Seventh-day Adventist businesswoman Eileen McKenzie is not just cutting hair in her hairstyling salon.
In April, McKenzie organized a fashion event to bring new life to the shopping center where she works in Newtown, a sleepy Welsh town about 170 miles (280 kilometers) northwest of London.
This week she went a step further and brought in the health ministries’ team from the Adventist Church’s Welsh Mission to help her.
McKenzie moved out of her salon in the Ladywell Shopping Centre to give hair-braiding demonstrations in a small pavilion nearby while the health team took over her space and a cafe next door.
Shoppers were ushered into the cafe for a free, healthy breakfast on Monday morning. As they ate, they were invited to stop by the salon next door for a free health check afterward.
The cafe owner, a friend of McKenzie, donated the use of his shop. Other business owners in the shopping center, including butcher Ian Cooke, offered their own promotions and help create a bigger buzz for McKenzie’s event.
“More than 20 volunteers made up the Adventist team, some coming from as far away as Swansea and Birmingham,” the Welsh Mission said in a statement. Swansea is 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Newtown, population 13,000, and Birmingham is 80 miles (130 kilometers) to the east.
“Despite a decidedly unsettled forecast, the sun came out, making it a very pleasant day for all,” the statement said.
McKenzie won the goodwill of fellow shopkeepers earlier this year with the fashion show, which included a bouncy castle, face painting, and other attractions on the sidelines.
McKenzie organized the event after befriending other shopkeepers over the past few years and hearing many complaints about a lack of customer traffic, said her husband, entrepreneur Kenroy McKenzie.
“Eileen presented the idea of holding a hair show with the other traders, especially the clothing retailers,” he said. “Thanks to the enthusiasm shown, the date was set.”
Seven retailers joined McKenzie in organizing the April 7 event. McKenzie also brought in an Adventist gospel singer, Marie Jones, to perform gospel music all day.
The main attraction was a red carpet hair and fashion show, where clothing sold by the shopping center’s retailers was modeled together with hairstyles available from McKenzie's salon.
Among the many people who stopped by the shopping center were Newtown Mayor Rina Clarke and three other local politicians.
“This wasn't an overtly religious event,” Kenroy McKenzie said. “But it was part of our philosophy of being both salt and light in the community. We want to tell our neighboring businesspeople about our faith, but our witness will be a lot more effective if we can help their businesses to prosper at the same time.”