Community Makeoverby Sue Lusk

This is one of those enchanting and heart-warming stories of wonderful people in our Waikanae community coming together to make something exceptional happen for somebody who deserved some love and caring.

Renee (Hairathome_renee down at Waikanae Beach, Kate at Tutere Gallery and Creative Space, Sara Boland who is such a talented textile artist (Sara Boland textile artist currently “artist in residence” at Kate’s gallery), lovely Heather from Posybloom Boutique — Online Kapiti Florist (lots of you know Heather from Waikanae Saturday Market), Anna (Annaleise Makup Artist), Stacey Fraser who donated Essence of Humanity skincare products, Emma (Emma Monaghan Photography), Morgan Bloxham (Kapiti College) who did some wonderful video work, Renee’s husband Tai — you all created something very special for our community!

(And Renee says to look out for requests for more nominations for a Community Makeover Event around September — if it is as enchanting a story as this one we won’t miss it!)

Now — Read on! To the end!  Ignore Facebook’s tendency to encourage micro posts for once because I truly can’t tell the story better than Liz’s mum Sue, who wrote this heartfelt letter of thanks to Renee, Sarah, Anna, Emma, Morgan, Kate, Heather, Stacey, Tai — all of you lovely Waikanae people involved in this lovely day last week:


When we were kids, being swept of our feet usually meant by a wave at the local beach, where we spent many a summer’s day.

When we grew up, being swept off our feet usually meant falling in love totally and unexpectedly, to the point of extreme exhilaration.

However, there are also other rare life experiences, where we feel excited, blessed and overwhelmed to the point of being “swept off our feet”.

My middle daughter, Liz, and I, recently found ourselves immersed in just such an event, and we were swept along on a wave of thrills and treats, which rolled for 7 hours then gently left us on the shore.

It all began when I spotted a small local notice on “Neighbourly”, on our computer, seeking nominations for a beauty makeover, for a deserving person. I knew instantly that I should and would type the story of the most recent five years of our daughter’s life, and email it off, simply to honour her, regardless of whether anything came of it. It didn’t take me long to write, and once it was “sent”, I never dreamed that I would ever hear anything more.

Then, out of the blue, Renee, of “Hairathome_renee” (the giver of this gift) contacted me, and bowled me over with the news that she had selected Liz to be the recipient.

From there, the flood gates of surprises opened: I discovered that the “makeover” was in fact an entire day of grooming, pampering and spoiling the winner, and Liz had no idea what was coming her way! I had nominated her on behalf of her two very young sons, as a Mother’s Day gift, to show appreciation for all her selfless love and sacrifices for them. Within days, Renee made the telephone call to Liz, to announce to her what had transpired.

Liz was understandably astonished, but then came the next giant wave! I found myself on an unexpected three-way phone call from Renee and Liz, with Renee saying that she wanted to include ME in the prize, by giving me a makeover too! From there, the date (27 May 2018) and place were arranged, the amazing extent of Liz’s reward was revealed. This was no lovely dream, it was real and true, and it was perfectly timed for a day when Liz really needed an injection of care and special attention into her life. She had no idea what this winter “plunge” would bring, but she warily went with the flow, until a few weeks later, we drove to a cosy haven in Waikanae Beach, which was so much more than a home hairdressing salon! There was instant warmth in the ambience and the hugs, and many special touches had been added (e.g. a fragrant lit candle flickering and perfect background music).

We met total strangers for the first time, and we felt their positivity and desire to make this an exceptionally happy and exciting day, not just for Liz, but for me as well. After smiles and introductions, each went to their action stations. The fun of the makeover began.

Liz was seated in the “hair chair”, while I was seated in the chair alongside her, for new make up to be applied by the artist, Anna. Renee considered carefully what Liz’s wishes were, regarding her hair, then sprung into action, to alter her colour, texture and style.

Anna paid gentle, professional attention to my colouring and age, and enhanced my facial make up to give me a vibrant new look.

Meanwhile, Renee was assisted by Sarah, to produce for Liz a style and shade of hair which highlighted her natural fair features.

At one point we swapped chairs, and Liz’s make up by Anna was done, while Renee turned her attention to my mop of old lady hair.

Liz’s sparkle and shine began to emerge, through each new wave and stage, as colour, style and pizzazz all blended harmoniously.

In the background, but very much involved and interested, was the videographer, Morgan, a young man with sensitivity, passion for, and pride in, his work, and he recorded much of the “wave” in both still photos and film. He had a keen eye for important detail and special moments, but he was not intrusive, and very professional.

Four hours in the salon, during which Liz and I were rotated from hair chair to wash basin (and the make up chair too), evaporated, splashed with lots of chit-chat, laughter, food and coffees (served with class by Renee’s husband, Ty), and Sara dropped by with a specially adorned pre-loved dress she had created for Liz to wear.

Our day at this Waikanae Beach oasis was far from over, however.

Sporting our new looks, with beautiful hair and make up, we were chauffeured by Renee to Emma’s home, and ushered upstairs to a fully kitted out photographic studio, for 90 minutes of professional photos by Emma. Morgan was along for this ride too, always ready to grab “lush” photographic magic moments, but not to intrude. Two different backdrops were used, as well as a variety of poses and positions. Liz was the subject of many individual special shots, wearing two different outfits, and then I was included in photos with Liz, until her partner arrived with her two young sons, and they too were welcomed and included. Emma’s attention to detail and her warm personality ensured that this was a relaxed, enjoyable time.

Still riding the wave of the day, we left Emma’s for Tutere Gallery, the venue for a celebratory party (gracious Kate kindly donated the gallery space for this gathering), to which all the contributors and supporters of the day had been invited, including Liz’s own family, and also Renee’s. Food, glorious food, wine, divine wine, plenty of child-friendly options, were provided, and Renee made a heartfelt speech about the day, and what she had aimed for. She presented Liz with a brilliant bouquet of brightly coloured fresh flowers from POSYBLOOM Boutique, a basketful of amazing AROMAS hair products by NAK, and another bundle of special skin care products, ESSENCE OF HUMANITY, from generous giver, Stacey. Liz, in reply, was totally overwhelmed – swept off her feet, in fact! Everyone was friendly, chatty, and brimming with relief and satisfaction that this unique gift of an amazing day had come to its conclusion, after seven happy hours and many powerful “waves”.

The planning, thought, preparation and coordination involved in pulling this day together was an ocean of time, energy and love.

Women who have swum against the tide of life, battled brutal currents, and survived adversity and hideous circumstances have compassion and empathy as deep as the sea. That’s YOU, Renee!

When you venture tentatively into unknown territory, put all your faith and trust in a complete stranger, and come out the other end renewed, revitalised and with a whole new look, it has to be said that to go with the tide of life, and to embrace being swept off your feet, is a grand way to grow, in confidence, strength and vitality. It is supremely encouraging to discover that peace and goodwill is alive and well in this day and age, in our little corner of the world!

–With sincere thanks to Renee, who gave so generously from her heart, and expected nothing in return, except the joy of uplifting other women, and to her husband, Tai, from Liz and Mumma Sue.