How Stylists Can Save Money IN A Pandemic

How Stylists Can Save Money IN A Pandemic

“I work tons of hours.  My rates seem accurate.  But I always seem to be stretching to make ends meet Rebecca. And you can just forget about saving any money!  Honestly, it shouldn’t be this hard.  What am I doing wrong?” Sadly, I hear this too often from my stylist coaching clients.

But I’ll tell you what I tell them…saving money has never been easier – yes, even IN a pandemic.  It all comes down to having the right mindset, and sourcing the right tools. 

Saving, even in a pandemic, can be made easy with the right tools.

Our mindset around money needs to be expanded or even re-written. Thinking that one doesn’t make enough, or isn’t deserving of prosperity, is never going to get us to our goals.  Shifting this mindset is vital to making everything else work.  

We got to believe we are worthy, and that we are worthy enough to put ourselves first, in finances as well.  Then and only then, can we start seeing what is possible in opportunities and new tools.  This is the year to open yourself up to all the opportunities and tools that are available to you.  And there are some good ones out there too!

For example, last year, in the absolute WORST YEAR of our industry’s history, I generated $1100 in savings from one of my star apps – without me even thinking about it!   And this is just one of the new tools I am using.  Here are my faves:

SAVING WITH ACORNS

In our interview last week with Jeff Warren from Secure Retirement, we talked about the brilliance and ease of Acorns; an app that I’ve been using for the past year.

Acorns is a microsavings app that makes good use of your spare change for you. With as little as $5, you can open an account and begin changing your future!  From investing your change in a diverse range of available portfolios to saving for retirement, Acorns makes it easy to save and build an investment portfolio.  Plus, one of my favorite features is that they offer a debit card that directly ties to all my investment desires.  Acorns, in my opinion, is a fabulous way for stylists and salon professionals to begin growing taxable investments.

The Way it Works

Every purchase or payment is rounded up to the nearest dollar, then they invest the difference for you.  Acorns charges $1 per month, and a hefty fee of $50 per ETF to transfer investments. There is no charge to sell your investments or transfer your cash to a bank account. 

And that debit card I mentioned? It gets you cashback on purchases from over 400 partners!

Acorns offers:

  • Automated investment accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Investment accounts for kids
  • Checking accounts

You can also set up a weekly automatic deposit from your checking account into your Acorns account, and watch your investments grow even faster! Check out Acorns.com 

SAVING WITH HEALTH SAVINGS ACCOUNTS

Jeff and I also discussed last week how health savings accounts are yet another way to easily save and invest, tax-free.

Essentially, a health savings account is an account you can use to pay medical expenses that are not covered by medical insurance, such as alternative health services like acupuncture or chiropractic. You can also use the account to save money for your deductible for any emergency medical issues.

The magic kicks in though when you don’t spend these saved monies.  You are then allowed to invest them.  For self-employed hairstylists and beauty professional contractors, this makes a very wise investment and a huge impact on your financial portfolios.

For individual coverage, you are allowed to save $3550 a year.  Families are allowed to save a whopping $7100! Hello?!

See for yourself what is possible for you with this tool.  Just ask your current bank for details, or go to HSAbank.com for more info.

SAVING WITH NERDWALLET

Ever needed to ask an expert for money advice, but didn’t know where to turn?   Sure, you can find anything online if you’ve got nothing but time to search for the right answer, but honestly who has that kind of time?

Instead, Nerdwallet.com makes it easy by being THE source for quality information and professional advice on any financial topic, like saving in a pandemic, that you may be interested in.

Whether you have questions about insurance, investments, mortgages, personal loans, or student loans, they offer actionable information.  Be sure to grab a spot on their newsletter list to be always in the know of financial trends, apps, etc too!

Pro tip:  Check out their 2021 Best-Of-Awards list for THE latest in financial tools and platforms.  This list is an Up Your Salon Game master tool, giving you reviews of tools you can use right now, IN a pandemic, to leverage your works.  

Here’s to working smarter ~ not harder!

 

 

Humor:  A Surprisingly Easy Way to Stay Healthy

Humor:  A Surprisingly Easy Way to Stay Healthy

I recently listened to an interview with Dr.Jennifer Aaker and Naomi Bagdonas, authors of Humor Seriously: Why Humor is an Important Weapon in Business and in Life. I laughed as they talked about stories from their childhood and how humor played a role in their lives. And then, I thought about mine.

One of the questions Naomi asked her family, while they sat around the dinner table was, ”Who is the least funny in our household?” They all sheepishly looked around at each other, and she quickly realized it was her that was the least funny.

 

So guess what I did? That’s right. I asked the same question of my family that night at the dinner table. And, yes. I am the least funny.

 

The interview made me pause and reflect on my own dinner table, my business, and my life.  The topic made me realize how, yes, humor in the darkest moments of my life was like a welcoming wave of joy. I’ve always believed if you brought humor to the table, you really can get through just about anything. Try taking the humor quiz. You might be surprised at your responses.

 

The Manifold Benefits of Laughter

The authors discovered in their studies that people who laugh actually live longer. Research on the benefits of humor at work shows that having fun at work improves both physical and mental health.  

 

When we laugh or are having fun, our bodies release hormones that help fight stress.  Not only does this help improve our immune system also gives us a better mood.

 

Laughing Meditation

 

I also thought about the wisest sages and teachers I have been fortunate enough to meet, and those I have read about. Humor always played a role in the teachings. In fact, they seemed to radiate joy as I’ve never witnessed before. 

 

In reflecting on some of the pilgrimages I’ve taken to Tibet, Nepal, and India, and some of the happiest people I met were the common people, joy blooming from their faces. One time, a poor woman working in the field paused and with a wide smile and eyes that shone like crystals glanced up at me. Tears dripped down my cheeks. No explanation, but that the joy ignited in me deep happiness that caught me off guard.

 

I believe after this year, we all perhaps lost our sense of humor. I know I did at times. 

 

How about you? 

 

Have you ever heard of laughing meditation? Yes, there is such a thing. Laughing meditation is a simple practice of forcing yourself to laugh, and soon, joy takes over. Check it out right here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDRr8UEIP9E

 

Seriously Add Humor

What if you brought humor to your salon? Not the biting kind, or hurtful kind, but the pure joy kind? What kind of profound effect would that have in some of your salon meetings? Humor can seriously diffuse most difficult situations that might arise in the salon.

 

We can’t talk about bringing humor into the salon without talking about how willing you are to laugh. Generosity with your humor can offer others the encouragement to relax and feel safe.  Humor can actually make you easier to work with and more successful.

 

So, if after reading this article your curiosity is brimming, 

 

then…

 

Ask the question at your dinner table this evening, ”Who is the least funny in our family?” You might be surprised at who it is.

 

 

 

 

How to Grow Your Money: Leveraging Tools & Opportunities

How to Grow Your Money: Leveraging Tools & Opportunities

Demystifying Investments

 

If talking about savings and investments seems like a foreign language to you, I invite you to read on. I think it’s about time we talked about money because I know our businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic.  I want to give a sense of hope to many of you and take the mystery out of investing and the tools available to us that we may not know about.

I invited Jeff Warren from Secure Retirement to shed light on the topic. He has over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry.  I thought it’d be really great to hear from somebody who knows and can offer some insight into money and investing. And I know for us hairdressers it can be like, “oh, we’re going to cloud over and it’s going to be too much”, but I think we need to talk about it. 

Market Overview

Jeff Warren: As far as this market and where we’re at, we are in unknown territory, as I say. Unknown in that we started a path in 2008, after the financial crisis, where our central bank, the Fed, began intervening in the economy. 

And they did something that started a huge trend all over the world. They went to what they call zero interest rates. And the idea was, we’d had a financial collapse. And you’ve got to get money out, you got to get people borrowing money and doing things. 

And so the zero rate policy, it was good, right? For we needed it for about a year. But now we’ve had it for about 12 years. 

And so there’s a lot of unintended consequences that come from that. And a lot of people, a lot of corporations borrow a lot of money that they probably shouldn’t. And so you do have, you know, a lot of unintended consequences. Let’s just leave it at that.

Many people know about the term QE or government’s printing money, you hear that terminology, and that’s the Fed and they’re not printing money, but they kind of are. They’re electronically buying trillions of dollars of US Treasuries. And that creates more money supply. And the stock market loves this. They really love it. Because it just keeps the air in the tires all the time. 

So I don’t want to get too much into the weeds. But this is the place where investing is not as fundamental as it used to be. Two plus two used to equal four. We’re having a lot of two plus two is seven. 

So, anyway, the other thing is that we’ve had a lot of speculation over the last year since the market crash in March. And that’s good. I mean, in a lot of ways, there’s some people who’ve made a lot of money from that. But asset prices now, and we’re seeing it everywhere, whether it’s stocks, homes, whatever. They’re pretty inflated, at this point. 

So this is where I try to really help our clients understand what the actual risk is. How to measure that risk versus what they might have known years gone past because it’s changed.

 

A Fundamental Exercise on Clarity

Rebecca: Right. Well, so for those stylists who have maybe, you know, maybe the profit margin isn’t very large. And so something like this comes along this pandemic, and broadsides people.

I’m sure it’s very scary, you know, it has been scary. It’s been an up and down roller coaster ride and some are just getting back to work here in California. So, you know, in that kind of situation, what could they be thinking about?

I mean, it’s sometimes hard to think about saving when, you know, you just spent your savings on, on maybe trying to get through the pandemic, but also for those who, you know, make minimum wage, what is the best-case scenario for them to actually begin to save money? Like we talked about, you know, we titled this sort of the opportunities that are all around us.

What do you see, I know we’re going off-script here a little bit, but what do you see as the opportunity for people at this moment?

Jeff Warren: That’s a great fundamental question. Because one thing that I’ve learned is that, you know, money is money, and it has its purposes. But at the end of the day, everybody’s priorities are a little different.

And so one of the ways to get some clarity about your priorities today because our priorities are, you know, a lot of times, theyre changing. Right?

So, how do you do that? You know, really hone in on your priorities. Not the wish list in your mind. Okay, or things, like, “I want that house. I liked it.” Oh, great. Or, “I’d like to go there and travel to do that spot.” Those are the things that you know, just come into my mind and float around and sound like a good idea. 

But you’ve got to inventory your finances. And the best thing really to do is to say, you know, this is Jeff Warren, Inc here. And I need to inventory my business and I need to inventory it carefully. So I know, so I really know what I have to work with.

But the fact is, it’s an exercise that brings most people that I go through it with some peace of mind actually because we’ve all got the “horribilizer”. And when I think about finances – and unfortunately fear usually comes into play.

Because I’m thinking about the future. Oh boy, what’s gonna – I dont know what’s gonna happen. So you know, this exercise brings things more into reality. Here’s reality, and from here, where are the important avenues you want your money to go to. I’ve done this exercise myself. I do it frequently, actually.

And I always find that I’m spending money on something that is not my true priorities. And so this is why I think this is the beginning. It’s the starting exercise. Of seeing where you are. 

And I know, there are so many people that have been financially impaired or destroyed in this thing. And so, you know, all the more reason to get on an exercise and talk to people about it that you trust.

 And not necessarily a financial adviser.

Rebecca: You know, I think you said something that triggered me is, you know, I’ve always felt that money is energy. Right? It’s good to get clear about what our expenses are. Really common sense things. What are your expenses? What do you make? You know, what’s leftover? But the whole paying yourself first concept, I think, even gets challenged at this moment.

So yeah, I think starting from that place of really getting clear about what is it you really want to create in your life? 

It just seems like such a fundamental, such a huge question and so hard to face reality because I think it does make us face sort of our spending habits.

Jeff Warren: And if you’ve lost a lot.  It’s an even more difficult exercise. And I’ve got that T-shirt. Many, many, many years ago, our financial life was completely destroyed. And so I understand that feeling of impending doom.

That comes with this. So finding ways to become hopeful is a really good thing. You talked about paying yourself first, which, of course, is a very fundamental thing, right? Well, what my mind tends to do is to say, “Well, that’s not enough. I’ll never get anywhere on that. So why don’t I just blow that off?”

“Okay, I’ll do it later, you know, when I have enough.”

And so one of the things that I see a lot of people doing today, which I think is fantastic with all these apps and everything is saving small amounts of money. I’m a fan. I think that it’s brilliant. Apps like Acorns, you know?

Absolutely fantastic.

Your Goals and Targets

Rebecca: So I do wanna dive more into that for them because I think it can seem so daunting to save when you have little, you know, so. So in terms of, I read back, I don’t know, back this last year about most people don’t have $400 in the bank to cover expenses. And I think this pandemic simply brings on even more of that feeling like, are you kidding? $400 even seems like a lot but in a perfect world. We will move past this. I do believe that and I think we’ll come out stronger, we’ll come out. People are going to want to get their hair done and they’re will want to feel free to take care of themselves. 

And so in a perfect world, money’s flowing. What is the recommended savings percentage for people? Is there a general concept around that?

Jeff Warren: Well, the most common target or goal is retirement savings because that’s typically the biggest goal for people long term. And nowadays, the people that are analyzing that are saying 12% to 15% of income.

But I wanna edit that a little bit. If you can only do 1%,  do 1%.

So yeah, retirement has a lot of parts and pieces. There’s social security. There’s, you know, how much, you know, personal savings and potentially other means.

Of course, there’s a lot of goals everybody has. Maybe they have a goal to buy a house and they want to get together a down payment, or maybe add some education expenses. That’s a priority. And if it’s priority and important, then, you know, you’ve got to make it important by taking action.

And what’s the target? What do you need to do? And so you can really look at what’s it gonna take for me to do this. I think the reality, understanding where you are in this moment is the best thing you can do for your financial life.

Get that clarity because, with that, you will be able to make those decisions better.

Rebecca: Yeah, it’s a reckoning, I think of where you are and where you’ve been, and the piece of where are you going, but the staying present in it is, it can be hard to face. And so, I think like you said, getting the support, whoever it is you trust to talk to about these things. We will go further in, in a minute about how to choose an advisor. 

Jeff, I wanted to ask you your thoughts on health savings accounts.  What do you think about it?

Jeff Warren: I think a health savings account is one of the best opportunities that has come out in a long time. As far as tax-qualified savings, you know, there’s not anybody that couldn’t benefit from being able to kind of rat hole that money for healthcare expenses that your insurance doesn’t cover or – because we all have a lot of different healthcare expenses that are just not, you know unless you have a group plan at a large corporation.

All of us are out here kind of piecing it together.  And so this health savings account being able to put money in there without paying taxes on that money.

It’s a great savings plan. There’s no doubt about it.

Yeah, yeah. Spend it when you need it. And you know, people have all kinds of different experiences. But I’ve seen people who have over many years accumulated, you know, quite a bit of money in their health savings account. I’ve seen people who’ve accumulated as much as $70,000 in there. And they can take that into retirement with them if they haven’t used it.

Finding the Right Advisor

Rebecca: Right. So in terms of your particular firm, Secure Retirement, what distinguishes your firm from others that people are looking at? YOu know some people are thinking, “Oh, my God, how do I ever choose an advisor?” It seems like such a vulnerable and daunting task. So how – what distinguishes your firm, from others?

Jeff Warren: Well, we’re a small boutique firm. We have about 300 client families. But we’re big enough that we would like to have – take on more clients for sure. I guess, as a company, you know, registered investment advisors today are kind of a dime a dozen. There’s a lot, there’s a lot out there. And they all have their, you know. They all have their distinctive competency. 

Let’s just say that. Our distinctive competency is really risk management. And that comes because of Richard and I’s background. We both had a real long background in that. So what does that mean for our clients? It basically means, we’re trying to not get any of our clients’ accounts and assets into any harm’s way.

One thing that if you’re not – if you’re younger, you may not know this, but you know, in the years 2000 and 2008, we went through massive market downturns.  And there was a lot of pain from that.

So, you know, that’s part of what we do is, try to avoid that. Now, having said that, I want to say, if you are in the accumulation phase of life, you’re not anywhere, even thinking about retirement. You have the gift of time. Which, in investing is the greatest thing you can have. It’s like Albert Einstein said, the most powerful thing in the world is compound interest. And so with time horizon, you’re able to invest and work with those certain ups and downs that are gonna come. But the US stock market and markets in general, over time, will go up.

And as a younger investor, you need that growth. You really do. Because it really has to do with where you are in your life and what you’re doing and what your priorities are as to how you should best invest your money. And so, yeah. And I guess we recognize that. I think that maybe you know, we’re talking about what makes us different. 

A lot of investment advisors, their belief is that you know, they’re gonna have these portfolios, no matter what, whether you’re 26 or 66. We think that’s a bad idea to come at things that way. 

So, I guess the thing is, at the end of the day there, Rebecca is. And I used to work so much with priorities. What do you want your money to do for you? Because it’s only as good as the peace of mind that you have with it. And that you’re doing the things that are meaningful to you.

And I guess we try to do it with every client we work with, that is interested in working that hard, is we try to help them with that process.

Rebecca: So what information should stylist’s think about when they’re meeting with a financial advisor? I mean, are there some standard things for them to think about? 

Jeff Warren: So here’s the thing. You need to do your homework. How do you do your homework? 

Well, first, if you get a referral from somebody you trust and know and all that. That’s obviously pretty optimal. But let’s say that’s not available to you. So the way you check out any, you know, financial advisor, is first off, go online and just type in, What questions and qualifications should I ask a financial advisor? You’re gonna get a lot of good stuff, which you can use. 

The second thing is, it’s called BrokerCheck. If you are securities licensed, you are part of what’s called FINRA, Financial Investment and Regulatory Authority. So, you can go online right now and go to BrokerCheck through FINRA, right? Or you type in BrokerCheck and you’ll get to it. And you can type your, the person’s name in there and find out all about him.

And if they’ve got, if they’ve had any major complaints, or this or that, it’s there. And so you know, that’s a good tool. I’m telling you what I would do.

Rebecca: Right. Yes. That’s how that can go. Right. I think that’s true. And I think particularly where the money is concerned, it can be a frightening thing and can stop people from doing anything. 

Jeff Warren: Yeah. And just have your radar on.

Just be – you’re doing due diligence if you’re gonna hire an advisor, work with an advisor.

Rebecca: For sure. Well, so then how does an advisor get paid?

Jeff Warren: So different advisors get paid in different ways. There’s the broker-dealer, what we call the broker-dealer channel, which is a commission-based channel. Thats kind of the old school. 

The new school is more the registered investment advisor like we are, where it’s, it’s called fee-based. And so a fee-based advisor is, they charge some percentage of assets under management. So, if Im managing somebody’s account, and there’s $150,000 in there, we’re going to bill – through the account, we’re gonna bill for, in our case, it’s 1% annual. Okay? And then over a million, we start. You know, we have a fee reduction.

Rebecca: Are you a fiduciary?

Jeff Warren: Yes. So that’s a very, and that’s a good question. And nowadays, people are, it’s on their mind. A fiduciary, simply in this industry, a fiduciary should have no conflicts of interest with their client. If they do, they need to discuss that extensively with that client and make sure everybody’s on the same page. So that’s one. The second thing that a fiduciary is supposed to do is very simply have the client’s best interest, always ahead of their interest.

Now, one thing that the fee-based business does is that it really makes that easy. because as an advisor, or advisory, the fees that you’re charging, we don’t have a horse in the race on any investment. We get paid the same. So, you know, that’s a good thing.

Rebecca: That’s really good to know. That’s great to know. So I guess, I mean, for everybody, different advisors are gonna be better for different people for different reasons.

Jeff Warren: Yeah.

Investment Benchmarks and Portfolio

Rebecca:  What are the investment benchmarks that you use? 

Jeff Warren: Yeah. Investment benchmarks are, you know, they’re used throughout the industry. So if we have a more growth portfolio thats got more equities and growth assets in it, we’re gonna use the S&P index, s&p 500 index. That would be the kind of the benchmark, how are we doing against that.

If it’s a much more conservative portfolio that has a lot more fixed income and bonds, we’d use the big, it’s called the Bloomberg Barclays Bond Aggregate Index. And it just, all that means is, it takes all the bonds in the US that are either A and above as far as their ratings. 

And so, you know, again, those are just very common. And that’s what we would typically use. But I have to say, that doesn’t necessarily – it doesn’t mean that much though, quite frankly to, out of the decisions we’re going to make.

Because like retirement, the decisions are more individual.  And so whether we beat an index or not, may not have any meaning.

Rebecca: So what about asset allocation?

Jeff Warren: Very important, as an – you know for anybody’s portfolio, that – and again, priorities are going to drive that. But with growth in mind, with a much longer time horizon type portfolio, you want to – and boy, this is gonna sound, it’s kind of boring, but a diversified portfolio.

You want a large-cap, some medium-cap, and some small-cap. You should have some exposure to international stock. Whether that’s developed world like; Europe or Japan or whether it’s emerging markets like India or so forth. 

So you’ve got that. A portion of the allocation is within that stocks. Fixed Income is in a growth portfolio, although, today is less important. Although it is a good idea to have some fixed income just as a counterbalance to volatility. So if stocks are bouncing up and down, you know, 10% a month, and you’re going, good lord, what’s going on? And the bond portion, although it may not be big. It’ll just be more or less sitting there.

So it does, you know, tame some of that volatility. But there are so many asset classes. Of course, there are the whole commodities, which includes everything from, coffee to orange juice, to oil to gold. But that’s a big world there. You know, exposure. Again, if it’s a long-term hold, the portfolio, you want to have some diversification and you want to have some – really some of all of it.

And you may only have 5% of your portfolio in the commodity line. But again, that exposure if commodities are starting to jump, that 5% will look awfully nice. So, anyway, yeah, asset allocation is a big subject.

Rebecca:  I wonder, is socially conscious investing becoming more important? Are people thinking about that, asking about that?

Jeff Warren: Yes. And it’s something that we’ve been involved in for quite some time.

Rebecca: Hmm. Good to hear.

Jeff Warren: There’s no doubt about it. The big money managers are starting to get into it. But I’ll say this. If you want to invest in, in particular environmental and climate change solutions, which that’s what I tend to focus on. You know, again, you’re gonna need to do a little due diligence or your advisor is because they’re not all created equal. There’s a term called greenwashing. And what that is, is –

Rebecca: Greenwashing?

Jeff Warren: Yeah. It’s like, a company will come out with an ESG climate portfolio, and you dig down into it, and you find, oh, oh, they’ve only got 20% exposure to what we are looking for. So you got because if you’re kind of heart into that, you want to invest that way. You want to make sure that your money is going where you think it is.

Rebecca: Right. Right. So it’s looking under the hood again.

Jeff Warren: Yeah.

Rebecca: Well so, I mean, I think we’ve covered a lot. What I have been inspired by are some of your newsletters that your team puts out. And so I’m wondering how people might be able to tap into that and get a hold of you should they wish to?

Jeff Warren: True. The easiest thing is to log on to our website, where you can sign up for the newsletter, and find all of our contact information. You can look under the hood. That is www.secureretire.com, it’s an easy one. 

Everything is there and we’re happy to provide anybody with, and we have newsletters on the website too, that are current. So yeah. If you want to. Our newsletters are pretty heavy in what the economic circumstances are currently in the market circumstances. So they’re pretty well geared to investing.

End Note

I hope you all find the interview with Jeff very useful and very helpful. If you want more information or more details on what was discussed in the interview, you may reach out to their team by sending an email to [email protected].

Why I Decided to Engage With My Community(and Maybe You Should Too)

Why I Decided to Engage With My Community(and Maybe You Should Too)

The Benefits of Giving Back

Giving back and engaging your community can seem like the last thing on your list of things to do at the moment, but in so doing, you open yourself up to rewards that are beneficial to your well being and beneficial to your business. The impact is immeasurable. And although you don’t begin with your benefit being the primary focus, benefits will show up in your life and your salon work.

 

While we may feel the impulse to shrink in the face of adversity, it may very well be the time to make an offering or to serve instead, even when we may feel there is little to give. This stretching of our capacity becomes an exercise of filling our lives with beauty, love, and joy that we cannot know any other way.

 

Your capacity is limitless. The question is, are you ready to grow?

 

My Journey

When I began down the path of establishing the non-profit Haircuts with Heart, it was born out of a conversation with a client sitting in my chair, and talking about the increasing number of homeless people on the street. I asked myself what could I give?  It didn’t take long to realize that what I could give was a haircut

 

Do you ever look around and get overwhelmed when you pass people experiencing homelessness? Do you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, angry, hopeless, or helpless, and ultimately unable to do anything about it?

 

I’ve had all these feelings. But, one day, mere empathy was not enough. I had to explore my feelings and questions. The Dalai Lama wrote, “The cultivation of compassion is no longer a luxury, but a necessity if our species is to survive.” I recognized this as a call to action and the missing piece for me. 

 

The process of cultivating compassion for our community requires an engagement with it. It is a journey;  a journey worth embarking on. What it uncovers is the truth about us: our gifts, our nature, our ability to heal the darkest aspects of our humanity by illuminating them with light and hope. 

 

Cultivating compassion in a community is not an overnight process, it has to begin with us—with just one thing that you can uniquely contribute. In hindsight, I see how different life experiences led me here. 

 

In response to wanting to quit beauty school, my instructor suggested I stay with it, that I’d be good at it. Until about halfway through my  30-plus-year career, I thought there must be something more important for me to do than cut hair. Yet I finally settled into my career. 

 

In fact, I completely threw myself into it.  Deciding to become the best I could be by educating myself, styling hair for magazines and at New York City Fashion Week, and teaching stylists nationwide to become the best they could be. I was at the pinnacle of my career.  

 

Or so I thought.

 

Beneath the outward success, something still bothered me. In working with this discomfort, I was slowly waking to the truth that I would not last in my industry if I didn’t change how I was working. I knew there was a whole lot more to cutting hair than the haircut. But what? I needed to rediscover my own voice and feel my heart again. 

 

So, with the support of clients, I opened my own studio to begin working on my own. Soon I became keenly aware of the increasing number of homeless people in my community. I didn’t have money, but pondered what could I give? 

 

Giving takes just one thing. One thing I knew I could give was haircuts. Free haircuts would be my act of compassion. After a conversation with a client, Haircuts with Heart was born. I called community organizations that serve the underserved and asked if they would be interested in my services. The answer was a resounding YES!  

 

As a hairstylist, facing my guests in the mirror and touching their heads is a powerful, personal and intimate experience. The opportunity is ripe to open to relaxation and trust. I’ve learned everybody has a story to tell, and in the telling, the teller and listener bond, and an inner beauty shines forth for all to see.

 

At one of our events in Oakland, one sun-parched, nearly toothless woman from the encampment across the street sat in my chair, giving the clear direction of how she wanted her hair. While I cut, I asked how long she had been living across the street. Though I couldn’t understand her words completely, it was clear that she had been living beneath the freeway for a long time, long before the encampment, and something terrible happened there. Eyes squeezed tight, she silently began to cry dry tears. I stopped cutting, rested my hand on her shoulder, and simply touched and listened as she allowed me to bear witness to her emotion. “You are truly a brave woman,” I told her again and again. As she quieted and opened her eyes, I resumed cutting.  

 

 

The Honor of Giving

Sharing such gifts with the most exposed people living on our streets is an honor. As this work attracts other stylists who want to give, natural mentoring occurs. Through quiet action and decency, we show the next generation of professionals how they too can care for their community. As Raja Krishnamourti said, “When the norm is decency, other virtues can thrive: integrity, honesty, compassion, kindness, and trust.” 

 

Is this work easy? No. The challenges that arise can challenge our compassion and very purpose. And in so doing, they become gateways to deeper our compassion even further.

 

For example, at one event at a women’s shelter, we were excited to share lunch and donated gift bags as well as free haircuts, manicures, and makeup applications. As five of us cut and styled, I noticed one guest observing but not partaking. Since she had not signed up in advance, she was on the waitlist. At one point I noticed her pulling a beautiful Indian silk scarf from one of the gift bags and tossing it across the room. I was shocked. How could someone so thoughtlessly discard such a thoughtful gift?

 

At closing time, the manager approached me and pointed to one more guest who wanted a haircut. It was her. 

 

Acquiescing but still angry, I asked her, “What kind of haircut do you want?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Well, I need to know so I can proceed. What do you think you would like?” 

“I don’t know.” 

I was losing patience. 

The manager got involved. “You need to let her know so she can help you.”

“I don’t know.”

I took a deep breath, realizing at that moment she needed not only to help in deciding – she needed to feel special. 

“Why don’t we give you a good cleanup on your haircut and style it. How does that sound?”  

“Okay.” 

While trimming her hair, I said, “If you don’t want the scarf that was in your bag, I know other guests would like it.” 

She said, “No, I’ll keep it.” 

When I finished she said, “Thank you.” 

 

Humbled and somewhat ashamed, I came to recognize this woman as a great teacher. In the midst of flowing generosity, I caught myself judging and withholding compassion, the exact barriers to kindness I was working so hard to erase.

 

Although a haircut may seem a simple gesture, our guests have said, “I feel normal;” “Proud of how I look,” and “It’s nice to be touched.” They’ve told our volunteer stylists, “Thank you for not forgetting about us,” and other similar sentiments. We believe our services help our guests approach the next step in their lives. 

 

Interacting with my community — and meeting like-minded community leaders — has enriched me far beyond my imagination. Listen to more about my Haircuts with Heart journey and find the one thing you could do to make a meaningful contribution to the community here.

 

Finding Your Way

In closing, we’ve come to realize the lack of access to personal hygiene can be related to depression and mental health issues and can cause people to further retreat into the shadows. Haircuts via our personal-care-day experiences can serve as an opening for other health services.

 

One experience stands out in my community work. At an event called Welcome Wednesday’s at ROOTS Community Health Center, a slight man of about 50 years old, sat in my chair. 

 

As we began to cut his hair, and he shared where he was from, he began to openly cry. Cheeks wet with tears, he mentioned his mother died in his arms just over a year ago. Then his birthday arrived, and now he has to face Mother’s Day. “If I can just get through Mother’s Day I’ll be fine. She always told me the importance of personal hygiene. I was just walking by today and saw the sign that you were offering haircuts. I told myself, “you just have to get over your pride, and get some help.” I’ve been homeless for a while now. I’m trying to find work. When I walked in, they signed me up for Medicaid, I’m sitting here, and next, I’ll go to the pantry for food.” I said, “Your mom would be so proud of you right now, getting the support you need, getting cleaned up.” Still crying, the guest sitting next to him receiving a haircut, patted his shoulder, said, “You’ll be okay.”  

 

This experience revealed to me how haircuts can serve as an opening for our unhoused neighbors to get the other necessary health services they may need, and yes, there is much more to a haircut.

 

Although I share this story with you, I do not believe that offering haircuts to the unhoused is the only way to give back. I found my way. Now, find yours.

 

My Suggestions?

 

Salon Values

When you and the members of your team think about your values

 

Value Statement

Write your value statement for your salon.

 

Your Cause

When you look at your values, consider what cause really matters to you.

 

Reach Out

Research local organizations and volunteer your services. The need is great out there, so it doesn’t just have to be haircuts. The list is long of what you can offer. 

 

Pick up trash regularly at a park near you with your team.

Offer storytelling to a youth center.

Offer a regular food drive in your salon

Offer a regular clothing drive for a women’s shelter

Offer a regular book drive for a local school

Offer yearly beautifying service for a local school or shelter

Offer a bi-yearly haircutting event for school teachers or front line workers

 

Just to name a few.  I do hope you will find inspiration here and embark on your journey in finding the one thing you can do to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Your Grief and Finding Your Voice (Part 2):

Feeling Your Grief and Finding Your Voice (Part 2):

Boost Your Creativity in the Face of a Pandemic

 

As we continue the journey from grief toward healing, creativity plays a significant role in our attempts to maintain balance in our lives. Creativity serves as a grounding force when we can connect with it and allow it to be expressed. The form does not matter, as the expression is everything when you are an artist.

 

To even begin to think about being creative when we all have been stressed and worried about how long this pandemic will last or how long salons would be closed may sound crazy.  However, we need to tap into our creative wells all the more, or else we will run dry, sinking further into despair.

 

How many of you experienced your creativity shutting down entirely during the SIP orders? 

 

After the first couple of weeks or longer of being in shock…maybe some of you began doing something else that might express your creativity. Was it knitting? Painting? Cooking? If you adopted any of these crafts, then you are probably quite naturally a gifted stylist who can easily access their creativity in any form. 

 

Maybe you found the pivot to be quite effortless initially and more problematic as this SIP went on, and on, and on. So, by the time your salon opened up, it almost felt like you needed to just get from point A to point B with no frills.

 

For some, styling hair is just a way to make money and feels like drudgery. These people haven’t discovered their innate creativity yet or valued it enough, or have chosen the wrong career. Maybe they have to work, fight, or grovel to access their creativity. Creativity may not be part of the equation but a pure function.

 

In getting back in your salons, at first, FEAR, once again, can steal the show. It literally can make us…

 

Freeze up

Second guess ourselves

Sabotage ourselves

Not value our creativity

Not charge for that creativity.

Conforming to trend

 

After sheltering in place, and with constraints on how we do business such as seeing fewer clients in a day, our clients wearing masks, the protocols and such, I think will affect how we access our creativity. But, I think you will soon find that you begin to venture into making changes for clients. Your creativity is not a static thing and boundless on a client. She is a living, thinking, appreciative(hopefully), and she responds to your work. The exchange and feedback loop helps remind us that we can create, and when we do, we begin to trust ourselves again.

 

Wherever you are on the scale of feeling it or not feeling it, this time has affected us. How soon you get back to feeling the BURN for what you do as a stylist is unknown. But the more you can tap into the source of your creative self and express it in any way, you can begin to unlock and unblock the flow.

 

“Creativity is the real magic of our universe,” says Adriana Diaz, writer of “Freeing the Creative Spirit. I love this book. Adriana brings in the sacred and reminds us that the real magic is in each of us.

 

Cultivating Creativity

I have three suggestions on how to navigate this unprecedented time.

     1.  KEEP IT SIMPLE

 

We do need to keep our services simple right now—no doubt about it. 

Be clean with your work, tidy, and confident. If you are not feeling creative, it’s through the simple action of simplicity that you make room for inspiration to show up. 

 

Be the leader by offering simple suggestions for next time; simple changes lead to success. Success doesn’t come overnight; it comes through deliberate action and taking small steps.

 

     2.  SHOW UP AND BE AWARE

 

Your craft that includes touching people’s heads is a Sacred action. We have to remember the sacred and the honor of what we provide as hairstylists. It’s not just about cutting someone’s hair or technically being brilliant. You can be as technical as you want, and if you don’t respect the space between you and your client, and your own ability to honor yourself and create a sacred space where you work, you will never be successful. 

 

I’m not talking about woo woo stuff here or that it has to look any particular way. Acknowledge the sacred inside yourself, honor yourself, the space, your client, and the creativity that comes through you. 

 

Follow your intuition. You must learn to trust your gut.

 

So keep it simple. Remind yourself to acknowledge the space you create for you and your client. Make room for your soul to remember the journey you are on. Allow creativity to return.

 

     3.  ALLOW ROOM FOR CONFUSION

 

Like I said before, the constraints are with us for a while. We’ve got a lot to work out right now, in our minds, hearts, and spirits. The intensity of the times can’t help but show up in our salons, and in our practices. You cannot demand that creativity just show up. That is not the magic we are speaking. We have to go within and make peace with where we are. Call it. Be honest with yourself. There is nothing wrong with getting back on the bicycle and riding for a bit to get back in the driver’s seat and start changing up every one of your client’s color formulas or forcing change.

 

Early on in your career as a stylist, being creative can look messy. Fear can make you timid about jumping in. You cannot just dabble; you must surrender yourself to the process and trust you will come out the other side.

 

“I can ask for help when I need it.”

 

There is a time and a place for jumping in. Not every client, not when you are feeling insecure. Take baby steps.

 

Uniquely You

Here is a constant reminder that you should be saying to yourself every day, “Your creativity is what makes you unique.”

Say to yourself, “I trust that I can fix any situation.”

 

You need to nurture it continually so it continues to grow, blossom, and help you achieve all the glorious things you want out of your life.

 

As hairdressers, we create under the most strenuous of circumstances.  Ironically, maintaining and nurturing our creative spirits can keep us in good health.  Creative expressions and endeavors improve our health.  The straightforward act of listening to music rejuvenates our immune system functions. Tunes can release inhibition and o allow the mind to relax, and let go of control; pleasure and relaxation take over.

 

How have you kept your creativity flowing? I’d love to know what worked for you.  Let me know on our social channels or you can email me here.>> 

 

 

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