The Red Chair Project
Back in 2013, before Steller Hair Company opened its doors, Katie had an idea. She was standing in her living room looking at the boxes upon boxes of hair equipment, product and tools that would soon be filling the brand new Steller salon. Among these items were our original 5 red chairs.
Katie grew up in downtown Minneapolis, and was accustomed to driving by people holding signs asking for help. She remembers feeling a deep sadness, not necessarily because they were experiencing homelessness, but because they were often alone. This was the memory that sparked her decision to throw one of the red Steller chairs in the back of her car and go around offering free haircuts to people in the community who were asking for help. This wasn't just to “do a good deed”, she was hopeful that, even for a moment, that person might feel less alone. This venture didn't last more than a few weeks, since running Steller Hair became Katie’s full-time focus, but it certainly left an impression.
Fast forward to June 2019, Katie decided to dust off this idea, and give it another go.
The Red Chair Project isn't an effort to “save” people, it is the effort to see people. As hairstylists, Katie believes we have a unique opportunity to connect with our communities. We all drive by people every day who are asking for help. Our initial thoughts might be laced with judgment, assumptions or discomfort, and that makes sense. Katie wants this project to be a challenge to those reactions, and shed light on the fact that you are driving by a human who has experienced pain, joy and everything in between. People don't need to be saved, they need to be seen, and we ALL have the capability to do that. The goal behind this project isn't to share stories that just make people “feel good”. Katie’s hope is to encourage people to get off of social media, and in to their communities. Authentically connecting with our community, whatever that looks like for you, is essential. Your way of connection might not look like dragging a red salon chair across the highway, but we all have the capability to show up and see the person in front of us with value and respect.
If fear is contagious, why can’t kindness be?