Ubuntu Hair Studio in Solana Beach makes an international impact thanks to local generosity

Solana Beach colorist and stylist Serena Jenichs recently took a “voluntourism” trip, funded completely by gratuities from Ubuntu Hair Studio clients in Solana Beach. Ubuntu’s commitment to its mission nurtures generosity that builds “bottle schools” and strengthens communities in Guatemala. Thanks to its clients’ generous gratuities, Jenichs’ trip expenses were covered. The expenses included her hotels, transportation, meals, and tours. Leftover donations were sent to the 100 percent non-profit organization Hug it Forward to build more schools. You can find out more at about how to plan your very own group trip.

Jenichs joined other Solana Beach/Encinitas locals, Rotary Club members and the Hug It Forward organization to help strengthen the infrastructure of education for the people of Chisunuc in San Martin Jilotepeque, Guatemala. The “bottle schools” are built using plastic bottles filled with inorganic trash. Hug It Forward empowers communities to build their new bottle school and provides an Environmental Education Program to expand upon healthier, more eco-friendly living.

How was Ubuntu connected to the opportunity? On April 27, 2012, Joshua Talmon, secretary/treasurer on the Board of Directors for Hug It Forward, came into Ubuntu Hair Studio for a haircut with Jenichs. Through conversation with her client, Jenichs learned the mission of the grassroots organization, which connects funds and volunteers to assist the community of San Martin Jilotepeque in building “bottle schools,” made with the eco-bricks. Both Jenichs and Talmon were excited to learn of their potential synergy. Ubuntu Hair Studio clients donated gratuities from May of 2012 until January of 2013 for the “voluntourism” trip to Guatemala. About nine months later the trip came to fruition.

Along with mixing and spreading cement, sorting stuffed bottles and placing the eco-bricks in the walls, Jenichs and her group members created a funny educational skit. They taught proper oral hygiene techniques and passed out toothbrushes and toothpaste to the students afterward.

The communities that participate work together and feel a sense of ownership over the school. This creates hope for generations to come.

This volunturism trip to Guatemala was the first international volunteer trip Ubuntu Hair Studio team members and clients have manifested. Studio owner Dawn Ellinwood is inspired for future trips.

Ubuntu Hair Studio was founded in 2008 with an aim to shift the way consumers purchase beauty products and services. Meeting their commitment to service, gratuities or, as they like to call them, gestures of thanks for great service are passed on to good causes. At Ubuntu Hair Studio, they strive to make social and environmental change through the small things that they do. They use business as a vehicle to affect global change one client at a time and are committed to making a global impact by setting focus on contributing to humanity. They are a team united in “I AM because WE are.”

Serena Jenichs, Dawn Ellinwood, Vanessa, and guest stylists Yoshi and Louis have been fundraising at Ubuntu Hair Studio since day one through the No Tipping Policy, in order to save the confusion and uncomfortable feeling of wondering how much to tip. This relieves pressure and stress from the client. Many clients decide to add gratuity knowing it gets donated to Ubuntu Hair Studio’s five favorite organizations. In this case, they flagged a specific project to donate toward, as a volunteer trip. Clients thought it was fun and the salon was excited to have them contribute to a do-gooder trip.

Hug It Forward bracelets are available for purchase at Ubuntu Hair Studio ( A portion of the proceeds go to the Hug It Forward organization ( to continue with the building of “bottle schools” in Latin America. Serve the World Today ( is the organization that manages the trip.

Ubuntu Hair Studio is located at 109 S. Acacia Ave., Solana Beach, 92075; (858) 792-5959;