Business

The B Hive Organic Salon is a Haven for Cancer Patients with Mondays at Racine

01.01.2019

The B Hive Organic Salon in Hillsdale, New Jersey
The B Hive Organic Salon in Hillsdale, New Jersey
James and Angela Alba, co-owners of The B Hive Organic Salon in Hillsdale, New Jersey said they’ve already experienced an unexpected benefit as a newly minted charter salon with Mondays at Racine.

“We’ve been contacted by other salons saying ‘If you need me for this project, just tell me when and where!’” James Alba said.

For women, the first question often asked after getting a cancer diagnosis is, “Will I lose my hair?”

“Losing your hair is almost as traumatic as the initial cancer diagnosis. It becomes the reality of the illness that can be outwardly seen by everyone. We have to be very sensitive to this process,” he said.

As a charter salon with Mondays at Racine, a program developed by Racine Salon in Long Island, B Hive Organic Salon is opening its doors once a month to provide free services for those currently getting chemotherapy and radiation. The services provided by the Mondays at Racine program are focused on improving not only the appearance but also the well-being, self-confidence, and worth of the individual undergoing treatment.

Sisters and owners of Racine Salon, Cynthia Sansone and Rachel DeMolfetto, started their complimentary services in 2003. What began as a small monthly salon project quickly grew into a movement when they saw how profound the impact was on their guests. Their organization was the topic of the HBO Documentary “Mondays at Racine,” which can be watched with an HBO subscription.

Now, they offer weekly services to a packed house every Monday in their salon, and they’ve created a charter salon program for salons, spas, or yoga studios to license and provide these services one day per month, which is what B Hive is bringing on (and what other salons can do too). The program not only is changing the face of cancer but also changing the face of the beauty industry.

“For my stylists, it was a way to package all these struggles and repurpose it into something beneficial and beautiful,” James Alba said.

Hairstylists are often psychologists, therapists, and a general sounding board for clients that sit down in their chairs. Besides a doctor, people in the beauty industry are some of the only people paid to care for their customers using the five senses—most importantly, touch. What clients don’t realize is that hairstylists go home and process all of these interactions on a daily basis.

“If you’re not adopting a cause or a purpose, you can’t put down the baggage of what you’re seeing every day,” James Alba said.

When attending his first Mondays in Action, a required part of the program where each prospective charter salon must observe a Monday at Racine in Long Island when the cancer patients come in, Alba said the salon was as busy as The B Hive in the middle of a Saturday rush.

“What I didn’t expect was that those that came back from treatment and those that were in treatment were the best and most empowering of all,” he said. “They loved being there; they were comfortable and safe, and your heart is in your throat at this point.”

Salons often struggle in managing the day-to-day in their salon, but if they realized the power of supporting causes in the community around them, their priorities would shift, he said. That goes for stylists, too. James, whose mother-in-law and wife, Angela, both survived cancer, said that helping others going through a cancer diagnosis helped him cope and put his purpose in a different perspective. Of course, it’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

He said he hopes that the salon impacts more people than he could ever imagine—within the beauty industry and outside of it.

“Hair salons are always a microcosm of the universe,” he said. “When you have a project like this, if you can get salons and stylists to work together to change lives, it's great.”

To become a charter salon with Mondays at Racine, visit www.mondaysatracine.org.

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