ASHLEY: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Ashley Gregory.
JAIME: And Jaime Schrabeck. The current landscape of the industry has forced us as beauty professionals to pay attention to the government, like it or not.
ASHLEY: How can pros quickly learn to navigate the often complicated and intimidating world of advocacy while juggling our daily schedules and running our businesses?
JAIME: We lay out the simple steps you can take to make a difference outside of your four walls. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: I don’t know about you, Jaime, but I’ve been seeing lots of confusion around who’s actually responsible for the laws that govern us, and who we can speak to about changing them, voicing our opinions, and making a difference.
JAIME: It’s as if we’ve forgotten the lessons we learned in civics class. I know I had it when I was in high school, but it was only for a semester. We probably should have had it every year.
ASHLEY: I agree. And if it’s a process that you’re not regularly engaged with, it can be really easy to forget some of the basics of how our governments operate and what we can do as citizens and constituents to make sure our voices are heard.
JAIME: At a macro level, we’ll remember that we have three branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, but what we need to focus on more closely for the beauty industry is the legislative branch, and particularly, at the state level.
ASHLEY: Now this is often an area of our government that we pay little to no attention to, even when these positions and seats are up for election and reelection. They’re the midterm elections, if you’ve heard that term. They’re the ones that happen sometimes via special election, and they’re often not at the same time as the presidential elections or some of the larger ones we pay more attention to.
JAIME: In California, for example, we have an assembly and a senate, and the term limits vary on either, and we have term limits. Those elections come around and if we’re not familiar, we might participate in the process, but we often just default to reelecting the incumbent, the person who was already in office.
ASHLEY: Here in Illinois, we have a house of representatives and a state senate, but Illinois politics has a reputation far beyond our state borders. So without getting too far into that, it’s important to understand the very basics of how our government functions, whether it’s the federal government, our state government, or our local governments because we as beauty professionals and constituents within those boundaries have tons of power that is untapped in order to make sure that our industry and livelihood are protected, but most importantly, that our concerns and questions are addressed directly.
JAIME: That’s such an important statement because we’re not going to be able to make an impact and have our voices heard if we don’t understand the process. In each state, the executive branch of government, with the governor sitting at the top, that person is responsible for choosing who heads the different departments, but in terms of the authority the department has, that’s awarded to that agency through the legislature. So all throughout, there’s this interconnectedness, but certainly the legislature has a huge influence on the mandate of state boards, what their priorities are, how they should function, and then it’s up to the state boards to execute the tasks that they’ve been given from the legislature.
ASHLEY: And that’s why it’s so important to really pay attention to who those legislators are, and when they’re up for reelection, what they stand for. Now, I’m not saying we all have tons of time in our day to be able to learn all this information, but there are some groups, watchdog agencies, websites, things like that, that can kind of break it down for you to it’s very basics so you don’t have to take on all of that research yourself. But your point about the state boards is really important because the state board, in general, reports to some type of licensing authority. Here in Illinois, it’s the Illinois Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. The head of that agency is appointed directly by the governor. And so you can see how all of these things are interconnected, but let’s get down to how this affects beauty pros directly in their daily lives. What do they do when maybe a deregulation bill gets introduced? And we cover deregulation in our very first episode. Or a bill to cut hours from the beauty disciplines in school, or something changing with one discipline being deregulated versus others. What kind of steps can we take as beauty professionals to make sure that we can actually address the concern right at the root?
JAIME: To focus on the legislators is to get at the root. And even if the particular legislator involved in introducing the bill is not your particular legislator, not your representative, it doesn’t matter. You still can connect with that particular person. It sometimes is more impactful if you are a constituent of that person, but really it doesn’t matter in the sense that you do have the power and the right to voice your opinion about actions that are yet to be taken. And I would emphasize that that’s the critical thing. You need to understand the process so that you can get involved with it very, very early. If you wait until after a bill becomes law, it’s too late. There’s been so much investment in time and effort to get a bill from a proposal to a signed piece of legislation that that time would be lost if you didn’t have the chance to jump in much earlier. You must get involved as early as you can, and you may even just persuade a legislator to not ever even introduce a bill like that. The thing to understand about legislators is they come from different industries. Oftentimes, they’re lawyers, or they’re real estate agents, or business people, or maybe they’re political activists, or organizers. They come from different walks of life, but very rarely do they come from the beauty industry. They don’t understand our industry, and even if they’re clients of our industry, they may only be clients of one segment of our industry, the most obvious being hair.
ASHLEY: So as we learned a few weeks ago in our episode with Myra Reddy from the Professional Beauty Association, there are some advocacy efforts happening on our behalf on both a national level and individual states. In your opinion, what kind of power does the PBA wield over some of these individual pieces of legislation versus an individual constituent in that area voicing their opinion? What do you think holds more weight?
JAIME: They actually could balance each other out or, if they agree on an issue, they provide a very compelling argument on either side, whether it’s an oppose or support position on that particular bill. An organization like the Professional Beauty Association has relationships with legislatures across the country, some legislatures more so than others. And that makes sense because certain legislatures introduce bills affecting our industry more frequently, and through providing information, whether it’s demographic data or stories, as Myra said that she likes to share, there’s information being provided through the PBA. However, I would urge everyone to advocate for yourself. It’s not being selfish in any way to say, this is who I am. This is my relationship to the industry. This is how I understand your bill, and this is how it would impact me if it were to pass.
ASHLEY: I think it’s also important to note, too, that for as visible as our governors have been lately with regard to determining when our states are ready to move into different phases post-COVID, or what types of regulations and guidelines we need to follow as we reopen, they’re not actually responsible for creating these laws, introducing these bills, and having any real say over what happens in our state with regard to our disciplines and our licenses. I’ve seen a lot of conversation around different governors from different states kind of being the enemy because they have kept us closed, or there’s been a license revocation happening for those who are not honoring stay-at-home orders and shelter-in-place orders, and are continuing to see clients through those. Yes, the governor can sign bills into law and can veto bills, but also understand that the governor is not the one twisting their mustache and trying to derail our industry by introducing laws to deregulate our licenses. If we don’t have the fundamental understanding of the building blocks and bases of our government, it can be really easy to want to take up arms and get fired up about a principle, but if we’re not directing it to the right people, our efforts can really be for nothing. And we’ll link in the show notes here some resources where you can figure out exactly who your representatives are and how to contact them so that you can make sure you’re getting a direct line to the people who matter in understanding and voicing your concerns or support for different bills.
JAIME: One of the first questions that gets asked is, whose idea was that? And the assumption, if you don’t understand the process is, well, that’s what the governor wants. Well, not likely. It’s possible that that idea came from an agency within the government. It could come from a legislator, maybe they actually even ran on that position when they were campaigning. It could come from a constituent. It could come from some sort of outside organization that has built a relationship with a legislator, or has found a legislator that the organization thinks would be sympathetic to whatever it is that they want to have passed. So these ideas come from all different places and, of course, some ideas are better than others and some ideas would have a significantly negative impact on our industry while others might actually do us some good. The reason why I focus on individual advocacy and say that that can be powerful is that no one is more invested in what happens to you than you, So, in describing yourself, I tend to look at how I identify within the industry. I happen to be a licensed manicurist, a salon owner with employees, and I offer nail services only. Now that might seem like a really small group of individuals, and to be sure, I probably do not represent, and I know I do not, the vast majority of licensed manicurists in my state, and even less of the overall licensee population in my state. But what you’ll find as you start interacting and connecting with other licensees and other people in our industry is that your specific best interests often overlap with other groups’ best interests within the industry.
ASHLEY: I know in your advocacy work in California, very often you are one of, if not the only, nail industry representative at some of these state board meetings.
JAIME: And I make it clear when I do speak on my behalf that I am speaking on my behalf. I don’t claim to represent every licensee. I don’t claim to represent any organization. I speak on my behalf because I’ve invested the time in understanding the issues and thinking through the consequences. And I’ve been known to take positions that on their face would seem to go against what would be in my best interest, but I’m able to take a step back and think in terms of, what’s best for the industry? At some point you may be asked to do something or take a position on something that might negatively impact you, but if it’s what’s best for the industry, would you be willing to support it?
ASHLEY: We are very good at separating ourselves into smaller boxes in the beauty industry, whether it’s because we do hair or we’re a lash technician, but when it comes to issues like deregulation or bills that are introduced about the beauty industry, if you’re coming at this from outside of our industry, we are the same to the layman or someone coming at it from outside of where we are every day and where we live, which is specialties, niches, trainings and certifications beyond our licenses and to get really good at one or two specific skills. It’s important to be good at or to master one sort of thing, but outside the industry, we are perceived to be the same. Therefore, we are in general legislated the same. It can get really scary that if we’re not dialed into what’s happening, or at least current events in the beauty industry that, to your earlier point. if you’re going to react to something, once it’s already become a law, it’s too late. It is the law, and unless there is some kind of major action, it’s not going to change. That’s why it’s so important to really get involved early. If there is a bill introduced that threatens your livelihood, in general, the PBA will be on top of it. We do our best to try to bring attention to it through our social media channels, but it’s really up to you in your individual state to know what’s happening, and be able to be agile enough to take a stand, and create some action around it right from the beginning.
JAIME: Let’s go ahead and review the five simple steps that someone could take who wants to get involved.
ASHLEY: Definitely. Well, the first one is to read the bill. Now, this sounds very basic, but if you’re new to advocacy, this is a great way to really understand what exactly is being introduced, what’s changing, or what’s being rewritten, essentially. So the very first thing you have to do is Google the bill and the bill number, and you will be able to get the full text of exactly what’s being proposed.
JAIME: In that bill text, the bill will usually start with a statement around what existing law is. If that’s a surprise to you when you read that information, what existing law is that tells me you really have not been paying attention. So it’s super important because that existing law statement has been written and is factual to address what the current status is of that particular subject. And then it will launch into an explanation of what’s changing and an analysis, which will be a separate document related to that bill, will provide some background on why this is necessary. That information will also include who’s introducing the bill. So it will name the particular assembly person, or senate person, or whatever the names of your legislative houses are in your state. And it will also let you know who the co-sponsors are and you can easily do the next step of which is to identify those representatives and follow through with who they are. So that’s step number two after you’ve read the bill is to follow through and identify your own representatives and probably do some background research on the individuals who actually are introducing the bill.
ASHLEY: That’s important because you need to know number one, what party they’re from to get a better idea of their ideology. And it can give you a little bit of a clue into their motivation for introducing a bill like this, but identifying the specific representatives who have sponsored or co-sponsored the bill and your representative. These are all people that you want to get into contact with: the bill sponsor, any co-sponsors, and then your representative in that specific chamber of government. The reason being is that your representative has to listen to you because they are your representative. Reaching out just to the bill sponsor can sometimes fall on deaf ears, and that’s why it’s important to prep your representative so that when and if the bill were to be read or move to committee that they can be watching for it and understand how specifically their constituents from their district feel.
JAIME: All of these legislators have to work with each other. That’s just the nature of government in order to get anything done. Imagine all of the conversations that take place that aren’t quote unquote, on the record, where they may be saying, hey, to a colleague, I’m getting a lot of pushback on this bill. I know it’s your bill, but I’m feeling pressure to vote against it. Just letting you know. These conversations likely happen all the time, so that they realize that maybe they’re not hearing it directly from their constituents, but if other legislators are getting pressure either to support or oppose, that does have an impact.
ASHLEY: And your representative can bring specific parts of the bill to their attention that could lead to an amendment down the road that, hey, can we compromise on this? Or is there any way you can remove A, B, and C in favor of D, E, and F? This sort of background wheeling and dealing is absolutely the nature of the game. So that’s why it’s very important to get your concerns registered with your representative as soon as possible in the process. So step three would be to form an opinion. Now, this would be really just thinking about how you feel about what’s proposed in the bill. So you’ve read it. You’ve identified the sponsors, co-sponsors, and your own representative, but forming an opinion means reviewing the pros and cons and thinking about how, if this law were to take effect, how it would directly affect you and your business. We often feel intimidated by this process, and that we’re only one person, and how can we make a difference. But it is those small details and how things affect even just one person that can give your representative the tools they need to either fight the bill, support the bill, or try to have it changed.
JAIME: Part of the reason this process is so intimidating is that most of us are not lawyers. Most of us don’t have that expertise with that kind of language. So the fact that we directed those of you who are interested to read the bill first is because we often form an opinion as step one. That is a huge mistake, and we’ll see that in reactions on social media.
ASHLEY: Oh, exactly. The comments saying, like you said earlier, whose idea was this? Well by reading the bill, you would find that out. But also then we start to see people get angry and say, well, how? Or are they going to pay my loans back? All of these questions could be answered by reading the bill and getting in touch with the sponsor and your representative. Forming an opinion on it can be either something in support, or in opposition, or you can support just part of the bill. Forming an opinion and getting your thoughts together are really going to help you with the next step.
JAIME: And this step, again, can be very intimidating because not all of us are as skilled at writing, but it doesn’t have to be fancy. In committing your thoughts to paper, what you’re doing is presenting it in a format that you can share and that’s what we’re building up to is that we’re formulating our thoughts. We’re putting it on paper. We’re citing sources or referring to other evidence, if need be. And in doing that process, we might even change our mind about our opinion. Our initial opinion might change once we start actually having to form an argument that we could explain and defend if we were challenged, because if we’re going to take an oppose position, what we’re doing is, in essence, challenging the author of the bill, challenging the wisdom of passing that law. And I have to go back to one thing you said, Ashley, because when you said you would get these questions on social media, whose idea was that? I think one of the more humorous questions I get, and I know it’s not even meant to be humorous, but when people ask, is this true?
ASHLEY: Mm. Yeah, that’s one of my favorites too. Or they tag a friend, like, is this true?
JAIME: Is this really happening?
ASHLEY: That just shows me how unempowered we feel to figure that out for ourselves. You know, yes, this is going to take a little bit of time, but the first time you do it will take the most time. Once you start figuring out the process, reading, identifying, forming an opinion, and then writing that down, it just gets easier and you start to be more dialed in to what’s actually happening. You can start thinking about previous bills that have been introduced and what happened with those, like it, the more, you know, the more powerful you are as far as just being able to operate in this circle and while it can be a bit intimidating and we can feel like we’re out of our depth, again, just remember representatives work for us. Therefore we are entitled to access to them. We are entitled to replies from them or their staff. So just understand that while there’s a lot of red tape, and legalese, and things like that, at the end of the day, your representative is there to represent you, your opinions, your feelings, your thoughts, but they’re going to respond best to facts, your personal story, and your statement of support or opposition. So that’s why it’s so important to get those things together first.
JAIME: I know we’re giving just a brief overview because we could literally spend hours, or even days, examining each of these steps and talking about all of the nuances and there’s so much more I want to say about each one of these things, but we’ll keep it moving along. But I’m glad you brought out the fact that you need to personalize your story. What you say and what you write should be something only you can say in terms of the personalization. Some of this stuff that you will come up with you’ll be able to use over and over again. For example, the way that you describe yourself. You might want to highlight different things depending on the subject of the bill, but the basis of who you are and how you relate to the beauty industry does not change. In doing this exercise, as you said, the first one’s going to be the most difficult, but once you develop a feel for it, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier. And it’s okay to bounce these ideas off of other people in the industry before you take that last step, which is to actually share this opinion by connecting with your representatives, because it’s quite possible that something that you’ve written and something you’ve committed to might not be as strong an argument as you think, or it might be something that’s validated by some other organization or some other person. And so you sort of want to get a feel for how what you have to say fits into creating a more accurate picture of the circumstances and what the consequences will be.
ASHLEY: Now connection means you’ve taken these four other steps and you’ve formed your opinion. You’ve written it down. You’ve put it into a format that can serve as either an email or a bit of a phone script so that you’re very prepared to lay out the reasons why you feel the way that you feel. This generally is not going to be accomplished in a comment on this representative’s Facebook wall, or a tweet. This is designed to help you create what’s essentially a position paper, just a scaled down version of it, to be able to have a well thought out argument. And it doesn’t have to be a super long – this can be two paragraphs. But at least this way, you now have this piece of content in your written opinion that you can repurpose. You can use it as, like I said, a phone script, an email, a social media post. There’s many different ways you can repurpose this content to get the word out about it, and hopefully bring more people over to your side who can then also take these same steps. I do want to caution our listeners though, while this sounds like it could be a lot of work and that there could be an easier answer, which is of course, Jaime, your and my favorite: signing a petition. Signing a petition is easy because you only have to click a few buttons and you really feel like you’ve accomplished something. But when it comes to a petition, it’s actually known as slacktivism in certain circles because it’s the least amount of effort. And unfortunately, if the percentages of success or the success rate from online petitions, if you’re to regard those actual percentages and numbers, they’re not very successful. So while it may make you feel better, it’s not really doing much to support your cause.
JAIME: It’s only slightly more active than liking or sharing a post on social media. I say slightly more active because you’re actually providing your email address in signing a petition, which is a valuable piece of information. You are giving that away in order to assign your name, which is going to get lost among hundreds, if not thousands, of other names. It’s not individualized in any sort of way. It’s not even validated. Do they go back and validate that the individuals who submitted their emails for this petition are even going to be impacted by this regulation? No.
ASHLEY: Right. Well, and just judging by the number of times I’ve seen someone share a post from Outgrowth talking about a specific bill and saying, I’ll sign a petition whenever there’s one available, it’s really taking away your power. And we talked about this very briefly in our episode about petitions, partitions, and PPE, but what a petition does is it takes our strength, which is numbers, which is individual emails and calls inundating an office by making a concerted contact effort with our own personal stories to sway our legislator to our way of thinking. It takes that power and it distills it down into one email that can be completely ignored. So signing a petition, again, it might make you feel good or that you’re doing your part, but if you really follow it all the way through to its termination, it doesn’t accomplish anything. And you will see on the news where some poor congressional staffer has to haul a bunch of boxes of paper to a specific office and say, here’s all the people who signed our petition. It doesn’t carry as much weight as you think it does. So following our simple five step plan to really begin your advocacy career, you’re going to see much more of a result and likely a response from that legislator by following these five steps. And that’s why we’ve laid them out, and Jaime can attest to her own personal successes with following that plan and creating some real change.
JAIME: There are no guarantees in any of this, but you’ll find that the more involved you get, the more rewarding it is because you’ll take lessons from every issue, every piece of legislation that you get involved in. You’ll build connections and relationships with representatives, staffers, committee staffers. I mean, it goes on and on. There’s so many different things, again, we could share and, you know, perhaps we will, Ashley, in some additional content that we will make available for individuals who really truly want to pursue this.
ASHLEY: I know, just judging by the number of emails we’ve received from past episodes, there are those of you out there who are willing to take this on, but I also want to help everyone understand that this is something that may happen just a few times a year. Most of our state representatives and legislatures are not in session all 365 days out of the year. In general, they take the summer off. So there’s several resources we’ll link to in the show notes that can help you understand the breakdown of the party makeup of whatever branch you’re looking at, the session dates, and any new bills that may come your way that have anything to do with cosmetology, you’ll likely hear about through either social media, PBA alerts, or items we send out via our social media or email. So this isn’t something you’re going to have to make time in your schedule for you to do every day or even every week. You may have to do this once a month, but you take five minutes to read the bill, identify who it is you need to speak to form your opinion, write it down, and send it out. It’s really not that much work.
JAIME: No, and you’ll build connections, not only with your state government, but with other professionals. And there’s so much to be gained in terms of institutional knowledge and strategies. I think that’s one of the things that we’re not able to cover in just a short podcast episode are the dos and don’ts, and the strategies that are most effective for getting the attention of legislators in a way that makes them feel good about working with you.
ASHLEY: Absolutely. If you come at someone filled with rage, and using expletives, and trying to bully someone into taking your side of an argument, has that ever worked? And so if you’re interested in getting active and involved in advocacy, first of all, make sure you listen to our episode with Myra Reddy about governmental relations from the PBA, tons of information to help you understand by taking a common measured approach, you’ll be considered more approachable, and your representatives are much more likely to want to work with you, and hear you out versus getting emotional and adversarial, even if your politics don’t line up with your representatives personal views. It’s always better to come at it professionally, just talking about the facts and how things will affect you directly. If you operate through those principles, you’ll be very successful.
JAIME: You’re going to have a long career in the beauty industry. Often politicians have a long career in politics. So the person that you might be opposing today, their idea, you might need their help when later they become a more prominent member of the legislature or they run for a higher office. It truly is in your best interest to represent yourself always as someone who’s a credible professional.
ASHLEY: That’s such a great point. It’s important to catch more flies with honey. Keep your friends close, enemies closer, et cetera. There is some strategy involved in this, but don’t let that intimidate you or keep you from acting. Oftentimes, we just wait to be led, which is why petitions are so popular, letter-writing campaigns, sharing a social post with an angry emoji. If we can step out of that cycle and kind of go back a little bit as far as technology goes, and get into email and actually making a phone call, and using your phone as a phone. Can you stand it? These are ways to make sure that your voices and concerns are heard first.
JAIME: I’d like to read this quote from Representative Karen Bass. She’s in Congress. She’s from Los Angeles and she was talking about the difference between the work that activists do, and we could substitute the word advocate there, and the work that legislators do. “It is the role of an activist to push us as far as they can push us. It is our role to legislate and that is a different role. It takes an outside and an inside strategy to bring about change. We work on the inside. We know what is realistic. We are very committed to making a difference, and that is different than making a point. You can either make a point or you can make a difference.”
ASHLEY: Well, that’s lovely and a really apt description of what’s happening in our world right now.
JAIME: And that does have some impact on what priorities the legislators are placing on their legislation. So you’ll see that there will not be much activity around bills that don’t have anything to do with Coronavirus right now, or the economic situation. So, that being said, we still see some deregulation bills, but, for the most part, the calendar for the legislatures has been so restricted because of the inability to meet in person, and the technical challenges of doing their business and making it public, and meeting all of the requirements of their governing work under the circumstances of having to do it virtually.
ASHLEY: So we have even more time to do steps one through four of the five easy steps to get into advocacy. And it may be a bill that was introduced last year that still hasn’t been acted on or hasn’t come out of committee. It’s still important to keep those things on your radar. Of course, we’ll have lots of resources for you in the show notes, which you can view either in the info button in your podcast listening app, or on our website, which is outgrowthpodcast.com.
JAIME: Ashley, I’ll be so interested to read the comments on this episode because I want to hear from beauty professionals and salon owners, what’s happening in their states? What did they know to be true, and how they’re getting involved?
ASHLEY: I think that’s an excellent exercise also to have everybody sort of check and see what’s looming that they may not have yet known about. And this is a great opportunity to do that. So I hope everyone walks away from this episode feeling encouraged and empowered to be able to take some sort of action in their state, even if that action is vigilance and committing to checking for legislation once a month, or white listing emails from the PBA or from us about what could potentially be coming to your state. So hopefully something good to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic is that we are paying more attention to what our government is doing and understanding a little bit more about how it works so that when it comes time to take action, we’re just better equipped to do so.
JAIME: I could not have said that better. Thank you.
ASHLEY: Oh, yay. All right, well please subscribe, rate, and review Outgrowth on your favorite podcast platform. It helps us reach more listeners like you, and we really appreciate it.
JAIME: If you leave us a review on Apple podcasts, we might read your review on our next episode. Here’s a testimonial from NailsBySusiG: “Thank you for all the information. I’ve learned so much and continue to learn when I listen to new episodes.” Well, thank you, Susi.
ASHLEY: Yeah, that’s great. As always, you can follow us and comment on recent episodes on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
JAIME: Do yourself a favor. If you’ve missed any of our previous episodes, please visit the website outgrowthpodcast.com. We have all of our episodes in one place, plus show notes, transcripts, and the resources that will help you be a better beauty professional.
ASHLEY: Until next week, be smart.
JAIME: And be safe.