The sense in style
A hairstylist who stumbled on the profession a decade ago is now channelising his skill towards inclusiveness
There are many ways to be helpful, you just have to want to help. This is the lesson to draw from 27-year-old Arnold D'Souza's life whose seemingly undecorated job has become a conduit for kindness.
Nearly a decade ago, D'Souza, then 18, joined a hair styling school helmed by a well-known global brand, after an unsuccessful career plan. "I had just finished 12th grade. My dad was a purser with an airline and my sister is a pilot, so I had taken up science and wanted to be one, too. But I failed physics by a mark. I didn't want to waste time. I believe that if you learn a skill, you'll never be hungry," D'Souza shares, explaining his shift to hair styling.
D'Souza at the remand home in Dongri
For four years, D'Souza worked at salons in Mumbai. At the same time, the young do-gooder — who started Love Peace Style, a small, two-seater, inclusive salon in Andheri a month and half ago — began volunteering with Ashiyana Foundation, a non-profit that works with at-risk children and youth who are in enclosed institutions.
"I was introduced to the remand home in Dongri, which houses children in conflict with the law. I visited the home each Sunday to work with these kids." It was here that D'Souza realised the potential of his skill. "See, everyone likes to look good. So, I started giving haircuts to the boys and saw that for those 30 minutes, I would have their full attention." D'Souza started using this time to communicate with and listen to the children. Further realising the power of what he had, he applied to Camphill Communities of North America, an international community for children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities.
In 2018, D'Souza joined the Camphill Beaver Run in Pennsylvania. Here too, he started offering haircuts to the kids. "It was difficult for parents to take their children to regular salons, which were not designed to meet their needs," he explains. For the hairstylist, the stint at the school was a learning experience, but after a year, he felt the need to come back and apply that learning to better use in his hometown.
Here lies the genesis of Love, Peace Style, a salon that is not only open to all genders, but also, to kids and adults with special needs. The idea is to build a conscientious community through the salon. "I realised that even a simple haircut may not be simple for everyone.
So, we're open to the idea of doing home visits for senior citizens and the differently-abled," he adds. But, it doesn't stop here. The vision of a training centre for kids, like the ones he worked with in Dongri, is also on the cards. "We're planning to open a hair styling centre in spare space that Ashiyana has in Mahim. Once these kids are trained, they can be absorbed at our future outlets of our salons. The problem is that they lead fragile lives. At the homes, they are guarded and taken care of, but when they leave, the outside world can become overwhelming. They become susceptible to addiction and crime. But, if they are trained in a vocation, they gain values. And then, if you place them in the right atmosphere, it's a different story altogether."
At Love Peace Style, Shop no 25, next to Radha Krishna Hotel, Andheri West.
Time 11 am to 8 pm
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