Articles > Exploring Beauty and Friendship
July 29, 2015

Exploring Beauty and Friendship

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BTC’s Natalie Lopez (left) meet with Katie Meade (center) at the Beauty & Pin-Ups booth at Cosmoprof.


While BTC was attending Cosmoprof in Las Vegas, we met a young woman with a big personality named Katie Meade. She eagerly greeted us as we walked into the booth for the styling company, Beauty & Pin-Ups. Throughout our meeting, Katie’s radiant personality shined through. “I’m very positive,” says Katie. The Iowa native was born with Down syndrome. By the time she turned 4, Katie had already underwent two open heart surgeries and three thoracotomies. That fighting spirit that helped her through her medical issues followed her as she joined the Special Olympics at age 8—where she excelled at both track and field and swimming. It’s that fighting spirit that still guides her today. “When I look at people with disabilities, I go up to them and say ‘Hi.’ I wish more people would do that. I’m truthful, I’m honest and I have a good heart. I like people to look at me and see a 32-year-old woman who loves her life and sees what is out there for me,” says Katie. 


Her optimistic outlook on life makes Katie no different than you or I. Yet, for many of those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, isolation from your peers still persists. Ending this social, economic and physical isolation is the goal of the non-profit Best Buddies International. As their mission statement describes: “Best Buddies helps people with IDD (Intellectual and/or Developmental Disability) form meaningful friendships with their peers, secure successful jobs, live independently, improve public speaking, self-advocacy and communication skills, and feel valued by society.” Currently, 1,900 Best Buddies chapters are located within middle schools, high schools and universities throughout the country, breaking down those barriers. Now, Beauty & Pin-Ups, hopes to do the same within the beauty industry.


“We’re not doing this because it’s the right thing to do, we’re doing this because it’s the only thing to do,” says Kenny Kahn, CEO of Level Beauty Group—owner of Beauty & Pin-Ups. The company, which is launching in September with an entire styling line focused on 1940s fashion trends, is serious about their commitment to Best Buddies. Through an exclusive partnership with the organization, Beauty & Pin-Ups has pledged a portion of their profits to support Best Buddies’ continued mission. “I am very excited to be partnered with Beauty & Pin-Ups,” says Anthony Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International. “Beauty & Pin-Ups is a company that believes strongly in the Best Buddies mission. The collaboration will be a homerun for us both.”


Best Buddies aims to eliminate day-to-day barriers experienced by those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The organization has seen rapid growth in recent years—with 1,900 chapters across the U.S. and 30,000 participants in their annual Friendship Walk this past July.


And it’s proven to be a homerun for Katie too! Best Buddies invited Katie to attend Cosmoprof as an ambassador for the group and to work in their booth. She was in! For two days, Katie worked side-by-side with Kenny, greeting and talking with various distributors and even a few celebrities. She loved sharing Best Buddies’ message while meeting with Beauty & Pin-Ups’ many guests. “It was very exciting to talk about Best Buddies and get more people involved,” exclaims Katie.


Each morning, stylists with Beauty & Pin-Ups styled Katie’s hair and did her makeup. Katie oozed the 1940s femininity that the brand is known for. “It’s amazing to get pretty. I love to get dressed up,” tells Katie.


To top off her time in Vegas, Katie was also walked the red carpet at NAHA. She was the special guest of Janine Jarman, owner of Hairroin Salon—winner of the NAHA for Best Salon Design—who spent the night introducing Katie to industry heavyweights at the after party. In doing this, Katie was able to accomplish something remarkable. She exemplified Best Buddies’ mission statement. Singlehandedly, she demonstrated that the barriers we put up are there when something exists that we simply don’t understand.


And Katie, Beauty & Pin-Ups and Best Buddies are out to prove—it’s time we look past that!