RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Every face Lou Stevens sees is a blank canvass, and this makeover underway at her West Broad Street studio is especially close to her heart.
“I absolutely love it,” Stevens says, taking a break from the airbrush makeup application. “Very passionate about it.”
Carin Casey is in Stevens’ chair today. Casey is a survivor of domestic violence. She says it happened throughout her childhood and then again about twenty years ago when she thought a new love entered her life.
“Two weeks after we were married, he tried to kill me,” Casey remembers. “He ended up yelling at me and beating on me, and finally he choked me and I could not breathe.”
Casey escaped to a shelter, but then she went back to the man who she describes as charismatic and controlling. Casey says the abuse continued until one day when she turned to God.
“I begged Him to get me out of this and save me, and He did,” Casey says about that day she fell to her knees. “Eventually I did get out of that.”
Casey’s experiences inspired her to write the novel ‘My Dear Rosa Jean,’ a fictional account of a woman’s struggle to survive domestic violence. She also uses a podcast to share inspiration and works with Yeshua’s House, a transitional home in Petersburg for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.
It was through her work that she connected with Stevens, who uses her gift with hair and makeup for good.
The award-winning stylist, who operates Lou Stevens Glam Squad, has a passion project. When she is not helping brides get ready for their big day, she offers domestic violence survivors free makeovers. She started this outreach a few years ago and does the special makeup and hair sessions as often as she can.
“While I don’t have a story anywhere near as severe as Carin’s, I’ve certainly experienced some things and know some people that have been seriously affected by domestic violence,” Stevens says.
With brushes and color, Stevens hopes to help survivors see bright futures.
“It does help your self-esteem and make you feel a little bit better to be able to be brave enough to do something about it,” Stevens says about the makeovers.
Casey, who is still working through emotional wounds, looks in the mirror and likes what she sees.
“I already feel beautiful,” she chuckles while grabbing Stevens for a hug. “This is really nice.”
Stevens also operates what is called the Lou Stevens Glam Squad Academy. She offers scholarships to domestic violence survivors so they can pursue job opportunities in bridal hair and makeup.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.