"If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough." This is a quote I have sworn by since the first time I heard it a few years ago. And I finally took the leap to stop letting fear hold me back.
In October, I left my corporate salon job that I had had for 13+ years. And I had never been more terrified or excited for anything in my life. There was so much doubt nagging in the back of my mind. But as I sat down and weighed the pros and cons, I decided to take the leap of faith, and believe in myself. I had worked hard over the last 14 years to build my skills, and my clientele to eventually be able to fulfill this dream, so if not now, when?
I worked for the largest salon corporation in the country (I don't think I can say the name of the corporation since I no longer work there, but it shares a name with a famous talk show host). This job had been a very good job for me. It was my first stylist job out of beauty school. At first, I just thought of it as a starting out place, but then, the longer I stayed, the harder it was to leave. There was always heavy traffic, with a high amount of walk ins, essential for building a clientele. They provided all of the advertising, and paid for many of my supplies and tools. It had funded vacations, new cars, I had bought my first home with it, and it had fed and clothed my children, and myself. I started out as a stylist, and worked my way up to management. When I was single, relying on only one income, I still never had to worry where our next meal was going to come from, or how I was going to pay for Christmas. My children and I always had what we needed, and what we wanted, because of the opportunities provided to me by this job. I never had to work a 2nd or 3rd job like most new stylists, or even seasoned ones have to do. I was able to make it work off of this one job, and have extras left over. But this didn't come without sacrifice either. I worked in a high traffic mall, therefore, retail hours were required. There were many nights I worked until 9 PM or later. Years of weekends were worked, where I missed out on weddings, graduations, and other family functions. Extended hours were required during the holidays, as we were in a high traffic retail mall. And being manager, they were even more strict with my hours than if I had been a just a stylist.
But the stress was overwhelming. The rules were constantly changing. They were always switching things up to stay on top of the game. There was always a new initiative for the stylists and management. When I was younger, and fresh in the industry, this was ok. But after 14 years of being in the industry, I had proven myself. I wanted more freedom. I was tired of the rules always changing. I was tired of the corporate chain of command. I was tired of someone always questioning whether my best was good enough. I was tired of feeling like just a number. I was tired of commuting an hour a day. I was tired. Then one day, after an especially trying time period at work, my friend told me a salon in town was for sale.
I made the choice to go look at it. Looking wouldn't hurt anything. The owner was wanting to retire, but still work. It was a turn key operation. The stylists were staying. And the location was perfect. If I was ever going to leave where I was at, this was the best possible scenario in which to do it. I decided as long as the doors kept opening, I was going to keep walking through them. My feet might have been shaking the whole way, but I kept pushing forward. As soon as I made the offer, and we signed the contract, I left my job, and started working at what would be my new salon once the closing date arrived. I was terrified.
But now I am asking myself why I didn't do this years ago. It is such a laid back environment, and I found an amazing mentor in the current owner. She has made this salon a success for many years, so I will be picking her brain as often as she will let me! So many of my loyal clients have followed. Some that, quite honestly, surprised me. Several of them have told me it is easier for them to drive 60 miles roundtrip every 6 weeks than it is for me to do it every day. And I have gained new customers, people that would have come to me before, but couldn't find the time to squeeze that drive into their already busy schedule. I am off by 6 at night. No more nights of missing tucking my kids into bed. I am off by 4 on Saturdays, and am off on holidays. My stress level is down, and my whole life is better for it. And I'm matching the money I was making at my previous job. I miss the group at my old salon. We were like a family, but I'm doing my best to stay in touch, as are they.
I am not in any way knocking the corporate salons. I think they are a great place for people to start their careers, and for some, can make a great lifetime career. I made one of these salons a home away from home for nearly 14 years, and it afforded me some really great opportunities, and introduced me to some of the best people I know. But for me, it was time to move on. So as I set out to pursue my crazy, scary dreams, and we approach closing day, I am less terrified, and more excited. I made the decision to no longer let my fear stand in the way of my dreams. And I encourage each and every one of you to do the same. Whether it's with your career, your personal life, or marking something off of your bucket list, go out and do something that scares you today. It just might pay out abundantly.