Director of Marketing and New Product Development
Board member, ISBN
First job in beauty: Hairstylist in 1982.
Licensed: New England Hair Academy in 1982.
Three highlights of your career:
I’ve done so many wonderful things through the years—it’s not easy to narrow them down to three, but here goes!
1. Working for Sebastian Founder Geri Cusenza and with the Sebastian Artistic Team in the 1990s. It was truly a “golden era” at the company and in the beauty industry. It was a time of incredible artistry, innovation and entrepreneurial spirit and it was thrilling to be part of it all. I helped develop groundbreaking products like Cellophanes, Potion 9 and Texturizer, and the amazing hairstyles that went with them. We all believed at the time that we were a company of hairdressers working to help other hairdressers have more creative, successful lives and it was the best feeling in the world.
2. It was an honor to serve as the first female president of the International SalonSpa Business Network (ISBN). This organization is committed to helping salon chains grow, whether it’s a large chain like jcpenney or a smaller group with two or three locations. Everyone comes together to network and to exchange ideas, knowledge and insights. I had the opportunity to meet and become friends with many truly accomplished individuals within the chain salon segment—including SportClips’ Gordon Logan, Paul Brown of the Paul Brown Salons in Hawaii and Chuck Penzone from the Penzone group in Ohio. I was also proud to lead the ISBN in partnering with the Professional Beauty Association to work on government relations in Washington, D.C. Many people don’t realize that there are more hairdressers than there are union members in the AFL-CIO. We have the potential to be such a powerful force and I think we need to continue to explore that power.
3. I have had so many wonderful experiences and opportunities at jcpenney. It’s a blessing to work for a company with so many other hairdressers, and with a team that is completely dedicated to helping hairdressers earn a better living. Every day brings something different—I work with our vendors and with many of the other jcpenney departments, I direct photo shoots, I oversee the INOurSalon magazine that we co-publish with Modern Salon media for our 17,000 stylists. I attend industry functions on behalf of jcpenney stylists. The variety really appeals to me as a hairdresser! I truly have one of the best jobs in the industry.
Beauty legend you respect: Again, it’s hard to name just one. Certainly Sebastian founder Geri Cusenza—she was a brilliant, creative, genius hairdresser. She has such vision and I learned so much from her. I also have so much admiration for the late Diane Barbera, and for Terah Weeks and Jocelyn Zaco—all former members of the Sebastian Artistic Team. They were so talented and dedicated. I admire pioneers like Vivienne Mackinder, one of the first female artistic directors, and Lois Christie, the first female president of Intercoiffure. I admire leaders in publishing like Michele Musgrove of Modern Salon, Deborah Carver of Creative Age and Joan Harris of Canadian Hairdresser. All of these are self-made women. Nothing was handed to them and they all built incredible careers.
Choose beauty because: As my beauty school instructor told me, we have the power to touch people’s souls and change their lives. I thought I understood it at the time, but it really became clear when I started working behind the chair, then owned a salon. Then I saw another aspect of that power when I worked for C.B. Sullivan as an educator for Sebastian, and again when I began working directly for Sebastian, training other educators. I learned even more when I served with ISBN and now at jcpenney. I hope hairdressers understand that they really do amazing things for people. If you understand that and use that power wisely, you’ll have an incredible career.
Tip: Believe in yourself and be very clear about your goals. Write them down. Find a mentor. Be a mentor.
Quote or mantra: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”—Jeff Sullivan