Happy Thursday, people. I’m in quite a mood this afternoon. I am equal parts frustrated and disappointed. It’s time for a “wake up and smell the coffee” post for all of you, so here it is.

I want all of you to print the list at the bottom of this post and put it somewhere visible. Put it on your fridge, on your nightstand, or on your bathroom mirror. These are not “affirmations.” These are facts. I’m not going to give you some false mantra to repeat to yourself every day in the hopes that it will someday magically come true. I want you to see these and read them until you fully understand what it means and you begin to believe it about yourself as a professional.

After the emails I’ve received this week, I have noticed a common denominator between exploited employees: none of you realize your professional worth. This is why you are being exploited. You make it too easy. You don’t value yourselves, so why would any employer?

I often get emails from readers and friends in the industry asking me, “When are you going to do something to stop this?” “Can’t you do anything about this to stop it once and for all?” “Are you going to create a union for us?”

Re-read those sentences. Do you see what’s wrong with them?

“When are you…
“Can’t you…
“Are you…

…you.

Newsflash:
I am not being exploited.
I am not being victimized by your employer.
I am ONE person. 
This issue is too big for one person…but I’m doing the best I can.

I write articles.
I answer emails.
I provide free advice.
I sign petitions.
I contact authorities.
I try to inform all of you so that you know your rights and can defend yourselves.

That is what I am doing. What are you doing?

You are taking jobs, knowing that employers are exploiting you.
(“Well, I knew it was wrong, but… [insert bullshit excuse here].”)

You fail to negotiate contracts that don’t serve you and strip you of your rights.
(“I didn’t want to sign it, but… [insert bullshit excuse here].”)

You aren’t taking action with your state cosmetology boards or labor boards.
(“I would go to the meetings, but… [insert yet another bullshit excuse here].”)

You aren’t prosecuting when you’ve been exploited.
(“I wanted to prosecute, but… [you know what goes here].”)

You devalue yourself and your profession and then act surprised when owners refuse to treat you with the same respect or offer you the same benefits given to even the most menial of employees.
(“I want benefits, fair compensation, and to be treated better, but… [blah, blah blah].”)

This is going to stop now. I can’t fight your battles for you. I can help you, but things will not change unless all of us as a group decide that we WILL NOT STAND for this treatment anymore.

So every day…until you GET IT, read this.

1.) You are a professional, not a charity worker. Your time, experience, and talent are valuable. Clients and employers that do not recognize that are not worth your time. You deserve to be appropriately compensated. Nobody works for free.
2.) What you do matters…more than you realize.
3.) You are more intelligent and capable than you give yourself credit for.
4.) You deserve to be treated with respect.
5.) You are capable of enacting change…in your personal life, in your professional life, at your work, and in your community.
6.) You are a service provider, not a slave or a servant.
7.) You chose to serve others out of love and compassion. You could have taken any job in the world, but you chose one that allows you to make others feel better about themselves. This is admirable and should be commended.
8.) What you do is a career, not a hobby. It is your source of income and deserves to be taken seriously.
9.) You are not a pawn. You are not powerless. You are in control of your career. You alone are responsible for ensuring your success.
10.) You are too smart and too valuable to allow yourself to be victimized by an opportunistic employer or made to suffer a hostile work environment.

Owners out there that are struggling, I have a few for you specifically.
11.) You are not perfect and nobody should expect you to be. All you can ever do is your best. You can (and should) strive for perfection but do so with the knowledge that you will never achieve it. Perfection is unattainable. This is not meant to be discouraging. You are only human. Admit your shortcomings and accept your personal limitations. Do your best every day and be satisfied with your achievements. Don’t dwell on your failures. Keep your expectations of yourself reasonable. You can’t be everything to everyone.
12.) You are an employer, not a dictator or evil overlord. They are your employees, not terrorists. The relationship you share with your staff is symbiotic. Just as they deserve respect for their contributions to the business, so do you.
13.) Asking for help does not make you lazy or a bad owner.
14.) You are the authority at your business, but you are not “better than” your staff. Your business is only as good as the employees that run it and their performance is directly related to how happy they are with how the business is run. Again, symbiosis.
15.) Don’t see business ownership as a burden to be carried. Celebrate being a business owner! You have given people employment! People have chosen to work at your establishment and clients choose to give you their business! Because of your salon, the people you employ are able to pay their bills! This is a really amazing thing and you should be proud of it every day.

Now, as a group, let’s work on these things specifically:
1.) We will question things that do not sound right.
2.) We will take responsibility for ensuring that we are not victimized by opportunistic owners by doing our research and bringing our knowledge to salon owners in a respectful, professional manner.
3.) We will not sign contracts that we do not agree with.
4.) We will stop being afraid to say “no” to exploitation.
5.) We will stop working for free.
6.) We will not allow abuse to go unpunished.
7.) We will value ourselves, our profession, and our services.
8.) We will enact change by speaking out, taking action, and being active in our communities.
9.) We will support each other professionally and personally.
10.) We will stand strong. We will not be broken.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am a booth renter, I do stylists things…including pedicures. I pay rent for my station weekly and recently was asked to pay $5 per pedicure for electricity and water….is that legal? Shouldn’t that be included in my weekly rent already? I need an outsiders opinion/help!!!! PLEASE& thank you!

    • That should absolutely be included in your rent. $5 per service is ridiculous. I’d refuse to agree to that. I’m not sure if that’s legal or not, but it’s certainly not acceptable. If you’re on a written lease, the owner can’t spring charges on you like that.

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