When Ellie Gagnon talks about how many people have come through the salon she co-owns during the first half of Breast Cancer Awareness Month for pink hair, she’s at a loss to come up with a number.
It’s no wonder, for the EG Salon Go Pink Project she and co-owner Georgi Marino dreamed up three years ago to support breast cancer awareness and programs at Middlesex Hospital’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Center in Middletown has exploded in popularity.
You might say in a cloud of pink.
“We keep all the proceeds local,” Gagnon said. “We actually fund programs at the hospital that patients wouldn’t be able to take advantage of because they would have to pay for them.”
To that end, EG Salon purchased 800 black and pink Go Pink tee shirts which they are selling for $20 — $13 of which goes directly to the charity. It's more than halfway through the month, Gagnon said, and they still have hundreds of shirts remaining unsold.
"If we don't sell these, we have to eat the cost," which means whatever proceeds are raised through the pink streaks portion of the project could be diminshed.
Jennifer Alexander of Kidcity purchased Go Pink tees for employees which they wear on Thursdays. On their Facebook page, Kidcity challenges other Middletown businesses to do the same to support this worthy project.
"Kidcity's staff will be wearing Go PINK Project tee shirts every Thursday this month," the Facebook site reads. "They are $20 each and $13 of every shirt goes to the cause. Any other Downtown Middletown, CT businesses want to join us?!"
This year the salon at 1 Melilli Plaza partnered with four other hairdressers and has even garnered interest from the owner of Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburgers in Cromwell.
“He said, ‘have you thought about cross-promoting,’ and we said, ‘yes, we just don’t have the manpower on board yet to do that,’” Gagnon said. “He said he would love to have an event where we actually do extensions there and anyone who comes in with a pink streak or pink extensions, he would donate 'X' number of dollars from their orders.”
Stop by any weekend and you’re likely to see a man getting his goatee dyed pink or a pink ribbon shaved into the side of his head, little girls, teens and grown men with telltale fuchsia streaks.
Last year, Go Pink raised $11,244 for Middlesex Hospital. With A Style Above in Chester, Citihair Design, Salon Nathaniel in Meriden, Styles by Q and The Main Switch participating this year, Marino says, and $20 Go Pink 2012 Because Giving Back is In T-shirts, the skies the limit on how much they’ll raise by Oct. 31.
“Our goal is eventually to grow Go Pink so not only does it help our community and our breast center," she says, "but it helps other breast centers around the state, around the country, around the world … who knows how big it could get?”
From the start, EG Salon's mission was to “pay it forward to the community which supports all of our businesses," thereby completing the circle in Middletown and beyond.