Veronica Dunbar has called Brewerytown home for two years now. Originally from Southwest Philadelphia, she grew up in her father’s barbershop, where he worked for nearly 40 years. Surrounded by hairstylists from a young age, she knew this would be a profession that would not only feel like home, but bring positivity to those she served. Dunbar currently works at Asanti Hair Studio located at 2827 W. Girard Ave., where her campaign “Fit for a Queen,” has garnered community attention. Her ongoing efforts consist of raising money in order to give back to the communities women in transition, through a day of pampering.
Have you always had a passion for hairstyling and beauty?
Yeah I actually did. I grew up in a salon, so I was always surrounded by women doing hair and it always looked fun to me. I’m a person who doesn’t really like to be restricted. I enjoy making my own schedule, and you can meet a whole bunch of people, and that’s what made me want to be able to do this. I’ve been working for Asanti for about four years. It feels like home when I’m here. I love getting up in the morning and going to work.
What have you learned from the people you have met as a hairstylist?
I’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many great people through my line of work. You find out a lot about people’s lives and what they’ve gone through. I’ve been able to meet people from all different walks of life, ranging from stay at home moms to company executives. This has allowed me to learn a lot about people but also myself. I’ve come to see that I may be going through things, but after talking to others and listening to their stories it’s shown me that sometimes what I’m going through isn’t that much. Meeting new people can put things into perspective.
How do you think beauty can inspire people to do better?
I want them to feel proud and confident when they walk out of these doors. I want them to be able to see themselves in a different light. When you don’t look the way you want you don’t really feel the part. For me, personally, when I do my hair and do my makeup, I feel ready to take on the world. I want these women to know that there are people out there who support them, notice them, and want them to succeed as they take on the world. And maybe when they see themselves after their visit, they may realize they want to do more and think bigger.
If you can use your platform to do something, whatever the case maybe, you should do it. I think we all need to feel that we have support and feel united. Personally, I know what it may feel like to not have all the support you need. My mother, who passed away, suffered from alcoholism and I witnessed her go into rehab as she was trying to transition her life for the better. I saw how it wasn’t easy to recover. Seeing my mother’s struggle first-hand has made me want to bring positivity to the community the best way I know how. Now I have a platform that can help others in order to give them hope.
What exactly is a “Woman in Transition?”
A “woman in transition” is a female who is experiencing a lot things in her life. Some women may be transitioning from having substance abuse issues or even recovering from homelessness. There are many different types of women in transition who are essentially trying to get back on their two feet.
How exactly are you using your platform to help women in transition?
In November, I did an event similar to what I plan on doing now, and it really hit home for me. The event showed me that this line of work is way more than a regular press and curl. Some of the women at the event had never had the opportunity to have this type of treatment. Going into that event some of the women didn’t seem very approachable and I was preparing myself for a quiet encounter, but once they sat in the chair and I actually talked to them, they were able to really open up to me. They loved their hair and left with so much more confidence, and it made me really want to do something like that again.
The event I’m working on right now, “Fit For a Queen,” welcomes women in transition to get their hair, make-up and nails done for free. I want this event to be more than what you look like on the outside, but for the beauty to reflect within as well. I’m currently working on having some inspirational speakers, nutritionists and counselors lined up. Sometimes when you are in transition your focus isn’t primarily on eating how you should or the other things that could contribute to living a healthy lifestyle. I would like these women in transition to leave feeling beautiful, but also enhancing their self-worth. I hope this event will touch other people who could also use their platform in order to help those in need.
How has the community in Brewerytown responded to your events and campaign?
Everyone has been very supportive. A lot of the establishments have done fundraiser events to help me reach my goal. Otto’s Taproom, a bar around the corner, is currently having a fundraiser now that is a drink special. Every $2 is going to “Fit for a Queen.” Uncle Nick’s Pizza, which is directly next door, has donated to my gofundme. Nutrition 365, which is a fitness center has been very supportive as well, reposting things that I have shared on social media. The community has been like one little village helping me get the word out to the community.
What kind of impact do you hope this will have on the community?
Sometimes when people see your outer appearance they automatically judge you, and sometimes you yourself can look in the mirror and not feel good. I want these women to know that there are people out here who support them, notice them, and want them to succeed. I’m a person who sees something that may not be right, and instead of sitting or ignoring it I want to act on it. I’ve found out by doing so, others follow suit. I want people to be less selfish and more humble about those who surround them.
If you would like to support Veronica’s campaign “Fit for a Queen,” you can donate to her GoFundMe page here. The tentative event has been scheduled for May 6, 2018.
– Text and images by Sarah Diomande and Tess Donlevie.