We are a nonprofit cosmetology school, empowering survivors of human trafficking through vocational training. While several organizations in Rochester do excellent rescue and rehabilitation work, we pick up where other programs end.
When a trafficking victim has spent time on the street, they will likely be arrested for the very situation they have been forced into. Even if escape becomes possible, afterward - left with a criminal record - they experience extreme difficulty finding a job that pays a living wage.
We believe that the past shouldn't keep you from a beautiful future. Acting on that conviction, we provide survivors and those at risk with an opportunity to earn a cosmetology license and enter into a rewarding career, at no cost to them. Because an NYS-granted cosmetology license removes the necessity of a background check, graduates are free to pursue an independent living without the necessity of explaining a traumatic history.
When Julie answered her phone, she was unaware that the distraught young woman on the other end would be her first contact with a pervasive human rights issue happening in Rochester, NY - human trafficking.
This situation didn't look like the human trafficking she - or many of us - would expect. The caller hadn't been snatched off the street or sold across state lines. She wasn't locked away or chained up. She was a friend from school and unbeknownst to any, she was homeless, desperate, and scared.
During that conversation, she explained to Julie that she had been too embarrassed to tell anyone, but for some time she had been bouncing between living situations. Now, she was being asked to perform in the bedroom in exchange for a roof over her head. And she needed help.
Through Julie's training as a social worker, she was able to intervene immediately and connect her young friend with groundbreaking nonprofits such as Angels of Mercy and Out of Darkness. Julie was further able to assist by creating a crisis program through her existing ministry, Christ for Kids, setting up the young woman with her own apartment and a job.
And now, as an LMSW with a teaching license in cosmetology, Julie intends to do more.
The School of Beauty is still in the process of fundraising. As of May 2021, Julie Chapus is fully licensed as our first cosmetology instructor. The School has already received materials for the curriculum from a generous donor.
Our present anti-trafficking efforts combine our expertise in the beauty industry with our knowledge of human trafficking to develop training materials and provide instruction for salon/spa staff, teaching them how to identify potential victims and then choose a safe plan of action.
Currently, we are pursuing additional federal and private funding, as well as searching for a building in Rochester to house the School. We are working toward creating a financially self-sustaining facility, with multiple revenue streams including continuing education courses, a student-run cosmetology clinic, and a limited number of seats for tuition-paying students. This last element allows survivors anonymity within the program and gives additional protection - a true chance to start over.
The School of Beauty is nondiscriminatory; we welcome people of all races, colors, religions, genders, and orientations.
The past shouldn't keep you from a beautiful future. We hope you will partner with us in our anti-trafficking work.