BBBC & Venita has story about them written by Houston Chronicle.
For hair stylist Venita Graves, October is her busiest month of the year. But not just because of clients lining up for the season's hottest fall hairstyle. Graves, a breast cancer survivor, spends the month collecting donated wigs and distributing informational materials about breast cancer, through her charity Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer, which she founded in 2013. In addition to special events for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Graves, 61, does work all year long with the charity, primarily, by providing free, custom-cut wigs to cancer patients and survivors, with the goal of helping them feel comfortable in their own skin despite their illness. "We always share with patients this is a time you can try something different," Graves said. "Do a different color. Do a different cut." When Graves, a licensed beautician and barber, underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2003, what helped her get through it was hair. Not her own – she shaved off before cancer treatment – but continuing to do other people's through her job as a hair stylist. "To this day, I still don't know how I did that," Graves said, over 10 years later at her salon, V Studios/Conditions by Venita, located at Salon Park Meyerland. After spending years of styling her and her clients' hair, wearing wigs during her treatment that didn't look natural or trendy was frustrating. So Graves custom cut hers. Now, she's taken those skills to help other cancer patients and survivors. Graves rents a room across the hall from her salon for Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer. The walls are painted pink. There's a barber shop chair in the center, flanked by shelves holding dozens of wigs, from blonde bobs to shoulder-length curls. Graves typically sees cancer patients and survivors in the morning, when Salon Park Meyerland is quieter. An average appointment to cut a wig, plus maintain the client's existing hair, takes about two hours. One morning in September a client for the past three years, Marissa Ruffin, 59, was in. Ruffin's hair was permanently thinned by radiation treatment when she had breast cancer eight years ago. So Graves added to the natural hair Ruffin had left with a pixie-cut wig. Today, she's going from a three-toned pixie to a two-toned, dark brown cut that's got a little more body. Ruffin swaps wigs every six to eight weeks. It's become fun, Ruffin said, from the barber's chair. She takes risks with color and cut that she never would have with her natural hair. "I told Venita, I'm going to be 60 years old in November, so I'll be going blond," Ruffin, who normally opts for chocolate browns and dark reds, said. "If she wants blond, we're going to give her blond," Graves said, then laughed. Graves sees six to 10 cancer patients or survivors every week, on top of her eight hours days at her salon. She has a level of passion unmatched by most, Salon Park Meyerland owner Bonner Brinson said. In October, Graves decks out Salon Park Meyerland with pink breast cancer ribbons and informational pamphlets. She holds her annual wig drive, with collection boxes at Salon Park Meyerland and nearby beauty supply stores. And, mid-month, she will publish her nonprofit's seventh annual calendar, which features photos and bios of breast cancer survivors. All calendar sale proceeds will go toward Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer. Graves doesn't think she'll be retiring anytime soon. The women she helps through Beauty Beyond Breast Cancer make the work worth it. Said Graves: "It's such an awesome moment when they look in the mirror and say, 'Wow. This is so perfect.'" SOURCE: http://www.chron.com/breast-cancer-awareness/article/Meyerland-hair-stylist-offers-custom-wigs-9517612.php