to Nancy at Vanities Spa!
When I say I've been doing this my entire life, have a look at the picture below ... it's TRUE!
February 14, 2019, marks my 35th year as a Master Cosmetologist!
"I've been at this a LONG TIME!"
Vanities Spa is the culmination of my life's work - as the photo demonstrates - about age 3 rolling my own hair (you can still see my 'potty training' seat in the background)!
I'm going to say that my professional life in the realm of beauty and the world of cosmetics and skin care officially began when I was 15 ~ I 'was graduated' from Louisville's BARBIZON School of Modeling on October 17, 1980!
My first inspiration came from my Mother, my muse. As a child, watching her morning and evening beauty routines, I developed my fascination with the smells, textures and lusciousness of this wonderful world of skin care. Her daily routines paid off - she looked younger and younger every year!
In January 1982, during my senior year of high school, I began Cosmetology College (mornings in high school; afternoons at cosmetology - thanks Ms. Nedra Gabbard!). I was graduated on April 8, 1983 and needed to work as an apprentice before sitting for my final exam. I apprenticed at a hair salon (Command Performance on Richmond Road - for those who remember), for six months until I could take my final exam. During this time I taught makeup and hair at Lexington's Vogue School of Modeling.
On February 14, 1984, I was granted a Masters License in Cosmetology and was ready to roll ... literally.
By the end of February 1984, I was on the road to Los Angeles to pursue my dream of becoming a Hollywood Make-up Artist. L.A. was an exotic blend of fun and excitement; extraordinary learning opportunities; and some tough lessons that when combined together, created one of the most magical experiences of my life. I was so fortunate to work with and learn from some of the legends in our field - PLUS many celebrities! Interested in a little name dropping? I worked with Tina Cassaday of Beverly Hills, and we drove her Porsche to Malibu to work on Michael Landon in one of his homes! Janet Leigh (starred in the movie Psycho; Jamie Lee Curtis' Mom) would come into the salon as would Michael's wife. In other salons, I worked on British comedienne Tracey Ullman, 80's Punk Goddess Dale Bozzio (the Original Lady Gaga!), and actress Katey Sagal from Married with Children. I took professional makeup classes from Victoria Jackson before she launched her mega-successful infomercial. Learned how to do the perfect eyebrow from Michael Westmore - from the legendary film makeup family. Nearly got to work on a movie, but it was shelved before we started filming (bummer.) Did makeup for some Playboy 'wannabes'. Met many rock stars and generally had A LOT of FUN being a California Girl for a while.
After nearly five years of my exquisite dream time in Los Angeles, it was time to return home to my family.
It's 1989 and I'm back in Lexington. After a brief stint working as a temp in an Accounting Practice (no laughing, please!), I ran into Connie Hawkins, my first salon boss. While I was in L.A., she had opened her own salon in Lexington (Connie & Co.). We saw each other one evening around Christmas and she asked if I would like to get back into the salon business. I said, "Yes". For about a year I did skin care out of a treatment room in her salon until one day a client asked, "How would you like to have your own business"? I answered, "I've wanted my own business for the past 26 years"! This was the beginning of Vanities, Inc. After finding the Hartland location that was just being developed, I was able to design and build my true dream. On October 10, 1991, I took my first customer - it was my Mom, but isn't that fitting? My second customer was my Granny! But, yes, I was up and running - and seeing non-family members as clients, too!
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I have been professionally licensed and working in salons since the age of seventeen! Over the course of my career, I don't think there is much I have not done: hair, nails, skin, massage, you name it. I've even been one of those promo girls you see in the mall. My product was the "Epilady" - remember that? It HURT! And I'd be frank with the consumer even then ... "Yes, this does hurt." Can't recall selling one, though!
I have taught make-up and hair. I've done photography makeup. I've done television makeup for KET, and wedding makeup for the wife of one of our Governors. I've gotten on stage at an Expo promoting Vanities - microphone and all! I've been on television twice - once taped and once LIVE (gulp!). I've either sold, researched, or used practically every type of skin care line imaginable. I've been to all the great trade shows and am Internationally Educated. Studied La Stone Therapy in Chicago and was taught by the founder herself, Mary Nelson. That was an unexpected treat! Took a three-day intensive on Thai Massage Therapy taught by Michael Buck of Florida. He's an interesting chap - sort of a Rock God Guru. He told stories of being in an Ashram in India with The Beatles' George Harrison! Traveled to Asheville, NC for a Yoga weekend ... learned how we as therapists can stay moving well throughout our career. Was mentored by Jane Martin Wurwand, founder of the International Dermal Institute and the dermalogica line of skin care. I once drove ELEVEN-HOURS (each way) to take a three-day course at the IDI. My educational pursuits have taken be back to Los Angeles, to Chicago, Florida, and D.C. ~ with more exciting opportunities looming in the near future!
Some people pick a career and they show up for work and do the bare minimum until retirement. Not me. I'm proud that I've maintained an active curiosity throughout these past 35+ years. The benefit of 'always seeking' is a broad-spectrum of training and travel and experiences that enrich every treatment I give making each one unique.
I feel like I know this industry inside and out. It's fascinating to be sure. And it just continues to evolve. Some evolutions I'm not so thrilled with like Botox and the medical community trying to muscle their way into our space, and EVERYONE (actresses, sales clerks, doctors, even your neighbor - and the INTERNET) selling skin care products now --- "GET OUT OF MY SANDBOX!". (PRO NOTE: Please take your advice from someone who is TRAINED in the subject and who has spent years testing and researching it.) But other advances are just mind-boggling. We - the professionally licensed Estheticians - are now talking STEM CELL research in topical skin care products!
Simply amazing that we've come so far. GONE are the days of "cold cream" ... long gone!
UPDATE :: July 20, 2012 ... I'm MOVING from my Original Hartland location! I'm sure I will write more about this, but today is my last day seeing clients at my original (built from the gravel up) Hartland location! It's a BIG DEAL, and I know this large step is the right one. But I am feeling what must be the same nausea as someone giving birth. But my baby has a door and windows. On to something NEW! I'm getting EXCITED!!!!
April 22, 2014 ~ Thank you for reading this far! It sure does take more than a few paragraphs to sum up a FOUR-DECADE long career (and counting!). I would like to continue my story and bring us up to present time. We left off on my last day at Hartland. Now I am fully embraced in my NEW space and loving every minute of it. When the day came when I knew I would need to leave my original location, I had a conversation with God and we discussed what I would like and need. I said, "My clients, and myself are getting older, so nothing with stairs." CHECK. GOT IT! I had always dreamed of having a place where I could open the windows and let the fresh air in, and listen to the birds. CHECK. GOT IT! Then, I wanted a place that was quiet with convenient parking right up to the door. CHECK. GOT IT! So it is with all sincerity that I say "THANK YOU to God for finding the PERFECT spot for me & Vanities"!
ANOTHER UPDATE :: OCTOBER 10, 2016 - Vanities' 25th BIRTHDAY! "WOW"!
I can't believe I've been in my new space for four years already. Time just flies! And I'm so surprised that I am celebrating 25 solid years of spa service inside my own space(s)!!! That's longer than Jay Leno was on The Tonight Show!
As I look back over the past 25-years, I feel so blessed to have clients that I've seen nearly as long as I've been in business. The relationships we've formed are a treasure I will keep with me no matter where my career - or retirement - takes me. You've leaned on me, but frankly, I think I've leaned on you for support and fellowship even more. It's amazing to know such special people. Some pass through your life while others stay, but each client leaves a little trace behind, a memory of friendship, bonding, problem solving, conviviality, and fellowship that is rare in today's tech world. I've touched you, and I want you to know how much you've touched me. As I continue on as your "Spa Therapist" - or "Spa Sorceress" - creating magic in that sacred treatment room, I want you to know that my memories of each day spent at Vanities are among the most special and heartfelt ones I have ever experienced!
A lot has changed since I began this journey. Today new clients are arriving via UBER, and I can process credit card payments from anywhere with Square on my smartphone!
The industry has changed, as well. When I first started my professional career, we were looked down upon as being "snake oil salesmen". Then doctors realized they could make an easy profit hawking skin care products and out they came claiming "they" were the true experts (FACT CHECK - I've never met one doctor with ANY skin care knowledge and DEFINITELY zippo product knowledge, and before you correct me, derms are docs of DISEASES & DISORDERS - they don't do skin care treatments!) But even my mother's GYNO was selling at one point! Then we saw the surge of the Day Spa phenomenon - where hair salons would stick an Esthetician in a tiny former broom closet and call themselves a "Spa". OH! But most of the time the person doing facials was not an Esthetician, they were a Cosmetologist (like me) because we DIDN'T HAVE an Esthetic license across America just yet - same for Massage Therapy, the trailblazers weren't licensed during the beginning of their careers because there wasn't one. We, as a profession, created the need for professional licensure, schooling, training, and standards. It's been an uphill battle, and one that continues today. But we're still here, still available for any clients who want truly good skin ~ healthy skin (no needles required!).
Regular client, or new client, thank you very much for allowing me to take you on this little journey of mine.
... to be continued ... (at least a little while more!).
Lexington, Kentucky [last edited JAN.12.2019]