Local salon owner provides inspiration for Columbia youth

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COLUMBIA — Chrystal Sadler never imagined she'd be where she is today.

"My mom told me at 15 I'd be a hairdresser and I was like, 'Uh, never,'" Sadler said.

Now, she has owned and operated her own Columbia salon, Chrystal L. Hair and Make-up, for the past four years. For Sadler, the salon is more than just a business - it's a way to give back to her community.

"I have lots of people that I meet that can't necessarily afford, or have it in their budget, to come in and get their hair done," Sadler said. "I feel like when you look good, you feel good so that was something that I wanted to do."

Sadler runs a program called Hair 4 Help, which provides free haircuts for girls once a month in exchange for four hours of community service.

"I don't think I would do volunteer work at all," said Hair 4 Help participant Atiyah Allen, a freshman at Battle High School. "She was the person that kind of started that and pushed me towards that."

Sadler said, at any point in time, she has between five and seven girls participating in the program.

"It's teaching them about giving back," Sadler said. "Someone is giving to you and it's your responsibility, I believe, to give back to the community that's giving to you."

Having grown up in a majority black neighborhood in St. Louis, Sadler said her move to Columbia has been a decision that has defined her to this point.

"Moving to somewhere that was a little more diverse was challenging but beneficial because the world is a diverse place and we have to accept everybody," Sadler said.

Besides Hair 4 Help, Sadler has a new project in the works for the summer called the BOLD Academy, (Black and Brown Girls Opportunity, Leadership and Development). It will provide mentoring and teaching for girls of color ages 12 to 17.

"I think that it's going to be something that leaves a never-ending impact on the Columbia community," Sadler said. "It's something that will continue to sprout and produce more entrepreneurs and more people that are able to go out into the community and be more positive."

For Sadler, her continuing work in the community is intertwined with her profession.

"Everyday I walk in this door and I look to improve on the person that sits in my chair, to make them feel better, look better, bring out their inner beauty. I feel like when you go out in the community and do volunteer work or programs like BOLD or Hair 4 Help, it's giving me an opportunity to bring out the beauty in our community."

Sadler's efforts do not go unnoticed by the girls she mentors.

"She gives young people like me something to look forward to," Allen said. "She's a very headstrong person in that she can give you words of encouragement at any time, even whenever she's low herself. She can always find words of encouragement to help someone."