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Mercer Island salons collecting hair to help with Gulf of Mexico oil spill cleanup

Au Courant owner Barbara Hovsepian holds up a box for collected hair on May 12. The hair will be donated to the Mexican Gulf oil spill through a national clean-up program.  - Elizabeth Celms/Staff Photo
Au Courant owner Barbara Hovsepian holds up a box for collected hair on May 12. The hair will be donated to the Mexican Gulf oil spill through a national clean-up program.
— image credit: Elizabeth Celms/Staff Photo

Islander hair is going toward a noble cause this week. Au Courant, Studio 904 and Hair it Is salons are collecting clipped, chopped and buzzed hair to donate to the Mexican Gulf oil spill cleanup project. The hair is stuffed into recycled nylons and covered in mesh to make booms or, when possible, woven into hair mats that soak up the oil.

The organization coordinating the national donation project is called Matter of Trust. Studio 904, Hair It Is and Au Courant are registered members.

According to Au Courant owner Barb Hovsepian, deciding to participate was a given.

“I read an article on the project in the Sunday Times. And then I also saw something on TV. I was talking to my team and we decided we needed to get on board,” she said.

Studio 904 has already been featured by King 5 news for its involvement. Although the news clip highlighted Studio 904’s Seattle salon, the Mercer Island branch is also involved.

Islander Rose Lewis’ day turned around for the better when she learned that her hair was going toward the Gulf of Mexico cleanup.

“I was just really impressed that Au Courant is doing this,” she said. “My hair is going to help out. It made me feel so good.”

Hovsepian said that other customers’ reactions have been similar.

“We put a box and sign in the main salon to let clients know they’re part of something great,” the Au Courant owner said. “People are so happy to donate. Otherwise, we’d just throw their hair away.”

Hovsepian said that Matter of Trust needed its first collection of hair from Au Courant by May 18, when the shipment was sent to Fort Walton Beach, Fla., where it will provide clean up for “Wave 9.” The Islander added that Au Courant will continue collecting hair this week and longer — as long as Matter of Trust needs the resource.

Studio 904’s Kaoru Nukui said the salon has been donating its hair to Matter of Trust for two years now. Last month’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill, which has surpassed 4 million gallons, has added an extra push of urgency. Hair It Is has contributed hair to Matter of Trust for four years.

All three salons encourage clients to join in on the donation project. It is one easy thing that Islanders can do to help.

“It’s a small thing but a big thing when everyone joins in,” Hovsepian said.

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