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'I love a good transformation': Southeast Portland salon holds free hair styling event

L&M Hair Studio offered free haircuts and hair styling on Friday to dozens of people who might otherwise struggle to afford it.

PORTLAND, Ore. — This week, stylists at a Portland salon decided to spend their time helping people in the community look and feel good without having to worry about the cost.

Styling hair is more than a hobby for Melody Wikander. She's been doing it since she was 10. Those skills led her to a full time job as the owner and stylist at L&M Hair Studio, a full service hair salon in Southeast Portland that opened in January of 2022.

“It was super important to me when I opened up this shop to whenever I was able to give back to my community," said Wikander.

She thought there was no better time than now to help people out.

"With the pandemic happening and gas prices rising, housing prices are outrageous, the last thing people have money to spend on is hair — and I felt like that was something I could help out with," explained Wikander.

That's why for 12 hours Friday, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., the salon offered free haircuts and hair styling to anyone in need.

Credit: KGW
Flyer of the free hair event at L&M Hair Studio in SE Portland

"This is helping me out a lot," said Javontae Perry, who came to the event.

Perry said he'd lost his job. On Friday, he was able to get braids at the salon that normally would have cost between $50 and $100.

"For me to get some free braids, that says a lot, you know," said Perry. "I’ve got bills to pay, everybody’s got bills to pay, so it saves a little extra money in my pockets for the month."

Five salon stylists were on hand to serve clients on a first-come, first-served basis for simple styles like braids and ponytails. The salon also brought in a barber for shorter haircuts.

About 70 people got their hair done during the free hair event. The salon could have made about $6,500 — but for Wikander, it’s not about the money. It's about helping her community.

"I’m helping so many people and that makes me really happy," she said "I love a good transformation, transforming people. I think that that really builds up their self-esteem and confidence, and that’s really what I love about what I do."

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