May 2009

A Career Beyond the Salon

By Carmine Minardi

Hairdressing is such a rewarding career on so many levels. Helping your clients look and feel great brings positive energy back to you every time you make their day a little better.

However, one of the greatest opportunities a career in beauty offers is the ability to spread your wings beyond the chair.

Both my wife Beth and I have been very fortunate to wear many hats and experience many different facets of the beauty industry. But, we’ve always continued to work behind the chair to stay real, authentic and close to our team and our clients. Here are some perspectives I’ve developed as we’ve learned and grown in this adventure. This information may help you determine where your own career path might lead you.

Salon owner: Becoming a salon owner is a natural step for many beauty professionals. As a salon owner, you not only want to think of yourself as the team leader and business expert, but as the head cheerleader and chief mentor for people who are just starting out.

Paying it forward by helping others succeed is the most valuable contribution you can make to the industry. But don’t let the concept of “salon owner” be limiting; there are endless possibilities. You can open multiple salons. The training you do with your team doesn’t have to be limited to cut and color, but you can teach how to consult, speak and how to present their image. You can reach beyond your own salon, travel to trade shows, and bring back different ideas to share with your team and clients. And above all, you can set the tone and culture for your company.

Product developer: Over the years, Beth and I have had the good fortune to help create haircolor, care and styling lines for some of the largest beauty product companies. In those cases, we came up with a great idea, gave it to the research and development teams, chemists and marketers and they brought our ideas to life. That was fun.

Many beauty professionals think about the fantasy of creating products, and it’s doable for anyone. However, you have to realize how much time, effort and money you’ll need to invest. One option is to work with one of the private label companies and create a line for your salon. Today, there are many good companies and they can provide you with a turnkey program from formula development through final packaging and in many cases, even marketing materials. Your risks are much lower and you can get to market quickly. With a large enough client base, it can be financially rewarding, as well.

On the other end, you can create a national line, but you need to be prepared to make a huge investment. We began work on our product line many years ago. The process has been long and arduous and filled with many, many lessons about every aspect of product development from getting the right business plan to fine tuning formulas and fragrances and packaging to making our products’ unique story a reality.

We never thought it would take so long. But now we have wonderful formulas that we have been testing in our own salon on our most discerning clients and we all agree that they’re winners. If you decide to create a product line on any level, what’s most important is that you be brutally honest with yourself and have people around you who are brutally honest, then set your benchmarks and make sure your products are truly better at every level.

Educator: Beth and I have been educators for more than 20 years. We’ve done it all — from leading the education programs for major manufacturers and lines, to headlining major international events to hosting our own annual Minardi Beauty Focus —we just finished our 22nd!­—to offering DVDs, webinars, books, shadowing programs at our salon, small roundtables and almost every other educational format you can think of. We truly listen to what beauty professionals ask us for and work hard to create the programs that give them the content that will make a difference to them.

Whichever type of educator you’d like to be, it’s critical that you have excellent diction, grammar and speaking skills, so it can be very helpful to take a class and practice. Those are also such important skills for your work behind the chair that the class will pay off in many ways. You also have to be able to communicate well with all levels of people in your audience; you have to tell your story so it’s exciting enough for the most experienced people and also so it’s understandable for the person who is just starting her career.

One of my mentors, John Chadwick, taught me that it’s important to speak as if each person in the audience cannot see you, explaining every detail step by step. Share tips, techniques, and ideas that are practical and usable for what they do every day behind the chair.

I also strongly believe that whatever format you choose, it’s important to love your audience. Make sure they know that you are there for them and want to share what you know to help them be better. Trust me: People can tell the difference. If they believe you truly have their best interest at heart, they’ll come to see you again and again, and when that happens, Beth and I are so humbled, but we find it the most rewarding of anything we do.

Carmine Minardi owns Minardi Salon with his wife, Beth, in New York City. Together, their careers include cutting/styling and coloring, respectively, salon ownership, education for manufacturers and their own Minardi Beauty Focus and product development, including the new Minardi line for care and styling for color treated hair. For more information call 212-308-1711, visit or connect with them on FaceBook at MinardiEducation.

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