NEW YORK -- Isabelle Angulo spent eight months in Rikers Island after violating a probation from an arrest seven years ago, when she was 21.
She worked as a bookkeeper and office assistant before serving time and she worried if this latest stumble would ever allow her to get back on her feet again -- and if it would allow her to be a positive role model for her 3-year-old son.
A trial program Fearless Beauty is giving Angulo and dozens of other women at Rikers a second chance. Six months of cosmetology training inside Rikers, twice a week for 2 1/2 to 3 hours gives these women something to look forward to and a plan for their future.
“For those three hours it felt like I’m not in jail right now,” said Angulo.
Heather Packer is the founder of Fearless Beauty.
Four years ago, she began the nonprofit after 15 years in the beauty industry. It was during that time, she said, that she yearned for something more and had the desire to help others.
Packer, however, didn’t start at Rikers.
She began her cosmetology program in a small village in India, teaching at a vocational school for several months a year. That school and those students students are now running the Fearless Beauty program on their own.
In New York City, after a year of planning, the city’s Department of Corrections approved Packer’s request to help incarcerated women at Rikers and they’ve been invited back for a second run to begin in January 2019.
“The Fearless Beauty program is a powerful example of the city helping to provide women in custody with employable skills and the confidence necessary to start the next productive phase of their lives when they return to the community. The program is also evidence of the city’s enormous expansion in programming available for people in custody," DOC spokesman Peter Thorne said in a statement to PIX11 News.
Angulo was released from Rikers in June and she is the first from the Fearless Beauty program to leave the jail complex. She is set to begin furthering her beauty education at Christine Valmy in a couple of weeks.
If you’d like to learn more about Fearless Beauty or find out how you can contribute, click here.