Inaugural ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ Event Empowers Beauty Pros Through Connection and Education


This past Sunday, the who’s who of the salon professional industry and guests descended upon Chicagoland for the inaugural “Beauty with a Purpose” event! Inspiring and empowering more than 1,000 guests, “Beauty with a Purpose” promised and made good on a “beauty blueprint” for success and self-motivation thanks to its founders, Julie Hightower, founding Board member of the Daisie Foundation, and Mireya Villarreal, founder of the Pink Pewter Foundation. 

“This event gave everyone who came one of the greatest pathways of exposure from so many perspectives that sit in the beauty space,” said Julie Hightower. “The hunger, zest, and zeal for wanting to learn was extraordinary,” she added. “In beauty school you are taught how to use your hands,” said Mireya Villarreal. “At this event we imparted ways on how to use your minds. Teaching how to use your mind can build an empire,” she added. 

“Beauty with a Purpose” founders Mireya Villarreal and Julie Hightower.

Over the course of the day, speakers shared their achievements and their failures in a straightforward, no-nonsense way. Keep scrolling for more.

The Highlights

“Beauty with a Purpose” opened with Mireya Villarreal and Julie Hightower as they welcomed a packed and star-studded room. Renowned speaker Ben Mollin spoke on developing a “warrior mindset,” overcoming self-doubt, and strategies for achieving peak performance. Award-winning activist filmmaker and author Denise Soler Cox of Project Eñye talked about the magic of belonging in the beauty industry. 

Next, The Tease founder and Volume Up Podcast co-host, Kelly Ehlers, moderated a panel with the Ulta Beauty Pro Team, including Anna Manukyan, Senior Director of Education & Creative, Michelle O’Connor, Matrix Global Artistic Director and 2020 NAHA Styling and Finishing winner, and Danielle Keasling, an influential and dedicated hairstylist and 2021 NAHA Editorial Stylist of the Year. Each of these pros shared their wisdom, encompassing all facets of the beauty industry from finance to editorial.

Pioneers and veterans of the beauty industry shared their “beauty blueprint” in a dynamic panel presentation by Dana Fountain, a successful entrepreneur and beauty advocate, Kim Roxie, founder and CEO of Lamik Beauty, Mr. Johnny Wright, celebrity stylist, Lynzie Smith, founder and CEO of the Common Wealth Collective, and Jenny Strebe, founder and CEO of AIIR Professional.

Adına Pignatare on stage at the “Beauty with a Purpose” event.

Adina Pignatare shared a wealth of insights about how to grow and optimize social media channels with a comprehensive array of tips and tricks. She talked about her adept utilization of opportunities that led her notable career expansion on social media platforms. 

A distinguished panel of barbers spoke about how they forged their unique paths, changed lives, and made history. Presentations were made by Taylor Leven, barber and barbershop owner, Larry Roberts, founder of Larry’s Barber CollegeJohn Mosley, NAHA winning Educator of the year, SalonCentric #ItTakesaPro member and Andis Global Educator, and Jesse (Kirby) Perez Gil, Artisan Hair Sodality. These leading barbers shared their pathways to achievement in a forward-thinking live podcast, led by “Your Day Off” hosts Corey Gray and Tony Stuart from Hairdustry

There was a brilliant segment exploring the science of haircare and hair conditions, with in-depth discussions from Dr. Elizabeth A. Kiracofe, MD, FAAD, American Board-Certified Hair Colorist and Certified Trichologist Missy Peterson, Artisan Hair Sodality founder Jesse (Kirby) Perez Gil, Celebrity stylist, author and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion consultant Monaé Everett, and L’ANZA Healing Haircare Artist Christopher Aaron.

Under the guidance of Bioncé Foxx, esteemed host of the “Bioncé Foxx Experience” on V103 in Chicago, another panel aimed to facilitate a profound exploration of insights offered by key luminaries within the beauty industry. This executive Q&A session uncovered the wisdom of industry leaders including Frank P. Fulco, CEO of America’s Beauty Show and Cosmetologists Chicago, Kareema Wilson, Vice President of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at SalonCentric, Denine Pappalardo, SVP, US Sales and Education at Benefit Cosmetics, and Nick Stenson, Senior Vice President, Store and Services Operations at Ulta Beauty. 

Frank Fulco, Kareema Wilson, Denine Pappalardo and Nick Stenson at “Beauty with a Purpose.”

Giving Back in a Big Way

As the event closed, excitement built for the unveiling of the selection of ten remarkable individuals, each of whom has illustrated a compelling financial need for a grant, poised to propel them further along their unique paths. “These individuals had been carefully chosen to receive a grant, a true reflection of their unwavering commitment, resolute determination, and relentless pursuit of excellence,” said Mireya Villarreal, in giving grants to ten individuals at the conclusion of “Beauty With a Purpose.” 

Proceeds from “Beauty With a Purpose” benefited the D.A.T.A. Scholarship Foundation, which allows financial and social resources for those affected after incarceration, military service, or another life-altering experience. “Finding career and life success starts with a step in the right direction, but sometimes the path forward becomes obstructed by the inaccessibility of financial and social resources,” said Larry Roberts, founder of the D.A.T.A. Scholarship Foundation. “We are grateful for the support of The Daisie Foundation and Pink Pewter Foundation for helping these individuals to Develop A Trade After,” added Roberts. 

The D.A.T.A. Scholarship Foundation receives a $10,000 check during the “Beauty with a Purpose” event.

Denise Provenzano, Owner/Partner of Pivot Point Academy, Bloomingdale, IL, and the Wahl Barber Academy, Chicago, IL, generously sponsored a Cosmetology full-tuition scholarship and a Barber full-tuition scholarship to two individuals. A value of $42,000. “Just like Julie and Mireya are using their leadership skills and talents to empower those who need mentoring and support, it is my honor to support the future education of an incoming Cosmetologist and an incoming Barber,” said Provenzano.

Event Sponsors

The “Beauty With a Purpose” event was made possible with support from a number of incredible organizations. Sponsors included: SalonCentric, Ulta Beauty, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, CeraVe, The Tease, Pivot Point Academy, Wahl Barber Academy, Benefit Cosmetics, L’Anza, Aquage, Rusk, Artist on Go, Malibu C, America’s Beauty Show, Cosmetologists Chicago, Marlo Beauty Supply, Beauty Launchpad, Modern Salon, Salon Today, Mizani, Ivy Ann Professional Shears, Gild Insurance, ICUT, Illinois Beauty CEU Partners, Urban Decay, Peer Beauty, Pin Me Up Chicago, AIIR, The Original Midwest Tradeshow Chicago, Popular Nobody, Stylists Supporting Stylists, Hairdustry, Mane Space, Pink Pewter Foundation, Daisie Foundation, Shiraleah Chicago, Salon Coccole, Avlon, Uberliss, and the Daisie Project. 

What’s Next

If you missed this year’s event, “Beauty With a Purpose” plans to return and give back even more next year. But look for “Beauty Gives Back” instead! For updates, follow #BeautyGivesBack and  @beautygivesbackfoundation on Instagram.

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