HIGHLAND PARK – Rahsaan Settles was devastated when a mini-van crashed into his Highland Park hair salon and spa April 13.
He wasn’t sure where he and employees would work, how they would maintain their clients or pay the bills.
But local hair stylists and barbers stepped up and offered space in their shops for Settles and his employees. They were mobile for two weeks, moving from one salon to the next – time that could have meant that the difference between staying on track or falling behind financially for
To say “thank you,” Settles is hosting a re-grand opening from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at his salon, Michael Bianc at 324 Raritan Avenue.
The event, themed “Respond. Rebuild. Relaunch.” is open to the public. There will be free sushi donated by Midori Sushi in Highland Park, wine, art on display by local artist Jonathan Horowitz and live jazz music by borough residents The Vincent Tioyani Jazz Trio.
Settles said he will also make a special announcement during the event.
“It’s a celebration to acknowledge anybody or groups of people who were involved in working with us – from our customers to local businesses,” Settles said. “Our salon was down for so many months, but we made it. We want to give thanks and show our appreciation. It’s an example of how community can come together.”
Settles and his staff used donated space at Everybody’s Barber Shop, The Loft Salon, Rutgers Barbershop and The Hair Company.
“It was a situation where you thought people would mind their own business, but it was exactly the opposite. If only one person is successful, then no one wins that way. Everyone came together and saw the big picture. I was surprised, because they could have been my competitors. It made me feel good,” Settles said with pride.
Paul Lanaris, acting executive director of Main Street Highland Park, the non-profit that promotes businesses along Raritan Avenue in the borough, said a sense of community is one of the beauties of a small town.
“Highland Park is a tight-knit community – from our business owners to our residents. When one person is in trouble, we’re all in trouble. We step up to help out because we’re one town striving for the same goal – making Highland Park a great place to live and work – and this is a perfect example of that,” Lanaris said.
Settles said he didn’t think twice about having the celebration on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers, in Pennsylvania and The Pentagon.
“We’re going to use this as an opportunity for power,” he said. “What tests us is not how we deal with joy, but how we deal with tragedy. Let’s move together boldly and strongly because that’s what will sustains us.”
Settles’ father is a pilot, who was flying when the attacks took place. He has two brothers – one who was working in Manhattan on Sept. 11 and one who was a student at Howard University in Washington, D.C. during that time, so he knows how blessed he is that tragedy didn’t strike his family.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!