How It all Began
About two years ago a first time client sat in my chair. We had a pretty regular appointment. 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, look how I wanted.
That service, that client, that tweet sparked something in me. And from there The Dresscode Project was initiated.
Simply put , The Dresscode project is about unity, acceptance, tolerance , equity safer spaces and teaching our industry diversity is the future.
I have a long standing passion for the Hair & 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 happy 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.
Sounds about right, yeah?
However, as a queer person, I know from my own experience that this is not everyone’s reality.
For many in my community, going to a salon and asking for a haircut that is not traditional to your gender is a scary and difficult experience. That wonderful happy transformation is less accessible. My community is wonderfully expressive and inclusive but are often restricted in this experience that comes without question for the straight community. I’ve always been passionate about creating an inclusive environment, but when I realized how widespread discrimination is in the very industry that I love and work in – I knew it had to change.
About 2 years ago I had an idea to join like-minded salons together. To form an online resource for the LGBTQ community. I called it The Dresscode Project. The word dress code reminds me of very traditional clothing for cis 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 LGBTQ 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 these salons and together we are creating an online directory for our network where anyone within the LGBTQ community can go to find a safe space salon closest to them. My hope is that this network will expand so it reaches as far as it can. We can provide amazing experiences for this community within our salon network around the world. The goal is for all to be able look up at themselves in that mirror and smile. I want the only salon experience they have to be a positive one, so that they too can leave feeling like a million bucks.
Meet the Founder
I have been a hairstylist in Toronto for 13 years. For 10 of those years I have owned a boutique hair salon in the east end neighbourhood of Leslieville. My hair salon , Fuss Hair Studio was one of the first salons in Toronto to implement haircuts priced by length Not Gender.
I am the founder of the DCP but I am also a committee member for the East Side Pride Festival and I am on the screening committee for the Inside Out Film Festival.
It has become clear to me that homophobia, transphobia and discrimination according to race, sex and gender are very much present in salons today. Instead of complaining about it I decided that I would do something to try and rid the industry of it , and get as many people to join me as possible.
- Kristin Rankin