Get out of your own way - Becoming a business owner at a young age
Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Growing up, I had a pretty interesting, fast paced, childhood. I started piano lessons, twirl, dance, cheer, gymnastics, swim, and art lessons all before the age of five. I joined a competitive gymnastics team and started training to one day be in the Olympics. Traveling from competition to competition winning trophies, medals, and meeting all sorts of professional athletes was an experience of a lifetime.
One day, when competitive cheer-leading started becoming popular, our coach decided to start his own team. Dance, tumbling, cheer, red lipstick, big hair, uniforms, glitter, hairspray, and trophies, y'all know!
After I quit, I joined band, track, basketball, drama, and cheer-leading at my school. Outside of school I was in the church choir, community theater, Piano and guitar lessons. Guitar lessons only lasted a short period of time because he told me I had to get rid of my nails. Ha! are you kidding me?? In between all my lessons and traveling, I loved going to our ranch or hanging out at my aunt's salon down the street with my cousins.
Our ranch was where my dad and his family grew up. My grandmother lived there and my dad had his barn and cattle on it. We still have our cattle ranch and it is still one of my favorite places in the whole world.
I wanted to go there every chance I got. My cousins and I would meet there almost every weekend and my grandmother would cook lunch and the whole family would come over. We always had a blast hay jumping, steam rolling, playing down at the cove, telling stories, knitting and staying up all night watching musicals. We fought a lot, but boy did we have some adventures. Every Sunday, we would meet at the farm and start off towards the pasture. Sometimes on foot, sometimes on four wheeler. We have more stories to tell than I could get out in one lifetime!
My Aunt Kathy, their mom who owned Beauty and the Book hair salon/book store, started a book club called the Pulpwood Queens of East Texas, the largest reading and discussing book club in the world. She also had the only book store/hair salon in the world. Her and my mother were together all the time, so when we weren't at the ranch, we were at the salon.
I loved watching my aunt work. Doing hair, selling books, talking about her authors and telling about her latest book club reading list. I was hooked. Between her and my mother, I knew exactly what I wanted out of life. I wanted to be a cosmetologist, work at Beauty and the Book, be a Pulpwood Queen, write a few books, participate in all of the community activities my mother was in and become an absolutely fabulous southern mama like the two of them! Did I mention my aunt was really my moms niece who was older than her? Which would really make her my first cousin, but I always saw her as an aunt, so Aunt Kathy she was!
Upon graduating high school, I had no idea what I was going to go to college for. My mom didn't want me to register for cosmetology school because she didn't want me to depend on a man for insurance etc. I decided to find a different life path. There was no luck with that. I wasn't passionate about anything else because I already knew what I was destined to do. Every time the semester changed, my major changed. I wasn't happy because my soul wasn't on fire.
In high school and my first year of college, I never really had a full time job. There was the Kornbread place where I waited tables on the weekend, working big events at Auntie Skinners, odd modeling jobs here and there and being a Budweiser Girl. Each job taught me something new that I still carry with me to this day.
My second year at college I started working at Victoria's Secret. During my time there, I grew up, became more mature. They promoted me to Specialist and then to Category Supervisor over PINK. It gave me a glimpse of what it was like to run a business. I never thought of myself as smart, but after I became manager of a million dollar company at 19, it helped me see myself in a whole new light and I realized I had more potential than I ever imagined. I will always be grateful for that. I was starting to discover who I was and who I wanted to be. I learned so much from Victoria's Secret as far as running a company and everything that goes on behind the scenes of a business; office work, computer work, payroll, scheduling, and being a Boss Lady.
After changing my major so many times my dad finally told me to register for cosmetology school. There's a catch. you can't just waltz in there and decide you want to do hair, you have to be accepted in. Then there's a waiting list. If you want to move quickly up the list you have to take a business course, otherwise you have to wait your turn. It may not be like that now, but that is what it was like when I first started.
Even though I was scared to death (because I never thought of myself as a smart person) I registered for the business course. This was so un-like me. I was never good in school, what made me think I could pass a college business course? I didn't know it at the time, but that was a smart move regarding my future. Unfortunately, if I wanted to enroll in the business part of cosmetology school, I had to say goodbye to Victoria's Secret. It was bitter sweet. It was literally like having a full-time job, for free. During business school, we learned how to work computer software, typing, phone etiquette, how to speak to someone, how to promote our business, marketing, and other business skills I swear I use every single day. I learned even more attending cosmetology school. It is not just doing hair and looking pretty, you have to know chemistry, math, anatomy and physiology, biology, and all of the things! People think you just go to cosmetology school because you aren't smart enough to do anything else. Believe me, you have to be smart, good at what you do, damn good people person and you have to pay attention, to everything! You need to know that you can throw a pregnant women into pre-mature labor if you rub their feet wrong during a pedicure. You need to pay attention during cosmetology chemistry in case one of your client has psoriasis, etc, and one of the most important things you need to pay attention to when you are mixing your bowl of chemicals, is what is being used and praying to God your client didn't lie to you about what chemicals have already been used.
After graduation in December, I started working as an apprentice at a salon in Longview. It didn't work out. I was uncomfortable, nervous, and not myself at all. I knew a dear friend of my family who owned a salon down the street so I decided to try that out. Working for myself and renting a booth was an even bigger disaster because I had no guidance. You know, they only teach you what you need to know to pass your exam. I decided to move on and try to find a place similar to my aunts salon where maybe I could find someone with patience that could guide me. When I was cleaning out my station, at the exact moment, the man I thought I was going to marry, told me he was leaving.
Devastation was an understatement. So much was happening all at one time. I immediately moved back to Jefferson and found out there was space for me in my aunts salon! I was all over the place. Happy, sad, angry, excited, anxious, nervous... everything.
Despite tragedies of the heart, my childhood dream was becoming a reality. I joined Rotary Club, the church choir, enrolled in college and attending meetings for the Garden Club. I was finding me again and starting to embrace life when I found out my Aunt Kathy had to move. It came out of no where for both of us. She had helped me so much in the short time we worked together. It was an absolute pleasure and I knew I was going to miss her dearly. As for me and my career as a cosmetologist, it was sink or swim time!
How in the world am I going to own a salon? How in the world can I even afford to open my own business? This is crazy! I'm not smart enough or talented enough! That is what I had told myself my whole life, but when I was faced with a decision of do it or find a new job, I jumped in head first.
I guess this was the long - version - attempt at telling you a few different things.
1- When you think you have it all figured out, you don't.
2- You never know where your journey through life will take you.
3- When you finally get your plan in place, God has a different one.
4- Sometimes you are meant for greater things than you could ever imagine for yourself.
5- Dont stand in your own way when destiny comes knocking on your door. It may not be the disaster you think it is!
There is never going to be a good time to start anything. If you keep telling yourself, "after this or, let me get through this, or that" or even things like "I am not smart enough," you will never achieve your full potential. If there is something that lights your soul on fire or something you are passionate about, jump in head first!
When I opened the salon it was just me, by myself, in a little red building, trying to provide as many services as I could to a hand full of clients. Now, I own a spa with a staff of 10! They are the most amazing group of women I have ever know and they are extremely talented.
Yes, there are days where I think, "what in the world am I doing", but I have to believe in myself and have faith in God's plan. I should have known from my childhood I wasn't meant to lead a slow paced life!
I want all of you to know that for yourselves as well. Want to start a side job to make a little extra cash? DO IT! Go for it! Want to write a book or open a store? YES YOU CAN!! Do not let negative vibes stand in your way.
Since I now have Salon Rouge Spa, LaFleur Couture and This Beautiful Tripp, I have now opened a parent company, Brooklynn Three, to house them under and I am not done yet. If I can learn how to build an empire, so can you! As always, if any of you are in similar situations, having trouble "letting go" or thinking of following a similar path as I did, please feel free to reach out. That is what I am here for!