JAIME: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Jaime Schrabeck.
ASHLEY: And Ashley Gregory Hackett. After what seemed like an endless legislative process, this year’s most controversial bill in the beauty industry has reached the last step before becoming law.
JAIME: While California’s SB 803 awaits the governor’s signature, we review the final version, what changes to expect, and the impact on other states. Let’s grow together.
ASHLEY: Well, Jaime, here it is. We’ve been covering SB 803 since it was first introduced.
JAIME: This last week was the last week for bills to move from either the assembly and the senate to the governor’s desk. Awaiting signature.
ASHLEY: And so much has happened along the way. I know that our listeners have been really great about following along in this process, and learning how things work in their states if they’re not in California, just by osmosis, and seeing how this bill has changed so dramatically, and what we can expect with these last few steps.
JAIME: These last few steps are not a given, but they’re expected. We do expect the governor to sign the bill. He has until October 10th to do that for any of the bills that land on his desk, either to sign or veto.
ASHLEY: And before we get into SB 803, I know that the California Governor Newsom is currently facing a recall. What role would that have on this timeline for the bill signature?
JAIME: What’s interesting about that is if this were any other year and the recall weren’t happening, nor the wildfires, nor COVID, nor everything else that’s happening, we’d expect the governor to process bills in order of priority. So those bills that rise to the top in terms of the topic would get signed right away as an indication of his willingness or support for what the legislature does. Unfortunately, this bill does not rise to that standard. This is just not that important in the big scheme of things. And so I don’t expect it to get signed before we know the results of the recall election, which the final day to vote and the final day to cast your ballot would be September 14th. So this is where we’re not sure how soon to expect a signature, but we do expect one given that this is a bill born of a sunset review process.
ASHLEY: So many fun little wrinkles and the recall election, it seems from what I could find online is the effect of it is immediate. If, if the governor is recalled, it’s immediate, right?
JAIME: Actually no. If Governor Newsom does not survive the recall, then it’s likely that this bill will still get signed because there’s a transition period between when he were to be leaving office and when the next governor would take over. That’s if he loses the recall.
ASHLEY: Understood. Okay. Well, let’s get into SB 803 and where we stand today. Through so much discussion with our listeners and with other advocates in the industry, we know that the impact on the industry will be large, but just how big of an impact will it have?
JAIME: I think it’s like an earthquake in that when you first hear of an earthquake, you look for the damage, right? You look for the obvious damage, things getting knocked down. What I think this has done, or will do, is it will weaken what has been the foundation of the beauty industry for many, many decades, and that is this process by which we get licensed that requires us to go to beauty school. It’s going to shake that foundation.
ASHLEY: Which sounds scary. And I think we’ve seen through the opposition that’s been put forth to this bill every step of the way that there’s, first of all, a lack of understanding about what the bill actually does, and then secondly, the knee-jerk reactions to any change in our industry. So I like your analogy there because yes, we always want to assess the damage first. But then realizing this is also a chance to rebuild and it’s an opportunity to remake the industry in the way that it maybe should have been all along. Let’s get into the biggest changes in the final version of this bill and what we can expect to potentially see happen if this does get signed.
JAIME: Most of the focus has been around the number of hours required to get a license. And the fact that California is moving towards not deregulation, but what I like to call reregulation of the industry focused on the licenses required for doing hair. So in California, that’s a cosmetologist license or a barber license. And in the most recent amendment and the one that passed the Senate and is now on the governor’s desk is an approved course for barbering or cosmetology could be no less than a thousand hours.
ASHLEY: Wow. That is different.
JAIME: Right. And those earlier versions of the bill, when it was to be a thousand hours only. See the difference? Now it has to be.
ASHLEY: No less than, right?
JAIME: Correct. So that means, you know, beauty schools will probably keep on doing what they’ve been doing, which is offering these courses at 1500 and 1600 hours, respectively, for barbering and cosmetology. But there’s nothing keeping a school, once this bill gets signed, from drafting a curriculum and offering a course at a thousand hours, or anywhere between a thousand hours and above. I don’t know what will happen in that space. There’s an opportunity there, I think, for some enterprising school to come up with a course that’s shorter and cheaper.
ASHLEY: That’s going to be interesting to watch because the competition between schools is already pretty high, and how they price themselves, and what they offer with each course, and who’s going to be innovative. Everybody has job placement assistance. Everybody has a, b, and c, but like you said, what will an enterprising school do that’s going to offer maybe a course set at a thousand hours and draw more people to it by just providing that value.
JAIME: And again, will schools stick with what they’ve been doing all along and insist that this is the best way, the only way, or will they start offering options?
ASHLEY: Well, then you start to wonder, okay. If there’s any conversation between these schools, do we get into a price-fixing conversation?
JAIME: Absolutely. That needs to be part of the conversation because we could argue that a lot of what’s kept the hours at the level that they’re at across the country may be an issue of some sort of collusion among beauty schools, which is not something we want to look at. But it makes sense if there is no educational reason, if there’s no legitimate way to validate the number of hours that’s required, what else is there other than some sort of price-fixing scheme based on hours?
ASHLEY: Some enterprising, investigative journalist may have something to look at there, but that’s definitely a topic for another episode. We can get more and more into beauty school and we’ll link into our show notes, of course, previous episodes we’ve done about beauty school and how we feel about it. But what else has changed in this final version of the bill?
JAIME: A late breaking development was the addition of a hairstylist license at only 600 hours.
JAIME: Wow is right, and we’re not done yet because, and I say that because this was something that the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology wanted. They wanted a hair-only license. However, the way that it’s currently described in the bill’s language is a little bit problematic, and we’re hoping that that can be resolved once it’s signed, and before any sort of license is offered. The problem comes from right now, it’s limited to styling and cutting and does not include chemical services, but also includes language that would make you think that you would be able to do facials with this license.
ASHLEY: Oh, no.
JAIME: Oh no is right.
ASHLEY: That’s, as if the estheticians in California didn’t have enough going on with this bill that’s problematic. And I guess, give me kind of a peek behind the curtain as to what would happen or what the process is to get something like this clarified or the language around it more clear from once it’s signed to once it’s in practice. How does that work?
JAIME: There’s definitely a gap between once the bill is signed and when someone would actually be able to obtain a hairstylist license. So it’s in that gap that there’s a possibility of some further legislation that would clean up that language and clarify that while it was the legislature’s intent to offer this license, that in practical application, it doesn’t make much sense to blur the lines between doing hair and doing facials, which is the scope of estheticians. And to point out that the cosmetologist’s license does not go away. If you wanted to become a cosmetologist to do hair, skin, and nails, that’ll still be an option. It just won’t be the only option.
ASHLEY: Hmm. So knowing that the legislative process moves pretty slowly, would this be an amendment to the bill or would this just be clarification of language in the overall bill regulating barbering and cosmetology as a whole?
JAIME: This would be new legislation because once a bill is signed, that final version of the language is done. I think what’s happened, and this goes to the process, is that the time that it took to even get this far with the inclusion of this language didn’t leave as much time to perfect it, which is unfortunate.
ASHLEY: It is.
JAIME: We could have been much further ahead if we had more substantive and productive conversations earlier on.
ASHLEY: Yeah, it seems like everything kind of got squished in the timeline at the end and now we sort of get what we get. It’s encouraging to know that there are options to go back and potentially introduce new legislation. I think the big question mark there though, is what legislator is going to produce that new bill?
JAIME: Hopefully, it will come from the same legislators who are responsible for these committees. So on the senate side, we have one person and on the assembly side we have another person. And I would hope it would come from the assembly side because that’s where most of the work has been done and where the longevity of the person will play into all of this because he was present for all of those sunset review hearings.
ASHLEY: Sure that makes sense. All right. Well, onto the next here on the list, what else can we expect from the final version of SB 803?
JAIME: Something that we’ve been watching all along, but many were resistant to. I’m thrilled by it. The practical examination would go away.
JAIME: So here comes some gamesmanship. If you’re graduating soon, do you wait until after January 1st to take an exam so that you don’t have to take the practical exam for your license?
ASHLEY: Well, that’s the question. And we’ve actually been asked this question, what, what someone should do if they maybe failed their practical, or they just pass their written and are now about to schedule their practical, if they could wait that time. But are there any potential roadblocks to this bill being signed? I mean, yes. Okay. Let’s say Newsom is recalled, or let’s say he vetoes it, not very likely on either case, but you could be waiting to January one and still be in the same boat. I mean, this is obviously very, you know, a 0.01% chance, but there’s still a chance.
JAIME: Right, and there’s always the opportunity that even if a governor vetoes legislation that the legislature could override the veto.
ASHLEY: Right, right. Oh, that’s the question. I mean, if you can wait, go ahead. But it just depends on how badly you really don’t want to take the practical. And at this point, do we even know, are they scheduling into 2022?
JAIME: I doubt it.
JAIME: I,I don’t know for a fact, but there was a time, particularly at the height of COVID, which we could say is no, we thought it was last year ,when we were urging the board to suspend temporarily the practical exam because we just knew that it wasn’t common sense to have people travel long distances, and have to wait to get this test date, and then be in a room to take this test when it really doesn’t have that much to do with health and safety after all.
ASHLEY: I mean, I’m just wondering now let’s say you pass your written and you go to schedule your practical. What dates are you getting? And we’re recording this at the beginning of September 2021. You could be scheduling into November or December at this point.
JAIME: If not further into the calendar year, because just, I would say about six to eight weeks ago, the scheduling was into the fall already.
ASHLEY: Okay. Well.
JAIME: I think it’s, yeah, I think the administrators at the board are probably dealing with this question every day, no doubt. And to think of all the time that schools spend rehearsing the practical exam.
ASHLEY: It’s true. I mean, that’s, that’s a big chunk of the hours you’re spending in school now. But small side note, talk about barriers to entry, waiting months to be able to enter the workforce because you have to do this choreographed dance for a proctor. We’ve made our opinions on this and known in previous SB 803 episodes. But if you have any, I guess, empathy for people, um, entering our industry, or if you are a hiring manager for your salon, you have to see that this is a problem.
JAIME: That’s true. The wait time is unpredictable and that’s unfortunate that it’s been this way for as long as it has. And more recently, there have been more concerns about the reliability and validity of the test itself because of the way that it’s judged by the proctors. So that that’s always something that we don’t want to have to think about, but you do because otherwise the written test is taken on a computer and it’s scored by a computer. I mean, that’s pretty simple.
ASHLEY: Right, and doesn’t have a lot of subjectiveness to it.
JAIME: Hopefully, not.
ASHLEY: You would hope. So what else do we need to know if we are following SB 803 closely?
JAIME: The hairstylist license, again, should this become law, that is not something that will be available right away in terms of schools being able to offer it because there’s that entire process that the board has to go through in order to establish a new license type. That could take a year.
ASHLEY: Sure. Just the logistics of it. And then how do you test for it, as well?
JAIME: Correct and setting it up so that schools would have to reapply to offer the program. Because right now, a beauty school has to apply saying it’s going to offer a certain type of program and it could be a range of programs. We do have eletrology-only schools, barbering-only schools, but as far as cosmetology goes and skincare and nail care, those have to be offered together. We cannot have skin- and nail-only schools.
JAIME: Nor would we be able to have, based on that, we would not be able to have a school that could just churn out hairstylist-only students.
ASHLEY: That’s wild to me.
JAIME: Not only is it wild, but you know talk about sort of restricting access because we all know that the moneymaker is the cosmetology program. That’s the one that has the longest number of hours. It’s the one they can charge the most for. And I can’t pull up right now the percentage, but if we knew the percentage right now of students who are enrolled in beauty schools who have obtained federal loans to pay for that schooling, I’m sure the number is pretty high.
ASHLEY: Definitely, and we know that there’s a minimum hour threshold for that type of financial aid. So that is another question for the hairstylist license at 600 hours only.
JAIME: It’s exactly 600 hours. How convenient?
ASHLEY: Shocking. Follow that money, Jaime. Then the other point of clarification I want you to make for me is knowing that there’s a lot of infrastructure and logistics that go into the creation of a new license type being this hair-only license, that’s something that’s going to take a long time to implement. So if you’re thinking about going to beauty school and you know you need to do full cosmetology, but really you just want to do hair, this is not something you would necessarily want to wait for if you want to enter the workforce in the next year. But that’s something we know is going to take a little while to implement, but what about this reduction of hours in barbering and cosmetology at a thousand? Is that something that can start on January one potentially?
JAIME: Yes, as far as I know, but what we don’t know is exactly how the board is going to handle students who are already enrolled.
JAIME: What are we going to do with those students? Do we test them out at a thousand hours and they can say goodbye to their school situation? And for future students who are contemplating enrolling, but don’t want to wait for that 600-hour license to become available, there has to be some sort of crossover mechanism by which students can bail.
ASHLEY: And I’m wondering how many schools are going to start getting requests for refunds for that additional time. If I’ve paid for and taken out loans for 1600 hours, but I can hit the streets at a thousand, uh, I think we’re going to see a lot of defaulted loans and a lot of schools dealing with some administrative nightmares.
JAIME: Well, if they were smart, they would let them opt to do that because otherwise the word of mouth would be horrible.
ASHLEY: I just can’t imagine that. I mean, I think back to my schooling experience. I think it would have bankrupted my nail school if I had said, give me a third of my money back, which is just a commentary on how schools are run to begin with. But it makes me wonder if there are contracts in place and if some of those would be considered predatory or unenforceable. So there’s just, there’s a lot of questions. I mean, the net benefit of this bill is positive in my opinion, but there are ripples that are going to form, and things that will really need to be answered, and there aren’t going to be easy ones right away.
JAIME: True. One of the ripples is that, and this has been in the bill from early on, that you could have a license in another state and obtain a California license, and understanding that you’re not transferring your license. You can hold multiple licenses in multiple states simultaneously, but you could hold a California license without having to have been active three of the last five years.
ASHLEY: Okay. So what’s happening with that?
JAIME: So theoretically, if you were someone in a nearby state, or in a state that had a much lower cost of living and lower cost of schooling, you could encourage students to attend your school, get licensed in that state, and then immediately apply for their California license in order to come and work in California. And let’s face it. I think some schools across the country probably have very different standards. They might even have virtual learning happening. I mean it sort of opens a lot of doors and when those doors open, there are opportunities for fraud and other things.
ASHLEY: And this is why it’s so important to pay attention to what’s happening in states around you as far as beauty industry legislation because you could actually see an influx of students from California that live near a border state. And if you were planning on going in places like Nevada, or Oregon, or wherever, those school sessions may be filling up faster than you had planned. So there’s, there’s ramifications well beyond California itself and knowing that the largest market of beauty professionals in the country is moving to these different thresholds, we’re going to start seeing legislation and other states. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when,
JAIME: I agree. That we had the Institute for Justice as a supporter of this bill makes perfect sense because it does reduce the hours. It doesn’t get rid of the licensing completely. That would’ve probably been their dream, as we know, as they introduced legislation across the country, but it does reduce the number of hours. And I think from state to state and as they introduce legislation for next year’s sessions, we will see more bills of this type. And those legislators will be able to point to California and say, look, look at what California did.
ASHLEY: And knowing what the current administration, the Office of the President, their attitude on regulating different industries through licensure. We know based on that executive order, that there are changes that will be coming and commissions that have been formed in order to advise states on what the new standard will be. So, a change is happening. We have to pay attention, and be ready, and be able to answer some of these questions for ourselves. What if? And if you’d like to read that executive order, we’ll have that, of course, linked in the show notes, but all right. So we’ve got established some of the things that we expected. What else is happening with this final version of SB 803 that we really need to take note of?
JAIME: It’s still about the ripple effects. And I say that because looming out there is this commitment by the federal government to have an interstate compact. And the timeline for an interstate compact that they want done for this industry is only about 18 months, which is not a very long time. So if in fact this is the most recent and most impactful bill, and it sets these hours at a minimum of a thousand for hair, it would make sense to me that the interstate compact might follow that exact formula.
ASHLEY: I agree. I think if you look at what state an interstate compact would follow, it’s probably not going to be Iowa, right? You know, well, actually shade to Iowa.
JAIME: Well, shade to Iowa. It deserves it for having expensive beauty school and, and too many hours, but let’s also be realistic and understand the leadership of this interstate compact at the top is our executive officer.
ASHLEY: Exactly, and knowing that we’re going to have these changes coming on a federal level, which really can’t tell the states what to do, but if they’re going to support a specific threshold and California’s paving the way, this is coming to your state. You need to be ready. and that’s why we highly advise going back through and listening to the evolution of this bill through our episodes covering it. It may not look exactly the same, but I think a lot of these bills are going to be introduced as deregulation, and then work their way back towards a reduction of hours. Just knowing what we’ve seen in other states, seeing what has happened in this process, that’s essentially the exact playbook. So be ready. We will, of course, make sure everybody is onboard and aware of pending legislation that’s being introduced in different states. But I think that the righteous indignation, and the outrage, and the how, and the who makes these rules, we’re well past that discussion now. And if you’re a listener to this podcast, you’re, I think, a little bit more informed than the average bear and you’re ready to take action. So we want to be your resource for that, of course, moving forward. Jaime, is there anything else that we need to know about SB 803 If we’re going to prepare ourselves for potential legislation being introduced in our states?
JAIME: Let’s go back to the analogy of the earthquake. If you could get a warning and we are trying to issue a warning of something happening, then that’s what you have to pay attention to. And rather than treating any legislation as a disaster when it’s first introduced, you need to understand that the introduction of a bill lays down a position that’s meant to be negotiated. So that SB 803 at the very beginning was so extreme in that it was to deregulate hair services, and hair services meaning cutting and styling. And we went from that to getting a hair-only license is quite the swing in terms of the process. And so rather than overreacting, I think just getting informed is probably the most important step and then aligning yourself in a way that makes clear that your position will evolve as the language evolves.
ASHLEY: And even laying the groundwork now for being in touch with your elected officials and creating that rapport so that you can be a resource and a voice that’s listened to and considered when this legislation gets introduced because it will. And the chicken little, sky is falling mentality, you know, we saw that in California and unfortunately for them, their kind of reactive and adversarial stance didn’t really do anything. This bill is going to be signed. It’s going to create these changes in our industry and you can either work with or against, and those who decided to be contrarian lost.
JAIME: Legislators have long memories. We, as their colleagues also have long memories because it’s not a situation where any of this was done privately. It was very public and very ugly at times, and even got personal for some who were involved, which I think is most unfortunate because this is supposed to be a professional industry, and we should be able to have discussions about schooling, and licensing requirements, and what that means for our job prospects, and all of that. I was asked by someone recently, why do licensees care? You know, once they’ve gone through school and have had their license, why do they care so much about what students have to experience to get their license?
ASHLEY: Well, it’s all about gaslight, gatekeep, and girl boss, right?
JAIME: Mm, I like that. I don’t like it, but I like, I like the, yes.
ASHLEY: I can’t take credit for it, but, um, it’s that mentality of, of gatekeeping that I had to go through this and jump through these hoops, so so should you. I don’t care how hard it is. I think it’s just pretty indicative of what’s going on in our country as a whole right now. So what other lessons did we learn from this process that we could maybe apply to future endeavors in connecting with legislators or watching how our industry behaves when up against adversity?
JAIME: The lesson that I learned personally and professionally is to stick to the facts, not that I didn’t already know that, stick to the facts, get information directly from the source, and be willing to have conversations, and to collaborate, and to compromise because that’s what legislation is about.
ASHLEY: Definitely. Well, well said, and thank you for guiding us through this process, and taking the time to go to the hearings, and to be present, and on the calls, and doing all the things that having the boots on the ground really has been very helpful for us as a podcast, of course, and as a company to get the right info and then being able to share that I think has been incredibly valuable.
JAIME: This will not be the last we speak of this bill because as the board deals with the aftermath, there will be much to talk about.
ASHLEY: Definitely. So stay tuned and let us know your thoughts on SB 803. Of course, we’ll be posting about this episode on Instagram, our Facebook page, and, of course, our website. And if you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts with one click. Just visit bit.ly/outgrowthpodcast..
JAIME: As always you can follow us in comment on recent episodes on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast.
ASHLEY: All right. Well, until this is signed, stay tuned, everybody. And Jaime, thanks for your very thorough and thoughtful analysis.
JAIME: Well, thanks for listening, Ashley.
ASHLEY: All right, everybody. Until next week, be smart.
JAIME: Be safe.