When Paul Mitchell introduced a new line of men’s hair products and suggested that its salons promote the line with a calendar, Regina Leonard got an idea.
“A little light bulb went off for me as a way for me to do a bigger project for the [Lafayette Family] Cancer Center,” recalled Leonard, the co-owner of The L Factor salon in Brewer. “I see cancer every day, but men-related cancer doesn’t get a lot of coverage. I wanted to do something specifically for men with cancer.”
So at this time last year, she launched the Man Up to Cancer calendar project. That 2013 calendar is on sale now, with proceeds to benefit the Cancer Center.
“Everybody has been touched by cancer in some way. There are some survivors in there, for sure, but everybody in the calendar has a story to tell with cancer. We called it ‘Man Up to Cancer,’ so they wanted to take a stand.”
Four local professional photographers shot the calendar photos. Bangor native and noted mixed-martial-artist Marcus Davis offered his MMA fighting cage at the Bangor-Brewer Athletic Club for the shoot, where most of the photography was done.
“I wanted it to be a community effort and bring a lot of people together,” Leonard said. “Four different points of view, but I liked that; I wanted different points of view.”
And, ladies, this calendar is safe for work.
“I didn’t want it to come off as a ‘sexy’ calendar by any means,” Leonard said. “I’m not going for that vibe — more just men taking a stance.”
Although the project has been Leonard’s baby, everyone at The L Factor has gotten involved, with the entire staff posing with the men in their lives on the cover. This is nothing new for the salon, Leonard says; since its formation in January 2007, she and her business partner, Jodi Leighton, have championed many charitable causes. Every March, the salon hosts its Hair Show, a runway show featuring hairstyles, makeup, and fashion; money raised benefits a different charity every year.
“It’s just funny how you do something like this… and it really brings you together with people in the community,” said Leonard. “We’re a pretty close group [at The L Factor]. And I think that — I know that — the thing that sets us apart is really wanting to be involved in the community and giving back to the community.”
Leonard said calendar proceeds will be donated in the name of Nancy Knowles, the mother of one of The L Factor’s employees and wife of one of the calendar models. Nancy was at the calendar launch party and was at the photo shoot, and was a strong advocate in the fight against cancer.
“Cancer, in her words, pissed her off,” said Leonard. “So anything that we could do fighting it would definitely, I think, make her proud.”
Nancy died just a few weeks ago, losing her two-year battle with breast cancer.
“We lost a dear friend,” said Leonard. “This project meant a lot to her… I think all of us are really motivated to sell this just to make Nancy proud of us.”
Nancy’s daughter, Stephanie Knowles, a stylist at The L Factor, says donating the money in her mother’s name is an honor. “She would love that,” Knowles said. “With the calendar, she just absolutely loved every minute of it. When she was at the launch party for it, she couldn’t stop bragging about it and saying how wonderful it was.”
The calendar is dedicated to Sam Alexander, who succumbed to cancer in October 2011 at the age of 15, and the Cancer Center’s new children’s wing has a room dedicated to him. Local donations, such as from this calendar project, are important to funding the Cancer Center.
“We are very excited to have the support of Gina Leonard and The L Factor with their creation and promotion of the Man Up to Cancer Calendar,” said Jenifer Lloyd, philanthropy project manager for EMMC Foundation’s Champion the Cure Challenge. “As the region’s only funding source for research to support folks facing cancers of all kinds at Eastern Maine Medical Center’s CancerCare, we appreciate the calendar’s efforts to raise awareness… We are very appreciative of the critical dollars that this calendar will raise for research to support patient care at EMMC’s CancerCare.”
Leonard is already planning a 2014 calendar, the The L Factor will use its annual Hair Show to build interest in it. But first, Leonard needs to sell 800 2013 calendars by Jan. 1, which will mean a minimum donation of $10,000.
“I’m hoping to have a big, fat check to donate for our sixth anniversary,” she said.
You can get a Man Up to Cancer calendar at The L Factor in the Twin City Plaza in Brewer; Maine Savings FCU in Brewer; the Bangor-Brewer Athletic Club in Brewer; and Union Street Athletics in Bangor. You can like this project on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ManUpToCancerCalendar.