I have been in the beauty industry for 21 years. I knew nothing more that what a haircut was. I grew up in a small rural town so I didn’t even know that luxury salon experiences were a thing. I was a mother at 17, and single mother at 22. My mother was killed in a car accident when I was 3 months pregnant and it was clear to my dad that I had no direction and I desperately needed it. He kept on telling me, “Gina you’ve got to find a trade.” He suggested hair school and I was like that sounds like fun… sure why the hell not?
Went to school, met my very first career mentors, Stephen and Tricia Wake, owners of Focas Salon in Saint Charles, IL. They introduced me to a world I never knew existed. They opened doors for me and introduced me to people who could open doors that maybe they couldn’t.
After about 12 years at Focas, I felt that the only way I could grow was to go off on my own. So, again, I knew what it was to be a successful stylist, but I didn’t know shit about running a salon. So then, I meet my next career mentor, Bennie Pollard, owner of Nova Salon & Cool Beauty Consulting in Louisville, KY. He introduced me to systems and business practices not generally used in the beauty industry. More doors were opened. He helped me level up, but I felt like the more I learned, the more I failed. I kept on failing over and over again. It was excruciating. It was then that I was introduced to another mentor, Heather Yurko. Heather was a mentor that may be a little bit harder to describe because she was not just a career mentor, but also my life mentor. She was a mentor that I didn’t work alongside, although I received her messages through videos and industry events. Heather didn’t open doors, she gave me a skeleton key to open my own. She is a total badass who has taught me that I have everything it takes to be a badass too.
I took all the things from all the mentors along the way. I created my own path. I completely reinvented myself, my salon, and my salon structure. I realized that I don’t have to use the business models that existed before. These models weren’t working for me- because they weren’t mine! I didn’t connect with them.
The point is It doesn’t matter who or where you came from, what your profession is, or how far you are in your journey. You can reinvent yourself and stand out in this world. You can use your platform for impact.