SALON INDUSTRY / DIVIDED: The bridge between generations

It’s interesting being a 35 year old salon owner in the beauty industry right now. As I step back and look at how much the industry has evolved since my first assisting job 16 years ago…my mind is blown!

What I see, from my perspective is a MAJOR divide. A generation of “old school” hairstylists & owners VS. Millenial hairstylists & owners.

What hit me today is that if you are a hairstylist between the age of 30-39…we’ve got some serious magic that we need to share to build this bridge between generations and to continue the legacy of having the most amazing industry in the whole world!

So hear me out on this….

I’m 35. I was raised by Baby Boomers. Baby Boomers are a blood, sweat and tears kind of generation. The kind of generation who knew how to get their hands dirty, the kind that worked 2 or 3 jobs sometimes to put food on the table. They were the kind of generation that had really strong values. They believe in hard work. They believe in doing whatever it takes to get the job done. They value hard earned money. This generation in gangster in my opinion. When I think of this generation I think of loyalty, tenacity, authenticity and SELFLESSNESS. The kind of people who did anything for their family. Who scarified their own happiness & their own needs to accommodate the people they love.

I’m at the the tail end of being a “Millenial”. Millenials get such a bad rap, but I think they are awesome! They are innovative, imaginative, quirky and fun. They are creative and they come up with genius ideas. They are dreamers and revolutionists and I love that about them. What I hear mostly is that they have NO WORK ETHIC.

Honestly, I don’t buy that. I don’t buy it because I have an entire team of Millennial hairstylists and they WORK…they freaking HUSTLE…they are RELENTLESS.

Heres the thing…I just believe they had a bridge to walk across. I’M THAT BRIDGE. This isn’t about me…but it IS about being a hairstylist and salon owner at this exact moment in time. I’m old enough to have seen how hard the generations before me worked but I’m young enough to see the vision of possibility that this generation desires.

“Old school” hairstylists (anyone who has been doing hair for 15 years or longer) knows how to WORK. They were the hairstylists that worked open to close. They fit in as many clients as they possibly could in one day. They formed amazing relationships and did it because they loved it and NOT for the money.

I believe Millennials saw the gaps…the missing links in the generation before them…and said “aw hell nah!”

I believe they took a stand for more fulfillment and balance in their lives than the generations of hairstylists before them. I believe they want an amazing career but they ALSO want an amazing LIFE.

I believe they want balance between work & play.

I believe they want to make enough money to enjoy a lifestyle that they love.

So what’s wrong with this? Nothing…except it goes against EVERYTHING this industry has ever known. This is where the divide started happening. Owners were stifled and quite honestly unprepared for the freedom and change that the next generation needed to thrive. I think hairstylists became frustrated with owners that wouldn’t or couldn’t change with the times.

I get both sides because I’m literally in the middle. The day after I graduated beauty school I worked a 12 hour day. My owner worked 12 hour days. All of the stylists worked 12 hour days. We worked 5 days a week…sometimes 6. Vacations were a once a year thing. I LIVED in that salon…and I LOVED it! I learned ridiculous work ethic there.

I carried that work ethic with me into my career behind the chair and into my business. The sacrifice all to be successful mentality, and you know what…I crashed and burned HARD. I literally hit rock bottom, mental break down mode. I sacrificed so much of myself to be successful and that’s . not . OK.

What I walked away with was an UNSHAKABLE belief in ridiculous hard work but NOT without being BALANCED with a healthy dose of self care and relishing in LIFE. This is what I want for my team, this is what I want for all hairstylists. A life infused with success & fulfillment in both their career AND in their life.

This is special. This is the bridge. We as 30 something year old hairstylists have the opportunity to lead…to shine light on what we knew growing up…the importance of unwavering grit, hard work and patience. And on the other hand uncover what we have learned…a more balanced, fulfilled and enriched way of life as a hairstylist.

Call me a Millennial ;) but I’m a believer! I believe we can truly have it all. I believe we can learn so much from each other. I believe we can rebuild and redefine this industry. I believe we can bridge the gap and leave a legacy for generations to come.

The answer….LEAD. Learn to lead with a compassionate heart. Hold yourself to high standard. Set an amazing example. Learn and learn more, teach, communicate and execute. Step up in a big way…give grace in a big way…fill your self care cup in a big way… and GIVE in a big way.

Love Yinz.



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