January 2013

LeAnne Velona

The Beauty Professional| by Fred Jones


Raising the Professionalism of Our World of Beauty

This month's theme is right in my wheelhouse, so forgive me if my passions get the better of me! By printing time, Stylist readers will have set their sights on 2013, possibly more than a few having made some New Year resolutions to improve themselves.

This is an excellent time to reflect on one's own beauty career/business, as well as the broader industry as a whole.

A career-long commitment to raising the professionalism of our world of beauty, including your own corner of this universe, would be entirely in order. And the reason is both simple and self-serving: a rising tide that lifts all boats.

If consumers are nervous about catching a communicable disease while receiving some beauty service, our industry is in peril. But if most beauty service clients are worried that the average stylist doesn't have the ability to get their haircolor just right, that also jeopardizes the economic well-being of all stylists.

You see, our industry depends on trust, and trust is earned by the safety, competency and overall professionalism of each individual licensee working in a salon. Our professional world of beauty products and services cannot be reduced to compliance with state-imposed safety regulations; but if we fail to honor those protocols, our individual and collective "bottom lines" will no doubt be reduced.

Harm to any beauty care consumer is harm to our entire industry.

Several years ago, state and county health regulators traced an outbreak of life-threatening microbacteria to a single nail salon. Needless to say that salon was financially ruined, but the economic impact was not contained to that single business. All nail salons in that region were economically contaminated, seeing precipitous drops in their revenues, as media stories highlighting the outbreak continued for weeks.

State Board and Department of Licensing departments were tasked to get in front of this consumer safety issue, and a comprehensive regulation package was imposed upon all nail salons.

The actions of a few in our industry can most assuredly affect the lives and businesses of everyone in the world of beauty. We are inseparably connected to everyone else in our economic sector, each stylist and technician, individual salon owner and franchisee, school instructor and student, and every product manufacturer, distributor and retailer.

Given our inter-connectedness in the minds of the media, public and government officials, we have little choice but to positively impact the industry in which we make our living. Getting actively engaged in raising the standards of our little corner of the marketplace is the duty of all beauty professionals, and there are many ways of doing this.

Joining a trade association is a good start. All Stylist Newspaper readers can and should add their voice by joining an association. Given that most laws and regulations governing salons are set at the state level, join your state association … and if your state lacks a single, clear voice for our industry, consider banding together with similarly inspired individuals who represents each sector of beauty and starting your own association.

You should consider reaching-out to your local beauty college and offering your expertise and assistance (on a voluntary basis). If you are a salon owner, perhaps you could form a relationship with a local school to have "externs" perform internships in your place of business during their schooling to enhance their training and prepare them for the demands of a modern salon. Individual stylists could consider mentoring or even formally apprenticing younger talent.

And, of course, you should also improve your own competencies and standards by regularly attending trade shows, helpful education seminars and other training opportunities. Continuing education is a hallmark of the true professional.

Allow me to conclude this New Year call to action with the immortal words of one of the greatest founders of our nation, Benjamin Franklin, and apply it to the role each of you can and should play in our industry. As the Continental Congress was preparing to declare our independence from the British crown, he urged the revolutionary delegates to stay united by stating, "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

Had the revolution been crushed by the Brits, the lives of each of those delegates would have been forfeited.

While the stakes are less than what the framers faced, let's each resolve here and now to "hang together" and do our small part to raise and maintain high professional standards. By so doing, we will alleviate potential concerns of our clientele, decrease the level of government scrutiny and oversight, and raise the earning capacity of all who make a living through beauty.

Fred Jones serves as Legal Counsel to the Professional Beauty Federation of California, a trade association singularly dedicated to raising the professionalism of the beauty industry. To learn more about the PBFC and receive further details about the subjects contained in his column, go to www.beautyfederation.org.