Formula for Success…in a Nutshell

The year 2012 brought many things with it, and dropped it’s load of opportunity directly in my path. My eyes, nor my intent, never wavered…until I found myself in the thick of it all. Moments became days, days became weeks, and weeks turned into months, of having to summon up that very important ingredient to success…patience.

Yet, sitting here and reviewing the last year and a half, I find another ingredient to success…a greater one perhaps, has captured and destroyed, the doubts and questions of possible wrong decisions. That ingredient? Gratitude!Image

Gratitude is patience in action. Patience, a valuable commodity, will wait for financial gain instead of settling for actions that will separate us from what God has put in our line of vision. Memo: A good idea may be to write out what it is we are grateful for before heading to bed each night.

Formula #1: Gratitute = Patience = Timing = Success

Commitment is another attribute of success because it motivates us. It sustains us when we’re not sure whether our actions will pay off. It carries us along through the difficult times and vaults us forward during the good times. Commitment and motivation produces the courage needed to take action. The definition of failure? Waiting for others to tell us what our next step should be.

We must decide what our life is about, and tie that to our day to day actions. The more we understand our purpose, the greater our commitment, the greater we are motivated, the more action we’ll take, and the greater successes we’ll achieve.

Formula #2: Commitment = Courage = Action = Success

I have found, in my 40 years in this industry, there to be one more very important ingredient for success. That being our ability to connect with people.

Empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of another) lies at the root of every successful product and service. Without empathy, how can we know what customers want or need? Without empathy, how can we know what our product or service is worth? We must understand their needs, their dreams, their desires, so we can be a part of making them a reality. We must listen more than we talk. And when we listen, really listen. Admittedly, I have to work on this one continually. But, when I am able to keep my mouth shut and listen, great things happen. Connection happens, empathy happens, relationship happens. We should always treat others as we want to be treated.

Formula #3: Empathy = Insight = Relationships = Success

That’s it…3 formulas for success. Let me hear from you. Do you agree, disagree, or are you indifferent? Is there anything else you would add to this list?

Thursdays Thanks

I recently read an article about staying out of the hum-drum, down and out, lower than a snakes belly, sadly sobering depressed state of mind, that many slide into without realizing it’s consuming them, until they are fully shackled…*whew*…

One of the suggestions was to grab a notebook or pad, a pencil (no computer typing), and lay it on a bedside table. Each night before hitting the sack, list 3 things you are thankful for. Just 3…don’t try to over-do it. Upon rising in the morning, write 3 more things you are thankful for. That’s it!Elements Thankful pic 2

Before you know it, you will be focusing on the good things in life, and just possibly, the not-so-good will be obliterated, and rarely brought to mind.

SO…this morning, wanting to include my husband in this adventure of mine, I asked him what he was thankful for. Surprised at this inquiry, he hesitated. “Well, there’s a lot I’m thankful for,” he said. “Just tell me one thing,” I replied. With a cautious grin on his face, he told me he was thankful for a warm house. HA! That was also my first thought. It’s an easy one to think of while looking outside at the snow and knowing the cold it brings. Who wouldn’t be, right?

But to get serious for a bit, I’m thankful for him. Thankful for my Dennis. From the beginning of this journey in the beauty industry, my Dennis has supported me, rarely questioning my decisions as an entrepreneur (of sorts). The house and property we purchased (after being married a little over a year), had a much desired, attached 2 car garage. Little did we know that it was going to be a tool that God would use for so many things. It took me only 2 years to claim it for redesigning into my first, privately owned business. After $11,000 for the makeover (that was a LOT in 1978), supplies ordered in (more money), and a success plan in place, Mary’s Place was birthed. Thank you, honey.

We have traveled down several roads since those days, but looking back, I can see the stepping stones that were placed for us, because of my husband’s willing heart. Motherhood closed the doors of Mary’s Place for a few years…until Goodrich (my husband’s workplace) closed their doors at the Miami, OK. store, in 1986…then it was necessary to re-open the salon, until 1994 when we made yet another choice that would take us down a very long road. For the next 7 years our lives became a roller-coaster, then in 2001 we jumped off. Back into the beauty industry I went. I rented a space for 6 months, then left there, to open South Side Salon, at the tune of $10,000 just to get it up and running. I leased the building at 108 A South East, in Miami and it needed a lot of work before I could use it. After 2 short years, break-ins caused me to move the business to a safer spot. I found a building on North Main Street that boomeranged back to us after refusing the first offer. Within the first year, after using $6,500 of the businesses income to update the place, we purchased the building and the lot it sat on. I stayed there and continued to improve it’s appearance, inside and out. After 8 years, and a lot of building improvements (new roof, siding updated, new windows and doors, outside columns and steps, awnings), we made the decision to move to North Carolina to be closer to our girls. Where yet another business found it’s new beginnings…

And that’s another story for another time…today, I’m thankful for all the beginnings my husband has allowed.

Be thankful, Passionistas!

Imperfection

Elements Shining LightOh wow! I can’t believe I am still such a very self-centered person. A prideful, demanding, unrelenting individual. I know the principle of giving and receiving. Whatever we give out, will be what is metered back to us, at some point…usually right when we need it the most. “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” ~Luke 6:31 “Give, and it shall be given unto you good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.” ~Luke 6:38

As many of you know, I have made a 1200 mile trip to begin a new business in North Carolina, where I am virtually unknown. Yet, armed with confidence, encouragement, and the knowledge that God is wherever I find myself to be, we set out into the unknown. He would be the One I relied on when it got hard…as I knew it would. So, I put my hands to the task, the promise of a bright future within our reach, because of the faithfulness of our God. And, it was the only way I knew to live the rest of my life close to our girls.

Today, I find myself not as changed as I once thought myself to be. Sure, there’s been plenty of “storms” the years have brought our way. There have also been times of questioning God, even as He provided me with life’s needs. I have received so very much from the One who redeemed me so many years ago. Beyond salvation…

So, why am I so stingy?

Today, a lady came into the building where my room is set up for business. She has been around several times since last September, and each time has asked for a shampoo service. Just a shampoo. That’s it. No drying the hair, no styling the hair…just a shampoo. She has always made it known she never pays more than $4.00 for it and that one person even offered to shampoo her hair for free. Evidentially, she has had a health issue, making it very difficult to understand what she is saying. Yet she continues to make the rounds of all 20 plus stylists that have set up their own rooms in this building where I work. A couple have obliged her and took care of her need. But not me…

This is a business blog, so why am I confessing my shortcomings? Simply because we all are tempted from time to time, to ignore particular needs. We pick and choose our customers. I’ve always prided myself with the fact that I would turn no-one away. And up until now, it’s always been that way. I’ve had a man stop by that worked in gutters all day, mending pipelines. He was covered from head to toe with mud. Including his face, ears, and hair. Yet I welcomed him in. I’ve sat those in my chair that have mental disorders in the worst way. Seeing things that aren’t there, and suggesting things that concerned me about my own safety. I’ve had those that tried to steal from me, in my chair. Those that were rude, those that were smelly. Why could I not bring myself to cater to this dear lady? It surely does puzzle me.

If there is a next time…a time that God sends her my way again, she will have a place in my chair, and I will not charge her.

The reason for this post, is in hopes you who read it, will serve those that are sent your way…no matter what they may look like, sound like, or appear to be. I actually thought she was trying to take advantage of me. But it shouldn’t matter if she was. She was there for a reason, and it may have been a blessing in disguise. And I missed it. And I’m so embarrassed, knowing that God knows my heart.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may know your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:16

It’s rarely about us, Passionistas…

Ooooh…the Ambience!

Down through the years of working in the beauty industry, I have found that I am pretty much determined to have the area in which I am working, looking the best possible, with what I have to work with. It has always been important to me to have a place that I could enjoy and have my clients enjoy as well. My belief is that whatever we give our hands to do, we should always give it the best we have, with what we have to do with. I’m not entirely sure when all that kicked in for me. Some parts of my life seem to have conveniently disappeared from my memory.

So far, I’ve had three different locations in which I’ve built a business. But before I opened any of those doors, each had to be presentable and ready for people to cross the threshold with “oohs” and “ahhhs”. The open sign didn’t come on until I was satisfied with the appearance of the building (inside and out) , that I would be inviting my potential clients into.

To begin my journey in this industry, Mary’s Place was birthed in early 1978. Our double-car garage, became the perfect place for this adventure. I loved it there for many reasons. Just starting my career it provided access to my home where, in those slow moments of building a client base, I could tend to household duties. We remodeled the shop area only three times during those first 20 years of business. While there, our children were born, raised, and home educated. B F Goodrich (the tire company my husband worked for), closed its doors in 1986 only to find they had closed the wrong one. How does that happen? Many, not only weren’t eligible for transfer, but homes were lost…families split up…many declared bankruptcy. Yet, Mary’s Place still maintained it’s posture and continued going strong.

May 9th, 2002, we introduced our second business, South Side Salon and Day Spa “An Escape from the Ordinary”, to the township of Miami, OK. located at 108 A. Street S.E. Complete with large indoor fountain in the waiting area, hanging ferns…inside and out, a facial room, and 4 styling stations sandwiched in-between the pedicure and manicure areas. We, with several other stylists, were there for only 2 years because of numerous night-time breaks-ins. I’ll never forget the day I came in to town to open the shop, only to find my back door had been virtually destroyed by the intruders trying to get past the 3 different secure locks. We had renters above our business that were looking for money. Trying to find a way to get in and out easily, they had climbed upon the facial room bed (left nice footprints) and maneuvered the ceiling tiles around, to see if that might get them up to their room. Seriously? Did they not have a floor to walk on? The police then told me they were drug users that have a record. Nice…

So, I found a more visible place on the North end of town that faced the city’s main street. We purchased the building at 1829 North Main, gutted it (it was realllly old and nasty), drew up plans for what I wanted, hired our handy-man friend to “get er done”, and waited for my time to get inside to put the finishing touches on it. All the while, surrounding businesses and housing occupants watched with curiosity. A transformation was taking place like they never expected would. We rented for the first 2 years, then purchased in 2006. It’s not something I would recommend…to remodel a building while renting. It had always been my intention to purchase it, and I just couldn’t work in a place that wasn’t presentable to the public. But now I had given the previous owner a reason to up the selling price because of the value added to it.

Business grew quickly as we continued updating the exterior of the building. Grecian (anything that says Italy and the surrounding territory) has always been my style. S/W Ver: 96.B0.0ARSo large white columns went out front to support a new black awning than shaded the somewhat rounded steps, with beautiful concrete urns from Stonehill Gardens (in Missouri), to sit alongside them. Matching awnings went over every outside window. We painted the siding to bring out the lighter colors of the brick that covered half-way up the building. Changed out some of the windows, put a new roof on, added insulation, and completed the exterior with an awesome new double paned and bronzed front door (not the one in this pic) that didn’t ice up during the winter months. At that point, we decided the pedicure room needed a touch of class, so installed a beautiful Baja Fan and added some cane trees, candles and shelving. We brought our fountain from the previous location to sit between the waiting area and our work stations, and after placing the now huge Boston Ferns where they looked their best…sitting on columns…we were ready for anyone coming in our front (or back) door! And here we stayed until March of 2012.

It was in August of that same year when we packed up a few personal items for me and shipped a few business things to North Carolina. We had made the decision to get another business started before the holidays. That’s when Elements Salon, with the tag line, “Unearth Your Natural Beauty”, became a reality in Apex, NC under the umbrella of Sola Salons. Moving to a state where I was virtually unknown, caused me to choose a small suite, to keep my back-up money from disappearing too quickly.

Wall color (sticks and stones) had been chosen and applied. Flooring done, cabinetry installed, and all they were waiting on was my shipment to arrive so the fan from my previous business, could be hung. Everything was finished in a timely manner, and opening day came! September 1st, 2012 was a defining day in my life. Never did I consider what had taken place ever being a reality! I knew that within 6 months if I was going to make it in North Carolina. After a LOT of foot work distributing flyers and talking with the people who so graciously accepted my intrusion on their day, I began sticking close to the business. Hours were spent waiting for the phone to ring, or someone to look as if they were lost…at which time I positioned myself to accept a potentially new client. Almost without fail, they had no idea what they were to do once coming in the front door of the Sola Salons. They expected a receptionist, and found only a fork in their road (the entrance). You can turn right, or left, upon which you will find numerous rooms with either opened or closed doors. At last count there were 21 stylists in various rooms here. Each have their own business set up, as if Sola didn’t exist. Total confusion to the client. Where were they suppose to go? I took EVERY opportunity to greet them and ask if they were looking for someone in particular, or did they just need help finding someone to do their hair? And that’s how many of my clients came to be. The rest have come from word of mouth. The absolute best way to advertise.

Elements Relax pic

It’s been 8 and 1/2 months now since start-up here. Things are looking up, but I’m not there yet. Not to the place where I could support myself if needed. On many occasions, I have told myself to relax…it would happen in due time. I found this very appropriate sign to display as a reminder. Pretty funny, eh?

I had brought a few of my favorite things with me, from the shop in Oklahoma. A bust of a Greek God (or something that resembles that), was among the “have to haves”. Ha!

Also, a column that had been a booster for another column, that had one of my very large boston ferns resting on it, and had been the recipient of excessive water run-offs, which in turn caused a beautiful (in my opinion) stain that couldn’t be reproduced by man-made efforts. Yep, it had to come with me.

A couple of my treasures from Miami, OK.

A couple of my treasures from Miami, OK.

There are many elements that make up the whole. So, I decided to add some vines interlaced with LED lighting and various greenery, to help make the statement I was shooting for. My son-in-law put a couple of old boards together for me, on which I glued the name of the salon, and placed just beneath the vines. It turned out pretty good…right?

So, being the obsessive compulsive person that everyone claimDIY project with help of my awesome son-in-law of many talents.s I am (don’t want to disappoint), I must add to what is already here. My work is never done. 😉 It’s not that I necessarily go out looking for something to spend money on…it’s just that as I’m out and about, things throw themselves in my path and simply call attention to themselves.  My next purchases were a turn of the century lantern and an Italian looking bike. Which demanded a picture or some sort of accent behind the accent. Sitting up against a bare wall, just made it look lonely.

Love is all you need

Love is all you needElements Fan

The only fountain I could fit in Suite 117

The only fountain I could fit in Suite 117

I’m sure I’ll soon need a much bigger place, just so that I can create a little more ambience, when I’m not doing what I came here to do.  You’ll see a few of my favorite things here amongst these random pictures.

Elements figurineI’m a sucker for certain types of busts…and so, there you have it.

If you have ventured into the beauty industry, you too have the ability to create a place of excellence…not just for the client, but for yourself and those that might work with you. Now get busy! Make it the very best you can! Ambience is crucial…in my humble opinion.

Let passion guide you, Passionistas!

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!