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Vidal Sassoon and BehindtheChair.com team up to create ‘Hairdressers Unlocking Hope,’ an effort to help raise funds, volunteers for Habitat for Humanity

ATLANTA (July 20, 2007) – Hair-industry icon Vidal Sassoon is teaming up with Behindthechair.com to create “Hairdressers Unlocking Hope,” an initiative to help Habitat for Humanity build homes in partnership with low-income families displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

“The goal,” said Mary Rector-Gable, founder of Behindthechair.com, “is to bring together members of the hairdressing community and their clients to reach out and help people who remain homeless or in temporary shelter after the 2005 hurricane season by raising funds to build new Habitat homes.”

The ultimate goal is to build 18 houses in St. Tammany Parish, La., near Slidell in November. Sponsors currently committed to participating in the build of an entire home valued at $85,000 include: PureOlogy, TIGI, Bumble & bumble, Paul Mitchell Schools, Farouk Systems, Kenra, Mizani, HairCuttery, Sportclips, Intercoiffure, Chatters Canada, Charles Penzone, John Allan Salons, Neill Corporation, Professional Salon Concepts, Equibal Labs, Be Medical Salon & Spa, John Tomas Salon, Shear Elegance, Art + Science.

“The hairdressing industry generously wants to be involved,” said Sassoon. “This is a ‘movement’ that will truly make a difference in people’s lives. The industry sees that and sponsors are continuing to join in this endeavor to show the power of hairdressers coming together.”

Top fund-raisers will get to build a house with celebrity hairdressers or Sassoon. “It will be,” notes Sassoon, “a village built with the hands and hearts of hairdressers.”

For the week leading up to the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, August 22-29, more than 1,500 salons will participate in a dedicated week of raising money to build new homes. To learn more about those salons participating in fund-raising events, log on to whodoesyourhair.com for a complete listing by state and zip code.

Salons also have the option to donate or raise money without committing to building a home by logging onto the Hairdressers Unlocking Hope Web site at whodoesyourhair.com to donate online. They may also set up a salon-team fund-raiser as well and ask for donations from clients and friends. All money donated through the Web site will go directly to Habitat for Humanity to fund houses in a large plot of land set aside to build “a Village Built by Hairdressers” in November. Beauty corporations will also have the opportunity to participate by building homes and will be eligible to receive a fund-raising page on the Hairdressers Unlocking Hope Web site.

Hairdressers Unlocking Hope’s campaign relies on hairdressers to tell many of the stories of families in need with photographs and with symbolic keys. The phrases and images painted on their hands relate to a story of devastation and hope.

The plight of homeless hurricane victims resonates deeply with Sassoon who, as a child, was homeless after his father left his family and his mother was forced to place him in an orphanage in London for six years. During World War II, he was sent to live in the country; when the war ended, he was finally reunited with his mother. Thanks to housing constructed by the post-war British government, his family was able to move into a home of their own, together, for the first time ever.

“In the case of New Orleans and other affected areas, there is so much work to be done to restore housing and hope,” he notes, “so we need to come together to show how caring, giving and strong our community of hairdressers can be.”

His childhood experiences led Sassoon to New Orleans last year where he sponsored the construction of two houses in partnership with Hurricane Katrina-displaced families. Rector-Gable joined him when the families moved into their new homes and was overwhelmed by the gratitude of the families and the enormity of the destruction that remained. It was then that they decided to broaden Sassoon’s initial efforts and create “Hairdressers Unlocking Hope.”

“Vidal Sassoon has impacted every hairdresser in America,” said Rector-Gable, “and it’s an honor to be asked by him to help unite our industry. We all owe him so much gratitude, and this is our opportunity as an industry to thank him for what he has done for us for decades.”

To date, more than 1,000 Habitat for Humanity homes have been built or are under construction as part of Habitat’s hurricanes Katrina- and Rita-recovery program.

About Vidal Sassoon
Vidal Sassoon, founder of the internationally acclaimed company which bears his name, revolutionized the hair industry with his creation of haircuts based on the relationships of geometric shapes. “Sassooning” forever changed the hairdressing and fashion world. Today he heads the Vidal Sassoon Foundation, dedicated to pursuing his philanthropic interests worldwide, including the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism and Related Bigotries at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

About Mary Rector-Gable
Mary Rector-Gable founded behindthechair.com in 2000. The professional beauty industry’s first and largest Web community, designed exclusively for licensed beauty professionals, has welcomed more than 15 million visitors since its inception and now boasts more than a half million monthly visitors. Rector-Gable has also spearheaded a number of philanthropic programs, and was recently honored with the Beacon of Leadership for Community Service Award by the National Cosmetology Association for her outstanding efforts in raising money and awareness for Katrina victims.

About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since its founding in 1976, Habitat has built more than 225,000 houses worldwide, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org.