I started beauty school in 1996 and graduated in 1997. I was so excited to start my new career. I lived in a very small town, and the beauty salons were not exactly booming. But I felt I would be just as busy as my boss in no time. I started out as the receptionist, and when they had walk-ins or the other cosmetologists were busy, I got a chance to work behind the chair. As the years went by, my paycheck ranged from $40 to $180 a week. And I worked full-time. After two years, I decided to go back to college. So for the next two years, I went to college at night and worked during the day.
I graduated from college and was ready for my “professional” career. I worked in a cubicle for a medical billing company. I answered phones and sat and stared at a computer screen. I honestly can say I’m pretty sure I fell asleep multiple times a day. I just kept thinking to myself, How in the world do people do this all day without being bored to death!? After a year, my sister and I decided we’d had enough of our dinky town and headed for a larger city, Ypsilanti, Michigan. Our other sister lived there, and she knew of an awesome salon I could work for, Brown & DeLine. I went in for my interview in jeans, a T-shirt, no makeup, and hungover. As I entered the salon, I realized I was very ill-prepared for this interview. Everyone was dressed immaculately, with hair and makeup done perfectly.
Much to my surprise, the owner never said a word about my ridiculous appearance. She was kind and full of energy and life. She talked to me about the hair shows they attended, the vacations the salon would take together, and how everyone there worked as a team. They even had meetings to discuss how to make the salon better. I didn’t know this side of the industry existed. She hired me, and I was on my way to becoming a part of her team. I was so excited but very intimidated as well. The other salon where I’d worked was nothing like this. Where I was from, everyone wore blue jeans, T-shirts, and tennis shoes to work. And makeup, well, that was just never really worn. And most of the time, my hair was in a ponytail. Now, I knew I had to try to blend in as much as possible. So I wore my best clothes and even bought some new ones. I did my hair and makeup and held my head high. Every one of the employees was so kind and welcoming.
But, as time went by, I felt very much out of place. I went further into debt and regretted more and more that I’d come back to this industry. I had been there only six months and had not established a clientele yet, but I had completely lost my patience. So back to the cubicles I went. Huge mistake.
As I sat in my cubicle, the radio station was talking about a “Red for Reba” contest. And lo and behold, Brown & DeLine was coloring everyone’s hair red for the contest. Oh, and they were actually in the building next to me. Through the whole contest, I could hear everyone laughing and having a great time. And here I was, in my cubicle, staring at the computer screen again. I knew I didn’t belong here, either. I called Brown & DeLine, talked to the owner, and asked if it was okay if I came back. She agreed and even made room for me. I was ecstatic! I knew I had to make this work. I did belong here. I had to be patient and stay focused. So for a few years, I did exactly that. I worked afternoons and weekends. And slowly I built my clientele. After being behind the chair for a few years, I would see some of what I thought were my clients going to other chairs. I really didn’t know how to handle this. It really hurt. But I would smile anyway and go on with whatever I was doing. After a while, it really got to me, and I yearned for that little cubicle. It was boring, but I could keep to myself and not feel like this. So, I left again.
Back to the cubicle, back to hardly any face-to-face interaction, back to staring at a computer screen. I felt very comfortable at first. But, once again, I was empty. So bored!
I couldn’t keep going on like this. I knew I had to make a decision. I had to commit. I had to stay focused. So, once again, I crawled back to my former boss, and she graciously let me in. Finally, I felt at peace. I had to swallow my pride. I had to grow a thicker skin. This career requires you to be resilient. It requires time and dedication.
After having my second child, I wanted to work closer to home. I chose to leave Brown & DeLine and start work for a smaller salon. Everyone there was very nice, but it was much different from what I was used to. Brown & DeLine had more than 20 chairs. This one had six. I couldn’t see myself being content at this salon. I knew I would get bored—I was already getting bored. So, once again, I got in contact with my former boss. I asked her for some advice on where to go. I really didn’t think that going back there would be an option. She was very professional and named a couple of salons, but also let me know that I was welcome to come back. I sat on it for a while. I was so embarrassed. What would everyone say? How would they treat me? Would my clients stay?
After much contemplation, I sat down with my former boss. We discussed the events that had led up to this. I knew this was my last shot. I came back. I know others talked about it. I heard them, and it hurt. But I knew I did this. I had to prove to them that I belonged here. I had to hold my head up and the tears back to do what I came here to do.
As you can see, I’ve left this career numerous times. Sometimes it was because of my emotions, and sometimes it was because I thought I wanted to do something different in my life that didn’t fit in with this career. I didn’t realize how much passion I had for my career until it was gone. I have left and returned to the same salon three times. I knew that this was the best salon for me even though I’d made quite a few detours in my career path. I was headed in the right direction now.
Every day is an opportunity to learn something new. Do not ever stay content, constantly educate yourself, and reap benefits of your momentum.
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