Spa GIVING: Charity Fashion Show

A Connecticut salon/spa fashions a runway into a thriving charitable vehicle.

Dawn's Pizzazz Artistic Group & Day Spa

Most therapists, estheticians and stylists have had plenty of clients climb into the chair or onto the table and proceed to pour their hearts out. Dawn Blom and her salon/spa staff can relate. “People come to us to relax, rejuvenate and feel good, but sometimes in the process, they end up crying,” says the founder and 26-year owner of Dawn’s Pizzazz Artistic Group & Day Spa, with locations in Danbury and Litchfield, Connecticut.

Over the years, Blom’s staff has referred many such clients to the Healing Heart program, a bereavement service offering group therapy at Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut. “When we encounter a broken heart that could benefit, we’re quick to supply that person with information about this program,” Blom says.

She is such a staunch believer in Healing Heart’s services that last year, Blom and her staff took their support a major step further by raising $63,000 for the local hospice via an innovative fashion show to commemorate the facility’s 25th anniversary. To pull it off, the very resourceful Blom tapped the talents of her estheticians and stylists to present a runway bonanza showcasing beauty trends throughout history, and aptly titled the show, “The Heart of Beauty.” The event was a smash success, drawing 450 people from the community and raising even greater awareness of the hospice’s services.

DAYSPA recently checked in with Blom to find out what made this fashion show such a hit. —Kevin Mathews

DAYSPA: Aside from referring clients, did you have any personal connection to Regional Hospice?

Blom: Yes, 10 years ago, my sister lost her husband. He was just 30 years old and left behind two young children. Therapy through Healing Heart was an awesome vehicle for her—she needed it horribly—so that’s how we got involved with them.

Why a fashion show?

We held a similar fundraiser four or five years prior to this one. It went so well, and people had so much fun, that when our 25th anniversary came around and we began brainstorming charitable social events, my staff really wanted to do another one. The concept everyone was most excited about was a ‘walk through time.’ We started by showcasing cavewoman fashion and then took it all the way through Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Josephine Bonaparte, Coco Chanel, Princess Di, Cher… we based the show around icons to demonstrate the evolution of beauty. Each model had her hair, costume and makeup styled accordingly.

Were there any differences between this fashion show and its predecessor?

We had a better handle on it this time. The first time, we featured 73 models, and that was probably not the smartest decision, so for this one, we decided to use fewer models and pay more attention to detail. Our goal was to make it educational, but still fun.

How do you make a fashion show educational?

When each model walked out, we spoke about how, throughout history, women have utilized different, specific items for beauty purposes. For instance, many used talc or egg white wash to brighten their complexions during Elizabethan times. We threw in a couple of historical facts, too, but we mainly kept the discussion to beauty; specifically, what was going on with hair and makeup during each time period. We feel that education is what sets us apart as technicians, so we wanted the audience to walk away with impressions that would stick with them, something more than just, ‘that was really cool.’

What role did your staff play in event-planning?

Each stylist was responsible for one icon. They had to do some research—they pretty much presented little reports on each person. To assign topics, we looked at our makeup artists’ and estheticians’ strengths and assigned each to present the icon that best matched her own aesthetic.

Did your employees volunteer their time?

Yes. Service is part of my handbook. If new staffers aren’t on board with giving back, they will be once the rest of the team gets ahold of them! Besides, my team knows the drill—most have been with me for 10 years or more. The average team member has been here 16 years, so we’re like a big huge family.

Think you’ll hold another fashion show fundraiser in the future?

Absolutely. I don’t know when and I don’t know what it’s going to look like, but it’s a whole lot of fun for the entire team, so I’m sure we’ll do more.

Will you host any other charitable events in the meantime?

Oh, yes. We’ve been holding an annual golf tournament for the past 10 years. We also team up with a local radiology office each October for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Every patient of theirs who receives a mammogram gets a stamp on one of our fliers for 20% off any spa service. But our real favorite charitable event is a night of pampering during which we invite cancer patients, cancer survivors, and caretakers into the spa and offer mini services for just $25. My team members donate their time, and we typically donate all proceeds to a cancer patient who may not have sufficient insurance coverage.

It seems like supporting those in need is a major aspect of your business.

It’s part of our philosophy, and definitely part of our culture. I was fortunate enough to have really great parents who taught me to give back and always be grateful—I’m a real strong believer in that being our obligation to society.