At first glance, not a whole lot. People are often astonished when they hear the news. They often exclaim, “Studio 904 Hair Salon has adopted a pet donkey named Babs? What’s up with that?” Let me start at the beginning so that you can understand the path that brought us here…
Just who is Babs and how did we arrive at this place?
Babs, who is approximately 30 years of age, is a disabled and formerly abused donkey who lives in her forever safe home at Pasado’s Safe Haven, an animal sanctuary located in Snohomish County, Washington. When she was rescued by Pasado’s, Babs had been used for lasso practice; people would ride around in four-wheel vehicles and practice lassoing her. After examining her, the staff discovered that she was badly debilitated, blind, and suffering from Cushings disease, an illness that affects the pituitary gland. In addition, she suffered from laminitis, a severe, debilitating ailment that affects the hooves and is sometimes fatal. Through it all, she still manages to steal the hearts of everyone who is lucky enough to meet her and uses the classic donkey stubbornness to hold her own against the other strong-willed animals she comes into contact with. When the salon adopted Babs, the process was extremely simple. We agreed to donate $35.00 each month to supplement her strict daily regimen of food and health care. Everything else is taken care of by Pasado’s.
How does the salon publicize its efforts to support Babs?
Babs is now the star of our bulletin board, social media outreach, and our monthly eNewsletter. We do our best to promote our efforts however and whenever we can. For example:
– Babs’ story is featured on our salon bulletin board so that clients can see regular
updates on her activities each time they walk through our door. The goal is to show that there are a number of animals, along with Babs, who also need a helping hand.
– Updated photos of Babs’ progress are prominently displayed – from the day she was rescued, to how well she is doing right now.
– Multimedia displays show Babs eating, playing in her natural habitat, and grazing at the Pasado sanctuary.
– Team members from the salon make regular visits to the sanctuary for photo ops with Babs and the other animals.
– Our generous clients open their wallets and donate funds that are used to provide for Babs’ care and more.
– Clients are informed about how easy it is adopt their own animals and are encouraged to do so. We point out that if an additional 10, 50, or 100 people adopt an animal, each one would have a better quality of live than they do now.
But, how does this help Studio 904’s business?
I am constantly asked by skeptics whether efforts like these bring in more clients to my business. My response has always been, “No. Not immediately. But that is not the primary reason why I am doing this.” I firmly believe that if a business supports its
community by helping those who need our help, whether they are people or animals, the good deeds will eventually be acknowledged. If a business is known for its caring reputation within the community, interest and compassion are cultivated and loyal clients are soon drawn to those types of efforts. I am sure that this is why our salon has survived for over forty years and is still going strong. Our employees and customers enjoy rallying around a cause and feel a great deal of satisfaction knowing that they are doing their part to lend a helping hand to those in need.
How about Pasado’s Safe Haven? How does it benefit?
Pasado’s Safe Haven and other non-profit organizations provide help for their constituents every day. The amount of lifesaving work they do to advocate for those who are hungry, need shelter, or require other services never ceases to amaze me.
Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the majority of work that these organizations perform with the few resources that they have on hand. When a small business can step in and create a program to advocate for them, they do not have to
use their own limited funds to promote their cause. In addition, because small businesses have the ability to reach out to so many clients, people who ordinarily wouldn’t be touched are now made aware of the need for help and are given information on how they can be a sponsor. Think about what a powerful platform our salon has. With over 1,000 clients visiting the salon every month, each one has friends and relatives that they can contact through social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. The story of Babs has the potential to go viral and reach not only people within our community, but those throughout our country and around the world! In addition, our non-profit partners can include this story on their own websites and associated social media sites to get the word out to their followers, which extends the reach even further. With a socially-responsible business partnership, each partner must view their participation as a worthwhile business venture; this commitment has the potential to make a huge impact not only for their business, but also those persons and animals in need of their advocacy. I am well-known for using creative marketing ideas to bring about awareness to various needs within our community. My salon’s involvement helps build a loyal clientele for the salon and brings awareness to the needs of non-profit organizations that I deeply care about. Through years of experience, I have found that storytelling is the most effective method to help people understand and get involved in the programs that we sponsor. Heartwarming stories are especially effective in developing a win-win for the business, our customers, and the other non-profit organizations that I call my social venture partners.
Where do you come up with these creative and effective ideas?
I live by the Kaizen philosophy, a philosophy that promotes lifelong learning in small incremental steps. Combining my passion for life with my creative intuition, I am able to form the foundation for ideas that make my marketing and promotions unique. The end goal is to use this distinct approach to develop a tool for effectively communicating the things that are important to me in order to draw others to my worthwhile causes.
How were Studio 904’s philanthropy and community-giving programs developed?
My “aha” moment came one day when I saw my salon completely filled with clients who were getting their haircuts and having their other personal care services taken care of. Seeing all of those clients made me realize that a business could be a powerful vehicle for philanthropic efforts if someone could simply harness the compassion that resides inside each one of them and show them how easy it was to contribute to their
community. This realization led to my decision to start including “giving programs” in our annual marketing plan. Every month throughout the last several years, Studio 904 has given back to our community and to our world. Supporting animals like Babs is only a small part of the ten-year- old “Angels for the Animals” fundraiser program. For the past nine years, we have donated $7,000 per year toward four animal organizations. Each giving program like this one is designed to be a fun event that provides education and awareness about the importance of supporting those who are silently suffering. I am sincerely grateful that our clients enthusiastically embraced our initial efforts from day one and continue to do so today. Over the past years, some of our memorable community service projects have included children’s haircutting programs in low-income grade schools; haircuts and grooming care for cerebral palsy young adults, food drives to benefit the Northwest Harvest’s food drive for children; help for the tsunami victims in Japan; donations to help national disaster victims in the U.S.; support for the Youth and Family Services organizations; funding for animal advocacy nonprofit organizations; and many more.
Has all of this time and effort been worth it?
You bet. When my head hits the pillow each night, I feel deep satisfaction in my work,
knowing that I have brought a little bit of happiness to someone’s life or enhanced some animal’s well-being. If these types of worthwhile programs are of interest to you, please get involved in some type of venture partnership marketing with a non-profit
organization. There are several in your community that are eagerly waiting for your help. Although there may not be immediate monetary remuneration, just knowing that you are doing good things for others will give you the feeling of being richly rewarded.
On a sad note, our salon received an unexpected message from Pasado’s Safe Haven this week, informing us that Babs had passed away. Upon reading the news, my staff and I recognized how much Babs had impacted our lives since we had known her, even though she was physically not in our space. We realized that we had grown to love her over a very short time. Unfortunately, we will have to cancel our picnic with Babs, which we had planned for later this month. Babs passing was another reminder for all of us to encourage others to open their eyes and hearts and love those people and animals who suffer in silence. Their pain may not always be readily apparent when you meet them, but know that they are all around us.