Lara Nakonechny is the owner of Lavish District, a hair salon with a huge heart here in Saskatoon (on 8th Street, behind Moxies). She knows that many of her guests care about their community and she wanted to give them a place to be able to donate easily to local charities, so she came up with a terrific idea. Using One Small Step to find out the needs of non-profits, she selected several charities, then invited her salon guests to bring donations next time they came in. Every guest who donates has their name put into a draw to receive a $100 gift voucher for a future treatment, too!
Lara was raised on a farm east of Prince Albert, one of seven sisters, which is where her passion for hairdressing began: she was the one who cut her sisters’ hair. Her family was also where she learned to value the importance of giving back. “We used to go to the food bank and donate time. We had a huge garden, and we’d take our extra vegetables, and other food too. My parents instilled values of helping whoever you can and whoever might need you,” Lara says. That generous spirit is important to her daily work, and she adds, “We try to give back a lot through the salon. Hairdressers tend to be empaths. From years of experience, we connect deeply on a daily basis and we really get a sense of the needs of our guests and their values too, and we’re always looking for people to help out. One Small Step has made it so much easier.”
Through November, Lara and her team are gathering donations of warm clothes for Prairie Harm and OUTSaskatoon. In December, they’ll take new toys and baby items to Ronald McDonald House and Haven Kids’ House (formerly Crisis Nursery), then in January they’ll bring women’s clothing, toiletries and journals to YWCA. The idea of journals is to help women who are at the shelter share their thoughts and creativity, something that Lara is also passionate about. She says, “During the pandemic, we had time at home with our families and much needed time to connect. We were all pushed in that direction. After that lockdown, when we were allowed to reopen, we weren’t just hair stylists. We were some people’s only place for human connection, the only place they went all month. We felt a shift. People didn’t even know how stressed out they were—we gave guests space to have a moment to be still. We knew they needed it more. When we felt the value, we wanted to know how we could return it back to others.” Her team launched their Inner Beauty campaign to connect people to themselves and their inner selves. For Lavish District, it’s never been just about hair or beauty, but about creating a community, and that starts with her amazing staff, and now her idea to help others connect to local charities.
“When I found One Small Step,” Lara says, it lit up her passion and creativity. “I thought, this is great, finally something useful and easy to use as a lot of our guests want to give back to the community. A lot of people end up donating to where it’s convenient and that’s not always who needs it the most.” Everyone needs to go for a haircut and Lara could see how her salon, and maybe others, could be drop-off points to channel donations. “I love seeing the mission of the organizations because that’s a personal connection for me,” she adds. “I didn’t even know some of these charities existed. When I searched, I wasn’t always getting local answers until One Small Step
“We talk to hundreds of people a week,” she says. “We have moments to create change together and be the change. We’re here in this community and we don’t have to be divided. Instead of waiting for the world to change, let’s just be the change.”