Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA
Industry Icon: Ann Mincey
An Early Job: When I first moved to California I sold pre-planned funeral arrangements over the phone. This job lasted only two days.
Now reading: “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn
Your Favorite Day: Any day down at the beach in Laguna with no plans for the day and my hubby by my side.
Hidden talent: Comedy? I think I am funny but not everyone agrees.
Day-off pursuits: Sleep and exercise
Title of your autobiography: “From the Cornfields to the Stage”
Anyone having the good fortune to run into Mary Wilson this summer can wish her “Happy Anniversary” as she celebrates thirty years in the beauty industry in June.
Wilson, Vice President of Marketing at Farouk Systems, says that she always wanted to be a hairdresser and she found early inspiration close to home. “My Mom was a hairdresser and she worked in a two chair, back-of-the-house salon doing shampoos and sets all day long,” says Wilson. “The coolest thing I ever saw was the day my grandmother, who wore her very long hair in a braid and twisted into a knot, released this braid and decided to get a short, pretty style. Watching large amounts of hair drop to the floor and seeing the transformation of my grandmother, who looked so beautiful, was amazing to me.”
Today, Wilson gets the same thrill at seeing beauty school students transform their lives with their license, or in teaching about the many paths available in the beauty industry, and in bringing products to market that will make a difference for a hairdresser. This enthusiasm has been a through line in a career that offers a lesson in risk-taking and staying open to opportunity.
After cosmetology school, Wilson moved to Los Angeles to work in field sales for L’Anza. By the time she was 27, Wilson was Vice President. “I learned so much because I remained willing to push for new experiences and to try new things, even if I didn’t feel fully comfortable. I think you really have to be brave enough to acknowledge what you don’t know.”
Her stint with L’Anza introduced her to regional and national education, to marketing, to international travel and, most importantly, to her husband, Philip Wilson. Soon, they would start their own company, Wilson Educational Productions, working with distributors, spearheading their shows and events and creating training programs. “But as soon as the ink was dry on our brochure, we were approached by Redken to be Artistic and Training Consultants.”