ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A beauty school program designed for victims of human trafficking, which has been years in the making, is finally starting to come to fruition. The founder of Miss Julie’s School of Beauty has managed to nail down a space for classes to be held but doesn’t exactly have the funds to sign the dotted line just yet.
When it does finally come together, Miss Julie’s School of Beauty will be the first of its kind in the United States.
Director and founder, Julie Chapus explained human trafficking is more common than most people think and as a social worker herself, Chapus knows the risks of these situations on a personal level.
“We’ve developed an entire curriculum that was just approved by the FBI, and that is to train stylists to look for the red flags and the signs and the symptoms of ‘how do you know somebody sitting in your chair isn’t being human trafficked right now?’” Chapus said.
One aspect of the beauty school is giving area stylists the skills to identify a victim sitting in their chair, but the program also gives those victims a chance to seek help and find a career path through cosmetology.
“If you can pick up those things as a stylist, you are not only able to help get an actual sex traffic survivor a cosmetology license, but now you’re actually in a position to be able to see those red flags, see the warning signs and help somebody out of such a heinous situation,” Chapus said.
The process of getting the beauty school off the ground and running has been over 6 years in the making, and now Chapus has finally found a space that fits the required criteria she needs for the school. However, she still has one major hurdle to overcome.
“There’s a school building that is available. It is a lease situation, it’s $8,000 a month, and we have managed to raise $26,000 but it’s definitely not enough for me to put my name on a lease,” Chapus said.
In order to sign the lease, Chapus needs to have close to $300,000 in the bank. The cosmetologist is also not able to apply for grants from the state until her school has an official address, leaving her to seek community donations for the time being. But she’s also looking to have a little fun while doing so.
“People will want to come out and they’re going to want to support this. They’re going to want to learn about it. So, we are going to host some events to raise money that will be light and fun. And it’s just because human trafficking is a very difficult topic and it can be very serious,” Chapus said.
Some of those events include a crafting vendor show on February 18 and 19 which will be $100 a day, hosted at the Strathallan. Another event will be a Sweetheart Dinner for Valentine’s Day hosted at the RIT conference center for $150 per couple.
“We kind of felt like it would be nice to host events like that where you can be supporting a great cause, but you also are able to enjoy your significant other and have a nice evening out,” Chapus said. “People get the idea of love is like, just this romantic thing between partners, relationships, or whatever, but there is a greater love. And that’s what we’re working on here to really help these girls and give them hope and a future, and I think that that is most definitely a reason to celebrate Valentine’s Day.”
If you are looking to support Julie on her journey to opening her beauty school and would like to sign up to attend the Sweetheart Dinner, visit this link.