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Maria Racco

2014 Newmarket

"Let’s give back and have fun doing it. "

Maria Racco fondly remembers her first experience of giving back. Together with her family she’d pick cherries from trees in their backyard to share with their neighbours. Fairy Lake in Newmarket is in her neighbourhood, a community where she continues to give back.

“I want to show my children that giving back is something we should all do. For me the key thing is for them to be proud of their mother and hopefully give back themselves; I want to show my kids how they can give back and that the material things really don’t mean anything. Giving back comes naturally to me and hopefully they will see that giving back is an amazing thing and really, that is what we are here for. ”

As co­owner of the Artists Salon & Spa with her husband, she first worked part time while raising her three children. Maria’s hours were extended until eventually her role of working at the front desk included marketing, fundraising, photo shoots and more.

The Artists Salon and Spa were finalists for a Contessa Award in 2009 for their Team Collection. At the Annual Contessa Awards presentation Maria first heard about Look Good, Feel better. Maria was inspired and moved by what she heard and turned to a staff member and said, “We are going to do something!”

By following year the Style for a Cause event was created and on May 3rd each year the Salon’s anniversary is celebrated by giving back in some way. The first year 100 % of funds raised went to Look Good, Feel Better, who help women with cancer. Style for a Cause, which started as one day of hairstyling, has grown into a community event and Maria and her team have since raised over $18,500 for local charities and won the Contessa John Steinberg Award in 2013 for community service. Her Staff are supportive and excited about giving back. In 2014 Maria and her team worked to give towards Belinda’s Place which is a shelter for single women in Newmarket.

Maria’s dream is to inspire other salons to come together and give back. She goes above and beyond to understand what their benefactors are about so that she can share with her clients and contribute to the cause. She is more concerned about sharing the message than the number of dollars raised. People’s lives are touched and changed by the charities they support and knowing that the salon is making a contribution spurs her on. She works to raise funds the charities need, but above all, Maria strongly believes in sharing their message.

“Each year I learn about different causes. Being educated about the needs is key. And sharing what I learn is key, I try to inspire others.”

Maria loves to step outside of the box. S.O.F.T (Salon Operation Fridge Trimis) a concept that Maria initiated when she learned that other salons charge for trimming bangs. Her salon and had been doing it at no charge. She imagined that if the salon asked for $1 per bang trim, they could raise money for a charity. S.O.F.T was launched in 2013 with 100 % of the proceeds going to Blue Door Men’s Shelter in Newmarket. This program is very close to her heart, she hopes other salons will catch the vision.

Other charities supported include Help­Portrait Newmarket, Habitat for Humanity, Polo for Heart, Magna Hoedown. They donate gift cards for local charities and sponsor where they can and they were the first salon to volunteer and sponsor a house on The Pickering College Home Tour with proceeds going to Southlake Hospital. Maria encourages her team to be as “hands on” as possible. Maria was also on the Hands In Hands Gala Committee 2014 for YRAP (York Region Abuse Program).

Maria loves to inspire those who otherwise may not have thought about giving back. Maria believes their salon is about both the outside and the inside image and making everyone look better, feel better having given back and then walk out of the salon happy.


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