Written by Elizabeth Millen
Photography by Elizabeth Millen and Lindsay Gifford
Chris Franco has been through extreme hard times, dealing with situations that brings one to their knees. Her middle child and only son, Christopher, passed away at the age of 35 on Nov. 5, 2014. While it was somewhat expected, that fact never eases the pain of losing a child.
It was a long journey. Christopher wanted to serve in the Army since he was a little boy. His life-long dream was finalized after serving 17 years in the US Army and being severely injured by bombs in Afghanistan. Returning to the US to recover, his progress was slow and painful, but possible. You can imagine it was the same for his parents.
As if that wasn’t enough, Christopher was diagnosed with spinal cancer, which is the last battle he ever fought. But, he did not do it alone. His mom was with him every step of the way, even retiring from her job in NY to move to Bluffton to become his caregiver in the last six months of his life, when he was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair as a result of surgery to save his life. In spite of the efforts, the aggressive tumors returned.
Filled with grief, Chris is determined to eventually live a full and joyful life again. “That is what Christopher would have wanted,” she said. Joining a yoga group and a group called Compassionate Friends, Chris is well on her way. This makeover is part of her healing. She saw our feature makeover article, where it said to write in if you would like one, so she did. “I decided to submit a letter and see what happened. I had nothing to lose,” she said.
While a makeover is no cure for grief, we certainly had a fun day doting on Chris and helping her look marvelous. Chris had fun, too, hanging with the girls and agreeing to changes she never thought she would agree to. It is true that you always feel better when you look fabulous! And, helping people look fabulous is master cosmetologist Lilia Westbrook’s specialty!
We met Lilia at A Beautiful You Salon in Plantation Park in Bluffton. The salon has recently undergone a lovely renovation, so we were welcomed by the sophisticated interiors and friendly smiles of the staff and owner Jeri Izso. Once Lilia met Chris, she formulated her plan and got to work.
First on the agenda was taking Chris from a blah-blond, which washed her completely out to a brilliant brunette, which made everyone’s jaws drop. Chris was a trooper in making such an extreme change, but it was the right thing to do. Getting the right hair color can take years off, and in Chris’ case, at least 10! Not only did the new, rich color subtract years, it also added depth, body and shine—a total win-win!
Next up was the cut. Lilia found the perfect style in a hair designer magazine, which we all agreed would look great on Chris, complementing her fine, straight hair. By adding layers, Chris’ flat look is now a thing of the past. When life seems flat, the last thing you need is flat hair, too! Rocking a new hairstyle, Chris was ready for makeup and the final touches. Lilia, who’s favorite part of her job is experiencing how people feel after they’ve had their hair done, pulled out the bareMinerals and went to work to make Chris absolutely beautiful. “Many believe beauty is only skin deep, but it’s so much more. When someone feels pretty, they also feel confident,” said Lilia, as she smiled at Chris, taking in her transformation.
With everyone happy, Chris and Pink Magazine’s Art Director, Lindsay Gifford, headed to GiGi’s for a fitting session. Part of a good makeover is getting out of your style rut and asking the pros if you’re wearing the right colors and styles for your skin tone and body type. The gals at GiGi’s always know how to make women look their best, and Chris was no exception. Stylists Helen and Emily Williams, helped Chris choose an oufit that accented her new look. After finding the perfect outfit, there were only two things left to do: take pictures and send Chris off to her friends and family to reveal her new look. Both went swimmingly!
With the help of A Beautiful You Salon, Lilia Westbrook, Jeri Izso, and GiGi’s Boutique, Chris feels like a million bucks. We are so happy to have made Chris happy, as she deserves only good things to come her way.
Book Your Own Style Takeover:
Hair & Makeup: A Beautiful You Salon offers a creative, relaxed atmosphere, where all the stylists have years of experience. With customer satisfaction always on the forefront, services offered are cut, color, styling, manicure, pedicure and facial waxing. Open Monday through Saturday, with some late time-slots available, appointments are recommended, but walk-ins are welcome. Lilia Westbrook can be contacted by calling 843-263-9230. Nail appointments can be made by calling Jeri Iszo at 843-757-6245. A Beautiful You, 30 Plantation Park Dr., Ste. 204, Bluffton.
Clothing: Gigi’s Boutique is the perfect place to find everything you need to look your best. With clothing, accessories, shoes and purses, there is something for everyone at GiGi’s. Open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., 40 Calhoun St., Bluffton. Call 843-815-4450 for more information.