Henna artists crown cancer patients, survivors at ArtPrize Nine

GVL / Courtesy - Fox17 West Michigan

GVL / Courtesy – Fox17 West Michigan

Nick Kondyles

“Creating awareness and raising money are two things within my control,” said Lisa Fredericks, owner of Rosa’s Closet and advocate for the Michigan Ovarian Cancer Alliance.    

Rosa’s Closet, a retail clothing store in East Grand Rapids, donated 15 percent of its total sales Saturday, Sept. 30, to “Crowns of Courage,” an ArtPrize project that gives henna tattoos to cancer patients during the event. 

Crowns of Courage is a Michigan-based effort to inspire and celebrate women fighting cancer. The designers create henna tattoo art by leaving a stain on the skin of patients through a paste from the sonya leaf. The lavender-infused product leaves a tattoo on the scalps of patients usually for a duration of three weeks.  

“The whole purpose is to reidentify beauty for each of the women because with chemo comes not knowing who you are,” said Amanda Gilbert, head henna artist for Crowns of Courage and owner of Happy Henna Tattoo. “Our goal is to bring back the identity for these individuals.”

The Rosa’s Closet employees hope to have as many women as possible crowned and believe it is an important experience for every cancer patient to have.  

“More ladies have opportunities to be crowned when there’s more money for it,” Fredericks said. “They can be all the things they believed they couldn’t be because they had cancer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Both organizations offer services to cancer patients. Crowns of Courage involves a photoshoot with photographer Dave Burgess. The foundation collected 22 portraits, selections that are displayed at their ArtPrize Nine venue. 

“This project began a huge healing process, giving women love over themselves rather than fear of their diagnosis,” Gilbert said. 

Rosa’s Closet orchestrates fundraisers at least quarterly, including the family event called “Shaking Our Tail Feathers.” Their last fundraiser partnered with Hearts of Hope Dog Rescue to raise money for Kent County animal shelters.  

“Any clothes can be chosen to have donated and picked up by women in the community,” Fredericks said. “We also have a program for getting women back into the workforce. We have a very loyal customer base, and customer service is very important. We offer genuine connection. We don’t want customers walking out with something not fitting to them.”

Fredericks believes in keeping an educated staff and stressing the importance of making sales not just to make sales. As one of the owners of the store, she takes pride in raising money for cancer research and wishes to further the strides that have been made to help and inspire cancer survivors.