Hairstylists rally to fund homes for Katrina victims

Published: 11/23/2007 1:07 AM

A dinner party meeting between a West Chicago woman and hair product mogul Vidal Sassoon led to a campaign that raised more than $2 million for charity.

Sassoon and Mary Rector-Gable, founder of that is based in Roselle, decided to rally the beauty industry to raise money to build homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

This month, 10 families received keys to their new homes in Lacombe, La.

"It was really an amazing experience," Rector-Gable said. "It's a wonderful experience to give a family a home. But our goal is twofold -- bring awareness to the continued plight (of hurricane victims) and build more homes."

The homes were built by volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. But the money was raised through the Hairdressers Unlocking Hope campaign, spearheaded by Rector-Gable and Sassoon.

By next summer, Rector-Gable expects that eight to 12 families will get new homes.

"We're just getting started," she said.

When Rector-Gable met Sassoon in Beverly Hills a few years ago, they hit it off. Having once lived in an orphanage, Sassoon had a soft spot for people who lost their homes. At that time, he already donated money for two new homes and invited Rector-Gable to the dedication ceremony in Louisiana.

Things took off from there.

In the past year, more than 15 major sponsors and thousands of hairstylists and salons have joined the campaign. The duo hopes the effort will raise millions more.

Information about the program can be found on Rector-Gable's business Web site at