Tag Archives: Retail

Top 5 Life Lessons from the Makeup Chair

31 Aug

With classes at UC Davis starting in just a matter of days, I’ll be seeing the beauty shop a whole lot less in the coming months. As a tribute to all the practical knowledge I’ve gained from my years in retail, I’ve put together the Top 5 things I’ve learned working in the beauty shop.

Valuable little tid-bits gleaned from my moments of embarrassment, humiliation, and learning the hard way.

1.     Be nice to EVERYONE.

We all have those days. Days that we really shouldn’t be interacting with others. Days we probably should’ve stayed home. Where I work, those are days where I’d rather not do a complimentary makeover for a twelve-year-old, I’d rather not give someone free samples, and I’d rather not have anyone in the store. That sounds really awful, but it’s the truth. It doesn’t happen too often but once in a while, I have a really bad day.

Well, it was one of those days, and I was ringing someone’s purchase, when all of a sudden the customer says, “Did I do something to offend you?”

I was in shock. I didn’t think I was being rude, but I wasn’t sure because I hadn’t been paying attention, I was just trying to get her out as quickly as I could. At best I’m sure I had a disinterested look on my face and maybe the customer didn’t enjoy the silence she was being served up that evening.

After she left, I felt awful. It sent me into a real spin. I began thinking about how she had come in perfectly fine, and how my bad mood had ruined her night. She left pretty put off and maybe she wouldn’t even shop in our store anymore because of it. I began to think about how many people I come into contact with on bad days, not just at work, but at the coffee house, at home, over the phone, or at the grocery store. How many bad days had I inflicted on others because of my own bad mood? I am never intentionally rude, but others’ perception of us can be very different than our intention. It was then that I decided that it is very important to be nice to everyone. If not for others, for your own peace of mind.

2.       Don’t jump to conclusions.

I work at a beauty store in a relatively affluent community. With that comes a little higher prevalence of entitlement in our clientele. It can come in the form of the cell phone talker, who refrains from acknowledging my existence, any of a number of snide comments, or dirty looks, or just a general attitude of false superiority. Well, I had become pretty used to spotting this kind of behavior and it didn’t thrill me.

One day, I greeted a woman as she walked in. She made eye contact with me and kept walking without a word.

“Hello” I said, again a little louder. Nothing. Well, I wasn’t going to take this lying down. I was not going to let her blatantly ignore me. I am a person, and she was going to treat me as such!

I stormed up to her, “Hi. Is there anything I can help you with?” I asked with a little attitude.

In response she began signing to me. Signing. She was deaf. She hadn’t heard any of my greetings. She wasn’t ignoring me and I was officially the worst person alive. Don’t jump to conclusions. You’ll thank me when you avoid being rude to the hearing impaired.

3.       Go easy on people, maybe they’ll go easy on you.

As a quintessential over-achiever, I hold myself and others to impossibly high standards. I am competitive. This is great for many areas of my life including work. Though I only work in the beauty shop part-time and my education is my main priority, that doesn’t stop me from striving for excellence at work. I am usually the highest performer in sales and since I managed the shop before I went back to school, I am also very familiar with the operational responsibilities in the store. One of my opportunities is cutting people breaks, when the job doesn’t come as easily to them. I expect a lot because I expect a lot from myself.

Well, we have secret shoppers in our company. They shop you to see if you are doing all that you’re required to, and in ours there’s a lot to remember and to perform. If you don’t do the list of things you are supposed to, you get a bad shop and it is reported to your supervisors and company. Well I got two bad shops in a row. ME! I’m the most experienced, highest performer in the store! I was so upset. I was sure I was going to get in big trouble. I felt terrible that I had let everyone down. I asked my Assistant Manager if she had seen it. She said, “Yes. Well, no one can be perfect all the time. Give yourself a break. We all make mistakes.” I can’t even describe to you the relief I felt after she completely let me off the hook. If I had been the manager and this had happened, I would not have been so understanding. But, it was just what I needed to relax and focus on the future and let go of what I had done. So, go easy on others, and hopefully, someday, when you need it, they’ll go easy on you.

 4.       You get what you give off.

We’ve all heard that old adage: you catch more flies with honey. Well, it sounds obvious and simple, but it’s a piece of advice I rarely see in practice. Smile, ask nicely, say something nice to someone, and go out of your way to do something kind. Trust me. Not only will you see more positive responses from others, but it’s a great mood booster. Give off positivity, and you will get it back in spades.

5.       Mean people are almost always sad people.

This one took me a while to learn. I couldn’t understand why some people went out of their way to be rude or mean to me. Well, we have a customer, we’ll call her Grace, and she had been coming in every month or so for her hair products. She was almost always unpleasant, short, and well…mean. I decided, this time, I wasn’t going to passively endure her negativity. I was going to kill her with kindness. I offered her a makeover and to my surprise she said yes. I lured her into conversation and complimented her beautiful skin. A little while into the conversation, she told me she was going through a difficult divorce and this was the first time she had worn makeup in a year. She later apologized to me and she has been one of my regulars ever since. You never know what someone is going through. I learned that being mean is not something happy people do. Try not to take it personally next time you’re on the receiving end. That person has a life and a history that you don’t know, maybe their meanness is sadness in disguise.

What are some lessons you’ve learned over the years? What are your stories?

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

Why are men so disgusting…and other gender-related musings.

9 Aug

A little gem found in a Wal-Mart parking lot.

I found this helmet in a parking lot on the last day visiting my grandmother. In addition to the quaint little maxims pictured above, the other sides of the helmet were adorned with sayings like “Free Mustache Rides” and “Save a Horse, Ride a Biker”. While attempting to take a picture without offending a bearded biker, I wondered, why are men so disgusting?

In addition to that little treasure, events at the store where I work would suggest that there is not a single place where a woman is free from clever perversions from random men.

Even at the beauty shop, a virtual Mecca for women, men wander in to stare at my supervisor’s chest inquire about skin care.

After a recent occurrence, I have identified the three types of men that enter a beauty store. Type A. They drag their girlfriend or wife inside, spend one hundred dollars on varying hair gels and body washes, and leave with their partner rolling their eyes.

Type B. They have bought the same ten dollar bar soap for the past 30 years. Maybe they check you out, maybe they don’t. But at least they’re subtle about it. In fact, Type A and B are very rarely guilty of any counts of douche baggery. It is the third, infamous Type C, that pull the weight for the whole lot. Type C’s are social creatures and generally wander inside with the security of their herd and are completely unaware of the type of store they have walked into, nor do they care. It’s a store full of women that are paid to talk to them and be kind, regardless of inappropriate advances.

Just this week my co-worker offered a complimentary treatment, as per our current promotion. The man responded, “I’ll give you a treatment” in a very specific tone of voice.

Really?

What do men imagine will happen next? That his offer would stir her into a lustful frenzy?

Likely not.

It’s the same with cat calls as I leave the store. Do they think I will turn around and return their appreciation of my backside? Well, last time it happened, I spun around to shame them with eye contact and I discovered three men whose boyish grins quickly dissipated as my gaze burned in their direction. I embarrassed them! Hadn’t they wanted me to turn around? It was then that it hit me: these shows of virility are more for their male friends than for the women.

I imagine that these advances have a very low rate of return. It’s the show of masculinity that these Type C’s are after. The high fives from their buddies, the chorus of laughter, and the camaraderie  built through the shared experience of hitting on chicks. It’s similar to pack behavior and animalistic displays of dominance.

The biker from the Wal-Mart parking lot is not wearing that helmet as a sartorial sex invite as I originally thought, it’s for his biker buddies! It’s still disgusting, but at least it makes sense.

What are your thoughts and stories? 

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

Thoughts from the Makeup Chair

16 Jul

“The optimist sees the donut, the pessimist sees the hole.”

― Oscar Wilde

Artist Wayne Thiebaud’s work Cupcakes and Donuts

One of the difficult paradoxes of being educated is the realization of how little you actually know. On the first day of my second year of college, a professor of mine divulged an interesting study conducted at UC Berkeley. They monitored the self-esteem of a group of admitted freshman throughout their collegiate career. Upon admittance, the students all displayed exceptionally high confidence, pride, and self-regard. However, during sophomore and junior years students nearly universally displayed an increase in insecurity and the measureable data indicating self-esteem dramatically slumped only to return upon graduation.

I can personally attest to this slump in confidence. Perhaps it’s the onset of a quarter-life-crisis or maybe it’s the uncomfortable widening of self-awareness, the knowledge that the world is just a wee larger than my little Jessica biome. It’s a little scary. What is it about knowledge and exploration that elicits such a frightening effect?

On Saturday, one of my co-workers called me saying that she had had a 12-hr nose bleed and had to go to the E.R. When our manager arrived to relieve her, a very irritated man greeted her at the door, wishing to procure a refund for a liter of body wash and shampoo that failed to meet his expectations. It came to pass that the man had purchased his products in an area with differing sales tax to our own, shorting his refund by $1.38. Infuriated, he hurled insults at our manager while all the while my co-worker stood next to him, soaked bloody towels pressed to her face, waiting to be taken to the hospital.

This seems to me, anecdotal evidence that supports UC Berkeley’s study. This man’s ignorance has clearly reduced his awareness to only himself, arming him with a surreal quality of angry self-confidence and inflated self-worth that enabled him to prioritize his $1.38 refund over a clear emergency happening three feet away.

I heard once, the more time you spend by yourself, the crazier you become. I think that’s because you lose perspective. Much like the hoarders that we all quickly click past on TV, people become buried in their own garbage. But for some, perhaps its mental garbage. Thoughts or ideas that without the ability to be placed in the context of global reality become personal truths, however far off they may be.

Maybe, we can all learn a lesson on perspective from the angry-tax-man who spent a little too much time home alone…

© Copyright 2012 hairsprayandhemingway

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