The Beauty Bus Foundation is a Los Angeles non-profit which provides in-home beauty and grooming services, free of charge, to chronically or terminally ill patients and their caregivers. One of the founders is Alicia Marantz Liotta, who has worked in the beauty industry for over ten years in marketing and communications at various beauty companies and as a well-respected beauty editor. Her work with a renowned beauty magazine has given her the opportunity to meet and work with industry icons and some of Hollywood’s finest and these relationships have helped fuel the Beauty Bus. The first client was serviced in 2009 and two years later the foundation is still going strong and pampering both patients and caregivers whose condition prevents them from accessing a salon or spa. This organization is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for chronically or terminally ill people and their caregivers by bringing dignity, solace and smiles through the lift and gift of beauty. For more information visit beautybus.org
Being pampered and touched by someone other than a physician is rare for people battling diseases. What kind of responses do you get from the stylists and nail technicians when they work with these individuals, it must be emotional?
Alicia Marantz Liotta: It is definitely emotional and some professionals have told us that their Beauty Bus visits are life-changing and life-affirming experiences. Stylists, estheticians and nail technicians continuously thank us for giving them a vehicle to use their talent to give back. Currently we are only in Los Angeles and a lot of our volunteers work at very high end salons and in the entertainment industry. Volunteers often tell us how wonderful it is to be able to touch someone and really make a difference and feel incredibly appreciated. I have had stylists tell me that they believe they get as much or more out of a visit than the patient and caregiver.
Who are some of the beauty brands that have partnered up with The Beauty Bus?
AML: OPI, Bosley Professional Strength, Alterna, Joico, Pravana, Bare Escentuals, Paul Mitchell Schools, The Instyler and others.
Obviously, Giving back has always been important in your family and you had a family connection which led to the start of the Beauty Bus Foundation, but how do you suggest people take the same initiative in giving back in their city?
AML: There is so much need right in everyone’s backyard. The media is very good at publicizing need abroad, but if people really open their eyes and their hearts to what is happening outside their own front door, they will realize there are so many ways to give back. You don’t have to start your own charity; there are plenty that exist that always need help. Search your soul, determine what causes are important to you and decide if you want to sign up as a volunteer with an organization or do something on your own. Beauty Bus may not be in your city yet, but you can still use your talent to give back. Try opening your salon on a day that is typically closed and holding a pampering event for family caregivers, have a product drive and donate the product to a women’s shelter or a cancer support center, offer a free service to someone you feel may need it. Giving back all starts with the desire to do something and the courage to commit to that desire. It may be hard to get started or even to continue giving back, but as my amazing friend and Beauty Bus board member Ann Mincey says, “We don’t give because we have to, we give because we get to.”
How do you get inspired to come up with new initiatives for the Beauty Bus? Do you see the organization going nationwide soon?
AML: The stories we hear from patients, caregivers and their families most often inspire us to come up with new initiatives. For example, a client called the office, he had COPD, a disease we do not currently serve, and he described his daily struggle with leaving his home and his wife’s dedication to staying by his side. She too rarely leaves the house and had not been to a salon in over a year. His struggle and his heartfelt appreciation for his wife inspired us to schedule a visit as a test case for adding a new disease to our list. We are also constantly inspired by our volunteers, one of whom has developed a facial using all natural ingredients. Our partner salons are a source of inspiration as well. Janine Jarman, owner of Hairroin Salon in Hollywood, CA called us with an idea to have a holiday party for ALS patients and their caregivers at her salon. On the evening of December 23 the staff at Hairroin gave free haircuts and styles to patients and caregivers. Janine picked the ALS population, because of a Beauty Bus patient with ALS who she continues to visit at his home to cut his and his wife’s hair. Our goal is for Beauty Bus to become a nationwide program and with the help of the Beauty Industry and other supporters we believe that this will happen. As a very young non-profit with limited resources, we are still learning and perfecting our model. Beauty Bus is currently working with a group of business students at UCLA to create a thoughtful national expansion plan.