Mark Bustos, 37, a renowned hairstylist who has worked with celebrities like Marc Jacobs, Norah Jones, and Phillip Lim, comes out in NY every Sunday to give haircuts to the homeless, free of cost.
Bustos would roam around the Lower East Side, Union Square, and Midtown, where he came across many homeless people, and he would remember them by their names.
Most of the time, however, he meets them through the reference of his friends or high-paying clients; they inform him about the various homeless people living in their neighborhoods who may benefit from his kindness.
Bustos started this welfare campaign in 2010 in the early stages of his career. The idea behind this great humanitarian work was that he had always believed in giving back and doing good deeds for people. Bustos once said, "We all know that feeling after getting a good and fresh haircut look."
Bustos, a resident of Jersey City, is a self-taught artist. In one way or another, he has always displayed generosity in his profession. He taught himself the art of hairstyling at a young age. At the age of fourteen, he started his work by setting up a chair in his parent's parking lot in Nutley, N.J., and gave his friends a haircut for free.
Fast forward to 2012, he went on a vacation in the Philippines to see his family members. Visiting a developing country with several poverty-stricken citizens struck him. The trip made him realize the good he could do for the people by way of his talents. As his way of helping them, he decided to rent a barbershop.
Bustos said that this idea always intrigued him, and he was sure about doing the right thing, at the right time, and in the right place. When he flew back to New York, he started to reserve most Sundays to style the hair of the homeless.
Mary E. Brosnahan, CEO and President of Coalition for the Homeless, said that a haircut is much more than just a haircut most of the time. It serves as a reminder to them about what they looked like before and what they look like now.
According to Brosnahan, a fresh haircut gives them a way to overlook their survival mode and pushes them to strive for a better life. In essence, it gives them a sense of hope, reminding them of who they can still be.
Joi Gordon, Chief Executive Officer at Dress for Success, a company that hands over professional clothing attires to homeless job applicants, has similar transformation stories. According to him, for a homeless woman trying out a blazer for the first time in her life, it is as if the blazer serves as a life jacket.
Bustos narrates a similar story of a homeless who got a chance to get a haircut by him. After getting the haircut done, he looked up into the mirror, saw his new look, and asked Bustos if he knew anyone in the city hiring for a job. He felt like he was ready to get any job with his clean look.
It was a turning point for Bustos as he has yet to see this man on the streets again. He considered this to be a great sign. Undoubtedly, a moment he truly felt the positive impact he was creating in the lives of others.
Bustos always gives his haircuts on the street. In the absence of a park nearby, he even turns over a shopping cart or uses a milk crate. He is not reluctant to go out whether the temperature outside is freezing or the weather is rainy.
Due to their lack of personal hygiene and not having access to proper washrooms, Bustos takes all possible precautions for the homeless. From wearing disposable hand gloves to using disposable hair clips and disinfecting the equipment after every cut, he takes care of everything as he does with his tools at work.
Busto prefers to work outside in public spaces so that somebody can take inspiration from him. For this exact reason, Devin Masga - a street photographer - always accompanies him to post before and after pictures on Bustos' Instagram handle using the hashtag #BeAwesomeToSomebody.
Since 2012, Bustos has been catering to up to 10 homeless people each day that he ventures out, giving them free haircuts. A decade has gone by and Bustos has never stopped delivering this humanitarian work.
With over 235,000 followers on Instagram, Mark Bustos leverages his social media to spread the good and to help create a bigger impact. Some followers often donate gift cards and supplies or ask about ways to help him in his humanitarian work. He always encourages his followers to start living for others!
https://lynnhazan.com/people/the-story-of-mark-bustos/ ; https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/gallery/2017/feb/16/mark-bustos-hairdresser-to-the-homeless-in-pictures ; https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2730212/Swapping-salon-streets-New-York-City-hair-stylist-transforms-looks-homeless-gives-free-haircuts-day-off.html