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Women's Soccer

Hair And Makeup Girl


UC Riverside women's soccer alum, Heidi Garrett, has traded her cleats for shears.  Now an instructor with the Trade Foundation, Garrett shares her talents abroad by teaching women who have been affected by sex trafficking the art of hairdressing.

The Hair and Makeup Girl, Heidi Marie Garrett, and the Trade Foundation are trying to change women's lives in Cambodia.“What would you do, if you didn’t have to do this?”

The women stared back blankly, without any idea as to how to answer the question posed.

A woman spoke up, “Hair and makeup.”

Summer 2002

Most of the boys stared in disbelief.  Some of them smiled, some of them even gave her a high-five.

None of them were actually expecting her to show up that morning.

But, there she was, standing at the steps at 7 am ready to go.  She was in it.  And she was in it for the long run.

As someone who had been playing club soccer for some five years as she headed into her freshman year at King High School, Heidi Garrett made a bold move to test her skills in another sport – a very different sport starring the finest young gentlemen decked out in pads, cleats, and shiny helmets.

“If you’re going to do this, you’re going to do this,” Heidi remembers her father saying when they discussed the possibility of her trying out for the football team.  “There’s no quitting.  You’re not going to be the girl that goes and plays and it gets too hard and then you give up.  I’m telling you you’re going to do every single thing that the boys do.” 

That summer leading up to her first-ever football season, Heidi did just that – she lifted weights, survived Hell week and double days and still competed with her club soccer team.  Between all of the practices, Heidi even found time to attend a kicking clinic on the weekends to prepare for the season opener.

“I loved the competition,” said Garrett.  “I loved having to prove myself.”

Knowing the unique circumstances under which she would compete, simply because she was a girl playing a “boy’s” game, warranted a warning from her father.

“Stay humble, and always remember why you’re playing,” he would say.  “You’re playing because you want to and because it’s a challenge and it’s an opportunity.”

Photo courtesy pe.com
Fall 2004

An opportunity presented itself the evening King High was playing Paloma Valley (Menifee, Calif.) under the Friday night lights.  After winning over her teammates as a freshman (she beat her coach in a kick-off), the now junior had more than proved she deserved a spot on the varsity squad.

King prepared to kick a field goal and out jogged Garrett.

Remembering back to the summer her father taught her how to kick a football, Garrett lined up and never once flinched, despite the Knights going for a 48-yarder.



It was good.

Garrett helped her team to a 24-14 win that night and became the kicker of the longest field goal ever made by a female– a record Garrett still holds to this day.

“I learned how to perform under pressure,” said the two-sport athlete who would go on to sign with UC Riverside for a coach who built the women’s soccer program from the bottom up, Veronica O’Brien.

Fall 2006

In Heidi’s first year as a Highlander on the women’s soccer team, UCR went 10-7-1 overall for a 2-4-1 record in the Big West just a season after O’Brien took Riverside to its first-ever NCAA Tournament.  As a freshman, Garrett netted four goals, with five assists for 13 points, good for second-best on the team.  Her three game-winners tied for the most on the squad that season.


Even when a season-ending injury kept Heidi off the field her sophomore year, it didn’t keep her coaches and teammates from naming her a captain.

“When [Heidi] sets her mind to something there is no stopping her,” said coach O’Brien.  “She takes pride in being the best at everything she does. She has a tremendous work ethic and has accomplished extraordinary things in her young life thus far.”

Heidi worked tirelessly to make her way back onto the pitch for a stellar junior campaign that saw 9 goals and three assists for 21 points, the second-best on the squad.

That fall, Garrett stood huddled in her mother’s kitchen when she said, “Mom, I think that God’s going to lead me somewhere overseas for beauty,” something that might sound out of place for the athlete who became a three-year letterwinner at UC Riverside and went on to play semi-professionally.

Her mother did not entirely understand at the time, however it came as no surprise that her daughter looked to pursue cosmetology.  Garrett had always been the one on the soccer field in full hair and makeup – sometimes spending hours before a game creating innovative updos or decking out her ponytails with ribbons and bows.

Hairdressing was a talent her parents had noticed when she was young.  Her father stopped going to the barber when she was just 13 years old and she has cut his hair ever since.

In the midst of playing two sports, neighbors and friends would solicit Heidi’s expertise for Prom and high school formals.

“Every dance season I was fully booked if I didn’t have a soccer tournament,” shared Garrett on her love for hairdressing.

“All I knew is that I loved doing hair and makeup and that’s what I wanted to do.”

With support from her parents, Heidi decided to attend a university before pursuing cosmetology full-time.  As she studied business off of the field and in the classroom, Garrett began unknowingly gathering the tools that would allow her to run her own business in the not so distant future.

Heidi completed her collegiate athletic career ranked fifth in the Highlander record book with 13 goals, 34 points and 96 shots.

While her noteworthy stats jump off of the screen, what might be the most noteworthy on Heidi’s Riverside bio is a quick note listed at the bottom: “likes doing hair and make-up in her spare time.”

Early 2013

Her parents fully supported her decision; there was a peace about Heidi that no one could disturb when it came to traveling to Cambodia.

“Mom,” Heidi said again, some five years after the first discussion in the kitchen, “this is that conversation.  It’s happening in real life.”

After a series of fortuitous events, Heidi was introduced to a nonprofit called the Trade Foundation whose mission is to restore victims of sex trafficking and abuse by teaching women the art of hairdressing.

Now a licensed hairdresser after completing the Riverside Community College Cosmetology Program, Garrett went a step further and became an instructor through RCC’s beauty school, allowing her the opportunity to be a part of the Trade’s team as an instructor heading to Cambodia in August of 2013.

So, Garrett geared up to spend three months in a foreign country with the hopes of teaching the skill of something she loves, to women who have a history of abuse in their past.

altShared Coach O’Brien, “The best way to describe Heidi is someone who really embraces her passions. Her passions are always in the best interest of positively affecting the lives of those around her.”

August, 2013

The Trade asked one day during a class, “What would you do, if you didn’t have to do this, [sex trafficking]?”

The women stared back blankly, without any idea as to how to answer the question posed.

A woman spoke up, “Hair and makeup.”

Heidi and the Trade spent months preparing lesson plans and schedules for the women they would have the opportunity to teach in Cambodia.

Partnered with a Cambodia-based non profit called Agape International Missions (AIM), whose roots are in the United States, the Trade is the next step for women who have been affected by sexual exploitation.  AIM acts preventatively, in rescue, and in the rehabilitation of young women who have been affected in one way or another by sex trafficking.

When Heidi and the Trade began teaching the women in Cambodia the art of hairdressing, salon business and makeup, the instructors were surprised at how knowledgeable the women were and how skilled they were at the craft.

Heidi and the Trade soon came to realize that the women they were teaching had been mastering the skill of hairdressing for as long as they could remember.

The women in the program had oftentimes worked in Karaoke TV bars, much like a club here in the United States.  For five dollars, men could purchase a Karaoke girl for the night – meaning the woman would accompany the paying customer even after he left the establishment.

The women were so used to doing their own hair and makeup for their shifts at the Karaoke TV bars that they excelled through the training sessions much quicker than the Trade had anticipated.

While teaching the skills needed to run a salon, the Trade’s instructors realized they had an even bigger mission than the one they had set out to accomplish. 

The women, used to hearing how beautiful they looked, had never had someone tell them they were beautiful for any other reason.  But this time, when the Trade commented on their beauty, it wasn’t directed at something superficial; this time it was directed at their hearts.  The Trade works from the inside out, teaching women that who they are as a person, matters – that inner beauty and the reflection of that beauty on the outside is a woman’s strength.

November 2014

Joining the Trade this January, Heidi will be heading to Siem Reap, Cambodia, to begin establishing a full service hair salon and beauty school.   The Trade will provide students with the proper training and education, including classes in English.

“Our goal as a team is to mold self sustaining women and provide them with the skill set and the confidence they need to succeed on their own,” says the Trade.

“We want our students to have a presence in their community that they can use to make ripple effects, inspiring new generations of empowered women.”

The Trade has been to seven different countries in four years and continues to tailor its courses to the culture and the women’s specific needs. 

While gearing up for her second trip abroad with the Trade, Garrett has continued to practice her own business, “Hair and Makeup Girl,” with which she does everything from hairdressing, to weddings and events.  With the ability to have a career in something she has been passionate about since she was a little girl, "blessed" is a word Heidi would use when describing the opportunity to practice cosmetology.
Like the foreshadowing  conversation Garrett and her mother shared in the kitchen, Heidi’s athletic past also led her to the Trade.

Said Heidi on how athletics has prepared her for her life now, “Being an athlete at such a high level in a way not only prepares you for things like being involved in an organization like the Trade, it prepares you for life.

“I think that when you’re playing soccer specifically, so much of the game is anticipation and really not knowing what’s going to happen next.  Having to go to a third-world country, you don’t know what to expect and you really have to be able to make a smart decision on the spot.  I think that mentally soccer prepared me for that.”

“What would you do, if you didn’t have to do this?”

The women stared back blankly, without any idea as to how to answer the question posed.

A woman spoke up, “Hair and makeup.”

For more information on the Trade Foundation, please visit supportthetrade.org and instagram.com/supportthetrade.
For more information on Heidi Garrett, please visit instagram.com/HeidiMarieGarrett.

Story by Olivia Phelps (@OliviaGPhelps).