The Salon Biz: Beauty, Celebrity and Philanthropy

By Ilana Greene and  Teresa Jarratt

During these hard economic times, so many businesses, in a variety of sectors, have been forced to close their doors.  Both large corporations and small business entrepreneurs are suffering.  And with a decrease in revenue and an increase in expenses, many owners, which historically would donate generously to a worthy cause of their choice, have instead chosen to reduce or even eliminate any philanthropic activity.
So, when the U.S. Census Bureau released its findings that the number of hairdressers and barbershops grew by 8% between 2008 and 2009, many viewed this as an economic comeback.  Could there finally be one industry that is recession-proof?  That no matter how tough times get people will continue to invest in a good haircut? And if so, could this good news translate into an opportunity for businesses in this sector to re-ignite philanthropic activity?
Oprah Winfrey, one of the most renowned philanthropists of our generation, seems to be fueling the “buzz” through her support of one such entrepreneur in the hair styling industry.  In 2010, during the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show, viewers were treated to an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of George-The-Salon located at 23 West Hubbard, Chicago, IL.  For the past nineteen years, owner George Gonzalez has worked diligently to build a well-respected reputation as a celebrity stylist.  He not only manages and operates his own establishment, but also serves clients at the Spa at Harpo, one of the entertainment industry’s most exclusive salons.  
Through his connection with Oprah, he has done numerous makeover segments for her show and The Rosie Show.  In addition, his celebrity status opened a door for him with the PGA’s President Cup Tournaments, where he has styled the hair of both professional golfers and their wives.  Even with all of his success and fame, George has managed to remain humble and create ways to give back to his community.  
One such recipient is the “On Your Feet Foundation” www.oyff.org, a non-profit organisation which assists birth parents in their decision to place a child for adoption. In 2011, George and his staff generously opened their hearts and salon to host a fundraiser for this group bringing in more than $5000 in donations. Another benefactor of his generosity is “Between Friends” , a non-profit agency dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse.  By developing and introducing a new line of hair care products, George hopes to generate additional revenue to help both organisations.  
Through his ongoing efforts and generosity, George strives to instill a renewed sense of confidence and inner beauty to the women he is helping.  And by doing so, he hopes to facilitate a positive change in each of their lives.  So, the next time you decide which salon to patronize, why not give George-The-Salon a try?  And in turn, your choice will contribute to positive change in the lives of many women.

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