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Root Awakenings: Sasha Rash

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 6:16 PM
Mary Beth Janssen talks to Sasha Rash about leadership.

Sasha Rash is a third-generation hairdresser and multi-faceted leader. Currently president of The Salon Association, she is also CEO of the popular La Jolie salon in Princeton, New Jersey, and last year opened The Lab Paul Mitchell Partner cosmetology school nearby. She holds strong views on what she calls women’s “web of influence,” mentoring and life choices.

“All I can really talk about is what I’ve done and found to be tried and true, which is to formalize the mentoring process. Everyone talks about mentoring, but how does it really happen?

“Three other women and I formed a foundation that we call ‘The Library is Open.’ We’ve created a formal network among ourselves and meet three times a year.

“We do really well with what I think is a new term for networking: to create and share our ‘web of influence’ with each other. The historic and corporate model has been to build towers of influence. This very hierarchical and male-centric type of model has served a purpose in certain scenarios; however, our holistic philosophy is about building webs of influence.

“We don’t have to have 3,000 people in our networking group to benefit each other’s spheres. We’re just a couple of people away from any contact we need. We continue to grow and ‘weave this web,’ bringing more into the fold as it becomes appropriate.

“At our meetings, we’ll focus on a certain topic, for example, creating and maintaining budgets, or on human resources. Then we’ll find somebody to spend the day with us talking about human resources. It might be a friend, a colleague or someone we hire. We’re getting good, one-on-one, intimate direction on various business approaches.

“As our industry becomes more of a ‘first choice’ rather than an alternative career, the demand for that kind of information is increasing. People interviewing for our schools ask, ‘What’s your management curriculum?’ Or, ‘How are you going to help me understand business if I want to open a salon in five years?’ Our competition isn’t each other—it’s the DeVrys and the local colleges, IT schools and other skilled trades. We have to get competitive if we want to continue drawing brilliant minds into our industry.

“It’s really about with whom you intimately surround yourself. This is such a key to your success, so choose wisely. If something isn’t working, then move on. There are hundreds of thousands of amazing individuals in the professional beauty industry.

“If somebody at a hair show comes up to me and says, ‘Wow, I’d really love for you to mentor me,’—well, you know what? When I hand you the business card, follow up! Because it breaks my heart—you have my e-mail, you have my cell, but I never hear from you again.

“Follow up in a meaningful and prepared way. You’re going to get out of your mentor what you give to your mentor. So be prepared to share and ask specific questions. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? What kind of a professional do you want to be?

“Maybe I’m not the right mentor for you. Let’s figure out the right scenario and then make it happen for you. This is my responsibility as an industry leader—to give back to my community.”

“It’s really just not about me. The big corporations would like us to continue to think it is about us. So it’s all coming back to consciousness. This is how we awaken. To become aware, to have a conscience.

“It’s also about this powerful industry we’re in where we can enact wonderful changes and understand how much awareness we could create as a unified industry. Developing this consciousness is constant and ongoing. There are a lot of people awakening and seeing the world for what it really is—one big web and its interconnectedness.

“The one thing that I leave with is really a question. What can I do for you? There are two things I strive to do as a leader: communicate and be of service. If there is anything I can do to help anyone, I’m here and want to do it.”

Root Awakenings: Sasha Rash
Sasha Rash
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