Zion Wright, 6, grimaces as Cecilia Guidarrama begins massaging a cold facial cleanser into her face at Evergreen Beauty College’s annual back-to-school beauty event on Wednesday, in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
EVERETT — Eight-year-old Jazlynn Chong ran her fingers through her chin-length black hair on Wednesday. A flash of gold, pink and blue tinsel shimmered in the vanity lights.
“It’s gorgeous,” Jazlynn said with a smile so big her blue suspenders showed it.
Her mother Tracy brought Jazlynn and her younger brother to the campus of Evergreen Beauty College in Everett for free back-to-school haircuts. The beauty school hosts the event annually at each of its five campuses to give its students extra practice — and give back to the community.
“Evergreen is really community-based,” said Kyle Kennebrew, customer services manager for the Everett site. “This is a family business and they really strive to give back to the community. They want to instill that in the students they produce here.
School officials said 166 people received free haircuts, manicures or facials during the three-hour event. This included 109 children’s haircuts, 87 manicures and 96 facials. A line snaked around the building until late in the afternoon. Since the pandemic, it’s the first “normal” version of a long-standing college tradition.
Kennebrew said the event was suspended in 2020 and changed to be by appointment only in 2021. This year families have returned inside the school in droves.
“It’s starting to go back to normal,” Kennebrew said.
In the meantime, families could get their makeup done, fill the parking lot with chalk drawings and play bubble machines.
“I like that they know you’re going to be waiting, so they plan ahead,” said Keeley Imlah, an Arlington mom. She brought her 8 year old daughter for a complete beauty treatment. Her daughter requested purple nail polish and 6 inch trim.
“It’s a great experience for her. She loves it,” Imlah said. “She’s been looking forward to it all week.”
Imlah said she came because she knew a few beauticians. She wanted to support their studies with practical exercises. Other families came to save money.
Beauty student Laura Santiago said she expected the day to be a lot like her job at Great Clips.
“We’ll get them in and we’ll get them out,” she said.
By 2 p.m. – two hours into the event – Santiago had given haircuts to three children, including one with an advanced level request for his fade.
Another student, Emma Tombs, said she expected “a lot of new people at once”. Tombs works in a salon, where she typically spends about an hour with each client. On Free Haircut Day, students aim to transform customers every 20 to 40 minutes.
“We don’t do styling and we don’t do shampoo,” said campus director Jenevieve Wilson. “We only do haircuts.”
This helps the school reach as many families as possible, Wilson added. The event is first come, first served, with “last call” at 3 p.m.
On the ground, instructors step in as needed to support students in a new, fast-paced setting. There’s an added challenge working with kids who squirm in their seats or aren’t sure what cut they want.
Before Wednesday’s event, Everett resident Tiffany Rutledge waited outside the building with her two children. She said they came three years ago but ended up at the back of the line. This year, they were on the front line around 10:30 a.m.
“I’m too broke, so this is about the only opportunity to get the kids’ haircut,” Rutledge said.
The trio came especially for 10-year-old Lindsey to tame the curly brunette locks that cascaded down her back.
“She’s trying to be Rapunzel,” her 13-year-old brother Chris joked.
But the children were delighted to discover that they could also have a manicure. Chris, who uses the pronouns they/them, said they were thrilled to freshen up their nails.
“I think I need it,” Chris said, holding up a hand with chipped teal nail polish.
By the time the Rutledges left school, Chris and Lindsey were sporting new haircuts and polish. They also received their first facials.
“We try to inspire young people to either enter the industry or take care of themselves,” said Michael Lorenzo, an instructor at the school. “It is important to interest them when they are young. … It’s taking care of yourself.
Mallory Gruben is a Report for America staff member who writes on education for the Daily Herald.