“A haircut can be a revolving door — it’s a transformation.”
San Francisco-based barber Jaz Limos is the woman beind Saints of Steel, a non-profit that works to provide communities in need with a simple but necessary service — a great haircut.
Having grown up in San Francisco, Limos recently decided to quit her stable full-time job to start an organization that would allow her to give back to the community that has given her so much.
“There are so many communities in need,” Limos told BuzzFeed News. “But starting with LGBT youth was important to me because I wanted to start with my own identity. When I was younger, with longer hair, it was uncomfortable to go into a barber shop that had so many men — but If I went into a salon, nobody could give me the look I was going for. I wanted to give back to queer youth and provide that safe space.”
Limos recently partnered with the San Francisco LGBT Center to provide free haircuts to the community in preparation for the nation’s largest LGBT career fair, held on Thursday.
When you walk into an interview, your appearance is often the first impression you get to make on a possible employer. Limos and her team of volunteer barbers and hairstylists jumped at the chance to empower people through a fresh cut.
Thursday’s career fair was about more than simply looking good. The Center’s Trans Employment Program partnered with Microsoft to provide resume review panels, LinkedIn profile reviews, and there was even a photo booth for taking headshots.
Benjamin Bustamante, the Lead Specialist on the Center’s Employment Services team, told BuzzFeed News that many community members often feel they don’t completely fit into the corporate world. “Along with the haircut, we talk to folks to make sure that they feel supported and have the confidence to attend the career fair.”
“For some people, it’s not as much about the haircut but about a moment to connect with another human being,” said Limos. “Especially for youth, for someone to offer them an experience that allows them to feel like they matter.”
“It’s very validating,” Violet Webber told BuzzFeed News after getting her hair trimmed. “To be around so many people like yourself can be a very positive experience. Validation is very important; I think everyone deserves that feeling.”
San Francisco barber Christian Eddings and stylist Rebecca Beardsley, who runs her own non-profit haircut organization, were also volunteering their time and services at the event.
“I never miss the moment they look in the mirror,” said Limos. “When they look in the mirror they either see an old version of themselves that they connect to and remember, or they see someone that they’ve never seen before and they’re excited to have this new identity.”
“A haircut can be a revolving door,” she added. “It’s a transformation.”
Bustamante hopes to collaborate with Saints of Steel at another event in the spring to coincide with another career fair.
Scroll through to see more photos from the event and find out more about Saints of Steel here.