LSU Alumna Using Hairstyling Expertise to Help Cancer Patients
October 03, 2023
While a student at LSU, Rachel Eggie Gibbs was a business marketing major, but she knew cosmetology was her end goal. The 2013 graduate combined both of those passions into a booming Baton Rouge hair salon, EGGIE Salon Studio. The salon was named to the 2022 and 2023 LSU 100: Fastest Growing Tiger Businesses list.
Last year, Gibbs decided to shave her head to raise awareness about cancer and to also help those fighting the disease. She shared what led her to help others using her hairstyling tools and expertise.
Do you have a personal connection to cancer? What drew you to helping women battling cancer?
My personal connection to cancer has primarily come from my experience as a hair stylist in the industry. In the last seven years behind the chair, there have been many opportunities to support clients who have been diagnosed with cancer and needed assistance with shaving their heads.
Last year, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center approached me about partnering with them to donate the first post-chemo haircut for their patients. Without hesitation, I knew I wanted to be a part of this partnership. I realized that it would be beneficial for me to personally go through the grow out process myself which is what led me to shaving my head.
Cancer affects so many people and their loved ones, and I believe it is important to give back and support them on their journey.
As a hair stylist, your own hair is an important piece of your business, how has shaving your head changed your business?
Being a hairstylist, my hair has always been an important aspect of my business, as it plays a role in making people feel beautiful. This is one of the reasons why I love this industry.
However, shaving my head has brought about a change in my business. Now, I focus on trying to make these women feel confident without their hair, in the stages of shaving as well as when it is time to grow out.
On my social media platforms, I used to create videos showcasing hairstyles for longer hair. While I still post past tutorials for people with longer hair, my focus has shifted in a beautiful way. My time is spent teaching women how to style and cut their hair as it is growing back.
It’s been one year since you shaved your head and started this journey - what have you learned from it?
Throughout this one-year journey since I shaved my head, I have learned that the women I have had the privilege to assist are incredibly strong and brave individuals. It is truly inspiring to witness their resilience and positivity, even in the face of such challenging circumstances.
When they sit in my chair, their gratitude is palpable, and it serves as a constant reminder of the impact even the smallest gestures can have. These women have taught me the importance of appreciating and cherishing every moment, and I am continually motivated by their unwavering spirit.
How are you using your tools to help local men and women fighting cancer?
In my efforts to help local men and women fighting cancer, I have utilized my tools and expertise to provide valuable guidance and support.
After shaving my own head, I have diligently documented each phase of hair regrowth, demonstrating various styling techniques, suitable haircuts, and recommended products for each stage. This documentation aims to empower women by giving them the knowledge and confidence to navigate their hair growth journey effectively.
Throughout this process, I have encountered many women whose hair has grown back with a curly texture. To further assist others facing a similar situation, I have sought permission from some of the women I am working with to showcase their experiences on social media. By using them as examples, I can demonstrate how to style and manage different hair textures, ensuring that these women feel represented and supported.
Your social media posts have helped women around the world, what does that mean to you?
Having my social media posts help women around the world is an incredibly fulfilling experience for me. In a world where social media can receive negative attention, I can see the power it holds in connecting people from different corners of the globe.
One particular moment stands out to me when a young girl from Israel sent me a selfie, expressing her gratitude for what I do and how happy she was to have found my page. She was 10 months post chemotherapy treatment and was unsure about how to proceed with her hair growth.
After discovering my page, she felt inspired and confident enough to bring the idea of a similar haircut to her stylist. Witnessing the impact of my posts on someone's life, especially during such a vulnerable time, is truly remarkable. It reinforces my belief in the positive influence that social media can have and motivates me to continue helping and empowering women battling cancer through my platform.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, what is something you’ve learned through helping others fighting cancer?
Through my experience of helping others fighting cancer, one important lesson I have learned is the significance of community support. It is truly remarkable to witness how these women find strength and comfort in knowing that they have a community surrounding them.
This support system plays a crucial role in their journey, providing encouragement, empathy, and assistance during and even after their battle with cancer. The power of a supportive community cannot be underestimated, as it helps alleviate feelings of isolation and provides a sense of belonging.
It is heartwarming to see how individuals come together to offer their unwavering support, creating a network of care and understanding. This realization has further emphasized the importance of fostering a compassionate and inclusive environment for those fighting cancer, ensuring that they feel heard, valued, and empowered throughout their journey.
Is there anything else you want to share or add?
One year ago, God truly placed the feeling to shave my head on my heart. Initially, I didn't fully understand why, but I had no idea how many people it would connect me to and allow me to help. I believe that when God places something on your heart, it is important to follow it. I would encourage anyone to listen to their heart and trust in the guidance that comes from above.