“‘Tis better to suffer wrong than to do it.”
-Thomas Fuller

“You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims.”
-Harriet Woods

I’ve grown weary of dealing with owner issues lately. It’s time to flip my picket around and turn my megaphone on you, salon staff.

What is your relationship with the business you work with? How do you treat the entity that is ensures your continued welfare? Is it a child you nourish, support, and provide guidance to or is it that annoying guy who you’ve friend-zoned but is always there for you to use at your convenience?

Most of you are dedicated to your salons. You go out of your way to build it up, maintain it, keep it clean, and keep it functioning. Some of you even do these things at great personal sacrifice. (Which is noble, but not something I recommend.)

For a select few of you, the salon you work at is a tool you use to satisfy your needs. It’s all about you and what the salon can do to benefit you. The salon’s problems aren’t your problems, they’re the salon owner’s problems. That’s why she’s the owner, right? She’s the one getting all of your money; she has to bear the burden of responsibility. All you have to do is show up and do your clients, and you’ll be damned if you’ll do it for anything less than 50% because you have pride.

To a degree, these assertions are right. You work because you need to make an income. The salon isn’t your business and managing it isn’t your job. The owner really should be bearing the bulk of the responsibility…but it takes an entire staff to effectively run a salon and keep it successful. You’re going about getting what you want in the least productive way possible.

The vast majority of responses I’ve gotten in regards to my “commission is bullshit” campaign have been super positive, from both staff and owners alike. Since that post was published, I’ve helped a lot of owners transition their business from commission only to hourly+tiered commission bonuses. Nearly all of the people that have emailed me about the system have had nothing but awesome things to say.

…then there is that one person–that one entitled stylist with a superiority complex that thinks that every owner that has ever had the supreme privilege of employing her should just throw money at her while they kiss the ground she walks on.

First of all, sweetheart, you’re not as hot as you think you are. You might be great at what you do, but if you come into the salon with the incorrect assumption that you are somehow better than everyone in it, you have failed as an employee, as a professional, and as a human being. It doesn’t matter how big of a book you bring or how many years of experience you have, with an attitude like that you are a vicious cancer that will do nothing but eat away at whatever establishment you’re working in. People like you kill morale and suck the life from the business. For you, the salon is nothing but an ATM. You don’t give a shit if the salon is struggling, as long as the owner is paying you whatever insane commission you’ve demanded.

You consider yourself to be an “empowered” professional that “knows your worth.” You aren’t. You’re a tyrant. You’re an entitled, parasitic idiot with no clue how this business works.

To be fair, your development into this deplorable breed of asshole probably wasn’t entirely your fault. I’m sure one day long, long ago, you were a fresh, starry-eyed tech with a crisp new license and rose-colored dreams of how fantastic your career would be. Those dreams were chipped away, a little at a time, by a long line of really crappy, exploitative owners until the day what remained of that dream shattered right in front of you. That day was the day you said, “I’ve had enough.”

The problem is that you went about ten steps too far.
Now you’ve become the monsters that created you.

I’m a huge champion of professional pride. I’ll be the first person to preach the importance of knowing your worth and standing up for yourself when someone else is trying to trample on you or push you down–but there is a very important difference you need to take note of, Madam Demanding McBitchface. It is one thing to carry yourself professionally with dignity and self-respect. It’s another to forcibly demand respect by holding your owner hostage. The former makes you a queen, the latter makes you a terrorist.

What you call “pride” isn’t pride. It’s superiority. It’s arrogance and conceit. It’s selfishness and misplaced contempt. Ultimately, it’s poor character and a complete lack of integrity.

Your income may be considerable and your following may be great, but because of that lack of character, you’re just not a valuable employee. You and all of the professional accomplishments you’re so eager to list off to anyone that will listen are worth less-than-nothing because your respect and consideration are conditional on everyone else’s unconditional compliance with your demands.

When you’re an employee, you don’t work “at” a salon, you work “for” a salon. Is it your job to manage it or perform charity work for the owner without guaranteed hourly pay out of the goodness of your heart? Hell no. This is America and nobody works for free. However, you’re operating under this delusional belief that you deserve more money than the business you work for, and you don’t. It doesn’t matter how experienced you are. You’re there to make a living doing what you love and to ensure that the salon’s doors remain open for as long as possible so that you and your coworkers can continue to make a living there. If you’re only there to bleed the salon dry, you’re a detestable piece of human garbage that has no place in this industry.

I’ve noticed a common trait with women like you. None of you have ever owned a salon. You have no idea what the actual costs of doing business are. You all believe that every owner is some overlord whose only interest is working you and your coworkers like slaves while they swim in a sea of gold coins in the back room like Scrooge McDuck in DuckTails.

I’ve seen those owners first-hand. They do exist. But when an owner approaches you and your coworkers with a new compensation model that rewards superior performance and fairly compensates you for your time and services, you can safely assume that owner is not one of them. That owner wants your workplace to thrive. She wants to be able to offer you benefits. She wants to get out from behind her own chair so she can focus on building the business for you so she can quit harping on everyone to “market themselves” and “network.” And yeah, she probably wants to save for her own retirement.

Holding that owner hostage, organizing a mutiny, and not only demanding she drop the new compensation model but then threatening her for a higher commission cut is unconscionable. It’s certainly nothing to brag about. You’re an embarrassment to your industry and the women in it. You’re an embarrassment to yourself.

You seem so convinced you can do so much better, so I invite you to go right ahead and try. What’s stopped you all these years? If all salon owners are such greedy, incompetent morons, why are you still working for anyone at all? You might be the best stylist on Earth but you certainly aren’t winning any awards for intellectual prowess if you’ve been in this business long enough to convince yourself that the generalized assumptions you make about salon owners are true but still have yet to actually do something about it.

As far as I’m concerned, women like you are unemployable. Your miserable asses belong in booth rental salons…but you know what? Go ahead and keep hopping from salon to salon, since that seems to be working out so well for you. If it hasn’t happened already, you’ll eventually develop a reputation for being a complete monster and nobody will want anything to do with you. The salons in your area will be better for it.

“Our names are labels, plainly printed on the bottled essence of our past behavior.”
-Logan Pearsall Smith

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


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