I was honored to be asked to present two classes at America’s Beauty Show with Cosmetologists Chicago, and while I was there I was able to see some friends and attend some classes myself. One of those classes combined both friends and learning when I attended one of the Intercoiffure classes with an amazing panel including moderator Andreas Zafiriadis and panelists Larry Silvestri, Debra Penzone, Denise Provenzano, and Frank Gambuzza. All of the speakers were amazing as I said, and Denise Provenzano of Zano’s Salon shared something that became the catalyst for this blog.
She shared the story about how she opened her first salon, and the fact that she had been working for another Intercoiffure salon owner. She shared that, she did it right: she went to the owner and shared with them that she was going to be opening a salon, because she knew having his support would make this easier versus worse. And because she did not take any staff, or steal guests and gave the right amount of notice for the salon, she had the owners support and counsel, ultimately even becoming president of Cosmetologists Chicago. As I sat there and listened, I realized I never did that! And it got me thinking, “what else have I never done as a hairdresser?"
In my career I have opened and owned four salons, and though I have worked at other salons like Arrojo, Cutler, Glemby, Hair After, and Safari, to name a few, I never left them and opened a salon. All four salons I opened were opened in towns I had never worked in, and in towns in which I never had a single guest when we opened. Not in Princeton, NJ; Bethlehem, PA; Allentown, PA; or Nazareth, PA. This good karma, though, has not prevented me from being the recipient of employees leaving and opening salons without my knowledge, and even downloading databases. I’ll tell you I held my head high after hearing Denise.
Once in my career I worked for someone whose boss was known to be verbally abusive, even disrespectful to people publicly in meetings they lead. The boss was a very successfully leader at the time, and even could have a reputation like someone like Steve Jobs, but not in the good way. Early on in my career, I saw friends who were willing to work in big name salons, that were also known to be abusive in their environments. Some were a system of what might be considered “hazing”, others were just mean and some bosses were simply bullies. I realized I had a choice and if I was not happy that was my choice, too. I still remember telling my boss, one time after a meeting where a team member was berated, if that person ever did that to me, I’m out of here. I also did not take a job with a very big company at the beginning of my career because the person I would have reported to was also known to be mean and bully people. When offered the job by another team member I explained I was a good person and a good person deserves me. The team member understood and did not argue. Today there is too much personal disrespect, but worse to me is to stay or support people who don't deserve respect.
I was in a large chain sandwich shop one time and I was the only person in the store, with a late teen to early-twenties woman who was working behind the counter. It was a week day, not in the summer so it is probable that this was her full-time job. I waited as she came over to the “order here” spot, complaining about her hat, then the gloves, how the bread was located when looking for the one requested, how she needed to cut it, etc. By the time she finished making my sandwich and she handed it to me, I handed her my credit card and said to her, “you should quit”. She looked at me and I said, “obviously anywhere but here is better.” Pride, Respect and Honor, they can’t be taken away, or purchased, they can only be given or thrown away and earned. I have never worked for a place I was not proud of or on a team I was not proud to be on. But that doesn’t mean I was always join the sexy team at the time. I was at Logics the second year joining in 1988, Wella when the head quarters was in Englewood, NJ in 1992, Redken in 1998 as an Exchange Facilitator the second year the Exchange was in NYC. In 2009 I moved within L’Oreal to Matrix from Redken and finally joined the Goldwell team in 2013 when National meetings still meant only about 50 team members were there. None of these teams were the right place, right time, at the time, but they were definitely all proud and knew who they wanted to be and I was lucky and proud to be part of their successes.
I know many systems have guidelines for training and lengths of time one might expect to be an assistant, or an entry level artist or hold any position before moving up. I too had those time lines in front of me when I entered the industry and so did people like the great Gordon Nelson, who passed away about a year ago. People like Gordon Nelson used to attend education training five nights a week, instead of the required one night per-week. He completed his training at Vidal Sassoon in the 1960’s faster than anyone else, from zero training to qualified stylist on the Sassoon team. Gordon didn't wait his turn, he earned the right and pushed his way onto the team, the right way. I taught in England at 23, Germany at 24 and I’m not that special. Anthony Mascolo, was leading Toni & Guy at a young age, and so was Jenny Balding when she was artistic director for Rita Rusk. Ammon Carver was artistic director at Matrix by 30. For some, competing, working abroad or editorial work can be the key to getting the right attention, but every time it is a strong work ethic, craftsmanship and skill that earns the right to not only be at the top, but stay there, too.
I have colored my hair most of my life and I have never really “cut” my hair. Over the past 16 years I have donated my hair four times, giving away about 18” of hair each time. I tend to grow my hair really long and then cut it almost to the scalp, and repeat, and with 16 years being a little more than half my professional career, that is a lot is constant change. I have other friends that realize the opportunities and fun that come with not looking the same. And where mine is an evolution inspired by raw growth of the hair, friends like Sonna Brado, owner of Jaazz Salon in Spokane, Washington and KMS artistic director, make an art of change. I have known Sonna for about five years and every year her hair is a different color, different shape, different style, different vibe, different everything. It always works and she never loses Sonna or gets lost. Check her out on Facebook, it’s truly inspiring. Then there are people like Dominique DeFrancesco who inspired her salon's team to all change because as hairdressers if we don’t inspire our guests or our team or even our industry to change, we get stuck fast.
I would love to hear things you have never done that has helped add to or be the catalyst for your success. Next month, I’ll be back (did you hear that like Arnold said it?) with 3 Things All My Successful Friends Do.