Kindest Cuts: Free Clips of Kindness for Cancer Patients

In mid-2010, Great Clips CEO Rhoda Olsen approached Jane Evans, a franchisee in Colorado, and asked her opinion about a philanthropy effort that could be offered system-wide: giving cancer patients free clipper haircuts when facing hair loss as a result of their treatment. Expressing a personal philosophy of “You’ve got to give to receive,” Jane signed on.

Less than four months later, Jane was diagnosed with stage 4 metastasized breast cancer. Shortly thereafter she found herself receiving her own clipper cut. Progressing through chemo, surgery and radiation, Jane came to realize on an extremely personal level just how important the Great Clips service could be. During a series of all-staff meetings with stylists and managers from her Colorado Springs/Pueblo salons in October 2011, Jane informally launched what would become “Clips of Kindness.” Tammy Nienaber, director of communications at Great Clips, remembers the early days of the program. “Even before we had initiated the program, Jane was offering complimentary cuts for people getting cancer treatment. She was the inspiration behind the program, and her salons became the testing ground for offering and providing this much-needed service.”

As of July 1, 2014, free Clips of Kindness are available at any of the 3,500 Great Clips locations in the U.S. and Canada. The program is based on Jane’s vision: “I want them to know there is a place they can go where they’ll be treated with respect, understanding and empathy. People can bring someonealong for support. We’ve even done private appointments. We’ll listen and take care of them.”

Great Clips is collaborating with cancer treatment centers, oncology clinics and hospitals to spread the word, with the goal of helping every cancer patient feel more comfortable as they go through a difficult process by adapting each clipper service to individual needs. Some patients have asked for locks of hair for wig matching; others are given a private space for their cuts or extra time to adjust afterwards.

Tammy explains why her company has taken this compassionate, considerate approach: “Clips of Kindness allows Great Clips stylists to connect with people during a time of need with a service that fits our expertise. It is the perfect connection of doing what we do every day: helping people feel good about how they look, and doing the right thing.”

Watch Jane Evans and other Great Clips stylists and managers share their experiences with Clips of Kindness.

If you could provide a service that would help people suffering through illness, what would it be? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • Sj

    I did my hair cut after chemo. But I didn’t get any Clips of Kindness! They charge me full price!.

  • Michelle ryan

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer and will be starting chemotherapy next week.

  • nanette heath

    Do you still give free hair cuts to pt with cancer

  • Andrea Mansfield

    I got my hair cut at great clips and I am trying to send my hair clips

  • Diane Irvin

    Thank you Great Clips for providing Clips for Kindness. It means a lot when you are going through cancer to have a little extra TLC. Thanks!

  • Esperanza Parks

    Is this available for people that haven’t had cancer? I had brain surgery to remove part of a tumor. After radiation, a big chunk of my hair is gone. The radiation burned it off. It’s so hard to find some one willing to cut near my scar, or not feel nervous around me. It’s also hard for me to not feel embarrassed with my extremely thin hair. I’m looked at all the time.

    I’m extremely grateful to have a second chance at life, so early in life. But I want to be able to live a little more normal, and a quality haircut does a lot for anyone’s self-esteem. Thank you for hearing my hair story.



  • Lisa M Rubio

    Great Clips Terra Linda, CA

    I have mental health issues. In fact, I am disabled due to mental health issues.
    I was treated terribly at Great Clips yesterday, 1/10/18, and I may seek legal action.
    I received shoddy service, then I was yelled at and insulted by the employees at Great Clips.
    What happened…
    Trung was recommended.

    He listened well, but refused to do what I asked him to do, he said he had a better way.

    I allowed it, but…

    I told not to cut more than 1/2 inch from anywhere on my head.

    He cut over an inch, unevenly from the bottom sides of the back.

    I told him not to cut the sides, that I had recently been traumatized by a cutter who cut my sides too short.

    He cut the back unevenly and stopped, without checking any lengths, he did not check his work, he finished inside of 4 minutes and sent me off. He did not hand me a mirror to see the back.

    It looked like my hair was blended well, I tipped him well and left.

    I figured he knew something special to cut so quickly and I was thrilled to get out of there to go home for dinner.

    When I got home, I checked my hair to discover it was grossly uneven and that 1 side had been cut quite short.

    The sides of my hair are over 1 inch different from each other in length.

    I went back to Great Clips upset wanting to know about my hair.

    Instead of apologizing, Trung, denied he cut the sides.

    He didn’t section my hair off, and ended up cutting my sides by inadvertently combing my hair back. I’m sure it’s a common rookie mistake.

    I’m 58 years old, I’ve been picky about my hair my entire life. I know my hair was even on both sides. My cut prior cost $80.00. All I wanted was some weight off of the top, so I could get more height without having to get a perm. Trung said I could get the effect of height if he cut the back of my hair a bit. I clearly said no more than 1/2 inch.

    Let me repeat…

    Trung cut my hair incorrectly, he didn’t section it off.
    Trung didn’t check it to see if it was even after he cut it.
    When I came back upset because my hair is horribly uneven, instead of kindly apologizing Trung denied the damage he did.
    He tried to tell me it’s uneven due to curl…the sides don’t have curl and I know they were even.I know my hair very well!

    Trung Lied TO ME and was rude and nasty about it!

    When I returned, I was told by a woman cutter that there was no manager anywhere who could help me, but she would try to fix the problem.

    She wanted to even out the sides without a plan or her knowing what I would like.

    She kept shushing me and telling me to be quiet.

    If she wanted me to be quiet, all she had to do was acknowledge what I was saying. I understand that she didn’t want to criticize her co-worker, and I really was upset!

    She kept demanding that I articulate what I wanted, and I kept asking her what’s possible? I demonstrated what I wanted and kept asking, what do we need to do to make that happen?

    She demanded that I tell her if I was growing my hair out, and I kept repeating, “I just want to have a cute cut today, once I have a hair dresser who understands how to best flatter me, then yes, I want to grow it out.

    I tried to discuss the repair and she told me to be quiet 2 more times, I sat quietly until I snapped. I jumped up and by that time I was so upset, I began to lose control of my anger.

    Trung, instead of apologizing, he continued to deny he cut the sides, he told me to get out of the shop, I refused and asked for my tip back. He said, “Who’d want that dirty money anyway?”

    I receive extensive care for my mental heath issues, some of which stem from physical deformities in my brain. I had just come from a therapist’s appointment. I was in a stable, comfortable mood when we started.

    Once I showed them the terrible mistakes in my hair, I believe they should have defused the situation and my upset, rather than exacerbating it. They handled me so poorly, and in many ways were so insensitive, I believe they violated my rights as a mentally ill person.

    I’m asking that I get a really great cut from someone who knows how to cut hair well and that there be an investigation to determine if Great Clip’s shops are training their people properly…and once trained, are they applying it?

    Thank you for taking the time to consider this issue,

    Lisa Rubio

    415 261-4919

    I itemized rather than writing a full narrative.