JAIME: Before we start the episode, we wanted to make sure you’re aware of some exciting developments from us at Outgrowth. The formal announcement is still a week away, but we’ve just opened up the waiting list and we want you, our listeners, to hear about it first.
ASHLEY: Head to outgrowthpodcast.com/insiders to reserve your spot, and stay tuned to your inbox, and next week’s episode for more details. Now, back to the episode.
JAIME: Welcome to Outgrowth: A Slice of Pro Beauty with your hosts Jaime Schrabeck.
ASHLEY: And Ashley Gregory. Across the country, government agencies that regulate our industry have been under intense pressure. The priorities and response of state boards could affect professionals permanently.
JAIME: Given that California has the most professionals and tremendous national influence, we welcome our special guest, Kristy Underwood, the Executive Officer of California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology. Let’s grow together.
JAIME: Welcome, Kristy. Thanks for joining us on Outgrowth.
KRISTY: Thank you for having me.
JAIME: Before we get started talking about our main topic, if you could please tell us about your background and how you came to be in your position with the state board.
KRISTY: No problem. So I have been with the Department of Consumer Affairs for about 26 years. I started my career here in various different licensing programs under the department, and I was appointed to executive officer in August of 2005. I’ve been here ever since and that’s my history.
JAIME: What’s the role of the BBC and why? Who gives you the authority to do your work? If you could explain how the board functions within the Department of Consumer Affairs, I think our listeners would find that really helpful.
KRISTY: Sure. So we are a regulatory board under the umbrella of the Department of Consumer Affairs. Our role is one main requirement and that is consumer protection. It’s actually spelled out in our laws that are set by the legislature, that our main focus is consumer protection. So as a board, we do that by setting minimal competency requirements. Anyone that wants to come into the industry must go to a school and then they must take the exam, which is to test minimal competency. So we’re not testing to make sure that somebody can do the most wonderful manicure, the best set of acrylic nails, or the best haircut. We’re testing for minimal competency to ensure that individuals are safe once they enter the industry. And we enforce that by our inspections, by our citation and fine program, and then also by any additional discipline plan action that could result in placing a licensee on probation, or taking a license away from someone. Those would be for egregious consumer harm cases. We would investigate those consumer harm cases to determine if there was wrongful doings by a licensee, and then we would pursue action on that. And the board is supported by its licensing fees. So the fees that licensees pay go to support the enforcement actions of the board. And so while we want to work with the industry and we support the industry, our focus is on the consumers. Our main goal is the focus of consumer protection, much like other boards under the Department of Consumer Affairs is the same thing. The medical board focuses on consumer protection for them, and they have their associations that advocate for that industry, just like in the beauty industry, there’s the associations that would advocate for their positions and we advocate for the consumer.
ASHLEY: Thank you for clarifying that because I know, especially of late, there’s been quite a bit of confusion around the exact role that the board plays within the government and then what the purview is. So I think that is crystal clear. But for someone who maybe isn’t as well versed in the process, and the procedure, and the org chart, so to speak, who actually serves on the board and how is the board different from, let’s say, your role and your staff?
KRISTY: So the board is comprised of appointees. We have a nine member board. Seven of those members are appointed by the governor and one member is appointed by the Senate pro tem, and one member is appointed by the assembly speaker. Of our nine members, the majority of those members are consumers. In other words, they’re, we’re, we’re all consumers, but so what we say is public members and a public member is somebody that has no ties to the industry. So we have five positions on our board that are public members and we have four positions on our board that are industry members. So the industry members are appointed by the governor and they can be any aspect of our industry. Right now, we have two barbers, a cosmetologist, and a manicurist on our board. And so that board as appointed as such appoints the executive officer, which is me. So I was appointed by the board at the time in 2005 by the members during a public hearing and they make that appointment of the executive officer, and then it’s my responsibility to oversee the daily functions of how the board operates when it comes to processing and enforcement, all the administrative functions of the board. So it’s my responsibility to have all the staff under my direction. So the staff in this board consists of about 102 people, and that consists of an administration unit, a citation unit, inspectors in the field. That includes our examinations staff that conduct our examinations Monday through Friday. So I ultimately report directly to the board, whereas the staff ultimately reports directly to me. The staff are civil servant state employees, and I am considered an exempt employee because I’ve been appointed by a board.
JAIME: And to clarify, Kristy, the operational costs of the board and all the work that you do with your staff is funded by the fees paid by licensees. It’s not tax supported. It’s not taxpayer dollars that support the board.
KRISTY: That’s correct. We are what’s considered a special fund board. So special funds means that we are supported by the licensing fees and mostly those licensing fees are the renewal fees. It’s the renewal fees that really support our operations, not our fines. Our fines do go back into our fund. However, that’s not what our budget is based on. Our budget is supported by renewal fees. Our initial licensing fees and examination fees are actually the cost that it takes to provide those services. So it’s all built into that licensing fee. There’s the cost of our examinations sites, our examinations staff, the cost of the exam vendors that we use, the development of the exams, and on and on. So the initial licensing and exam fees are the costs of actually processing that work and the renewal fees support our board in our enforcement efforts.
ASHLEY: So as far as the population that the board serves with regard to the actual regulation, we’ve read widely varying estimates of the total number of beauty professionals in California. Can you explain really the confusion over the number of licenses issued versus the number of actual licensees?
KRISTY: We calculate licenses that are current, so we report on who holds an actual current license in the state of California. And if you look at all of our licensed categories, that number is a little over 622,000 licenses. So that’s our total number of all of the licenses that we issue. So that includes apprentices. That includes our establishments as well as all of our individual license categories like barbering and cosmetology, esthetician. So we have that large number. That’s not necessarily how many are working in California. A lot of people have left California for retirement or whatever other reason, or a lot of people aren’t working in the industry. We have several people that work for our staff that went to cosmetology school, got a cosmetology license, and then came to work for us so they’re not working in the industry. So we don’t have a clear picture for how many people are truly, truly working in California. But we do know that there are a little over 53,000 businesses, so 53,000 establishments in California. We process a very high number of new applications for establishments every year. But that number, that 53,000, rarely changes very much so in this state, our establishments change hands at a very high rate. People decide they don’t want to be the owner of the establishment for whatever reason, and they change hands. It’s different than a lot of other programs because we have this high number of new applications coming in, but our total number of licensed establishments doesn’t ever increase very much so it’s because the establishments change hands so much.
JAIME: Establishment owners in California aren’t required to have attended beauty school or to hold a personal license allowing them to do the services themselves.
KRISTY: That’s correct. Anybody can own an establishment. You do have to have a licensee in charge. That’s what we call a licensee in charge, somebody that is basically responsible and that can be the establishment owner as well. So I am not a licensee, but I can own an establishment, and I can run it every day, and I can be that licensee in charge.
ASHLEY: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your daily work and the role of the agency around testing, inspections, renewals, et cetera?
KRISTY: Oh, goodness. So it’s changed our role quite a bit. When salons closed, our offices closed as well. So we examine people Monday through Friday. We never have a slow period of the year. We are always examining every single day. So we ultimately had to close our exam sites. We had to pull inspectors out of the field. We had to completely rethink how we do business, and a lot of our staff transitioned to working from home. So that was our first big change, and then salons opened back up, and we worked with the department of public health and the governor’s office to develop guidelines on how salons can safely open back up. And then we were closed down again, so that changed things as well. And then now we’re back open to outside services only. For our inspections process, what we’ve done is taking a more educational approach as opposed to a stronger hand of enforcement because we recognize the situation that people are in with the closing, the opening, then the closing, and some people cannot work outside. So we didn’t want to really be out in the field issuing citations to people who are following the guidelines and doing the best that they can to try to get through this difficult time. So we’ve taken on an educational approach, and by doing that, we started with just visiting establishments and providing a checklist that we created to help people navigate through the safety measures for working during the COVID pandemic. So that’s what we’ve been doing. Now with outside services being a possibility, our main focus are those salons that are very egregious and violating the health orders. So in other words, in the monitored counties, so we’re mainly focusing in the monitored counties, which there’s 38 of those right now, we are really looking for the salons that are still operating inside, and that are not practicing social distancing, not wearing masks, that are completely disregarding any of the guidance that has been put out to slow the spread of COVID-19. That’s been our main focus. On salons that we find that might be open inside but don’t have any clients or aren’t being egregious in going against the orders, we’re educating them. We’re talking to them. We’re trying to get people to either close or to provide the services outside if that’s a possibility for them. The COVID has really changed our focus, and it’s really changed how we do our everyday job, and to be honest, it changes every single day. We have a lot of counties and cities that are contacting us for assistance because they are finding the egregious violators and wanting our assistance in that. So we are working with a lot of cities and counties. Then there are cities and counties who are very strict on their own, and who are issuing citations and cease and desist orders as well. It’s very different throughout all of California how things are going. It’s very interesting how the counties differ through California and the things that are happening. But I will say that what we are seeing in the field is about an 80% compliance rate. Unfortunately, that compliance rate means people are closed. So it’s unfortunate that they’re in that situation to begin with. Of course, none of us wanted COVID, but here we are. But what we find in the field is a high level of compliance, and we’ve even viewed several of our outside settings, and even those have been doing the best that they can with what they’ve been given. And we definitely are seeing people come up with some creative ways to make sure that the consumers are safe and that they’re not spreading the virus.
ASHLEY: Well, it sure is a whole new world, and I know that you’ve had to really pivot, just meet the new demands and think of things that a lot of us as licensees haven’t yet anticipated. You mention enforcement and an 80% compliance rate, and the light bulb went off over my head. Can you walk us through, what does enforcement look like of that 20% or so that is noncompliant under these new guidelines?
KRISTY: It’s looking more and more like we are going to take significant disciplinary action against some of these licensees, and that means they could ultimately lose their establishment license as well as if they hold a personal license. They could lose their personal license as well. Certain counties can prosecute them even further under the criminal law. So we definitely have a few in California of people that are just going above and beyond to defy the orders. And so we have gone into salons and shops where they are completely crammed full of people. There’s no social distancing happening and there are no masks being worn. And several of these have publicly commented, rather on the media or on their own homepages for their websites, that they will not close, that they will not wear masks, and that they will not social distance. So unfortunately those are the ones that are getting the attention right now, and we are looking to take some significant action against some of those licenses.
JAIME: I think that makes the board’s position very clear, but for those who may not appreciate it, what advice would you give for those who plan to open on August 17th, for example, in defiance of state and county orders?
KRISTY: Yes, we’ve heard little bits and pieces about that move. I would be concerned personally. I mean, I, I understand and can empathize with the situation that these salons are in. They are not making money and they have to put food on the table. So we, we get it. I personally wouldn’t recommend anyone do that and I would actually be more concerned about the counties that they are doing that in. I, I know, like I said, some counties are taking a very strong reaction, so I just don’t know what the fallout from that could be and that, that would worry me.
JAIME: Does the BBC have power in and of itself to shut down a salon immediately for these kinds of violations? Or is that something that the local government would handle?
KRISTY: So we have the authority to take immediate action when someone has put the consumer at risk. You know, if we walk in to a salon and they’re open, but there is no consumers inside, they’re not putting a consumer at risk, but when we walk into a shop that has 10 chairs, and every chair is full, and there’s no distancing, no mask, they’re putting those consumers in risks and that’s where our authority comes in that we can take disciplinary action against someone.
ASHLEY: I would assume that would extend as well to someone hearing this and understanding that threshold is consumer safety, who would be working potentially from home, working mobile in the absence of a ratified personal service permit, do those consequences then stay mostly focused on the license and the licensee, or do you partner with the county to take additional action beyond that?
KRISTY: We are partnering with some counties to take action. We have several cases that we’re working on now with various counties. I will say that working from someone’s home is not allowed. It wasn’t allowed before COVID. It’s not allowed during COVID and it won’t be allowed until a personal service permit issue is implemented, which I wish I had a date for that. I do not. But that’s been a huge question of ours is, why can’t I work from home? And it’s not allowed. It’s just the law doesn’t allow for it. There’s been no health guidelines come out that said that could be a safer alternative. So at this time it’s absolutely not allowed.
JAIME: How does the PSP or the personal services permit differ from the more recent allowances for doing services outside? There seems to be confusion among licensees who haven’t been keeping up with the board’s progress on implementing a personal services permit.
KRISTY: Good question. So the personal service permit that’s been in the works for, I think, at least four years, possibly longer. The personal service permit will allow someone to go somewhere else other than a licensed establishment and perform services. So anyone that does hair for a wedding at a church is technically doing that illegally. Anyone who goes to somebody’s house to perform services for them is technically doing that illegally. The personal service permit is an additional permit that’s attached to your license as say a manicurist, cosmetologist, that would allow you to go do limited services in an area outside of a licensed salon. The outside service situation that we have now is, of course, because of COVID because salons were closed down again. And they were closed again, based on the Department of Public Health determining that enclosed areas is a higher risk to spread COVID than outside areas. We’ve never alone allowed outside services, so that caused some confusion and why we put together additional guidelines for outside services. In preparing those guidelines, there were a lot of concerns about drainage. A lot of cities don’t want outside services. A lot of counties didn’t want outside services. And then there’s some cities and counties that are absolutely supportive of it. And so the outside services became a thing just as an option for people who had the opportunity to do it safely, allows them to do it, and still continue their business. So the outside services is really very COVID specific. If we weren’t in a COVID situation, that would have never happened and I don’t anticipate it being anything that we would permanently allow for. It was just an option to allow during the COVID pandemic. And then again, the personal service permit is something that people will have, and we’ll be able to renew, and continue to do that service at a church or at a home with that permit. There are additional requirements, when that is finally implemented, to even get that permit and one of the things is a background check. So we don’t want to license people going into other people’s homes unless they’re safe. So there’s additional requirements that you would have to meet to get that personal service permit that allows you to go into somebody else’s home under our license to do that work.
ASHLEY: So before we talk more specifically about outdoor services because I know that that’s really kind of the meat of the matter right now, when we refer to laws and regulations, can you explain how those are different in the eyes of the state of the board, et cetera? And what’s the actual process for changing the laws that govern our industry in a permanent way? And why does it take so long?
KRISTY: So a law, which is a statute, is something that is initiated by the legislature and approved and signed by the governor. We have several laws that have been in effect for many, many, many years. Any changes to our statutes, our laws, have to be done through the legislative process. So somebody would need to find an author for a bill, and that bill would need to go through the process, and then ultimately get signed by the governor. So that creates a law. Oftentimes, laws are not very clear, and so that is where regulations come in. And regulations are developed by our board and allow us to clarify a law, so to clarify a statute. A great example is there’s usually for almost every licensing board a statute would say, the board can charge up to $125 for a renewal of a license, but then the regulation will say, the board charges $50 for renewal of a license. So we have the authority to make it whatever we want up to that limit that’s been set by the governor and the legislature, and then the board has to clarify what it actually is. So the regulations should be clearer than the statutes, doesn’t always happen, but that’s the goal. And one of the things that’s important is the board can’t just come up with a regulation that they don’t have a statute that we can tie it back to. So for instance, we couldn’t all of a sudden do a regulation that creates a hairstylist license because we don’t have any statutory authority that says the board can do that. If the board had one line in a law that said the board can develop a hairstylist license, then we can do regulations that would clarify that and what it would look like. We have to have a statue in order to do the regulations, and the regulatory process is very, very lengthy. So sometimes if you can get a bill that has very clear language, sometimes that’s a quicker way to do it, if we can get a statute that’s very clear and doesn’t need any clarifying regulations. But for us to do regulations like, for instance, the personal service permit, it’s gone through many, many different versions of the actual language that will basically be made into a regulation. And every time that language changes, we have to talk about it. So we have to hold public hearings. We have to take that information from a public hearing back to the board. All kinds of requirements are involved in the regulatory process. For the personal service permit, it’s probably the longest regulatory package I’ve ever been involved with. Regulations generally can take two years. If we did something in two years, that’s doing pretty well. So it’s a real lengthy process because it not only goes through a lot of public input from our industry at our board meetings, it also then goes through the Department of Consumer Affairs. It goes through our business and consumer services agency, and then it goes to the office of administrative law. And during each of those steps, there’s extensive reviews. There’s extensive questioning before it even makes it to the Office of Administrative Law where it can be filed and finally be made permanent. So it’s a real long process.
JAIME: That process plays out during your board meetings and you recently just held a board meeting. Could you tell us about how different it is to have these meetings and have them be teleconferenced-based rather than in person? I think a lot of licensees are just now discovering that they have opportunities to participate, but they’re frustrated because they don’t understand how these meetings function.
KRISTY: Great, great point. The new world that we live in, where we’re providing these meetings on a platform where people can call in and do a Q and A has been very enlightening to all of the board members, as well as me. Our hearings have to be public and they have to be publicly noticed within 10 days. We try to get it out sooner, but we have to post an agenda within 10 days. A lot of people don’t understand that our board is an entity that has to operate under certain rules, and so we follow a very specific law that requires us to hold meetings in a very specific way. A motion has to be made and a second, and the board has to discuss, and then we can open for public comment. One of the things that people don’t understand is that because it’s a process, the board can’t comment back. So even if we were in person and all those hundreds of people showed up, which, believe me, in the past, we have had, if all those people showed up and stood in line at a podium to ask their questions, we still couldn’t answer because it’s the rules of an open meeting act. And so we have to take public comment, but we can’t respond to public comment. It’s a little bit frustrating for individuals who have never been in this setting and don’t understand it. So our meeting that we had just recently was an unplanned meeting, and so that’s why it was only scheduled for one hour. And it was unplanned because we’re trying to pursue the personal service permit regulatory package. And that was one of those many steps in the regulatory process that we needed board approval. So that meeting was just specific for that. So all of our board members are working individuals and the board, they are not paid for being board members. They get tiny per diem and if they were traveling, they would get travel, but we’re not traveling now. So really serving on the board is pretty much a voluntary position. They don’t have a salary. They don’t get paid for their time. They have to take time off from their regular jobs that they have. And so when we have an unplanned meeting, we’re very aware that we need to try to get our business handled as quickly as possible. And unfortunately, people just don’t understand that the public comment at the end of each meeting that we have is just a public comment and not a question and answer session. We would love to be able to sit on that platform and try to answer questions. There’s a lot of questions we can’t answer during the COVID because we just don’t have the answers. But even if we had the answers, we just, by law, we aren’t able to provide a question and answer session in that type of setting. So that is definitely a confusing aspect for the industry who are now paying a little more attention to the board. The PSP’s a very good example. It’s been in discussion for four years and in the beginning, we had very, very minimal input from the industry and we send notices out. If people are on our email list, they get a notice of all regulatory action that the board is taking, and they can comment on that action. If anybody comments on a regulatory process, we have to respond. It’s definitely a learning curve for a lot of people that because of COVID are now seeing some of the steps that the board has taken and how the board operates. So there’s definitely a learning curve and it’s frustrating because people are frustrated with COVID no matter what right now. And then to add onto that they think they can call and get an answer when they can’t. It’s unfortunate. I think some feel we’re doing it on purpose, which actually we’re just following the law. Our legal counsel would never let us engage in a Q and A on a public meeting cause it’s just not possible.
JAIME: As a California licensee who’s been attending board meetings for 13 years, I have been part of this learning curve and I still learn something new every time I engage with the board. I sense the frustration and the anger. I don’t think it’s being hidden at all when these public comments are being made, but I’m particularly frustrated as someone who’s trying to collaborate with the board and be compliant, but it seems that the licensees, even in that moment, are choosing not to listen, or read, or even follow simple instructions. It seems like the outreach, you mentioned the educational outreach of the inspectors, maybe more needs to be done from the board itself to even explain how the board functions. It is an eye opening experience for a lot of the licensees in California.
KRISTY: Yes, totally agree, and actually it’s something that we’re working on right now. We hope once we have some information that we can put out that people will take the time to read that. Because, I can tell you that during the COVID pandemic, the one thing that has become very, very clear is that this is a large industry, and the industry does not understand the role of the board, and that’s unfortunate. I, I’ve been very surprised by it. And so I definitely think that that’s an area we want to improve on. We want to make sure that people understand how they can share their information with the board. And again, the biggest question we get these days is why we are not advocating for the industry. And again, it’s not even legal for us to do that, and people just don’t understand that. They think that they’re licensing fees have been paid for us to advocate for them. And I will tell you that we do advocate for the industry when it comes to the point of we want to do what’s safest and what’s best for all because we’re all consumers, but we are a government agency. We’re not a association that lobbies for the industry in a setting. And I kind of link it to the Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t advocate for you if you go to traffic court. The Department of Motor Vehicles issues you a driver’s license just says you’re minimally competent to drive your car on that day. If you speed out of their parking lot and get a ticket, they’re not going to defend you at traffic court. And so while it’s a little different, obviously, it’s interesting that we’ve gotten a lot of input with people very confused that think we should be advocating for them to be open. We think salons should be open. We would love salons to be open. We also don’t wish that we had COVID-19 to deal with. So we have to rely on the Department of Public Health who are the experts in this type of setting that none of us have ever been in before to lead the way on this. The doctors at the Department of Public Health are the people who are trying to combat the COVID-19 virus, and so that’s who is leading the charge in this situation and making these calls for the health and safety of all Californians.
ASHLEY: Well, I can share as a licensee in Illinois with my manicurist license in California, that this is not a unique situation to California. I attended my last Illinois state board meeting, which was done by a teleconference, and it went as expected. I think the crux of this and a lot of what I’m seeing on social media from California licensees, those who attended the last meeting, is that licensees want answers, but can’t seem to acknowledge the reality of the board’s process. So where should licensees direct their comments and their strong feelings, we’ll say, in order to really influence or affect some change on their own behalf?
KRISTY: I think licensees have to go to their public health departments. I think they have to go to the California public health department, possibly their state and local legislators. The counties that are on the monitoring list right now can only be opened in outside services. So until those counties can attest to whatever it is they need to attest to, which is honestly far above my understanding, those counties are going to remain on that list. So those counties have to do what they need to do to get off of the monitoring list. If a county comes off of that monitoring list, salons can open. So it depends on what the county is doing and then there’s those counties that have yet to ever open. So that’s totally different because the governor can come out and say, salons can open outside, but your county can say, absolutely not. And I know there’s counties that nail services have never been opened. There’s esthetician services that have never been opened. And so those counties are going above and beyond what the governor has laid out and what the California Department of Public Health has laid out. And it’s those individual county public health departments that can go stronger than what the state’s requirements are. Again, the board’s not making those decisions. The board certainly is working with everyone who we can work with to try to get guidelines together to make sure people are safe, especially consumers are safe, but the ultimate decisions is coming from the county health departments and the state health department.
JAIME: In last week’s episode, we spoke to Leslie Roste, the National Director of Industry Relations and Education for Barbicide. In fact, she’s appeared in four of our podcasts, and we’re thrilled to have Leslie contribute when she does, but when we talked specifically about outside services with Leslie, she provided a thorough explanation that can best be summarized by her statement: “None of that sounds like a good idea to me.” Any thoughts?
KRISTY: It’s certainly not ideal, and I look at the photographs coming in to our office from our inspectors every single day on what they’re seeing out there. And I will say that there’s some that are not good at all. And then there’s some that have done a great job because, fortunately for some licensees, they have an area that works perfect. So there are, I don’t think it’s a lot, I think it’s very few. We’ve been contacted by salons who have private patios that are connected to their establishment that have been able to turn that into a station right away. And then we’re seeing the services that are in parking lots and on sidewalks. And then we’re talking to cities and counties who are frustrated as well because it’s a public sidewalk. And so I think there’s a lot of cities really taking a look at this as well. It is absolutely not ideal. Again, without COVID, we would never be seeing this. When the governor announced that outside services could be done, we had a huge outpouring of support of wanting us to make it possible. Not only did we have a huge outpouring from individual licensees, we had lots of cities, and counties, and legislators that all came to us, wanting us to give the option for outside services. And so that outside services are now available, it’s now we get the exact opposite of the people who are very unhappy that this is even being allowed. I honestly see both sides. I mean, I get it. It’s again, it’s such a weird situation. We would not ever have done this without COVID. And it’s working great for some people and it’s working not great at all for many others. So, it’s definitely something that’s being discussed on a regular basis amongst my board and amongst lots of other entities that have a stake in this.
JAIME: Kristy, if we weren’t dealing with COVID-19, your board would be going through the sunset review process. Can you give an explanation of what that is for those who don’t know?
KRISTY: Sure. Every four to five years, all regulatory boards go through a process that’s called sunset review and what it is, it’s when the legislature basically says, what have you done in the last four years? What are you doing to improve processes? Any hot topics that are in the industry? It’s the legislature’s opportunity to kind of look at how well the board is operating and determine if there’s any significant changes that would need to be made through the legislative process. So that sunset review process starts with a quite extensive report that’s put out by our staff and provided to the legislature. And then we usually have a public hearing where we go before the Senate Business and Professions Committee and the Assembly Business and Professions Committee. They come together as a joint committee to hold these sunset hearings. And we basically talk to them about what we’ve done, where we’re going, and any hot topics that happen to come up. So we should have been through that process in 2018. It was delayed one year because there were some legislative staffing changes and we needed more time to kind of get the committees ready to hear our board. Our board is always a very hot topic at the legislature because everyone gets their haircut. Almost every person connects somehow with one of our licensees. And so then unfortunately we are supposed to have a hearing this last spring of 2020, and because of COVID, everything has been delayed again. So we anticipate being in front of the legislature next spring to talk about the board, and talk about hot topics like barriers to entry, and determining what it takes to get into the beauty or barbering, manicuring industry, and looking at any changes that need to be made.
JAIME: One of our favorite hot topics is deregulation, and not because we are proponents of it, but because it does seem to come up across the country in various states, and California certainly being the largest population of licensees faces this on a regular basis. What are your concerns around deregulation?
KRISTY: It’s definitely a concern every legislative year in California. As you mentioned, it’s been national. There are states right now that are taking steps, maybe unwillingly, on certain deregulation. Certain aspects of the scope of practice of cosmetology have been deregulated in certain states. I personally think that if we were deregulated or the industry as a whole, even in any state, I think our consumer safety is at such a high level that, it would be a very bad move because we still continue to see a very significant consumer harm by the, by the industry with, from chemical burns on the scalp to pedicure infections. I mean, it’s still a regular occurrence in the state as well as just in the industry as a whole. I think as the deregulation talk often comes from the required education the licenses require, so cosmetology 1600 hours. Barbering is 1500 hours. You have other states that are at a thousand hours and you have other states that are at 2100 hours. So, and it varies. The majority of states are at 1500 hours for cosmetology, but basically when you’re a legislature, or even it’s been discussed at high levels in the federal government, when you can go to one state and have to go to school for 2100 hours, and go to another state and only have to go for a 1000 hours, and you can do the exact same functions, that sparks the deregulation talks. Why is it so different amongst the entire states? And so I definitely think during our sunset review process, that’s going to be a topic that we will have to address is the number of hours in California, the difference of other states, and how is it so different. Does New York have a higher consumer harm rate than we do? New York is a thousand hours for a cosmetology license and has been for, I think, forever. So I definitely think those are discussions that will be taking place in the spring.
ASHLEY: You mentioned that the website was recently redesigned and the BBC maintains a presence on social media. What’s really the best way or your recommendation to stay updated on info on the board’s activities?
KRISTY: I definitely think the best way is to join the mailing list for an email. We try to send our emails out to the, to our interested parties, and these are volatile times as you know. Our social media has not been one of the best areas to go on. Honestly, that staff that handle that social media, and our staff are not involved in the decisions of closing and opening or regulating the industry. So we’ve hired staff to increase our social media and unfortunately, over the last several months, it’s been a little rough on them. So I think the best way is to follow our website because if we get any COVID updates, we’re going to put it on our website right away, and then we will send a notice out to our interested parties list.
JAIME: If you could share a message to a frustrated licensee in California, what advice would you give them, Kristy?
KRISTY: I would say that the board does hear you and the board understands the terrible position that this pandemic has put specifically our licensees in. And that’s not much of a consolation to somebody who’s trying to work, and make money, and support their family. My biggest recommendation is wear a mask and social distance. We are going to open again, and I don’t think COVID’s going away anytime soon. So the one thing we want to make sure we’re doing is when we get the green light to reopen is to really make sure we’re following those guidelines and ensuring that we’re doing everything we can to prevent COVID from, from spreading.
JAIME: I see lots of opportunities for us to have discussions in the future, Kristy, if you’re willing to come back, especially when we go through the sunset review process because if it’s a hot topic for California, it will be a hot topic for the rest of the industry.
ASHLEY: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. I appreciate you taking time out of your very busy schedule to help us clarify some of these issues and hopefully create some deeper understanding in the industry of the role of the board and what we can all do to really affect change.
KRISTY: Thank you so much for having me
ASHLEY: Thanks again, Kristy.
JAIME: Ashley, I hope that’s the first of several episodes that we’ll be able to record with Kristy. And we welcome the other state board officials to join us. We want to hear from as many different facets of our industry as we possibly can.
ASHLEY: Absolutely. I think that we all learned something and that will hopefully make our efforts as beauty professionals more efficient moving forward as we try to affect change through advocacy. At the top of the episode, we mentioned an exciting announcement coming next week from us here at Outgrowth. Head to outgrowthpodcast.com/insiders to reserve your spot on the waiting list.
JAIME: Please subscribe, rate and review Outgrowth on your favorite podcast platform. It helps us reach more listeners like you.
ASHLEY: And if you’re enjoying Outgrowth, please head to Apple podcasts and leave us a review. As always, you can follow us and comment on recent episodes on Instagram at @outgrowthpodcast. Until next week
JAIME: Be smart.
ASHLEY: Be safe.