Jessica Dahl and Rachel Hile: The Beyond Project
The Beyond Project is a nonprofit organization that connects beauty and wellness professionals to established organizations in the community that support those coming out of devastating circumstances, such as domestic violence, homelessness and trafficking.
Jessica Dahl and Rachel Hile, residents of Bellevue and working hairstylists, founded The Beyond Project out of a perceived need for greater access to volunteer opportunities for beauty and wellness professionals—and the courageous desire to give beyond themselves.
“When you get out of beauty school there is a lack of volunteer outlets for hairstylists or beauty professionals in general,” Rachel says. “So, I had it in my heart to seek these things out.”
In August 2008, the two unlikely friends met at the first salon they would work at, The Hair Lounge and Spa in Federal Way, Washington. Perhaps it was the age difference, Jessica was 19, while Rachel was 26. Or perhaps it was that Jessica sees the “big picture” when looking at the world, but Rachel is a stickler for details.
“We didn’t know each other very well and were not in love with each other at any point in that [first] year,” Rachel says.
That changed in 2010. Rachel had planned kayaking trip to the San Juan Islands, but by fate or serendipity, none of her friends were available. Jessica volunteered, which put something in motion that is still going today.
“It was just great because on our kayaking adventure we actually had real conversations that made us realize that we are real people and we care about similar things,” Jessica says. “It got us more connected than just seeing each other at work and talking about superficial stuff.”
The two women went their separate ways, but the seed for The Beyond Project had been planted. Unfortunately, sometimes tragedy gives needed light and strength to make a desire blossom. In December 2013, Matthew, Rachel’s nephew, who was 2 ½ years old at the time, passed away suddenly and without explanation.
“And so, five months following his passing, I woke up and thought, ‘I can’t not live out the dreams I have because we just don’t know what tomorrow will hold,’” Rachel says. “I was having a conversation with my mom on Mother’s Day, and said, ‘I have to do something now, have to start something, there’s just no time we have left.’”
Jessica called her that very night.
Jessica had been doing work with Adventure in Missions, a Christian charity organization. She got to know people in a way she hadn’t before—to connect with their struggles and pain.
“I just got super-passionate about people and who they are,” Jessica says. “I hated watching them be stuck in whatever trap they were in, whether that was poverty, trafficking or just being marginalized and neglected. So, coming back home, I had something that so burned into my heart to do something—and Rachel and I would talk about all these things together.”
In September 2015, The Beyond Project was born. The opening projects were, “Beyond Beauty,” and “Beyond the Cut”. Since then, they have participated in 50 projects and served more than 2,500 individuals in the Northwest. In 2016, The Beyond Project was launched in Los Angeles, and this year they’ve gone international with a project in Guatemala last March and plans to go to Lebanon and help Syrian refugees this September.
Interested in donating or volunteering? Visit TheBeyondProject.org. You don’t have to be a beauty or wellness professional to volunteer, as a registered 501(c)(3) charity The Beyond Project has needs beyond the services they offer to their partners.