Age in the Beauty Industry

S/W Ver: 96.B0.0AR

Cosmetology Graduation, June 1974

Last week I had a break in my schedule and decided it would be a worthy use of time to do a survey of what is considered, by some, an appropriate age to cut ourselves loose from the beauty industry.

I have watched, mostly in the background, as women come and go in this industry. Silently I considered when that time might be right for me. Down through the years, that time has changed as I approached the yearly looking-glass, and now I’m considering staying as long as clients knock on my door. Quite different from what I had previously thought. Possibly there will be some redefining, but it seems as if the beauty industry will always be a part of my life while on this earth.

I’ve tried to tell myself that maybe I should call it quits. But that’s just silly thinking. I’m sure it’s because of the days I spend waiting for talk to happen, in this new location that I find myself to be in, and hundreds to begin rushing to use my services. My newly formed business is building, but nothing is ever fast enough for me. I want to open the doors, and business pour in, as if it was just waiting for me to get there. Can you relate?

So…I decided to take a poll to see if anyone besides myself was looking down the road further than a couple of years. These are the questions I asked, and the percentages of answers I received, of the working stylists that would give me their time. Be prepared for a small amount of boring statistics. Some were with clients, so I asked permission to invade their time also. Amazingly enough, the clients wanted to participate in the questionnaire and asked to have a voice in some of the answers. So, here are the percentages from the stylists. Following will be a few comments from the clients.

Q1) Have you considered the longevity of your profession?

A. 90%  No

10%  Yes

Q2) Do you believe there should be a certain time to “retire”?

A.  90%  No

10%  Yes

Q3) What time would that be?

A. 20%  Between the age of 60 and 70

80% believed as long as they were physically able, they would continue to

work behind the chair.

Q4) Why?

A. 20% Not sure

80% It’s what they know and love. It pays the bills and they couldn’t see       themselves doing anything but.

Q5) Are you passionate about this industry?

A. 100% Yes. All that I spoke with said they were passionate about what they do. They love coming to work and they love interacting with their clients.

More than the questions, I enjoyed visiting with all those great, forward moving, gals. Each one had a special input that I will always remember.

One of the stylists that was so passionate about the industry, had previously worked as a product developement manager before going for her license in cosmetology. She spoke of the “trickery” in our industry to get clients to purchase over the counter products, as they were lured into believing what the manufacturer wanted them to see. She spoke of the levels of ingredients placed in various products, and confirmed what I tell my clients. “The less expensive a product, the less effective.”  “Laundry detergent will clean your hair, but damage the integrity of it.”  “A bar of soap will clean your hair, but leave a film that in time will build up and dull the appearance of it.” (My words) This stylist actually sounded like a younger me, with all the experience of my years. One of the things she said resounded with me. “You are the sum total of your life experiences.” As simplistic as this is, it is also very life-giving. Stop for a minute and consider these words. What do you want your life to exemplify? What legacy do you want to leave for those following in your steps? We can only speak wisdom of those things we’ve experienced. Right? She also made the statement that she believed herself to be a “chameleon of sorts”, having the ability to provide beauty services in any genre. Any age grouping, any life style. How cool is that?!

Now for the clients!

One in particular client stood out to me. She told the story of a family member, age 90 something…yes, you read that right! 90ish and still going strong. I laughed when she told of this dear lady’s endeavor at staying young-looking. I wish I had written her words down for a quote, but alas…I did not. However, I DO remember her saying this lady has had so many surgeries, she looks pretty much like plastic…but wrinkle free…and working the cosmetic industry with passion! Now, that is dedication and love of life.

Maybe my thoughts will change with time, but I can’t remember a time (thus far) where I have considered retiring. I may redefine myself in this industry, when (and if) my stamina gives out, but even the word “retirement” says death to me. I just think I would be bored to tears, or worse, depressed beyond words. Maybe that’s because I don’t have the financial means of traveling the world over. Maybe that’s because I’m not there yet. Maybe that’s because I can’t see myself without access to other human beings. Maybe that’s because I’m delusional. Take your pick…

Other clients that chimed in, simply said they would stay with their stylist as long as she/he was providing the services. Age was not a factor in that decision. Which makes me remember a very dear YOUNG man and his YOUNG wife, back in Oklahoma, that told me I had to keep going in this industry. His words were, “Even if you have to work from a wheel-chair, I will always be your client.” Now, I’m crying. I left them, to move to North Carolina.

Many clients won my heart while doing business in Oklahoma. Many…too noumerous to mention. Some were closer than others, but all very needed and appreciated. Librarians, Professors, Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Stay-at-home Moms, the Retired, the blue and white-collar workers, parents that brought their children for that first hair-cut, the toddlers, the teens, the Prom goers,the Wedding Party’s, the whole Families that trusted me with their finished look, and the Race Car drivers from Mooresville, NC. that came to see me while their coach was being serviced just down the road from my then business, South Side Salon. All loyal clients, that spoke into my life over the years.

So, you see…this is an industry that not only gives needed services to their clients, but their clients give back to them…more than financially. It’s a passion driven industry that can resonate with an “over-the-top” or a casual existence, or somewhere in-between.

Should we reach a time of retirement? Maybe…however, age is only a number, if our health is stable. We truly are the sum total of our life experiences.

Forge on Passionistas!