The Red Chair Project is a new addition to Steller Kindness, but was actually conceptualized back in 2013. Katie was in the process of opening the doors of Steller Hair Company, which meant all of their salon equipment was being stored in her house. One day as she walked by the 5 red chairs that were taking over the living room, Katie had an idea. What if she put one of those chairs in the back of her car, and drove around offering free haircuts for people in the community who were holding signs asking for help? Like most of Katie’s ideas, they go from conceptualization to action in a blink of an eye. Even though Katie didn’t have a platform to share these stories at the time, she realized very quickly that this was an idea that was worth pursuing, and gave a unique opportunity to connect with the community.
Edwards Silver Highlights -
When it comes to people who are homeless in the Twin Cities, it is not unusual for a smile and a wave. This could not be more true for Mississippi native, Edward. Edward grew up in Mississippi and moved to Illinois, but now resides in Northeast, Minneapolis. If you’ve driven past the University Exit onto 35W you’ve probably encountered his beaming smile. For someone who has experienced so much loss and difficulties he emphasized the importance of looking at the positives in any given situation. Coined by the title, “Edward’s Silver Highlights” Edward made it a point to look at the good aspects of life (as well as laughing about his fresh silver hairs).
With the reboot of the Red Chair Project, our goal is to “Look Beyond the Sign”. People are so much more than a story. If you were to look at Edward’s sign you would not know that the reason he moved to Northeast, Minneapolis is so that he can be closer to his two children. Edward is a family man who religiously talks to his mom everyday. The bond Edward holds with his mom is truly special, he spoke about how she emphasized the importance of an education and made sure that all of her 9 children graduated high school. When reminiscing about his past Edward laughed about his advice about “not getting married” and how his jheri curls never grew back after he got married.
“I felt like Michael Jackson”, Edward chuckled.
It did not take long for passerbyers to take note of the makeshift hair salon and iconic red chair on the side of the road.
A blue Prius drove by and circled back when a lady rolled down her window and said, “What you guys are doing for Edward is great!”
It is amazing the impact of something as simple as a haircut could have on a person. Edward’s already great smile was beaming.
When asked to recount a time that Edward was positively impacted by someone else’s kindness, he began telling a story about the time he was in court and owed $450 for something related to his car. Edward went to pay the $450 and the judge told him that he actually owed $900 and that Edward was $450 short. It was in that moment that a complete stranger took out a checkbook and wrote Edward a check for $450 so that he could complete the full payment that day. Edward was incredibly grateful to the kind stranger. It appeared as though Edward was still in shock that this miracle happened.
While getting his haircut, Edward expressed his gratitude for people who have stopped to give him something - or even just to chat and hear his story. Edward is rightfully proud of who he is and laughs about his gratefulness when someone gives him McDonald’s or brings him dinner. He chooses to hold his sign to stay out of trouble and avoid the negative aspects of being homeless. It is evident that Edward is a huge part of the Northeast community and has made impactful connections with people who drive by.
Edward’s story is one of many that the Red Chair Project hopes to highlight in the Northeast, Minneapolis community. Through the cutting of hair and bringing a salon chair to people who are homeless, the Red Chair Project thrives on connections and positively impacting people with kindness.
“Yes, I’ve experienced a lot of loss, but I’ve also had so much good.”
Written by Emily Lall and Katie Steller