Where do you want to grow in the beauty industry?

Broadly speaking, there are two ways to approach a career in the professional beauty industry (or any industry, for that matter) you either want to grow or to maintain. Neither approach is necessarily better than the other, they are simply designed for different types of people.

While I have a healthy respect for the maintainers—those who find something that just works for them and build a fulfilling, happy life around that particular space—it’s the growers that have my heart.

Aren’t we all growing something?

Personal and professional growth are a natural part of life, and my broad strokes classification isn’t meant to imply that maintainers never grow or that growers are never looking to maintain. We all hit various stages of our lives and careers that borrow from both columns.

My observation stems from the ongoing process and formulation of an end-goal. For example:

A newly graduated cosmetology student lands a job in a hip salon in their area. They apprentice for a year or more, then move on to their own chair and client list. This whole time in their life has been spent growing.

Where the paths begin to split, however, is what that newly minted stylist wants from there.

Do they…

  1. Want to spend their career being a great stylist—focusing on their salon’s clientele and education, growing a steady income and schedule?
  2. Want to “graduate” from working behind someone else’s chair to perhaps owning one of their own or even a few?
  3. Want to move out from behind the chair completely and instead hit the road or the stage as an educator and/or platform artist?

None of these paths are bad choices and they all require growth—just in different ways.

Salon station with caption growers vs. maintainers

The day I met a maintainer

I will never forget one encounter I had with a long-time salon owner, that completely blew my mind.

Our meeting was about halfway through and I had just finished explaining what Industrie was and how it could help grow her salon business through some of our products and services.

I was feeling pretty confident at this point, since to me our services and their value are a no-brainer. I was not at all prepared for her response.

“Well, I don’t want to grow my business. I’m happy where I’m at, with the clients that I have. I’m not looking to take on any more. Why would I need you?”

A more savvy salesperson would have anticipated this and come up with a slick response that would turn the entire situation back into their favor—I’ve never had that knack.

Instead, my very un-savvy and overly-truthful response was:

“Well, you don’t.”

I was so shocked, so thrown off-kilter, that I didn’t have the mental capacity to formulate something more sophisticated than that. I had never met someone who was simply not interested in growing.

It’s been almost three years since I had that meeting and I still bring it up in casual conversation.

That salon owner will never see her business the way I do, and guess what—that’s ok. She’s perfectly content to run things the way that she’s always run them and have them go the way that they’ve always gone and that works for her.

Salon station setup with shears and hairbrushes

The Growers

Since that meeting, I’ve come across others at various stages of their career who want to grow. People who have no predetermined end-point to their personal journeys. They want to see their professional lives take on interesting twists and turns beyond what they could have ever imagined to be possible. They  are open to trying things differently and maybe even seeing themselves a bit different.

Those who are looking to branch out and build something that is constantly evolving.

Most creatives—hairdressers especially—have a grower gene. To want to work in an industry that is constantly shifting and changing requires it. The specific group of beauty growers that I’m talking about, that Industrie talks to, are those who are looking below the surface of trends and hashtags and social media followings.

This special group is looking for something that speaks to their soul;  to the craft, the artistry, the emotional intelligence required to be a truly great hairdresser.

They are not looking for followers for followers sake or one-time new clients for a quick boost—they crave real interaction and the building of long-term meaningful relationships. They are seeking creative inspiration the way that the rest of the world seeks a soulmate on Tinder: slowly, painstakingly, one swipe at a time.

Black and white salon station with quote

Growing is hard work

Our culture tends to glamorize growth… just a bit 😉 The idea of embarking upon a personal journey, cultivating a holistic lifestyle or altering your daily practices to be more wholly “you” runs rampant across the media—social and otherwise.

In real life, growth is hard. This isn’t about daily affirmations scrawled in Instagram-perfect calligraphy on a Starbucks napkin, (#blessed)—real, authentic growth is difficult and messy. It requires ideas, habits and perspectives to be torn down and rebuilt. And perhaps the hardest part of all is the beginning: admitting that if you want your life to grow, it’s going to have to start with you.

Real growth comes from a humble place—which could be why it seems so elusive to some of us. It comes from admitting that you may not be an expert at everything and there are lots of bits and pieces to building a business or career in the beauty industry that will stand the test of time.

Every new thing that you learn contributes in some small way to shaping everything that you already know. There are lots of different ways to do something well, and unless you are willing to try your hand at learning a few, you may never find the way that works for you—that’s growth.

Now what?

Being a talented stylist and having the desire to grow is only the beginning of the journey. The beauty industry is centered around people and visuals— if no one can see you or hear you, then there isn’t very far for you to go.

While continuously growing your skills and techniques is necessary (& crazy valuable), there is another side of the beauty business that many professionals are not paying attention to: how to create and grow a holistic beauty career from a solid foundation. That means learning how to run a business, becoming part of a community, and staying in touch with what keeps you passionate and fuels your creativity.

It’s not always glamorous and it can seem overwhelming to take on another responsibility when most beauty pros that I know are already juggling any number of hats on any given day. But, if you want to grow, really grow, from time to time there will be a number that needs crunching or a strategy to develop.

Who knows? You may just end up enjoying it 🙂

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