New York Salon Offers Free Haircuts to Unemployed


This is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and I’m interested to know if Zelda Lily readers are noticing similar happenings around their respective ‘hoods. In New York, a 27-year-old, out-of work fashion designer named Theresa Cheung came upon something interesting:

Ms. Cheung was leafing through Time Out New York magazine when she noticed a write-up promising free haircuts at the Cristiano Cora studio in Greenwich Village to anyone who brought proof of unemployment, sort of a public service to style-conscious job seekers.

Cheung looked the salon up and found that the cheapest haircut it offered was $100(!), and that the online reviews were very positive. With all that going for the Cristiano Cora studio, she assumed stylish, unemployed folks would be coming out in droves to get that extra boost they doubtless needed for job interviews. But she showed up on the salon’s public-service day — 2nd in line — and was in a stylist’s chair in no time. What a treat!

Ms. Cheung … was a lingerie designer until she was laid off four months ago, [and] has not found [job] the search to be all that easy. She has cut back on all the nonessentials: the dinners out, the fancy bread, the $200 cut-wash-dry-hot oil treatments of yore (alas, color and other services beyond the scissors were not free at the salon). She had not had even a trim since March, and those wispy ends of her long, dark hair were starting to get on her nerves.

The whole experience not only added to her confidence, but placed her amongst others experiencing the same hard luck: “It’s good to know you’re not alone — to be around people who understand your situation.” Mr. Cora’s kind actions were matched with kind words: “Tomorrow you’re going to go out and look for an interview and get a job,” he told one pro-bono customer.

Of course it’s not a completely selfless endeavor — it’s good business, too:

To gain access to wealth and fashion, one has to keep up appearances, but keeping up appearances can be impossible unless you’ve already got access to wealth and fashion. Mr. Cora and his staff, as well as some other stylists he had trained, were trying to help the clientele, many of whom worked in fashion or theater or marketing, sidestep this conundrum. Call it the good-hair school of economics. “We’re trying to prepare them so they can get working and feel good and come back into salons … Our business has slowed down, too.”

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43 thoughts on “New York Salon Offers Free Haircuts to Unemployed

  1. This is great,as long as it won’t give the Obama administration any ideas. They’ll no doubt create a haircut czar. We need some real action,the word rooky is coming to mind.

  2. She hadn’t had a trim in 7 months? She couldn’t find a friend with a pair of scissors or summoned up $15 for a trip to Super Cuts? She couldn’t find a beauty school to give her a trim? Last time I got a beauty school trim it was only $5. $5 is a reasonable investment to make so she can go to job interviews looking vaguely presentable. Hopefully she’ll learn something from this experience and start using a little common sense, save some money for a rainy day instead of dropping $200 on a hair cut every few weeks.

    • Don’t you think it’s extremely petty and childish to judge other peoples’ expenditures like that? If she feels that the person she trusts to cut her hair and treat it with products deserves that much money for their hard work and equipment costs, that’s her goddamn priority, and if she used to earn enough that she could afford it and enjoy herself, good for her.

      I wouldn’t spend $200 on my hair personally, but I think it’s really shitty to act superior to someone who does just because YOU think it’s a waste of money. Chances are, you spend money on things you don’t really need or could get cheaper too.

      Then again, this kind of snobbish “Anyone who spends more than me on something is an idiot who should be taught a lesson” nonsense is just a way of making yourself feel superior, so there’s probably no reasoning with you about it.

      Unless, of course, you’re writing this comment from the library and don’t own your own computer. Because you don’t really NEED that computer, right? Why, it’s FREE at the library! You could’ve SAVED that money instead of buying a computer with it! Use some common sense!

      • If you’re going from spending $200 on a hair cut to not being able to afford $15 for a trim then you’re not using smart financial planning. If I wanted to I could go spend $200 on my hair too but that would be $180 less going in to my savings account.

        It’s not snobbery, it’s common sense. I also didn’t say she needed to be taught a lesson; that would imply that I was happy about her being laid off which I’m not. Just saying that I hope she learns something from the experience which is a positive thing.

      • Rhonda always acts like a know it all. I don’t pay $200 for a haircut but I also don’t let students do my hair because it’s difficult hair and if cut wrong it looks like total shit and makes me depressed.

      • Oh mate come on Rhonda is right here. This woman used to spend loads of money on a haircut, fine with me, but ever since she hasn’t been able to, she hasn’t even got her hair cut?? That’s stupid.

        • You people make it sound as if not having your hair cut is like not breathing for 7 months.
          I haven’t had my hair cut in 11 months, and when I eventually do get it cut, I will likely shell out a little more than $15 to have it done.

        • I tend to get mine done fairly infrequently too, usually about every 5-6 months. That doesn’t bother me in the slightest. However, she said it was getting on her nerves. If it was really bugging her that much she could have had it cut somehow but she chose not to until she could get a fancy cut for free.

        • Has anyone considered that the woman might have been feeling depressed or down due to losing her job? That would make you not go get your hair cut.
          A cut at a fancy salon is just what a lot of people do (or used to do) to cheer themselves up when having a bad day/week/whatever.
          Why do people always have to take a story about someone doing something nice and find a small piece of it to sh*t all over? Just enjoy the fact that not everyone out there is a jerk.

        • They’re neurotic head cases Pufnstuf, they aren’t happy unless they’re bitching about racial shit or trying to ram their point of view down the rest of the world’s throat with their condescending superiority.

    • *snerk* I wouldn’t let a beauty student near MY hair, and with all that coarse, long hair, I can see why she wouldn’t either. The less like white-people hair you have, the harder it is for someone who isn’t experienced to make it look NEAR presentable. And that costs a lot of money, regardless. And if she doesn’t have a friend with similar experience, I wouldn’t trust them with it either. And for someone with no job (and presumably, no husband to just hand them money), especially a young person who HASN’T had decades to put money away, living in New York city where you basically need a full time job to keep from starving to death and freezing on the streets, yes, 15 dollars CAN be a lot of money. So I’m sorry she wants to look halfway decent and still keep enough money to eat, but Rhonda, you are in really no place to judge her like this.

      • Not having seen a picture of her I can’t judge what kind of hair she has but given her name I’d guess she’s of Chinese descent and probably has fairly straight hair. She said she wanted rid of the wispy ends on her long hair, hardly a hard task. A simple straight trim would be better then 7 months worth of split ends.

        If she weren’t spending $200 on a hair cut before hand she’d have had more savings to live on. Again, that’s just common sense. She’s probably making about $60K a year assuming she’s been working for 5 years as a fashion designer in NYC. Even living in NYC she could save a reasonable amount on that salary. Clearly she wasn’t living hand to mouth if she was paying $200 for a hair cut.

        Why do you think I’m in no position to judge? Do you think I live in some magical world where money is irrelevant or something?

        • Straight hair isn’t all exactly the same, actually. Asian hair tends to be MUCH coarser than white hair.

          And you’ve said yourself, I believe, that you are a stay at home mom living in a rural area (correct me if I’m wrong), meaning that your cost of living is INCREDIBLY low in comparison, and your husband probably makes a substantial enough wage to live comfortably. So no, actually, you are in NO position to talk money to a young, single unemployed urban woman, especially one in New York. You have entirely different monetary needs and situations.

        • I don’t live in a rural area. I live in a suburban area 10 minutes drive from the city center. I also live in one of most expensive towns in an expensive area of the country so no, my cost of living isn’t that low. Our last apartment was $1800 a month and that was 6 years ago.

          Of course I haven’t always lived here. I’ve lived in a variety of different areas including urban areas and country areas and on varying budgets. Yes I have enough to live on now but I’ve also lived as a young single woman on a miniscule budget, probably substantially tighter than this woman’s budget if she has filed for unemployment benefits. I know what I’m talking about.

        • As someone who’s lived in a suburb but interacted with the city quite a lot, no, you still don’t. Living in the suburbs is still cheaper than living in NYC. It is unreasonably expensive to live as anything but homeless, and furthermore, you STILL have the type of hair that any idiot with scissors can make look attractive, which I’m still willing to bet she doesn’t have. As someone who’s taken the fifteen dollar haircuts, trust me: she may have gone with split ends to avoid being BUTCHERED because most beauty school students don’t ever even consider that their clients may have a type of hair other than ‘typical white people hair,’ and yes, straight as it may be, typical Asian hair is coarse which is something the girls who are shoveld from Lurlene’s 3-Week School-o-Beauty into Supercuts or her neighbor down the hall probably never encountered. I learned my lesson, maybe she learned hers. By New York price standards, that’s probably not much more than what I would have to pay to get my hair to look like ANYTHING but a Barbie doll attacked my a mentally challenged 4 year old with scissors. And she filed for unemployment because she IS UNEMPLOYED. There is a distinct difference between not making much money and not making ANY money. Furthermore, you don’t know the rest of her story. For example, exactly how long she HAD been employed (considering her age, it was almost certainly not long enough to amass a large amounts of savings) or if anything drastic has happened since then.

        • Syd and Rhonda fighting lol….now this is entertaining!

          Syd, how does Shawanda the cashier afford a weave when she’s making $6 an hour at Walmart?

        • Hush Peggy, the grown ups are talking.

          Syd, you don’t even know what my hair is like. Not all white people have the fine and straight hair you seem to assume we do. My hair is insanely thick and kinky; one of my friends is from Kenya and she’s actually suggested I go to her stylist because she’d probably do a better job with my hair since it’s very similar to hers.

          You complain that I’m making assumptions about a complete stranger and yet you continue to make assumptions about my hair, my history, and my financial situation. In any case, my life is irrelevant to this discussion. Going back to my original point, if she weren’t spending $200 on her hair every few weeks she’d have more savings and it would be better to get a cheap trim than walk around looking like a mess while trying to find a job. I’m not talking about some fancy hair style, just a trim. It doesn’t matter what kind of hair you have, it’s just not that hard to snip off the split ends.

        • You all are idiots, bickering over trivial things. Did any of you consider that the $200 for a haircut may not have been a normal endeavor? Or that perhaps it was every three months or so ($800 a year) rather than every 3 weeks ($3460 a year) or so? Ignoring the fact that rent ranges from $19k a year to $35k a year depending on location, $60k a year is not all that much if you think about it, that is to say if she was even making that much, given her age, she is probably 6 years out of school, so $50′s are more likely.

          It was very nice of the salon to offer such a service to those out of work, especially at the prices they charge. Those in the marketing/buisness/theatre/fashion industries rely heavily on their physical appearance not only through the interview process but every day as well, and it’s hard to be presentable with a $15 dollar haircut when those who are interviewing you and in all likelihood those you work with have a haircut at least triple that price. Yes you can get by with a $15 dollar haircut, but how well you would look is questionable, and Asian hair, even when compared to kinky white peoples hair, is very different, and you have to go to someone familiar with cutting such hair, and as stated, many aren’t.

          There are a few places that you could go for a student cut, but the good ones (like Vidal Sassoons school) are hard to get appointments for for obvious reasons.

    • Have you lived in NYC before? I struggled to find a barbershop that charged less than $25 for a cut unless I traveled well out of my way when I lived there (I’m talking an hour+ on public transit). $200 for all that person was getting is pretty darn reasonable by NYC standards. A lot of places charge $200+ just for the cut.

    • Yeah! Walmart is on my shit list right now, anyway. They changed my G’Ma’s hours so that she can’t have two days in a row off. She’s friggin 84!
      For all their talk about how they employ old people, they sure can’t claim to treat them nicely.

      • Most Walmart employees are on food stamps/medicaid because they won’t pay their employees. It’s disgusting when you consider how much those Waltons are worth. How much money does one person need? Share!

        On a side note, I definitely won’t be one of those savages lining up for Black friday.

        • “On a side note, I definitely won’t be one of those savages lining up for Black friday.”

          No kidding. Aside from ethical concerns about giving money to Walmart, there’s the fear of being trampled to death!

        • Those Walton’s are typical of rich kids brought up rich, look at the Hilton family for a prime example. There’s a reason those like the Gate’s (just donated $300 Million to schools) and Warren Buffet are only planning to keep about 1 – 5% of their money, and donate the rest.

          Walmart is bad for the economy for a variety of reasons…

      • I believe Walmart, Kmart, Target and all the other stores of that ilk pay about the same. I don’t know why Walmart is consistently the only one to catch crap for it.
        Some jobs just don’t pay much. That and questionable labor practices in China and other countries are why we (the consumers) get cheap stuff. If you are truly concerned, you’d be better off trying to buy fair trade/fair labor goods whenever possible than just boycotting Walmart and shopping at another cheap store instead.

        • I do my best to boycott all the cheapies, actually.
          But Wal-Mart has some very unfortunate policies aout unions.
          No wait, not policies…I meant shutting stores down completely when employees unionize. That’s what I meant.

      • 84???????????????????????????????????? I’m so glad I live in Europe. My grandma is 87 and she can barely walk!! :(( Sometimes the US astonish me.

        • Welcome to the United States, land of opportunity and equality. We all work, and long and hard, old & young still work 12 hr shifts to meet ends meet sometimes.

  3. It’s quite clever as well. That way their salon will always look busy and we all now that we rather step into a busy salon than one where noone is about.

  4. The guy who owns Cristiano Cora salon is a first class a-hole, and he runs a business that discriminates against African-Americans. African-Americans seeking the haircut advertised were turned away despite following the instructions in the ad that ran in “Time Out New York.”

    It is a disreputable company and ought to be sued for false and deceptive advertising.

    • Maybe they don’t do black hair at this salon? Black hair requires different treatment and not every salon has someone on staff to deal with it.

      • Wrong. Despite the fact that ethnic hair is harder to do, it is totally possible for any reasonably trained beauty school graduate to wash and blow dry a black person’s hair.

        • Ability to and want to are different things. They may not have had the time to, the information about that is lacking, and don’t judge based on an opinion, whats the source of the information and the situation in which it happened (crowd, behavior, time of day)? That we don’t know.

          Basic training also doesn’t translate to good ability. An orthopedic surgeon knows how to perform surgery, but that doesn’t mean I want them to remove a tumor. Salons like that pride themselves on quality, and maybe the quality of the cut they could give the person was not up to their standards so they had to turn them away, consider all possibilities.

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