The Darby Project: LGBTQIA+ Cosmetology Student Scholarship was created as a GoFundMe effort in February 2022 to honor and celebrate the life of Darby Backes. On behalf of Brian Backes, Diane Backes, Elizabeth Leary and WhiteRoom, we celebrate his legacy by establishing a scholarship in his name that is open to anyone who is identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and is accepted or currently enrolled in a cosmetology program. #thedarbyprojectLGBTQ
The first recipients of this opportunity are:
About The Darby Project
Darby Joseph Backes passed away in his sleep on January 5th, 2022, after a short unknown illness. Loved deeply and mourned by many in Minneapolis, New York City, Los Angeles and beyond, his passing at the unimaginable age of 30 invites us to celebrate and reflect on the life of a loving son, fierce friend, and trusted hairstylist.
Darby’s professional career began after graduating from the Aveda Beauty School of Minneapolis in 2013. Darby took his talents to New York City, with two suitcases, a few hundred dollars, and a one-month sublet. He went door-to-door handing out resumes and quickly found work at Mizu salon on Park
Avenue, marking the start of his illustrious 8-year career in hair in NYC. In 2017, he moved his career to Brooklyn, where he would eventually rise to the rank of senior stylist at WhiteRoom.
In addition to building an impressive, celebrity-studded client roster at WhiteRoom, he also taught classes on haircutting, gave free and discounted haircuts to the LGBTQ community, and donated his tips once a year to Transgender affirming surgery funds. As a gay man in New York, Darby was passionate about the queer community and was an active member of many party scenes and social groups.
Darby was passionate about making people feel beautiful and loved to help his clients express their identities and perspectives through cut, color, style, and texture. A stickler for technique, he strived for perfection in his craft and truly treated it as an art form. As a highly social person, he thrived when he was able to maintain genuine connections with his clients and kept hundreds of them coming back again and again.
He left this world having accomplished his dreams and was ready to tackle a set of new ones surrounded by the people who loved him most. Darby leaves behind his parents, his brother Nick, his dog Dagger, and a whole host of friends and clients whose lives were touched and changed by him, grateful we had a chance to bask in his magic.