Strands of blue raise money to end human trafficking

Two students collaborate with Cuttin’ Up Salon to sell blue hair extensions. The project, Beautiful Blue 2016, raises awareness and funds to support Wipe Every Tear, an organization working to end human trafficking.


Emily Drews photo

Camille Guenther and Rachel Eckmann display the hashtag #beautifulblue2016, where pictures can be sent to show support for the project.

Rather than give something up for Lent this year, two University of Wisconsin-Platteville roommates decided to help others through Beautiful Blue 2016. Freshman industrial engineering major Camille Guenther and her roommate, freshman chemistry major Rachel Eckmann, created Beautiful Blue 2016 to raise awareness of human trafficking in the United States and around the world.

Guenther and Eckmann have teamed up with Platteville’s Cuttin’ Up Salon to raise money for Wipe Every Tear, an organization working to help women and children involved in human trafficking. From Feb. 15 to March 14, Cuttin’ Up Salon will be selling blue hair extensions for $10 per extension for Beautiful Blue 2016. For each extension sold, $3 will be donated to Wipe Every Tear.

Guenther said she was inspired by one of her childhood friends who is involved with Wipe Every Tear and the movement to end human trafficking.

“The organization has two safe houses, one in the Philippines and one in Thailand. They’re actually centered in Boise, Idaho, which is kind of a big span, but they are a Christian organization and I’m a Catholic so I felt it went along best with what I wanted to do for Lent to help others,” Guenther said.

Eckmann said she originally thought of the concept for Beautiful Blue 2016 because she knew about Guenther’s interest in the issue and that Guenther wanted to do something for Lent.

“In my hometown two years ago, we did a similar project for domestic violence where a salon gave out purple hair extensions. And the more I thought about it, I thought it would be really cool to ask and see if we could do a similar thing for human trafficking, and then I let [Guenther] know about the idea,” Eckmann said.

Cuttin’ Up Salon stylist and co-owner Kathy Austin said the salon staff was interested in Beautiful Blue 2016 because the salon participated in a similar project for breast cancer awareness with pink hair extensions.

“I called [Cuttin’ Up Salon] right away and it took a lot of calling back and forth because they are very busy. They are pretty popular, so it’s cool that they agreed to do it. They were super excited about it,” Guenther said.

Eckmann said that getting an extension is not the only way to support Wipe Every Tear.

“Just sending a picture to the hashtag we have, showing support like that is awesome,” Eckmann said. “They can be pictures about anything, we post some funny looking ones and some more serious ones. It’s just something we want people to talk about. It’s an uncomfortable topic and no one wants to talk about it. It’s easier just to think that it doesn’t exist but it does and it’s a huge issue.”

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