Since August, ABOG Fellow Jody Wood and a team of volunteer hair stylists have been traveling to homeless shelters throughout New York City, providing free beauty services to willing participants in a truck custom-outfitted into a fully-functional mobile beauty salon.
We corresponded over email with Nahomie Marcena, one of the stylists working with Jody, about what it was like to take part in the project. Read our interview with her below.
A BLADE OF GRASS: What prompted you to get involved with Jody’s project, Beauty in Transition?
NAHOMIE MARCENA: What prompted me to get involved was to help women like myself to enjoy the beauty within themselves. This is not only a project but an experience of a lifetime, to give love the way it was given to me. Jody’s love for people prompted her to do this, to show beauty in every aspect of life, and show that despite your situation or circumstances you can always look and feel beautiful.
ABOG: What was it about the project that made you say “yes”, in spite of the extra work it would mean for you?
NM: I said yes to the project because of what it stood for as a community and the message that it’s trying to convey across this beauty in transition. Women being looked at as one, despite what race, ethnicity or look we portray to the world. I think that’s the message Jody was trying to get across when she established this particular project. Art is in you, it’s just waiting for an opportunity to mold and present itself to you, to show you what you’re made of.
ABOG: Do you feel that there was “beauty” in the project as art? If so, what was beautiful to you about it?
NM: I not only feel there was beauty in this art project, but passion. Before any art is made, written, molded or designed there must be an inspiration and love in something you believe in or do to make it become a reality. To make it become yours you first have to have an inspiration for the art you believe in. Doing this in life you must have the faith that people, or someone, will see it and be touched and become encouraged or inspired in life by the message you are trying to convey.
Carol Thomas and Nahomie Marcena of Just Because Hair Therapy. Image by Nicola Benizzi, courtesy Jody Wood.
ABOG: If you had to pick one moment that was the most meaningful for you, what would it be?
NM: The most meaningful part of this project for me was letting go of my past. Having the courage to help someone along the way where I was 14 years ago. Even though my past hasn’t stuck to me or labeled me, I identify with the young ladies there at the shelter. I too was in a shelter and looked down at and ridiculed. My faith kept me strong that it wouldn’t be like that always. My dedication and inspiration from strangers kept me going.
An experience is not a good one if you can’t tell a story behind it to change someone’s life, to encourage, to touch their heart and show love. You must first show them through a touch, a style, or words that this is not the end, but a new chapter called life and inspiration to prosperity. That’s what Beauty in Transition showed me while I was going through my new transition in life.
I am so thankful to work alongside women of great dignity and aspiration in life to show other women out there through art that the sky is the limit. Infinity lives within us. Once we let that talent of whatever art we identify ourselves with out, we can reach for the stars.
Nahomie Marcena is a hairstylist assistant at Just Because Hair Therapy Salon in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Her passion is to uplift and bring out the inner beauty of her clients. She is currently working towards a degree in massage therapy.
Image via Beauty in Transition on Facebook, courtesy Jody Wood.