More than hair highlighted as celebrity stylist visits state

Celebrity hairstylist Nick Arrojo brought his shears and talent to the Granite State last week, offering free makeover consultations to clients of an area nonprofit organization.

“We decided, in conjunction with this event, we would contact (Families in Transition) and offer to do makeovers on some people that needed them,” said Heather Owen, owner of H2O, the Bedford salon and spa which hosted Arrojo.

Owen said one of the participants was involved with drugs and had hit rock bottom. It took a lot of courage for the participants to come forward, she added, particularly because of the media attention the event garnered.

“They don’t realize it, but coming out and telling their story actually empowers someone else who might be in need or is looking for a way out.”

The event began last Monday, with clients receiving cuts and tints before returning Friday for individual consultations with Arrojo. The Manhattan cosmetologist also conducted a workshop with H2O staff Friday morning.

Dawn Barrette of Manchester was treated to hair coloring by H2O stylist Selma Karo. Families in Transition participant Brianna Powell, a mother of three, had her hair color changed by Owen, who added highlights and lowlights to complement her skin tone and bring out her eyes.

Arrojo, who was on the reality TV show “What Not to Wear” on TLC for six seasons, also was launching a new line of hair care products. At the event he quipped that he’d come from Manchester, England, to Manchester, New Hampshire, to offer his product.

On a recent trip to New York City, Owen stopped by Arrojo’s salon. Having studied at the same school as Arrojo — Vidal Sassoon in London — the two share a common view of hairstyling and agreed to the collaboration.

“I really like the philosophy, the whole culture that they have, and the fact that Nick and I have similar backgrounds, and that’s when it all came to fruition,” she said.

Bringing Families in Transition into the event only sweetened the deal.

“Everybody loves to look good,” Owen said, “but the fact that we are able to donate our time and our service and come in on our day off and do these makeovers on these women, it’s really good for us because it makes a big difference to them.”

Michele Talwani, economic development and marketing director at Families in Transition, said the program was a confidence booster for the three female participants who reside in Families in Transition housing.

“The transformation, visually, was just amazing,” she said. “When you’re trying to figure out how to pay for gas or rent or food, the true basic necessities, this is a luxury that does give these women a boost.”

The collaboration between H2O and Families in Transition is ongoing, Talwani added — an invaluable boon for the ladies there.

“I’ve had participants say, ‘I’m so much more confident now. I can go apply for a job. I look good. I’m more confident. I present really well now.’”

Social seclusion presents an obstacle for the women, Talwani said, but participating in a program like this helps them overcome that challenge.

Arrojo and Owen are looking forward to more collaboration.

“It was a really great experience,” Owen said. “Both the FIT models and H2O clients were ecstatic, and Nick said that it won’t be his last time here.”

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