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October 6, 2005

Host a Fabulous Cut-a-thon

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Host a Fabulous Cut-a-thon

It’s a wonderful thing, giving back to community.  You host a cut-a-thon, you have fun with your friends and neighbors working for a common goal and, best of all, you know you have made a difference to someone, so hopefully they’ll feel good, too.  It is hard work, though, and can require major commitments of your time, talents and finances.  We asked some experienced cut-a-thon hosts about their recent events and got some insightful information that might save you a little worry and increase your fund-raising success!


Let’s take it from the top.  If you’re new to hosting a cut-a-thon, you’re sure to have a few questions about getting started.  When should I host my fabulous event?  Where should I host it?  How much should I charge?  Start at the beginning – pick a day and time you can comfortably commit to and will be convenient for your clients to maximize your crowds.  Many salons choose a Sunday, Monday or an evening with great success.  The salon professionals of Henry County, Georgia, banded together for a recent Monday event and raised nearly $5000.00 in nine hours!  Studio 921 Salon and Day Spa held a fully booked Sunday event for Katrina relief recently.  “It was easier to do it,” said Colleen Smith, who co-owns the salon with Judy Kelly. “A lot of stylists were off and it was a better day for people because it was still the weekend.


Money, money, money.  That’s the point of a cut-a-thon, after all, isn’t it?  So how do you know what to charge?  You have many choices, but two good options are to charge a flat fee or to offer services for a minimum donation.  Glenn Guerriero, owner of Brooklyn Attitude Hair and Body, charged full service prices at his recent hurricane relief fundraisers, but 100% of the proceeds were donated to the NCA Disaster Relief Fund.  Gina Diaz, owner/educator at Glam Hair Extensions and Board Member of Hairstylists for Humanity, kept clients coming in for selected services at prices reduced 50% or more.  And that successful Henry County cut-a-thon?  They charged a minimum $10.00 donation for a variety of services, including 10 minute massages.


What are we going to do now?  What services you offer depends a little upon who’s participating and how you set up your event.  Are you donating proceeds from a day of business like Guerriero?  Then you’re pretty much open to all your salon has to offer.  But if you’re trying to get as many clients in as possible, you’re probably better off keeping things simple.  “We tried to keep it basic and simple,” said Smith.  They chose to limit their services to nails and hair cuts for a few reasons.  The quicker turnover, she said, allowed for more people and because the services were ones both men and women use regularly, it generated more clients.


Are you experienced?  Probably not as much as some of your favorite nonprofit organizations.  Partnering with a known cause crusader has many benefits.  First, organizations like the NCA or the Red Cross can offer tremendous help when it comes to knowing how to organize and promote a fund-raising event.  Second, having another reputable name and logo in your promotional materials can attract even more participants. Melissa Jaqua, JPMS Master Associate and previous NAHA Hairstylist of the Year, said the first thing she did when planning a cut-a-thon following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was attach herself to the Red Cross.  “Their support was extremely helpful,” she said, “in terms of organization and promotion.”


With a little help from my friends.  You had a great idea, its true; this event will be a roaring success.  But don’t underestimate the old saying: two heads can be better than one.  Monica Ponce, owner of Look Hair Group in Tampa, learned this early on when planning her hurricane relief White Party.  After the first round of press releases went out, she was overwhelmed by the positive response and realized quickly that she couldn’t do it all on her own.  “I contacted friends at salons here to join” she said. “Ask for help – I think most people want to help.”  While she maintained primary organizing responsibilities, she said everyone pitched in everywhere they could and made her job a lot easier.


Let’s get it started!  Often, motivating your staff to get behind a cut-a-thon is easy, but since it usually requires a donation of time and effort on a day your talented employees would rather be sleeping in, make sure your cause is one they can really relate to.  “Pick something you and the people in your salon are passionate about,” said Smith, adding that the conviction of the salon pros frequently translates into motivated clients, too, and a more successful event.  Guerriero, too, advocates choosing an issue people can really identify with for maximum success.  “It’s all for a good cause,” he said about his cut-a-thon to benefit a local pet adoption center, “and it always touches the heart.”


It’s who you know.  All of the hairdressers who were interviewed for this article said that one of their greatest assets in getting the word out were their clients themselves.  Start telling your clients about your event and someone will know a person at the radio station or who works for a local paper or other media outlet, Jaqua said.  “A drop of water makes huge waves.”  Have press releases prepared, contact the local media, e-mail everyone who might be interested and put up flyers.  “Clients tell friends,” said Diaz, who started covering her bases 2 weeks prior to the event date, resulting in a “fabulous” turnout.  “We were all booked.”


Life of the party.  Keep participants coming in by keeping things light, festive and entertaining.  “Make it fun,” Jaqua said, “More like a party.”  Her event featured a DJ spinning records, food and refreshments.  Allen Edwards Salon Encino’s Katrina Relief Cut-a-thon scheduled a merry-go-round, raffles and a free Mediterranean lunch.  While getting a great haircut is the main draw for your clients, the great atmosphere of your event will get them talking, which can bring in more participants.  Jaqua’s fundraiser brought in many more people than expected, and most of them had heard about it through word-of-mouth promotion from other clients.


Where it’s at.  So how many people should you expect to show up at your fabulous event?  If you play your cards right, a lot!  “Be the first to do it,” said Guerriero about advertising a fundraiser.  “Be quick to the draw.”  Many experienced cut-a-thon hosts suggest by-appointment events so you have a better idea of who’s coming.  Studio 921’s booked-up event had 6 solid hours of clients in chairs, most of whom had an appointment.  “If it’s publicized well, you can pretty much fill your salon,” Smith said.


Cheap thrills.  You’re donating your time and money for a good cause, which is great, but it can get a little expensive if you’re not careful.  One of the ways that Ponce kept her print and design costs down to zero was by allowing the design company to place their logo on the flyers and other promotional materials.  Jaqua kept the costs low and the word spread with flyers she printed on her own computer and tacked up around her community.  Response was so good, she said, she had to replace many of the flyers in the days just before the event!


Whatever the cause, it seems the most successful cut-a-thons have several things in common – inspired hosts, community involvement, and a general atmosphere of fun and frivolity to keep guests coming in!  Don’t be afraid to reach out to your natural resources – local talent, fellow hairdressers, friends, family and community – for ways to spread the word and keep your costs down.  And, most of all, be committed to your cause – you’re helping the world with your efforts, probably in bigger ways than you can imagine! 


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