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Fearless Beauty and Women’s Prison Association Announce Partnership and Launch of Vocational Cosmetology Program


Professional hair stylists will help women impacted by incarceration develop skills for cosmetology school

Fearless Beauty, a non-profit that provides free training in hairdressing for women impacted by the criminal legal system, announced the launch of a three-month training and mentorship program to support women who were previously incarcerated or are at risk of incarceration through a partnership with the Women’s Prison Association (WPA). WPA was awarded a grant from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to cover the cost of tools and training materials for program participants. More than $21,000 of the grant award has been allocated to WPA’s partnership with Fearless Beauty for this year’s contract.

The Fearless Beauty cosmetology vocational program will launch June 6, 2021, and pair 10 systems-impacted women with cosmetology educators, who are also trained in how to use anti-racist practices in their approach to their work. Program curriculum will focus on how to style, braid, and color hair, along with lessons in skincare and nails. Attendees will also learn how to develop or improve interpersonal skills in active listening and public speaking.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Women’s Prison Association to empower justice-involved women and help them build the technical skills and confidence to pursue career opportunities in the beauty industry,” said Heather Packer, founder of Fearless Beauty.

Classes for the first 13-week session will be held at the Flatiron location of Spoke & Weal in New York City, a full-service hair salon, which will offer its space pro bono for twice-weekly training sessions. The trauma-informed program will be offered three times a year, with the goal of preparing women with the necessary skills to apply for cosmetology school. Fearless Beauty will also provide scholarships to high performing program graduates.

This is the second vocational program led by Fearless Beauty that supports women impacted by the criminal legal system, with the goal of preparing women with the necessary skills to apply for cosmetology school. In 2018, Fearless Beauty partnered with the NYC Dept. of Correction to launch a jail-based cosmetology training program for women housed at the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island.

“After having an opportunity to observe Fearless Beauty’s Rikers-based program in 2018, it became clear that we absolutely had to find a way to bring such an amazing training opportunity to systems-impacted women living in the community,” said Nyasha Rivera, Deputy Managing Director of Reentry Services, Women’s Prison Association. “Heather and I have worked on this for a long time, and we are all thrilled to finally be able to offer this opportunity through our new MOCJ contract, which focuses on connecting systems-impacted individuals with effective resources and opportunities for career success.”


Fearless Beauty is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded by Heather Packer in 2014. Fearless Beauty empowers women who are impacted by institutional and social injustice through cosmetology education and mentorship in the beauty industry. We build communities founded in mindfulness, support, and inclusivity. Fearless women will create a sustainable income for themselves using beauty as a tool to liberate and heal. To learn more or make a tax-deductible donation, visit fearlessbeauty.org.

WPA empowers women to redefine their lives in the face of injustice and incarceration. The nation’s first organization for women impacted by incarceration, we envision a society where our reliance on incarceration has been replaced by constructive, community-driven responses. Women come to WPA to achieve what is most important to them. Together we find safe, affordable housing; develop workplace skills and build careers; reunify families; plan for release; achieve stability in the community rather than behind bars; access healthcare; work toward personal goals; and avoid additional systems involvement. Learn more and support at http://www.wpaonline.org.

For press inquiries please email info@fearlessbeauty.org.

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