ASHLEY: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Ashley Gregory Hackett.
JAIME: And Jaime Schrabeck. We’ve arrived at our 52nd consecutive episode, an entire year’s worth of content produced on a weekly basis.
ASHLEY: Our first year has been filled with highs and lows, some of which we’ve never discussed publicly before today. Through it all, we’ll continue to grow together.
ASHLEY: Well, Jaime, it’s been an entire year of outgrowth.
JAIME: Has it? I’ll need to check the calendar because it seems longer.
ASHLEY: It seems a lot longer. Actually, we were discussing before we pressed record that if you want a year, if you want to really feel a year of time, start a weekly podcast.
JAIME: The commitment alone of doing this was something that we thought would fit into our normal schedule at the time we had that discussion, which was January of 2020, and our calendars looked very different because that was pre-pandemic.
ASHLEY: We definitely thought that it would be something we could work around our usual schedule and we’re finding that launching a successful podcast unfortunately means it’s going to take up a lot more of your schedule than you initially anticipated. I have been loving every moment of it, but it is something that I think had we known ahead of time, we might not have committed to a weekly publishing schedule.
JAIME: And that’s the schedule we imposed on ourselves.
ASHLEY: Right. So we have no one to blame, but ourselves, right?
JAIME: True, true. Let’s take responsibility for the fact that we committed to something, but at the same time, let’s take some pride in the fact that we actually fulfilled our commitment.
ASHLEY: It’s quite an accomplishment. I was thinking about 52 consecutive weeks of podcasts. I knew we were never going to want for topic ideas, but knowing what the year 2020 has thrown at us, I feel like the first year of this podcast has really been a COVID time capsule that we can go back and look at and say, remember when.
JAIME: And yet, so many of the topics go beyond what was relevant in that moment for the coronavirus pandemic and that’s what I’m most proud of is that these episodes will stand the test of time.
ASHLEY: No doubt. And I’m just thrilled that you and I have had this opportunity to go in depth on a lot of industry-specific topics. We’ve met so many wonderful people, had some really fantastic guests, and through it all, I hope, have helped beauty professionals through these uncertain times, to use a phrase I absolutely despise.
JAIME: It’s been a learning experience in multiple ways. I think the concept of launching a podcast and then all the technical aspects involved, then there’s the marketing aspect. Then there’s actually what we’re learning from our experts and in doing our research for each episode. So all along the way, it’s been a bit overwhelming in a certain respect because this is not something that we had expertise in going in.
ASHLEY: Exactly, and it helped me kind of put myself into the shoes of beauty professionals who are working in salons every day and parents with children who are e-learning. It’s like we all had to become technological experts throughout COVID, whether it be setting up a home studio for video recording, or learning how to do sound, and learning how to set up our homes for optimum acoustics, and cleaning up our backgrounds, and doing all the things that we’ve all had to do as everything moves virtually. It’s made me feel a lot of comradery with the rest of our industry even though we’re all still pretty isolated.
JAIME: One of the things that our audience might not know is the division of labor and that it’s your skill and devotion to editing the podcasts once they’re recorded that produces the finished content. And one of the things I chuckle at is that it’s quite often that the particular software that you use to accomplish that will literally update in the midst of you editing that particular episode.
ASHLEY: It’ll say it is updated and ready to restart it. I’m going, no, no, no. I’m two minutes into the podcast, but thankfully that software has made it pretty easy for me who is a novice as far as podcast production. It’s made podcasting accessible to us even though we aren’t sound engineers or what have you. It’s been really great cause it’s put something, to me, it’s really important that we sound professionally produced, and that the sound is consistent, and that we’re not going to turn the listener off and go, ooh, the sound is so bad. I can’t deal with that one. So that’s been a really big kind of point of pride for me on that, but without your connections and bringing these guests on, doing all of the backend for the podcast as far as writing the show notes, all of the episode descriptions, editing the transcripts, which is an amount of labor I can’t even understand in order to make our podcast accessible has been just really inspiring to watch. So thank you, on behalf of our listeners, for that.
JAIME: Well, and thank you. And I will say that the software still doesn’t know how to spell my name, even after a year. There’s probably some way that we can go in and tell it that when it hears my name announced that it will match the correct spelling to my name, but every time I get to change it.
ASHLEY: Yeah, you’re always, um, Shabak, Jamie Shabak.
JAIME: Shabak, yes.
ASHLEY: Shabak. Oh, hilarious.
JAIME: But you know that is true that we do use a lot of different programs. It’s not just uploading the audio into one program and then out comes all the different types of things that go into promoting the podcast. You’re the one that’s taken responsibility because you’re more talented than I, for sure, developing the audio grams, and all of the visuals around each episode, and then, of course, updating the website that we do have a dedicated page for every episode.
ASHLEY: We do and that’s been a bit trial by fire as well. It was something we talked about in one of our first episodes, which was, what do we do with the downtime that we’re going to be having during coronavirus? And I think at the time it was, we were envisioning it being maybe a couple of months at the most, but we talked about updating your website and getting familiar and good with those types of tools. And I know that everyone out there has been scrambling to learn how to do all of the web design things and all of the social media creation, and there are some tools that we can definitely link in the show notes that have been very helpful, Canva being one of them, the software we use to create the audio grams, the website builder that we use on outgrowthpodcast.com, which has really helped streamline the process of getting each episode out every week. But I’m definitely not going to downplay the amount of work that it is and it just goes to show how many hats we wear in the beauty industry. You’re not just a beauty professional practicing your discipline. You’re a marketer. You’re an accountant. You’re customer service. You’re the manager. And we have all had to teach ourselves and whether it’s through YouTube, or listening to podcasts, or just kind of trial by fire and figuring it out, this is the day to day for, for beauty professionals.
JAIME: Well, let’s talk about that because we’re not being compensated directly for producing the podcast. And we created the Insiders membership as a way to create a community that would support these values of compliance, and health and safety, and professional growth, and advocacy, the things that we find most compelling about being involved in this industry. But it’s expensive to produce this because for every type of software we use, there are some sort of subscription fee.
ASHLEY: Definitely and I don’t think that can be overstated. It is very much a labor of love at this point. It is not something that we are being compensated for. We have operating expenses somewhat covered by our memberships, but we have gone back and forth. I mean, full disclosure, we have very much struggled with the idea of putting ads on our podcast and what would our listeners think about that or taking on sponsors for episodes. There’s so many different ways that podcasts are supported and their production costs covered. And nobody really knows what the right way is. And so it’s one of those things that like we really want to ensure that we think about it from the perspective of our listeners and what’s going to continue to provide value without disrupting the experience. And I don’t think we’ve come yet to a final answer, but I think we’ve narrowed it down to something that hopefully will work for everybody.
JAIME: We were at a distinct disadvantage because we’re not coming from a media organization, producing a podcast. Outgrowth truly is a project in and of itself where we as individuals are collaborating on this, but it wasn’t part of a larger organization and just an outgrowth of what they are already doing.
ASHLEY: Yeah, this is the thing, I mean Outgrowth is, I would say, a culmination of our business relationship between the two of us as independent educators and then part of an independent educator collective or small group. I know how much you love that word. And then an offshoot into knowing that we have very similar personalities, working styles, and goals professionally so it just made sense for us to partner on this. But through this, we have now started a company together. We have this weekly podcast. We also have our Insiders membership. So while we were in touch every day in general for business, now we are much closer, I would say, because we’re speaking multiple times a day. We have shared bank accounts. We have shared email accounts now, and it’s really interesting to see how through something we kind of cooked up in New York, or what really kind of came to fruition in New York at the start of COVID, has now become this completely other thing. And it’s really exciting to watch it grow, but not to use the word grow too much, I’m so thrilled with what we’ve been able to accomplish in the past year and I just can’t wait to see what, what’s coming in 2021 and beyond.
JAIME: For all the projects I’ve been involved with over my nearly 30-year career as a beauty professional and salon owner, this is the only project in which I actually took legal and financial steps to authorize the partnership, if that makes sense. So that’s how committed I am to this project, because otherwise, why invest that effort? Why go through the process of making sure that it’s structured correctly and that we’re bound to each other not just, you know, on a handshake or for a one-off project, but for an ongoing project?
ASHLEY: Yeah, and I love that we’ve been able to practice what we preach as far as compliance and doing things right, and taking our guest Amy’s advice on how to create a legitimate business in the eyes of not just ourselves, but the eyes of the government, and the respective states, and banks, and all of the things that matter. The thing about this is we know that in our careers as beauty professionals there is no roadmap. There is no defined path and we’re living that every day because nobody’s telling us what to do. Nobody’s saying, oh, here’s how you do this. I want to go back to a major highlight for us which I have screenshots of and I’m thinking about getting framed is when Outgrowth podcast was number three on the US iTunes charts in fashion and beauty after one of our bigger episodes. But that was just like, we were over Lauren Conrad’s podcast. We were above, you know, Bobby Brown, all of these other people that have just this built-in name recognition over careers that have lasted decades. And here we are, this little like upstart podcast that’s racing up the iTunes charts and that was just such a huge deal.
JAIME: It was a huge deal and whether we ever rank that high again, we were there once and that’s all that matters to me.
ASHLEY: We’re always number three in my mind as far as where we rank on the charts, but we’ve made some really great connections with listeners. We’ve made great connections with Insiders in our membership. Through this podcast, it’s really helped us reach people that we never would have had contact with before, just by virtue of not being able to gather because of COVID, and not being able to go to shows, and not being able to network, and do all the things that we really love to do. But through this podcast, we’ve been able to reach people in different countries. We’ve been able to reach people who are just starting out. We’ve been able to reach veterans. And that has been a huge highlight for me as well is just getting the feedback, reading the reviews, hearing from people, and how this podcast has been able to positively affect something in their personal life or their professional life.
JAIME: One of the other highlights that I think speaks to where our listeners’ interests lie is that there are times when we produce content that we might think is more fundamental or more basic and that might become one of our most popular episodes. And we know that by virtue of the number of downloads, but comparing that to what we might post online and what kind of interest that generates. I think it’s interesting to see how different reactions come about through the different ways that people interact with the content, whether it’s through listening to the content or just responding to a graphic that might get posted
ASHLEY: Oh, yeah.
JAIME: And more specifically, when we talk about graphics, that first graphic that you posted having to do with the deregulation bill was huge. And we, we spiked it again with a second deregulation bill where you essentially repurposed that same format to draw attention to another state’s deregulation. And I thought, how interesting is it that that number doesn’t necessarily translate to listeners, but it does put us on the map in terms of, this is what we stand for. We stand for these issues that are more important in my mind to our salon businesses than what the latest trend is.
ASHLEY: Yeah. The episodes on deregulation have been fairly well attended as far as number of downloads, but nowhere near the, what was it, 275,000 shares and reach that that first deregulation graphic. I mean it, it triggered things on Facebook that we had to set up two-factor authentication. We had to declare what country we were in because it was a new page that was getting so much attention that they were like, hey, wait a minute. Are you doing something nefarious here? And I’ve never experienced anything like that for all of my social media knowledge and experience. That was unbelievable. I think, you know, we just kind of looked at each other, like whoa, have we hit on the thing? Like, and so we came down to earth a little bit after for that, which was great because I think that would have been a lot of pressure to try to maintain something like that long-term, but as far as highlights go, I mean, there are just probably too many to name. We’ve definitely though, unfortunately on the other hand, experienced quite a few lowlights.
JAIME: Some of those lowlights, we’re victims of our own success. In the sense that the content that we’re producing and have from the very beginning has inspired others to produce similar content.
ASHLEY: Definitely, and hey, you know what, there’s room for all of us. But it is just funny the way the timing worked out with some of those things. But we definitely also kind of from afar witnessed some of the more unfortunate parts of our industry and the different tactics that different parts of our industry are taking toward addressing the shutdown, their type of advocacy, using threats and lawsuits versus trying to partner with governmental agencies to make effective change. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion of how to go about these sorts of things, but you and I are very well-established in what we believe and what we think is effective advocacy. And we’ve spoken to Myra and Kati from the PBA about their advocacy efforts and I think we’ve both tried to take a similar tack as far as partnership, collaboration, and maybe not necessarily confrontation as part of our strategy to have our voices heard in the government.
JAIME: Let me clarify for all Outgrowth listeners that when we talk about fighting deregulation, we’re not advocating that you take up arms.
ASHLEY: Yes, exactly.
ASHLEY: We’re not trying to spark…
JAIME: There’s no violence.
ASHLEY: …any type of insurrection. But we, we definitely think that, and this is we’re well on record with this, and there’s some great tools on our website to help you in that, but I think even maybe the simplest way that you could fight deregulation is to just get informed on what it is and why it is harmful to our industry. Every time we post about deregulation, Jaime, especially when something goes wide, we always get kind of the same pushback that well, I don’t need a license to go to Target and buy a box of hair color. Why should you? And some of the same kind of ill-informed arguments over, and over, and over again. So I think part of that fight, quote unquote, is to just get informed as to how do you answer that type of argument. How can you help somebody understand why it is important that we maintain professional licensure in our industry? And through our advocacy work and through our previous career as independent educators, we’ve been noticed as maybe influential voices in our industry that have led to different opportunities, but we also know with that influence comes responsibility. Unfortunately, we have also witnessed several influencers advocating for just straight up non-compliance.
JAIME: And we’ve not had those individuals as guests on our show, nor would I want to unless there was some reckoning and understanding of the harm that that causes to our industry at large. I’d be happy to have that discussion with someone who’s redeemed themselves. So speaking of getting some notice, we were both selected to serve on the, to serve, I use that loosely, on the Nailpro advisory board, which at the time it was proposed, seemed like an ideal platform to further promote the content that we feel is most worthwhile for beauty professionals, and particularly in the nail space, because Nailpro was one of two very large media outlets serving the nail community and have for well over, is it 30 years now? It’s been a long time.
ASHLEY: And that whole situation just became untenable. Unfortunately, when we were each approached individually, of course, and the only reason that we knew the other had received the invitation is that. again, we speak multiple times daily, and not knowing who else was included, and knowing that both of us had been asked, I at least thought that, oh, okay. This shows that they’re paying attention. They’re going to ask the right people for the industry. That is not the case. Unfortunately, when it came to be announced who else was on the board, we found just a distinct lack of diversity in the voices that were chosen, other members with questionable business practices. And you and I had a very frank discussion about it and decided that because there was no action taken on behalf of Nailpro, because we did bring it to their attention before there was any kind of public outcry. Unfortunately, those objections were ignored. No action was taken and we both made the mutual decision to step down from the board in order to ensure that there was room for more diverse voices and so that this advisory board actually looks like what the nail industry looks like.
JAIME: The initial announcement of the board didn’t receive nearly as much attention as a post pointing out the non-diversity. And that’s what I think is so fascinating because I think it might’ve passed without much notice because, again, it’s not something someone was looking forward to. It wasn’t the announcement of who was nominated for the Oscar. It was an advisory board that didn’t exist before this year and hardly anyone knew about it because there wasn’t any sort of process in order to apply. It was selected in advance of it even really being formally announced so that we did resign did draw some attention, which that was partly my intent was to do that publicly because then at least people would ask why. Why did you resign?
ASHLEY: Well, and let’s be clear, an advisory board is a fancy title for something that we amounted to be essentially free labor, in creating content for a magazine in exchange for exposure. I mean, let’s call it what it is.
JAIME: Which we already have. We have our own platform for exposure for our collective interests and then each of us has our own individual projects where we can publish whatever we want, whenever we want.
ASHLEY: Yeah, that whole thing. It was just unfortunate from start to finish. It’s obviously still an ongoing situation. A new board has been named. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but we now know a little bit more about active anti-racism and the things that we can do as people who live in privilege to make sure that the spaces we occupy are as diverse as they possibly can be. It seems that Nailpro has taken steps to at least attempt to correct the issue and we’ll just see how it plays out.
JAIME: Whether they actually move forward in a way that reflects on their commitment that they made previously and have now had to remake remains to be seen. So we’ll be possibly revisiting this topic at some point in the future about what does it actually mean to be invited to participate in something like this. Because depending on what kind of organization it is and what the goals are, it could be completely different things. And I think that for the most part, because this has been shrouded in mystery up to this point and was not at all transparent, there were a lot of misunderstandings about what it meant other than recognition.
ASHLEY: It remains to be seen what will happen next with regard to Nailpro and if their reaffirmation of their commitments is something that is maintained. But on a more positive side of things, looking ahead for Outgrowth, we’ve got some fun plans in the works that will be announced in due time. We’re looking at some new partnerships down the line, some more resources to kind of make your lives as beauty professionals easier. And I think a focus on more of the business basics that we know that are very popular with our audience and some of the questions that we see asked over and over again whether it be on social media or in the classes that we used to teach in person. Remember in-person classes?
JAIME: I do and I am looking ahead in my schedule hoping at some point in the future to resume them.
ASHLEY: Me too. I miss shows. I miss traveling. I miss all of those things, but I can wait until it’s safe.
JAIME: And as I pronounced the word resume, R-E-S-U-M-E, I know it sounded like rezoom, R-E-Z-O-O-M, and that’s one thing we have not yet integrated into our content made available to listeners for free is a video component to our podcast, which is something we’ve been talking about, but we haven’t yet committed to.
ASHLEY: That’s right, because video just comes with a whole extra layer of technology and preparation, but I know that it’s important for accessibility reasons as well to ensure that we have a video component. It’s something that we’re working on. Where those videos go remains to be seen. I don’t know if it will necessarily have a huge YouTube presence or if it’ll be something that will be reserved for our Insiders members. That’s something you and I have to discuss, but something that we are very seriously considering.
JAIME: And that makes me smile because I reflect on some of the technical difficulties we’ve had getting our guests involved in the recording. And if we add the video component, that may just be one more layer of stress. And perhaps not everyone wants to be on video. I know I don’t, at this very moment, I don’t want to be on video right now.
ASHLEY: Me either. I am embracing dirty hair and pajamas for as long as I possibly can. So if we could just keep that going, I, I will be excited, but yes. It’s funny that you mentioned the technical issues. It’s like anybody that has been a guest that has represented some sort of governmental agency. It has been a whole thing trying to get them onto our recording platform, but you know, again, just more learning experiences and making things easier for ourselves in the future as we kind of get over each one of these obstacles.
JAIME: That being said, much of the technology that we’re using has expanded and the features that are available to us have multiplied to the extent that we’re trying to keep up with what we’re doing and also evaluate what could be most useful for our audience. And in saying that, I think it’s time that we announced that we’ll be taking a short break from producing new content in order to absorb all this new information and to come back with an even stronger product when we resume.
ASHLEY: Yeah, I think, you know, after a year it’s time for us to level set, figure out, reassess everything that we are using, what tools are out there that could potentially make this a more impactful medium. And since we are a two person operation, give us some time without the pressure of having to produce a weekly episode to crystallize what it is that we want to do. Just reassess where we’re at and where we want to go and if the way that we are going is the best way to get there. But we’ll be back.
JAIME: We will be back.
ASHLEY: Do not worry.
JAIME: This will be a short hiatus and though I’m not an avid podcast listener, I know that some podcasts operate on seasons. So it’s like built-in, baked in from the beginning that each season will only be a specific number of episodes and there could be long breaks between.
ASHLEY: Of months and months. Yeah, I listen to several podcasts in the season format and I like our format. I like the ability to be nimble with what we talk about and the fact that like, we’re recording this on Friday. This episode is going to go out on Monday and we can be on top of things as far as like newsworthiness, or things happening in the industry, or what have you. Um, so just a few weeks off is nothing to be alarmed about. We’re going to be, in the meantime, publishing some of our very best of episodes and things that we think need to be revisited, and that way you can take some time to catch up on our back catalog if you haven’t yet, or just review some of our favorite episodes.
JAIME: That may be a hard choice.
ASHLEY: It is going to be very difficult, but I think we can narrow it down.
JAIME: I think so too.
ASHLEY: We’ll see everybody on the other side of our break. Thank you so much for being an Outgrowth listener. We appreciate you and don’t worry. We will be back shortly.
JAIME: If you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts with one click. Just visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: And as always, you can follow us and comment on recent episodes on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
JAIME: Ashley, you and I will be working behind the scenes.
ASHLEY: Yep, just ensuring that we have a solid foundation for the way forward. Whatever the industry looks like, we want to be prepared.
JAIME: Until next time.
ASHLEY: Be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.