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Thursday, March 10, 2016 12:08 am

Building your best you

Springfield salon owner hosts workshops at shelter for battered women

Veris Van, owner of Bless’ It Beauty Salon
Veris Van has a mission to “change the world one head at a time” using her beauty talents to build confidence, to educate and to lift the spirits of women and children in Springfield.

Van’s most recent endeavor is “Building Your Best You,” a four-part workshop series hosted at Sojourn Shelter and Services during the month of March.

Since 2014, Van has used her salon, Bless’It Beauty Salon, to work with women and children of all colors and backgrounds to help them “see the beauty in themselves.”

Her outreach extends to mothers who adopt foster children, young girls interested in learning to style and maintain healthy hair and collaborating with nonprofit agencies like Sojourn, which serves victims of domestic violence.

“I want to pour out into my community and give back my gift by building people up,” Van said.

Each Wednesday for four weeks in March, the workshop will cover topics like hair goals, maintaining healthy skin, wardrobe tips and seeking a person’s inner beauty.

The first day of the workshop series was March 2, titled “Conquering your hair goals.” Eleven women attended the workshop.

“We talked about obtaining and maintaining healthy hair, while also individually speaking with the women about reaching their hair goals,” Van said.

During the workshop, three other women accompanied Van, providing insight about hair products, proper tools and styling suggestions. One of the women was Julie Lundberg, a board member of Bless’It Beauty Salon. Lundberg joined Van and her team on the first day of the workshop and served as a motivational speaker for the event.

“My passion is speaking to women who are in a pit, who are looking for a way out,” Lundberg said. “We don’t want to change them, but make them the best person they can be.”

Lundberg believes that the first workshop was a success.

“The women opened up after a while, asking questions and showing that they wanted to be educated on their hair,” said Lundberg. “You can tell it left them wanting to come back.”

Van and her team provided free items for the workshop participants, including hair care products, mirrors, brushes, handbags and free haircuts. That was made possible by donations from community members and local businesses.

Van explained that when her vision for the workshop began in December 2015, there were no tools or resources available for such a workshop.

“I was really looking forward to seeing how God was going to help bring this together,” Van said.

After picking up the phone and receiving a confirmation of Sojourn’s willingness to participate, Van felt as if a big weight had been lifted off her shoulders.  

To make the workshop a success, Van reached out to businesses and community members, asking them to donate items for the women who attended the workshop.

Donations included donuts from Krispy Kreme for each workshop, Mary Kay makeup products for a woman’s hair, nails and skin, gift cards for Walmart, referrals for clothing donations from Clothes Mentor, and clothes, time, money and makeup bags from community members.

“This is all about getting the women comfortable with where they are and where they want to be,” said Van.  “This is not just about us doing hair. It’s about helping women to reach their own goals – not us reaching those goals for them.”   

Contact Brittany Hilderbrand at intern@illinoistimes.com.

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