Mary Beth Janssen chats with the NCA's executive director Gordon Miller about how it takes a village.

The National Cosmetology Association’s Executive Director Gordon Miller, has enjoyed a 28-year career in the professional beauty industry, including stints as a vice president at Pivot Point International and as president of Milady Publishing. For the last eight years, he has lent his talents to the NCA. Each position has allowed him to progressively “up the ante” in serving the beauty industry and more specifically, the realm of professional education

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“The last year’s work with NCA members has been life-altering for me. Katrina (NCA Disaster Relief Fund) work took me to new places. And we’ve now pulled in almost $1 million, with every dime going to salon pros. Then there is the NCA’s Salonlife event, (held in July) which is unlike anything our industry has seen before.



“All this comes from an awakening in me that the nonprofit platform of NCA has the ability to change lives. NCA, for me, goes to community, and the power that communities have, and to the idea of ‘it takes a village.’ We are a village more than 25,000 members strong, and we’re proving that when we’re unified and have strength of purpose, great things happen.



“When I came to the NCA, I think I had a core understanding of what they could do, but it wasn’t until I got here, and was exposed to the history, that I realized that at its core were all these great programs, like ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ and the ‘Cut It Out’ program. We’re seeing it now with Katrina—which is on the community service side of association work. The other side is meeting so many professionals and hearing their stories about how the association gave them an opportunity to meet new people and to create friendships and mentorship and connections that would not exist otherwise.



“Salonlife came out of an effort to figure out how NCA could best evolve its educational offerings to benefit people. Education has always been a core value of the association. But as the manufacturers and distributors and even salons have ramped up their own educational offerings, teaching all things hair, this did not seem like what our members wanted or needed. So we really started to listen about their everyday challenges and realized that one of the major challenges in the salon today is having a well-balanced, healthy and financially secure life. Salonlife ’06 was really built on the idea of wealth, health and happiness and the two sides of the coin—how your professional and personal lives are so intertwined.



“Going forward, now we’re reaching the understanding that there are few big opportunities that the industry as a whole has yet to tackle. We’re zeroing in on the retail opportunity. This will be NCA’s initiative into education this year. There’s a huge opportunity for salons and owners in particular, to have the vision to see that retail is what will allow them to change their model: to start offering benefits, to start offering paid vacation, to start giving people what they need to stay in this industry.



“If you look at chain salons or top salons, those who do offer benefits and those who do business in a bigger, bolder way for the industry—if you took retail out of the equation, their models entirely collapse. If you take retail out of the mega salon, the amount of cash that it brings into the business and what it enables the business to do, everything disappears. Even independent contractors can powerfully control their destiny and up their way of living and lifestyle by a change in their retail strategy.



“The opportunity is huge. When you consider that we have 800,000 people working in this business, and if every one of them sold $10 more a day in retail, that would be $8 million a day, or $40 million a week, or $2 billion a year more in retail sales. Ramp that up a few notches more and you’re talking about increasing the size of the industry exponentially just by shifting the focus of retail a little bit. And in doing that we’re all empowering ourselves to have better lives.”

Root Awakenings: Gordon Miller
Gordon Miller