Natural Hair Salon owner Natalie Grunberg-Ferreira is passionate about her business.
“I love everything about it from like cleaning the windows to interacting with staff, doing all the high-level strategizing and marketing business,” she says.
“I just love it. But really, it’s about the culture, it’s about the people.”
And Grunberg-Ferreira’s now using her beauty business to help vulnerable people.
“I ride my bike every day, so do some of our staff, down Pandora, and often you can feel like, ‘Ah jeez, this is an insurmountable problem like what can I do as an individual?’ and what I’ve decided is I actually can’t do anything, but Our Place can do something, and we can support Our Place,” she says.
The salon started a ‘Beauty Day’ at Our Place Society, offering free haircuts and manicures for dozens of women.
“Beauty Day was really incredible,” says Natural Hair Salon stylist and Beauty Day volunteer Taylor Holt.
“It’s my second year doing it, and it’s a great opportunity to get to reach back out into the community and really feel like you’re making a difference with people.”
“A lot of the times when they’re on the on the street, they’re just focused on survival, but to have a day of pampering, where it’s about them, it’s so meaningful,” adds Grant McKenzie of Our Place.
Meaningful, because it’s about so much more than just giving someone a haircut.
“Healthy touch is so important for people on the street,” McKenzie explains. “Anytime you’re putting your hands on someone very, very healing and so a haircut to me is more than a haircut, it’s that connection you’re giving people.”
“They held their hands, and they had some cries, and they had some laughs, and you know, for those moments, what they were doing was a lot bigger than hair,” Grunberg-Ferreira adds.
“They were giving someone love.”
Grunberg-Ferreira’s team will now spread that love to men with the first-ever Handsome Day on June 16.
“I came into this industry because I wanted to help people feel beautiful, and getting an opportunity to really put my time and effort into that and help people feel beautiful, the people who are the most vulnerable in our communities who really needed that, it just feels really incredible,” Holt says.
Natalie is now challenging other business owners to help make a difference.
“I think it’s easy to be disgruntled, and if you’re a downtown business, we’ve been through a lot,” Grunberg-Ferreira says.
“And I just really want to challenge people to get out of that sense of being defeated and instead look at the action that we can all take.”
And for those that do, they usually get far more out of it than they give.
“It’s such an honour to be able to do it,” says Holt. “My uncle was like a participant in Our Place, and so getting the opportunity to go back to our place and like give back to something that’s really helped somebody in my family is the best experience I’ve ever had.”
“The folks that are having difficulties on Pandora are part of our community,” Grunberg-Ferreira points out.
“So if we can all remember that we’re all in this together and that we’re all the same really, then I think we’d be much more empowered to do positive things and feel good because when you give, you get.”