Have you heard the buzz about a first-of-its-kind initiative in the beauty community that is bringing together celebrity hairstylists, renowned educators, product companies and even students - all in the name of beauty and wellness as a premier career?

All About Beauty Changes Lives: A Conversation with Lynelle Lynch

The Beauty Changes Lives foundation is a non-profit organization initiated by the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. The Foundation awards scholarships to licensed and aspiring beauty professionals, while striving to elevate public awareness and perception of beauty as a career of choice, and celebrating the generosity and philanthropy of the professional beauty community.

Established in 2012, the Beauty Changes Lives foundation is supported by a board of directors including Bellus Academy owner and president Lynelle Lynch, Jan Arnold, CND co-founder and style director; Reuben Carranza, North American CEO, Managing Director, P&G Salon Professional; Christine Gordon, president and co-owner, Graham Webb Academy, John Halal, education director, Tricoci University; and Robert Passage, global ambassador, Pivot Point International.

Modern Salon recently chatted with Lynelle Lynch about the Beauty Changes Lives foundation. Below are excerpts from the conversation:

Modern Salon:  How and Why was BCL Created?

Lynelle Lynch: It is ironic that while beauty professionals are behind every magazine cover, fashion show and corporate executive’s TV talk show appearance, many people fail to recognize how pervasive our industry is, and the role we play in  helping people look and feel their best. Beauty Changes Lives started out as an initiative of the American Association of Cosmetology Schools. We wanted to showcase how beauty and wellness professionals change lives for individuals and communities. A 2009 debut event in Phoenix brought together industry legends, fashion and beauty professionals and educators to share how graduating beauty school changed their lives. It was really an epiphany for many in attendance at the event who realized that beauty really does changes lives. 

All About Beauty Changes Lives: A Conversation with Lynelle Lynch

What is the BCL Vision?

Lynelle Lynch: First and foremost, Beauty Changes Lives is committed to building awareness and support of beauty as a premier career of choice. Following our first event, individuals from throughout the industry were eager to get on board and support our vision. Celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson served as the first Beauty Changes Lives spokesperson, sharing his passion for beauty careers. Other industry voices began exploring needs and potential opportunities to create a broader vision. Collectively, we cultivated a vision that brings together the beauty and wellness professional, the brands supporting our industry, and the consumers we serve.

We are committed to achieving this vision through several outreach efforts. Scholarships fund education for licensed and aspiring beauty professionals. The Beauty Changes Lives Celeb Mentor program pairs accomplished professionals with beauty school students for a truly unique learning experience.  Signature events in communities and at industry shows like ABS highlight the “do good” efforts of the beauty and wellness world.

What career development programs does Beauty Changes Lives Offer?

Lynelle Lynch:  We really leverage the generosity and big hearts of those in our profession who want to support the industry’s next generation. Beauty Changes Lives has funded several mentorship experiences for students, providing opportunities for them to work with the likes of celebrity hairstylist and TV personality Ted Gibson, male grooming authority Diana Schmidtke, author and skin care expert Dr. Howard Murad and CND co-founder Jan Arnold. In 2013, Celeb Mentor recipients were awarded mentoring opportunities with First Lady Michelle Obama’s hairstylist Johnnie Wright, esthetician Lydia Sarafati and hairstylist and hairdesigner.tv founder Vivienne Mackinder.

Our scholarship program is becoming more robust.  In 2012 we launched the Prospective Student Scholarship Competition and awarded ten $2,000 scholarships to students pursuing careers in hair, esthetics, nails, barbering and massage therapy. The success of this program attracted corporate interest, with Wella coming on board to fund a five-year, $1.5M scholarship commitment. The Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship Program awards 20 scholarships annually to individuals at qualified member schools. For working hairstylists, the scholarships fund continuing education. The Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship “Advanced” Program recognizes 20 hairstylists annually with up to $5,000, including travel, to attend a course at a Sassoon Academy in North America.

The scholarships have also captured the hearts and generosity of the professional nail care and massage therapy communities. Massage Envy awards six $2,000 scholarships to students pursuing a career as a massage therapist. Beginning in January 2014, the BCL CND Tippi Hedren Nail Scholarship Fund will support professional nail education and honor the iconic actress’s commitment to the professional nail industry.

How do Beauty Changes Lives events engage the professional community?

The Beauty Changes Lives Legacy of Style award honors individuals for their achievements in the professional beauty and wellness industry. The very first award was presented in September 2012 posthumously to Vidal Sassoon and accepted by his daughter Eden. Nearly 100 celebrity stylists and industry stars turned out to celebrate the event hosted by Diana Schmidtke. Guests included Ken Paves, Robert Cromeans, Enzo Angiler and many more accomplished professionals. The evening was a wonderful opportunity for our industry to come together and celebrate, even though many in attendance had worked tirelessly the evening before styling their clients for the Emmy awards!

On September 23, 2013, we’re privileged and honored to present actress, animal rights activist and “mother of the Vietnamese nail movement” Tippi Hedren with the Legacy of Style award at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Once again, we’ll be presenting the award the evening after the Emmy’s.  We’re so glad that no professional group has more energy or capacity to celebrate than the beauty industry!

Beyond entertainment, what other industries does Beauty Changes Lives partner with to build awarensss?

The fashion world works hand in hand with the beauty business, so we try to raise awareness of the connection, In February 2012, Beauty Changes Lives awarded five students a travel experience to Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, accompanying Ted Gibson backstage as he prepared models for the couture collections. Celeb mentor winner Cheyenne Birchall worked behind the scenes preparing models for Detroit’s Motor City Beauty Buzz fashion event. In 2012, Celeb Mentor winner Natalie DiBiendetto participated in a photo shoot for JC Penney working with Ted Gibson and his team.

Media also plays an important role in getting the word out about Beauty Changes Lives. A few years ago, Modern Salon covered the Millennium Harms Software BE CAUSE launch party to introduce Beauty Changes Lives to the professional community. The event at Tela Salon drew more than 240 salon professionals who showed their support for Beauty Changes Lives.

Beauty Changes Lives also connected with participants at the 2011 New York Fashion Week Cocktails and Couture event, introducing media, beauty companies and fashion aficionados to the Beauty Changes Lives brand.

How can individuals and companies support Beauty Changes Lives?

There are so many ways to become involved including events, mentoring, and financial support. A great place to start learning more about Beauty Changes Lives programs is the site, www.beautychangeslives.org.

Licensed professionals and salon owners can learn more about the Advanced scholarships offered through the Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship program at www.beautychangeslives.org/scholarships

Aspiring beauty professionals may also visit www.beautychangeslives.scholarships to learn about the Basic scholarships awarded ty the Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship Program

The Beauty Changes Lives board of directors is eager to work with corporations, groups and individuals to customize giving opportunities. Inquiries about corporate giving and support may be directed to e-mail TBD.