More Than Just a Haircut -- Meet LA-based non-profit, ProjectQ

Everyone deserves a good hair day. Hairstyle is an expression of personal identity—but for homeless youth, especially those in the LGBTQIA community, care and styling can be challenging, confusing, and even inaccessible at times.

An LA-based non-profit, ProjectQ, is working to change that.

With a mission to “use hair as a form of social justice and create a safe space for LGBTQIA homeless youth to find their identity,” ProjectQ provides this underserved community with over 700 haircuts every year, free of charge. This non-profit organization is 100% inclusive, so everyone is welcome—free of judgement and regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, size, ability, and income.

Founded six years ago by Madin Ray Lopez (they/them), ProjectQ is comprised of a salon-on-wheels and a brand-new brick and mortar salon and community center in Los Angeles. Lopez, a genderqueer hair stylist, parks the salon-on-wheels (a refurbished 1977 Airstream) and sets up shop every other Monday at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center - Homeless Youth Shelter to trim, buzz, braid, or take a little off the top. At the salon, free haircuts are offered Tuesday through Saturday. The service isn’t completely free, though: currency comes in the form of questions. Lopez asks clients a thought-provoking question around identity, conformity, self-love, etc.—and asks for a thoughtful answer in return. 

  ProjectQ founder, Madin Lopez / Photo by  Mikkel Paige Photography

ProjectQ founder, Madin Lopez / Photo by Mikkel Paige Photography

Interested in learning how you can get involved and support ProjectQ and other non-profits? Read on!

1. Become a Member!

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, ProjectQ relies on donations from individuals and businesses to continue doing its great work in the community. No matter the amount you can afford to give, be it 1 dollar, 100 dollars, or 1,000 dollars (and anything in between and above that!), ProjectQ is happy to have your support. However, if you are able to make a monthly donation of $10 per month or more, you’ll be recognized as a member of ProjectQ and entitled to exclusive merchandise and other benefits.

2. Fundraise!

In general, if you want to make a splash of positivity that’s beyond what you’re capable of donating by yourself, you should consider hosting a fundraiser for the non-profit of yoru choice. Planning and throwing a fundraiser event is an excellent way to get your whole community involved in supporting a great cause. You could do something simple like a bottle and can drive, or you could get a little more involved and coordinate with a local bar or restaurant to have a charitable social event or plan a 5K run/walk. You could turn just about anything into a fundraiser if you’re creative enough! And with all the free fundraiser planning tools out there, it’s never been easier to send invites, track RSVPs, and market your event to make sure it’s a big hit.

  Lopez and their wife, Sabine Maxine Lopez / Photo by  Katie Osgood Photography

Lopez and their wife, Sabine Maxine Lopez / Photo by Katie Osgood Photography

While a new haircut won’t guarantee housing, it can help give someone the confidence to keep his/her/their head held high while searching for housing or interviewing for jobs. The organization also offers free mentorship classes and workshops at the ProjectQ community center. ProjectQ is run in collaboration with Lopez’s wife, Sabine Maxine Lopez. The incredible work that’s being done by this power couple mirrors how inherently incredible they both are.