Two weeks ago, Michelle Foley returned to from her overnight shift as an ER nurse at Bridgeport Hospital to discover a flyer at the door to the apartment she shares with her partner, Dzmitry Perr.
Foley, a Quincy, MA native, and Perr met as freshmen at Boston College a little more four years ago. Perr works a day shift at Uniliever in Trumbull as a lab technician.
Although these days the young couple may be ships passing in the night, they complain about nothing. Happy to live in Wilbur Peck as they launch their careers. Happy to win a new contest for a transformational makeover and Valentine's wardrobe and dinner date from Becker Chicaiza, owner of
The Valentine's story has the added dimension of immigrant success. Perr grew up in Minsk in Belarus, former republic of the USSR, and moved here in time to start 9th grade at .
Describing the culture shock of landing in Greenwich and assuming all the United States was like Greenwich, the teenager didn't so much assimilate as decide to just be himself and see who would accept him. Describing the Russian Club he formed with a GHS buddy and high school friendships he keeps to this day, Perr's approach has served him well. His extracurriculars alternated between babysitting his kindergarten age sister and working checkout at 's where his mother held a job in the bakery department.
Working at ESF summer camp at Perr recalled how the young campers marveled at his haircut experiments. Sporting both a mullet and mohawk, albeit not "spiked" when he arrived for his Valentine's transformation, Perr made the point that adult role models can give young people permission to eschew conformity – to just be yourself.
Salon owner Chicaiza, who grew up in Ecuador, discovered his knack for cutting hair as a teenager and always dreamed of having his own salon. His enthusiasm fills the room when he talks about how he is grateful to his Greenwich clientele for making his success possible.
Chicaiza's attitude sets a tone in the salon that makes newcomers feel welcome and comfortable. Though his methods are cutting edge – including the Balayage highlighting, a French hair painting technique – and the results are chic, if not "fierce," everyone from the toddlers to moms is made to feel at home.
When Foley and Perr learned they had won the contest, which was greenlighted by Andee Cantavaro of , they were tickled. As part of the Valentine's Day prize, not only did they receive transformative haircuts, but they were treated to a shopping spree for new outfits. Foley and Perr worked with manager/stylist Diana Vettoretti to pick out a date-worthy black dress and jacket, shirt trousers respectively.
When cut and color was complete around 5 p.m., Perr and Foley donned their new outfits (compliments of Becker Salon) and could hardly wipe the smiles from their faces. But time was short. The couple had a six o'clock dinner reservation at Ferrante Restaurant in Stamford, which donated dinner and champagne for the celebration.
Becker has future plans to work with the Greenwich Housing Authority to raffle off freebies to those who might not be in a position to do indulge themselves.