The Real Combat Cougars in Maine are beyond fabulous! On Saturday these beautiful women—presently serving in the military, veterans and military spouses—got the royal treatment, compliments of Impulse Salon in Auburn. The owner, Jennifer Foster-Kritzer, a veteran herself, pulled out all the stops to provide new hair styles, color, cuts, manicures, makeup and Reiki healings.
The event was a stop on a national tour of duty for Shining Service Worldwide. The national organization, newly formed in New York City, supports and appreciates women in the military. The founder, Linda Franklin, partnered with local business owner and veteran Jennifer Foster-Kritzer at Impulse Salon to stage the first Maine military makeover.
Franklin writes a blog called The Real Cougar Woman, but it’s not about older women chasing younger men.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she writes. “A ‘Real Cougar,’ a term I coined in 2007, is any woman over 40 who is turned on and excited about life. The Real Cougar Woman is a fabulous female who is reconstructing the role of women today and will continue to do so for many years to come.”
“For far too long, women over 40 have been pushed to the sidelines,” Franklin writes. “You are mothers, business executives, entrepreneurs and teachers. You are a million things, but not the complete woman you have always wanted to be. Now is the time to change all that.”
The co-sponsors of the event, aided by a Maine team on the ground, staged the complimentary makeovers of seven women as a symbol of the appreciation of military women. The veterans, active women and spouses represented various branches of service.
Franklin, who recently launched this effort with an upscale event in a Rockefeller Center salon for Fleet Week in May, was thrilled to be invited to a newly opened salon that is the brainchild of military veterans. “The makeover mission is a way to appreciate women and to have fun, but it goes deeper,” Franklin said. An educational program and mentoring component for service women will be awarded following each makeover to a deserving military woman.
Maine was the first connection to the military for Shining Service. Franklin’s popular blog was discovered by women serving in Afghanistan last fall. The servicewomen and Franklin immediately connected over issues of women’s empowerment and a relationship bloomed. Their makeover mission proved a great success for the women who attended.
SSG Karen Macintire of Maine’s 136 Transportation Company, a security force, first posted to the www.realcougarwoman.com site last November. SFC Bethanie Mazzaro had discovered the site in a Google search and shared it with Karen, her “battle buddy.” The women were inspired by Franklin’s content that showed women how to empower themselves.
The Saturday makeover celebrated that connection. Due to the Maine women’s interest, Franklin launched Shining Service and will be doing events and supporting military women nationwide. The long-range plan is several more makeovers scheduled in the East Coast this year and a developing program to help reintegrate women to civilian life. The services of Kim Campbell, a retired veteran life coach, completed the day.
The women received a gift bag of Belegenza hair products, The Bina accessory and a Shining Service bracelet, among other wonderful gifts.
“This particular event was very dear to my heart because I finally got to meet Bethanie Mazzaro and Karen MacIntire, the women who found my blog while they were serving in Afghanistan,” Franklin said. “From the moment I received their first emails last November, I knew I had to do something to thank all the women for their shining service to our country. Being able to wrap my arms around them was something I had dreamed of for many months. They are an inspirational, funny, warm and wonderful. I am so lucky to have them in my life.”
For every Shining Service Makeover there are so many people to thank, Franklin said. She thanked Melissa Albert of Sweet Melissa’s Photography & Design Studio for her fabulous photos; Bina Brianca for her versatile, fabulous wraps; Belengenza for their wonderful hair care products; and Patty Tobin, the wonderful designer of the women’s signature Shining Service Bracelet.