January 2009

Jerry Tyler

Blue Highways | by Jerry Tyler


True Success is a Matter of Choice

In these pivotal days, there is so much soul searching and unanswered questions regarding our industry and its future.

After enduring an almost three-year election cycle, there is new promise and hope for change, which has been given resounding approval by the most diverse electorate in decades. We are faced with a new frontier and the challenge to grow and prosper in the most uncertain times since the great depression.

How is it that in these challenging times, which to some seem insurmountable in there depth and scope, we can stand with such longing and assured faith that we, as an industry, can not only survive these times but can actually thrive? It’s happening every day as we speak. It has many faces and scenarios.

Can we do it? Yes, we can.

In September, traveling through Moreno Valley in the Inland Empire of Southern California to teach a class for Marinello schools, I was struck with the ultimate contradiction.

This area was one of the most devastated by the subprime loan crises. Along Alesondra Boulevard, on every two to three houses there was a foreclosure sale sign. Some homes were even boarded up. I felt like Tom Joad returning home to the ravages of the dustbowl in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.”

Pondering the uncertain future for the children who once occupied those homes, I entered the school to find a night class with close to 75 students and in the next room orientation for 35 new starting cosmetology students who had enrolled within the last 30 days. With the financial world failing them, these future industry professionals, through the eyes of faith, saw promise in a career that would serve them in good and bad times in our industry. The beauty industry is now their safe haven.

Many of these students have graduated and have told me they have salons to work in while other business aren’t hiring and are closing. Can we provide promise to a new generation of industry stakeholders in these times? Yes, we can.

A friend who is a celebrity stylist is currently opening not one but two new salons in high-end destination resorts. His statement so appropriate for these times, was, “I refuse to participate in this recession.” In an economic downturn, can we grow our existing businesses and expand our financial abundance? Yes, we can.

In reality, our mindset will guide us down whichever path we choose to take. Whether we think we can have financial abundance in these times or we feel we are doomed and tied to a sinking economy, either way we are right and will reap the results of whichever path to which you give attention. In good times and bad, true success is always a matter of choice rather than chance. Can we actually choose abundance in a time of scarcity? Yes, we can.

Another friend has a great saying, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” With the slowdown in consumer sales in retail, many malls and shopping centers are looking to our industry because of its recession-proof track record through the last three recessions. Many malls are offering reduced rents to new salons.

The idea of expansionism in a shrinking marketplace might, on the surface, seem reckless. But industry trade publications are continually launching new haircolor lines, professional haircare and hardware lines. Many of these are by new entrepreneurial industry leaders not bound to the big corporate companies. That means they are not tied to the stock market. Can we have new salon brands, colors and professional products launched at a time when corporations are firing their employees by the thousands and closing their plants and factories? Yes, we can.

The affect we have on people’s lives is similar to what the movie industry did for the country during the 1930s. While the films usually mirrored the reality of daily challenges America was facing those days, they always showed the promise and potential that existed. Sometimes this played out as fantasy as in the “Gold Digger” films of Busby Berkley and sometimes as a longed for reality as in the great films of Frank Capra such as “Meet John Doe.”

Our ability to make people feel good by making them look good can be a vital part of turning this thing around… one great haircut or facial at a time. If we focus on what’s right and not what’s wrong… with us and the world around us, then the promise and potential to all of our industry shareholders will be made manifest and we can reap untold new rewards.

Do I believe we can do it? Yes, we can.

Jerry Tyler’s column Blue Highways is his “Road Less Traveled” perspective on the solutions and challenges facing the beauty industry. Jerry Tyler has been a stylist since 1975 serving as the former artistic director for Vidal Sassoon Academy and currently as Director of Education for Carlton Hair salons. He is also a licensed cosmetology instructor and has served as President of the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.