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Written by: Jaime Schrabeck
What's your mission in the beauty industry? To improve the lives of others, to express your creativity, to support your family? All three? None of the above?
Regardless of motivations and goals, we define ourselves by our profession: salon owner, stylist, nail artist, esthetician, etc. Yet, we simultaneously try to distinguish ourselves from each other through our education, specialties and affiliations.
Being licensed is not enough apparently as some make dubious claims, invent questionable personas with fanciful titles and generally define success by whatever they happen to be successful doing. In our quest for attention, clients and money, we establish a hierarchy without the validation of consensus criteria. Can we agree the word "celebrity" has been overused and lacks credibility? Or does even asking that question minimize someone's "achievements?"
Many behave as if success depends on the failure of others, like we're competing for limited resources within a stagnant industry. To be fair, it's only natural to protect our self-interests, evaluating threats and opportunities in terms of potential risks or rewards for our individual selves. However, this selfish and insular view limits our potential as part of one of the most dynamic and diverse industries in the world.
From the unknown masses to the most recognized leaders, we share mutual interests that transcend our differences, cross boundaries and defy political labels. We would be better served if we honored what connects us: the fact that we all work within the beauty industry.
If we can exploit the weaknesses of others to ensure our own survival (professionally-speaking), are we capable of working together to defend territory? For the purpose of this discussion, our territory could be defined as anything that impacts our broad industry, from government oversight and worker rights to product safety and consumer trends.
Let's go back to the original question: what's your mission? A mission should reflect your priorities and guide your actions. You may not have a clearly defined one because it can be complicated. For the sake of argument and simplicity, consider this your mission: To deregulate the beauty industry. It may be offensive to consider, but think about how this simply-worded mission would focus your efforts. If this were your mission, what actions would you take? If you achieved deregulation, would that make consumers safer, grow the industry or make it more profitable?
On the opposite side of deregulation, let's review the mission statements of various government agencies responsible for regulation:
California: "Ensure the health and safety of California consumers by promoting ethical standards and by enforcing the laws of the barbering and beauty industry." (Board of Barbering and Cosmetology)
Florida: "To license efficiently and regulate fairly." (Department of Business and Professional Regulation)
New York: "To protect the health, safety and welfare of consumers; to provide efficient processing and examination services to license applicants; and to provide accurate information and qualified licensees to the business community." (Division of Licensing Services)
Ohio: "To protect and support the public through regulation and education, while promoting the integrity of the cosmetology and barbering industries." (Ohio State Cosmetology and Barber Board)
OREGON: "Protects the health, safety and rights of Oregon consumers by ensuring only qualified applicants are authorized to practice.; to provide more unified and standardized regulatory oversight that results in greater regulatory accountability and efficiency." (Oregon Health Licensing Office)
Texas: "To earn the trust of Texans every day by providing innovative regulatory solutions for our licensees and those they serve." (Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation)
WASHINGTON: "With a strong commitment to great service, we advance public safety and consumer protection through licensing, regulation and education, and collect revenue that supports our state's transportation system." (Washington Department of Licensing)
FDA: The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices; and by ensuring the safety of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation.
Beauty professionals have many frustrations about how the government regulates our industry, ranging from the education requirements and licensing fees to inspections and enforcement. That being said, we tend to value our licensure because it's ours, not because it's perfect. Our entire industry needs improvement, from beauty schools to licensees, from manufacturers to salon owners. If we're not making improvements, we cede power to those who would have us deregulated completely.
Just as we cannot become politically aware only at election time, we need to be more proactive when seemingly nothing important happens. Often times, we don't pay attention or connect with others in our industry unless we feel personally threatened. Don't wait for a call to action. The time to voice our opinions and take action is any and every day. Inform your legislators, particularly at the state level, about the work you do and your contribution to the economy and society at large. Share your positions before they propose or support something you'd oppose, if only you knew about it. Political momentum can be very difficult to overcome, no matter how unwise the policy.
As individuals, we have our own interests, talents, skills and resources. If our professional connections are more transactional than transformational, we waste our efforts and squander the opportunity to be more productive. Working together, we would be an even greater force. To accomplish what exactly? That's a valid question. What is our mission?
Nail Tech Reality Check was founded by licensed nail professionals and leading educators Jaime Schrabeck and Tina Alberino, bringing credible, product-neutral education to professional nail technicians and salon owners. Our specialist educators have the benefit of being entirely independent. Together, we tackle questions and complaints submitted by professionals, students and salon owners by sharing our opinions and discussing solutions based on our extensive experience. www.nailtechrealitycheck.com