NIAGARA FALLS – Recognize and encourage others.
Find your passion.
Aim to be self-reliant.
Those are a few of the messages the organizers of a recent makeover contest wanted to convey to young women in the Niagara Falls area.
Asia Henry, Jessica Billingslea-Young and Keyona Burch-Dunn wanted to give back, so they recently awarded free makeup and hairstyling sessions and a photo shoot to three area students keeping their grades up in school.
“Sometimes you need to be reminded that you’re doing a good job and that somebody sees it,” Henry said. “Sometimes you just need a win.”
Their idea was simple: anyone with a B+ average or higher on their report card after the first 10 weeks of the school year could enter the contest by posting a picture of the report card on Facebook, tagging either Henry or Young in the photo.
Around New Year’s Eve, the two randomly selected three winners, who, after they won, learned there would also be a photo shoot included after the makeovers were completed.
The winners were Niagara Falls High School juniors Khasmir Williams and Tamiya Pierce, along with nursing student Christine Spurduti of Tonawanda.
Last weekend, they gathered for their makeovers and photo shoot in Burch-Dunn’s photography studio at the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.
“The girls were so excited, and they were really appreciative,” Henry said.
Henry, who has being doing makeup professionally for about a year, first met Billingslea-Young at a fashion show in the Falls.
After seeing Henry’s initial Facebook posts about doing a contest, Billingslea-Young suggested they team up for it.
Billingslea-Young, a licensed cosmetologist originally from Buffalo but who now lives in the Falls, went to high school with Burch-Dunn and brought her into the mix.
Aside from encouraging young people to work hard, the group also wanted to promote entrepreneurship.
And it wasn’t just the students who enjoyed themselves.
“We all had a ball,” Billingslea-Young said.
Henry provides makeup for weddings and special events, and also is available for individual clients.
Billingslea-Young used to work in a shop on Pine Avenue but is now setting up a workspace in her home.
“That’s the only way we find our happiness is by being self-employed and by doing the things that we are most passionate about,” Henry said of the group.
The organizers are happy with how things turned out and say there will be more in the works. “We plan on doing more for the community,” Henry said.