About 3 years ago a first time client sat in my chair. We had a pretty regular appointment. We chatted about what she wanted, discussed topics in our worlds, finished the cut , said our pleasantries and out the door she went. Overall a lovely service with a new client.
About a day later my salon was tagged in a tweet. It was from that new client. It read " first time I've felt like a woman while getting my haircut". I was touched. She is transgender and clearly that service with me was a big deal to her. Being queer myself it brought me back to any kind of struggle I had coming out so long ago. Yes I'm that old! Old enough that I didn't feel safe to be out in my community never mind go to a salon and get a haircut that wasn't traditional to my gender. When I was young I wanted nothing more than to live like I wanted to and look how I wanted.
That service, that client, that tweet sparked something in me and from there Dresscode Project was initiated.
Simply put, Dresscode Project is about unity, acceptance, equity, safer spaces and teaching our industry that diversity is the future.
I have a long standing passion for the hair and beauty industry. To me, it is such a rewarding experience knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s life. It’s a great feeling when the client looks in the mirror transformed and smiling from ear to ear. To give someone that feeling, to make them feel ready to take on the world, it’s a special part of what we in the industry do on a daily basis.
However, as a Queer person, I know from my own experience that this is not everyone’s reality.
For many in our communities going to a salon and asking for a haircut that is not traditionally associated with our sex as assigned at birth is a scary and difficult experience. That wonderful happy transformation is less accessible. Our communities are wonderfully expressive and inclusive but are often denied this experience that comes without question to the straight community. I’ve always been passionate about creating an inclusive environment, but when I realized how widespread discrimination is in the industry that I love and work in – I knew it had to change.
About 3 years ago I had an idea to join like-minded salons together. To form an online resource for LGBTQ2S+ communities. I called it Dresscode Project. The word dress code reminds me of very traditional clothing for cisgender boys & girls. Along with the help of people closest to me with whom I shared this idea I was able to gather research, hold group sessions and become active in providing haircuts to LGBTQ2S+ youth who could not access them, financially or otherwise. I was also able to find the resources and tools I needed to make this project a reality.
Today, I have reached out to shops and salons and together we are creating an online directory where LGBTQ2S+ people can find a gender affirming salon or barber shop close to them. My hope is that this network will expand so it reaches as far as it can. We can provide amazing experiences for LGBTQ2S+ clients around the world. The goal is for all people to be able look up at themselves in that mirror and smile. I want the only salon experience to be a positive one, so that everyone can leave feeling like a million bucks.