Is Your Livelihood at Risk?

The short answer: Yes. Sure, in life we’re always at risk in some way, but we continually make adjustments to lessen everyday risks with hardly a second thought. These are things like using potholders to take things out of the oven, wearing comfortable shoes to protect our feet, eating right and exercising, maintaining the tires on our cars, etc.

Part of being a smart professional is about mitigating risks to your livelihood. When it comes to our livelihood and the risk of losing our careers as hairstylists, we often think things like proper ergonomics and staying relevant with clients will reduce the risk of a career ending too soon. But there are far greater risks to our livelihood as hair professionals than achy backs and stale skills.

There are three things that could literally end your career this afternoon: the government, a litigious client, and a lack of community support. What are you doing to alleviate those risks? There are three non-negotiables that every beauty professional needs to do to keep their livelihood intact and all three are as simple as wearing comfortable shoes.

1. Run your business legally.

This should be a no-brainer, but the number of beauty professionals practicing illegally is astounding. I cringe every time I hear the words “kitchen beautician” or a horror stories of how someone went to see their friend who said they knew what they were doing and ended up with a chemical haircut. Or how they knew a friend of a friend and the price was so much cheaper than a salon and their extensions are dreaded up like a rat’s nest. I like to think that most don’t even know they’re practicing illegally—but ignorance is no defense. Know your scope of practice, and for the love of all that is good, stay within it! Read up on your tax laws. The number of misclassified employees and independent contractors in our industry puts a bright target on all our backs for tax audits. Keep your licenses current and salon compliant with all state board and business bureau/board/community/property rules in your location.

2. Have insurance.

Licensed professionals dealing with the public need to be insured—that’s all there is to it. We live in a litigious society, and anyone can sue anyone, whether it’s right or wrong. You can lose your business, your home, your car, even have future earnings garnished. Accidents happen, be it your fault or not, and people get hurt, people get scorned, and people sue. Protect your livelihood with liability insurance to cover your professional, general, and product liability. Regardless of where you work, it’s a smart idea to have your own individual liability insurance so you’re completely certain your career is protected. It doesn’t have to be intimidating to buy insurance, and an individual policy for a hairstylist is surprisingly inexpensive—especially when compared to all the potential loss it protects you from. A great route is to go through a professional association that is looking out for your best interests and knows what you need in an insurance policy. This leads me to the third way to mitigate the risk of losing your livelihood.

3. Join a professional association for hairstylists.

Every legitimate profession has a professional association to represent those working within that industry. An association provides education, helpful resources, community, and a level of professionalism for its members. Associations are constantly on the defensive against threats to its members’ careers. Those threats come in many forms, from deregulation to salon service pricing not keeping up with inflation. There is power in numbers, and the more our industry bands together, the more successful we’ll all be. They say it takes a village to raise a child; well, it takes an entire industry to raise each hair professional.

These three risk alleviators seem like no-brainers—and they are—but somewhere in our industry the message got lost. The number of hair professionals working illegally in some way, without insurance, and unaffiliated with a professional association to support them is an embarrassment to our industry. Hair is my passion and I’d do just about anything to make sure it’s never taken away from me. The least we can all do is make sure we do all we can to ensure proper protection for what we love—hair!

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