ABS, A Model of Latino Inclusion
Leo Rocco and Carlos Valenzuela
I walked the aisles and classrooms of ABS 2015, feeling proud of the number of Latino professional participating —including emerging Latino beauty companies and executives. How could I tell? I made my rounds with TV hairdresser star, Leo Rocco, continuously posing for selfies with adoring Latinas.
The fact that your business harbors no ill will, maybe even loves Latinos, is not enough to make them come and play. You must transmit sincere welcome signals and really put your pesos where your heart is.
We Latinos talk with our feet. We won’t say no to your face, we just listen, then walk away and never come back. On the other hand, if something becomes desirable, we follow like soldier ants to the anthill. When sincerity is sustained, the host’s next step is to hold steady and wait. It’s not a case of if you build it, they will come, more if you mean it, they will listen.
About fifteen years ago, Cosmetologists Chicago, Paul Dykstra, Vi Nelson, and yours truly set out to do just that—truly reach out to Latino salon professionals by creating Cosmetólogos Latinos, offering a true seat at the table with monthly classes in Spanish, translations to literature and ads, a yearly Christmas Posada, an annual America’s Latino Beauty Congress, which took place three years in a row. Still today, I am asked when the next Latino Congress is happening.
From the onset our goal was not one of selling a product, but one of inclusion, which is what an emerging market really desires. We envisioned a place where nobody is treated differently, because everyone enjoys the same acceptance. I saw this genuinely taking place at ABS 2015.
True, we were greatly benefited by ever-changing demographics. Today, we deal with second and third generation Latinos, who see no need for a specialized approach because they identify more with English and being American than foreign. The number of Latino salon professionals who do not understand English is small; this was not the case in 2000,
I rode back from ABS to my downtown hotel with a warm feeling in my heart. Perhaps equality and inclusion is just a matter of time, of letting things play out, and eventually, we might all be on an even playing field. Still, most of the companies that remain relevant today saw the need to push the envelope way back when nobody else did. Furthermore, who can wait around for that future great society? Who is blind to the benefits of multiculturalism? You need to do your best for equality on all fronts from the very moment you are reading this.
Congratulations, Cosmetologists Chicago and Cosmetólogos Latinos for holding steady and becoming a shinning beacon of inclusion. El futuro está a sus pies
Carlos Valenzuela: is a consultant, speaker, stylist, bilingual trainer, and author of iiFabulous Salon Success, an interactive online learning guide for new salon professionals.