While almost no person or industry seems to have been shielded from the economic fallout surrounding the Covid-19 health crisis, beauty professionals — hairstylists, colorists, estheticians, nail artists, makeup artists and the like — are among those facing the most uncertainty. Their jobs simply can't be done remotely or while enforcing the six-feet-apart mandate, and it's left many without work and without any idea of when work might be a future possibility. To help those feeling the financial impacts of this staggering new reality the most, Melody O'Flaherty, founder of beauty PR agency Melody Joy Public Relations and her husband, hairstylist Michael Dueñas, have taken it upon themselves to create a much-needed support system.
On Monday, O'Flaherty and Dueñas announced Support Creatives, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to provide artists in need with financial assistance, mentorship programs and educational resources during times of uncertainty. For the couple, this mission is personal. "As a hairstylist, I am completely out of work, with a very uncertain future. I don't know when I will be able to return to work, or how I will return," says Dueñas, whose celebrity clients include Jane Levy, Rachel Brosnahan, Ilana Glazer, Padma Lakshmi and Natasha Lyonne. "My clients don't want someone in close proximity to them, I don't necessarily want to be in a close, confined space either, at this moment in time. I had a lot of work lined up for a few months, that just vanished, leaving me wondering how I am going to pay my bills, or even stay up on taxes."
"Our immediate intentions with Support Creatives are to make sure artists can put food on their table, pay their bills, give some sort of relief to someone who is paycheck to paycheck," says O'Flaherty, who will also serve as president of the organization. "For the long term, Support Creatives plans on changing the course of artists' lives. With our mentorship program, we connect artists to extremely established volunteer mentors, who know the ropes of the industry, and can give guidance where and when needed. This is a lifelong endeavor, not just a quick fix to a pandemic."
Consumers and brands can donate funds to help support artists in need — and O'Flaherty stresses that this is the most impactful way to help right now — but there are other ways to get involved, too. "We are also looking for product and tool donations. Not everything has to be monetary. With non-monetary donations, we can send products and tools to artists who cannot afford to purchase themselves," she says. Professionals can also volunteer to become educators to provide digital training to artists through Support Creatives.
While O'Flaherty says she's been encouraged by the many crowdfunding campaigns that have sprung up to support beauty professionals over the past few weeks, she wanted to set up a support system with more transparency and longevity. "We are not another GoFundMe. Support Creatives has to document where our funds are going, and the daily consumer can see where they went. With saying that, you know exactly where every dollar goes, and that you are directly changing someone's life. This is a lifelong endeavor, and we plan on changing lives for the better, for the long term."
To get involved or donate to Support Creatives, visit the organization's website at supportcreatives.org.