Sun, 29 Jun 2014 Beauty & Fashion

A Diva Helps Domestic Violence Victims

By Melissa Martin-Simmons
Cindy Tawiah Is The Owner Of DIVA BY CINDYCindy Tawiah Is The Owner Of DIVA BY CINDY

Women and beauty are Cindy Tawiah's passion. The Ghana native not only produces a line of hair products, she also offers a twice-a-year free program to help victims of domestic abuse feel good about themselves.

The program is now 10 years old and has helped dozens of women escape abusive relationships and start new lives.

'I was aware of several domestic violence cases in Baltimore,' she said. 'I wanted to find a way to help victims look and feel beautiful. Women go through so much and receive so little.'

Tawiah knew her products would be a way to help.

'They [women] gain confidence when they have beautiful hair,' she said.

Tawiah styles women's hair in her Owing Mills home. She also offers health and healing sessions, which provides counseling to women who need guidance or confirmation in their life choices.

Her customers love the experience.

'She [Tawiah] has blessed hands and a blessed heart,' said Roberta Wolfe, one of Tawiah's customers. 'She breathes life out of her mouth and hands. You can tell she loves what she does.'

Tawiah wasn't always in the beauty industry.

After high school, Tawiah's father urged her to attend medical school. She became a nurse and practiced for 13 years, but wanted to be more involved in helping women's self-esteem. Tawiah used her nursing experiences to create the line of hair products, which took two months. She named the line Diva by Cindy.

After the product launch in 2007, Tawiah received a lot of media attention. She was invited to Fox 45 television stations to demonstrate her products on models in 2012. Celebrities, including gospel artist Angelia Robinson, endorsed her products.

In 2004, Tawiah rented a beauty shop in Baltimore County, hired hairstylists and used her products on clients. Tawiah, however, wanted to be more involved in the community.

Her husband, Samuel, suggested that she provide victims with a day of relaxation. Tawiah called the effort the Diva Project and immediately contacted domestic violence centers. Tawiah chose 10 women to come to her shop. Tawiah said she selected these women for a reason.

'They have been through the worse of the worse situations,' she said.

The women received free hairstyling, manicures and counseling from community volunteers. After the event's success, Tawiah decided to host the Diva Project twice a year. The Diva Project's 10th anniversary was held March 30 at Fortis Institute in Security, Md.

This year's event kicked off with a continental breakfast and hair services provided by cosmetology students and professionals. Make-up artists and nail technicians also offered their services to the women. Kenneth Epps, a professional photographer, took the women's photos once their makeovers were complete. As a keepsake, Epps gave each woman a copy of the photos.

But this wasn't enough for Tawiah.

'Now that you look good on the outside, I want you feel good on the inside,' she said at the event.

Tawiah introduced Gwendolyn Close from My Sisters Place Women's Center, a facility that provides services to victims of domestic violence. Close told the women how to find jobs, shelters and other assistance once leaving an abusive partner.

Tawiah also invited relationship expert CJ Gross to help the women move on from their abusive relationships and become productive individuals in society.

Tawiah invited singers and dancers to performing between speakers. The event ended with a showcase of the women's makeover and a soul train dance.

'Tawiah looks forward to the next Diva Project in October.

'I hope the event will spread nationally,' she said.