Most days, Beverly Hills hair stylist Robear Landeros is hard at work in LMG Studio, charging top dollar to cut and color clients’ hair, including such celebrities as Salma Hayek and Nick Nolte.
But last week, Landeros enlisted the salon to give the beauty treatment at no charge to a group of women not usually served there.
It provided an evening of free makeovers for 28 women who have been working to overcome homelessness and poverty with the help of Chrysalis, a non-profit with headquarters in downtown Los Angeles, and branches in Santa Monica and Pacoima.
Landeros said the effort better reflects the spirit of the salon than its chandeliers and Buddha fountain.
“Even though we’re in Beverly Hills, we don’t have the pretentiousness of Beverly Hills,” he said.
The makeover night marked the end of Chrysalis’ annual nine-week Women’s Empowerment Program, designed to help those struggling to re-enter the workforce.
This year, 31 women went through the program. But three couldn’t attend makeover night because they were working at jobs that they got during the program.
Dara Papel, site director at Chrysalis’ Santa Monica office, said women from the downtown and Pacoima branches are bused to the Santa Monica site once a week to receive guidance on job-seeking and training on how to cope in a workplace. That can be a challenge, given their histories; some have criminal records and some are recovering from addictions.
Alejandra Tabia, a South L.A. woman who participated in this year’s program, said the support system comes from both the program and the other women who went through it with her. The 35-year-old had been trying to get her life on track for almost two decades. Now, she works for a staffing company as a temp.
“God willing, it will lead to a permanent job,” she said during makeover night.
Landeros said it didn’t take much convincing to get the staff of LMG to participate.
He first heard of the event last year through one of his clients who volunteers at Chrysalis. She asked if he would be willing to donate his services and he agreed. The event last year was at a different salon in Beverly Hills.
“Last year, the space was a little smaller and there wasn’t enough staff,” said Landeros. “So, this year I said, ‘I’m doing it at my salon and we’re going to have fun with it.’”
LMG was co-founded in 2008 by Laurent Saint-Circq, Maurice B. and Garry Simmonds. It has a staff of 17. The co-founders said they were immediately on board when Landeros pitched the idea of scheduling the event at the salon.
“Seeing everybody happy makes us happy and we’re glad to participate,” said Maurice B.
A local limousine company provided cars and drivers to ferry the women to the salon, where they got their hair and makeup done. Afterwards, they were taken to the back of the salon, where a makeshift fitting room was set up for the women to receive new interview attire, complete with jewelry and shoes donated to Chrysalis.
The salon usually charges $125 for a woman’s haircut and $100 for makeup.
Landeros said it was more important to make the women feel confident after completing the Chrysalis program, and the event helped him fulfill his desire to perform a good dead.
“It means a lot to these women,” he said. “But at the end of the day, they don’t realize that it means more to us.”
Chrysalis’ Papel said the night was something like a graduation ceremony.
“They’ve been working on themselves on the inside,” she said. “And we get to celebrate the outside with the makeover night.”
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