When I was a kid, I'd hide in the bathroom and make messes. I'd mix dish soap and spices from the cabinet with lotions and shampoos and whatever else I could find. I was so passionately curious about things, wanted to know how they worked together, and what kind of uses they'd have. I'd wipe my creations all over the counter and mirror to see if there was an effect or if I'd just discovered the world's best cleaning solution. I imagine this was extremely annoying for my mom. Being the youngest of three, I could generally escape unnoticed for at least 20 minutes here and there to make my little messes. My mom dubbed my creations “Crystal's Concoctions,” and through her annoyance, she was always supportive of my creative side.
My mom has always had a penchant for natural remedies and alternatives to store-bought products. My brother, sister, and I would get slathered in olive oil when we were dried out from the Colorado air, or take baths with baking soda and eucalyptus during cold and flu season. If we got ear infections, which I was plagued with, she would put on a cartoon while we lay our heads in her lap so she could get to work cleaning our ears with peroxide and sweet oil. Even today her house is full of medicinal herbs and DIY projects.
Our pediatrician preferred holistic approaches before dishing out the drugs. This, mind you, was during the era of antibiotics being prescribed for everything from a nose bleed to a sore throat.
I kept those natural tendencies with me through young adulthood and during my first career, as a cosmetologist. I started when I was 16 and worked in salons in Denver and Seattle throughout 16+ years. During my time in the industry I used, tried, and experimented with every hair skin and nail product imaginable. Some I liked just OK, but most I never really got on board. I have always been a “label-reader” because of my mom, and I didn’t know anything about half the ingredients in the professional products in the salon.
A large part of the Cosmetology industry is the pressure to sell. Cosmetologists have a unique opportunity in the market because we get to spend hours with potential buyers of a myriad of products. And we are more than expected to capitalize on that relationship. We have sales quotas and incentives, etc.… None of which I ever met in the entirety of my Cosmetology career. Not once did I get a sales bonus, ever. I survived in that industry because my clients loved me and I was good at being a cosmetologist. I would talk to my clients about olive oil and baking soda baths instead of the 75 dollar face cream or “miracle” deep conditioner.
I eventually took a class on being a better salesman, at the request of my boss, and I received some advice that I'll never forget: “If you don’t believe in the products you're selling, you'll never convince someone else to buy them, no matter how hard you fake it.” Well, that solidified it. I never believed in the products I was selling. I didn’t understand the products I was selling. I didn’t know what those chemicals were nor how they affect our bodies.
So I went to school to learn. While I was working full time as a cosmetologist, I pursued and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology. More on that in the next post in the Meet the Maker series.
Thanks for reading!