June 2013

LeAnne Velona

The Beauty Professional| by Fred Jones


Our Voice Is a Powerful Tool

This month's Stylist provides the reader with insightful ideas and helpful tools of our trade, focusing on behind-the-chair and entrepreneurial programs and devices. I want to focus on a tool in the stylist pouch that most industry professionals never consider: industry advocacy.

At the national level, everyone in beauty has a voice through the Professional Beauty Association (PBA). However, most of the legal and regulatory action governing salons and beauty services are set and enforced at the state level. That understanding led forward-thinking stakeholders in my state of California to begin the Professional Beauty Federation of California (PBFC). They were tired of our policymakers and regulators doing things TO us, preferring instead that these elected and appointed officials begin doing things FOR us. We have made considerable strides in this quest.

The final Monday of April was my organization's 13th annual "Welcome to Our World" (WOW) showcase. This event replicates what began at the national level -- now led by PBA -- back in Washington, D.C.. We stage our event in a huge tent right on the steps of our state capitol building. And the couple of hundred Legislators, staff, regulatory officials and industry VIPs who attended our event this past April 29 were simply WOW'ed!

This annual gala has become a major tool for our industry to help policymakers better understand the intricate world of beauty. As I make visits in our state capitol, I am regularly asked "When is this year's WOW?" This engenders positive feelings toward me and our industry, opening up hearts and minds to our policy priorities. WOW has become one of the most popular and eagerly anticipated lobbying events at our state capitol.

Every April for the past 13 years, the PBFC has lured elected and regulatory officials into our spa oasis by offering them complimentary beauty services. And while they are our captive audience, our professional volunteers and organizational leaders converse with these decision-makers in this intimate setting. We have the rare and valuable opportunity to explain the pressing policy and regulatory issues facing beauty schools and students, individual licensees and salons, and other industry stakeholders.

This year, our state legislature has been considering legislation dealing with the regulatory oversight of beauty colleges and the possibility of creating advanced and sub-licensed certifications beyond the scope of our current, licensed categories. Given these policy reform initiatives have serious implications for the education, training and livelihood of many beauty professionals, our input to policymakers has been critical. Our unified voice has proven pivotal to the final outcome of major new laws and rules governing our sector of the economy for the past decade, and this year will be no exception.

The 500,000 licensees of California greatly benefit from PBFC's activities and presence. We have no hidden agenda, nor do we pursue reforms that will benefit one segment of our industry at the expense of another. As such, we can boldly and clearly articulate the true priorities and perspectives of all beauty stakeholders. As a result, we have established strong working relationships of trust with policymakers and regulators, alike.

If you live in a state that hasn't yet organized, consider starting your own coalition. Search for like-minded stakeholders who span all sectors of the beauty industry who can comfortably coalesce around issues of transcendent importance. If you would like help, I'd be happy to provide insights and direction. Know at the outset that while government action can move at glacial speed, advocacy work is surprisingly simple. After all, who knows the industry you will be advocating for better than YOU?!

As a salon professional, you have to think beyond your immediate circumstances. There are many forces at play in the success or failure of your chosen beauty career or business, including those that reach beyond the technical skills and equipment used behind the chair or in the back office of your salon. And there are tools that could be brought to bear on some of the most important influences that come from outside your salon. Consider raising your sites and joining a united chorus of beauty professionals in your state. Only then will your voice be clearly and loudly heard by the elected representatives and appointed regulators who set and enforce the rules that govern your beauty business.

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.