Cutting hair for Cormac

MILL CREEK – If a person’s worth can be measured by how many people show up at a benefit for her child after she’s passed away, Shawn Swensen was a treasure.

Sunday, a silent auction was held at Salon Vici in Mill Creek, where Swensen, 39, worked as a stylist at the time of her sudden death of a seizure Nov. 13. Proceeds of cuts and styles during the day, along with the funds raised by the auction, will go toward the care of Swensen’s 5-year-old son Cormac.

Michael O’Leary / The Herald

Joanie Meyer, a stylist at Salon Vici in Mill Creek, gives a haircut to Kathy Sampson on Sunday as part of a benefit for the son of another stylist who died suddenly Nov. 13.

The place was packed.

“You couldn’t move,” said receptionist Kelsey Sampson.

As of 3:30 p.m., about $5,000 had been collected on silent auction items, including $1,000 for a cruise on Lake Washington and Lake Union and $700 for a dental-care package. Another $4,000 to $5,000 was estimated to still be collected.

More than 60 people made appointments to have their hair done during the day, with all the proceeds going to Cormac’s care. One customer offered $500 for a cut and style, another $200.

“This is just incredible,” said Cathy Swensen, Cormac’s grandmother. The boy will live with his grandparents, with the father’s consent, she said.

Shawn Swensen’s father, John Swensen, said he wasn’t yet sure if she had life insurance. She had a long-standing condition involving brain stem aneurysms, friends and family members said.

The money raised will help to pay for Cormac’s upbringing and college, his grandparents said. John Swensen, 58, is a retired baker now working in real estate. The boy has been taking his mother’s death hard, he said.

“Everyone’s been just pouring out their heart,” Swensen said, nearly choking up at the support his family has received since his daughter’s death.

Shawn Swensen, who lived in Lynnwood, was a special person, said her co-workers and clients at the salon, who described her as friendly, funny, loyal and generous. She was also a devoted single mother, said Kathy Sampson, who had her hair cut by Swensen for the past 10 years.

“She was just the sweetest soul,” Sampson said.

Swensen was always asking how friends and family were doing, Sampson said. Swensen got the receptionist’s job at the salon for Sampson’s daughter, Kelsey.

Those who work at the salon are a close-knit group, employees said.

“Coming into Salon Vici is like coming into the salon version of ‘Cheers,’” said stylist Joanie Meyer.

Meyer, also a single mom, and Swensen had a special bond, she said. They’d often go out to dinner with their children, she said.

The benefit event was therapeutic, Meyer said. “If we couldn’t do this, it would be more difficult. This is good for our soul. We just loved her so much.”

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or

You can help

For more information on Cormac Swensen’s benefit fund, call Salon Vici at 425-379-8424.

You can help

For more information on Cormac Swensen’s benefit fund, call Salon Vici at 425-379-8424.

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