s good-works agenda is an apprentice program to support the healing and education of survivors in the greater Seattle area. Feedback from local nonprofits working with survivors has indicated a real need for a program like the Kate Korpi Academy. “A lack of alternative employment opportunities is one of the most serious barriers for people seeking freedom from a trafficker,” says Mar Brettmann, PhD, executive director of Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking. The Justice and Soul Foundation continues to grow, thanks to fundraising efforts by salons across America, donations from salon supply manufacturers, and an annual fundraising event, Fashion SOULstice. This show with a silent auction will be held on March 24, 2018, and is set to be the biggest event yet with 17 salons participating from all across the greater Seattle area. Fairfax and Ebright dream of a Fashion SOULstice fundraising event in every major city, and with the generosity of the salon industry behind them, hopefully that dream is not far off. ■
“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say that you didn’t know.” —William Wilberforce
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