Chattanooga-based hairstylist and makeup artist Shaina Ramsey has style—from the way she runs her non-profit to the way she rocks mom life in her favorite thrift finds. You don’t have to talk to this fashion-loving philanthropist for long to get a feel for where her passions lie.
In 2017, Shaina was inspired to start Cuts for Change, a non-profit organization which provides haircuts to the homeless and those in need. Since then, she and a team of Chattanooga and Nashville-based hairstylists have given haircuts to more than a hundred people at their big yearly event, as well as 10 new people weekly that the stylists visit at a local shelter.
We had the opportunity to dress Shaina in some awesome Unclaimed Baggage finds, as well as to sit down with her and talk all things style!
When and how did you decide you wanted to pursue becoming a hairstylist?
I wanted to be a teacher. When I was working at a school, one of the parents owned a salon, and I worked there as the receptionist for the summer. I fell in love with it, so I decided to go to school and stopped student teaching. I’ve been licensed for a year and a half.
What is it about the job that you enjoy?
I like the brand Aveda a lot—just like how they help the world. And I saw how you could help your clients, too. They feel so beautiful leaving, and I just really liked it.
How did you decide to start Cuts for Change?
I wanted to do a little bit more than just do hair at the salon. I wanted to have a bit more of a purpose. Mark Bustos is a guy in New York that I follow on Instagram, and he does it every week. His regular haircuts are almost a thousand dollars, but on Sundays he goes out and does free haircuts for the homeless. That’s where I got the idea from, and I obviously couldn’t do it every week, so I thought I would get together some of us for one day and see if it would help. It kind of just kept getting bigger. I’m going to do it again this year, but it wont be until September.
What does Cuts for Change do to make a difference?
The goal is one big event a year. At last year’s event, we had 25 stylists from all over the city and a couple from Nashville. We offered free haircuts, free education and voter registration that was later mailed to the community kitchen for them to pick up. We did a meal and pop-up shop where they could get things that they needed. We also had insurance there and they could learn how to sign up and get that for free. There were free phones and HIV testing. (These things were) maybe something that they don’t have access to otherwise. We also go once a month throughout the year to give haircuts at the Community Kitchen. We stay for about an hour and do maybe 10 haircuts every time we go.
How do your Cuts for Change clients feel about getting their hair cut?
They always feel so much better after they get their hair cut. They almost seem embarrassed when they first come, and then they light up after. They’re not all homeless. Some of them are staying in the shelter, so like a couple of ladies I’ve had go down to the salon and I’ve done their color and makeup before their interviews. That’s my favorite part.
Did you have anyone in particular that really stood out to you?
The first lady I did the hair color and the makeup on. It was two weeks after Cuts for Change. She got that job that she was interviewing for and she got an apartment. She has four kids. I added her on Facebook, so I’ve been able to keep up with her. She hasn’t been homeless since a couple months after getting her job. They placed her in an apartment with her kiddos. It’s been cool seeing her have a more normal life now. Like she just got a puppy their kids are out for summer and they have a vacation planned instead of worrying about food.
What do you know about Unclaimed Baggage?
I always wondered what happened to the stuff that got lost in airports, and I’ve been dying to go after seeing all of your (the interviewer’s) cute outfits! Especially now because I got rid of so much stuff when I moved and I was pregnant, so I need all new clothes now.
So you like to thrift? Tell me more about that.
Everything I have is usually form a thrift store or clearance. I love Goodwill and I do Target clearance. I like that the things that I find that no one else has. I got the striped leggings (We complimented Shaina on a pair from her Instagram!) at a Goodwill in Atlanta, and I love them. And thrifting is super cheap so that helps.
What is your best thrifting advice?
You cannot be in a rush is what I’ve figured out. If I only have a little bit of time, there’s no point in going. I like to settle and go in for a while so I can find stuff. I do the same thing at Target clearance or Forever 21 clearance because it’s so much stuff.
What has been your favorite thrift find?
A black leather dress that I love. I found it at Goodwill, and it’s so cute!
What is your signature style?
I feel like I always have on black. People always joke about that. I also usually have something in my hair like a headband.
Who is your style icon?
A lot of it I can’t wear day to day, of course, but I really like Rihanna. She’s like my favorite. I have a whole board for her on Pinterest. And I like Tracee Ellis Ross. A lot of people I like wear lots of color, but I just hadn’t ventured that way yet. I want to! Stripes have been my intro to color— like oh, there’s some white in there!
What is one piece of clothing every woman should have in her wardrobe?
A little black dress… and a red lipstick to go with it! I have so many. I think you look so put together, and it’s slimming and classy. You cannot go wrong.
Do you have a favorite clothing item?
I have a pair of jeans that I absolutely love. They’re just high-waisted super dark flared out jeans. I think they are super flattering. You can’t ask for anything more.
What did you think about the clothes from Unclaimed Baggage?
They were great. I feel like they were better quality than what I usually get at the thrift store and the prices were cheaper than I thought they would be.
Are you wanting to go back to UBC now?
I definitely want to go and get some cute cute stuff!