2013 Enterprising Women: Beth Minardi
Renowned colorist, Joico Color Spokesperson, founder of Minardi Luxury Color Care and Beth Minardi Signature shades and co-founder Minardi Perfect Lighting
Beth Minardi has dedicated her career to the elevation of salon coloring to an art form. As an internationally acclaimed colorist, educator and product consultant, she is recognized as one of the world's leading experts in all phases of coloring. In 1986, she opened Minardi Salon which rapidly gained a reputation for excellence in both hair color and design, and in 2011, Minardi took her color practice to the next level by embarking on a “salon within a salon” partnership with the famed NYC Mark Garrison Salon. From 2010 to 2012, she was tapped as Joico’s Color Spokesperson for Vero K-Pak and she joined Joico on other activities including educational classes, instructional DVDs and books. In 2011, this partnership grew to encompass Joico’s management of Minardi Luxury Color Care and in January 2013, Minardi launched the very first line of professional color by a woman. In addition, Minardi has become a true master and teacher, imparting her years of experience and knowledge to countless professionals across the country.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
I think my entrepreneurial spirit was always a part of me. My grandfather came to this country when he was fourteen years old and founded his own wholesale foods business almost 100 years ago. My dad had been president of a steel company, and in his early fifties, decided to invest and manage his own business. I loved corporate life, but felt that my drive to get things done in my way must have driven people crazy! I always knew I would wind up where I am, one way or another. My daughter has this same spirit.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
When I was introducing my product line—the “ah-ha” was that I needed to stick completely to what I know—hair color. I also knew that color had to be taught differently, and that we needed to do a better job and reach people in a different, very supportive way.
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
Many of my stumbling blocks came from fear of failure. I also had a very clear vision of how I thought it best to proceed, and was at a crossroads. Several manufacturers asked me to join them. I went back and forth in my own mind, but in the end, made the best choice by going with Joico.
While I don’t think it’s harder being a woman in business, I do know it’s different. The Beth Minardi brand group is fair and open to all. Our general manager, Sara Jones is a woman, and so are many of the members of senior management. So, the glass ceiling doesn’t exist where I am.
When I first came to corporate New York, I learned so much and worked very hard, but by and large, the beauty business was male dominated. While women tried to not view this as a stumbling block, it rather was. Guys would sometimes let us know they thought we were less feminine because we were interested in business.
How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you to improve?
I think my management style is nurturing, but extremely straight-forward. I’m quick to reward talent and to praise great effort, but am also very honest when I see that someone isn’t marching in my parade! I am so proud of the fact that many of the people working with me have been with me for years. This is one of my greatest accomplishments.
I lead by example. I still wash hair. I still dye out swatches, I still get tea or water for a client. I still pre-do models and work WITH my team. I see clients and I stand behind the chair.
At shows, I am there every step of the way. I am part of the team, and I feel everyone on the team is of great value. I also spend time with those who work with me and attempt to know them as whole people. I am emotional—that is my shortcoming, and, like Austin Powers, I sometimes have trouble controlling the volume of my voice.
I always think about how to put more money in the bank, and how to sell and develop and promote more. Once the money is in the bank I do not want to manage the money, I want someone else to do that—and that has caused me trouble. Managing money bores me. Making money by elevating hair color to an art form is my joy and my passion!
How do you set goals for yourself? For example, do you prefer more small accomplishable goals or fewer large goals? How do you hold yourself accountable?
I set goals for myself every day. Whether it’s managing my time at the salon, teaching a class, working with the lab, writing technical materials or presenting to a large group, I decide what is important for that activity to succeed, and I am pretty single-minded about it. I am not good at multi-tasking. I can do one thing AFTER another, but I’m not good at doing several things at once—it makes me feel like the guy on the Ed Sullivan Show who had the plates on the sticks trying to keep them all spinning at the same time. For example, doing a model call while I am seeing clients makes me very anxious. Talking on the phone to an editor while a client needs me simply does not work. If I am answering color questions at an educational program, I am focused on that, not posing for pictures or attending a meeting at that time. I set goals based on how well I can do something rather than on how much I can do in a given day. I have learned to know my limits.
Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
During the earlier part of my professional life, I turned down several opportunities because I thought it might jeopardize my life as a wife and as a mother. I now see that this was an error, and if I had been brave enough to plan for important extra opportunities, I could have done everything successfully. I have now learned to step forward, making sure all parts of my life are covered as I move ahead.
At one point in my salon life, I was 100-percent certain that expanding into the skin care business was the right thing for our salon to do. We did it the wrong way. Sadly, this was a mistake that cost me in every possible way. I learned that for me, deep exploration and advancement in the area of my expertise (hair color) is the best way for me to expand my business. Delving into unknown waters without enough information can be a disaster.
Some people say it is an error to go into business with your spouse. Believe it or not, I disagree! I think that couples can be the greatest business partners.
From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
I believe in an intelligent order of the universe, and I call upon this power to help me to be strong, to guide me, and to help me think through what is in front of me.
I draw great vision from those with whom I work at Joico/Minardi and my wonderful salon team. But what I am learning is something I never thought I would face at this time in my life—it’s up to me. Being single is new for me—unexpected, frightening and painful. I have learned that God is within us all and we need to call upon ourselves rather than to count on others or to cave in when things are not going our way.
I have a wise and wonderful mom, an amazing daughter, and great brothers who are here for me 100 percent in addition to my circle of friends, my books and my music. I also call upon the unending energy of this wonderful place called New York City.
As you grew your company, what, if anything, has held you back?
As I grew my company, one of the things that held me back was lack of money. It takes money to make money. When you reach for the stars, you need help.
Finding supportive people who believe in you and who want to be a part of your success is so important, and it takes time and desire. Plus, you need to be able to clearly show that your company/product/idea is worth their interest. When you think you have given 100 percent, keep giving. Don’t believe your own publicity. Don’t think you are “famous.” Don’t think you have ever done enough because you can NEVER do enough!
What is the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
Passion coupled with a great attitude. I can teach almost anyone to color hair, but what I cannot do is give them passion or a great attitude. I also look for people who honestly know what they can offer and who can honestly evaluate their own worth to the organization. I can evaluate pretty quickly if a person has “got it” or not. As I always say, “Turn the new horse loose with the others in the pasture—and watch.”
The others will, at first, ignore, and then be a bit nasty to the new horse. Continue watching. Emotionally intelligent people learn what makes the group tick. They fit or they don’t. People try very hard at the beginning. But it becomes pretty clear rather quickly if there isn’t passion or a great attitude.
What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
That I “made” their career, and that the success they enjoy came from what I taught them. With my color brand, colorists tell me that finally color makes sense and does what it says it will do. That makes me feel wonderful.
If you were training another woman to takeover your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
I would tell her to be good to herself and her health—to rest enough, to work to the most focused capacity, to get to know everybody in this business, and to realize we can never do enough for the hairdresser. I would tell her to never stop learning and to be a student of color all her life. I would teach her to feel comfortable speaking to people—three people or 3,000 people. I would tell her to be brave. Being brave is harder than you can ever imagine. I would tell her that women CAN do everything, just not all at the same time. I’d tell her that people are our most important asset, and that working as a team member is so much better than trying to do it alone. I’d teach her that she MUST have good writing skills.
Also, eat veggies, take hot baths, and take good care of your skin and hair! NEVER go around with roots. Enjoy being a woman as well as a working woman!
If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
The best is the day I introduced Beth Minardi Signature Shades to my first group of salon professionals. My other favorite pages are the days I met Sara Jones, Ron Krassin, Jim Morrison, Paula Kent and Robert Oppenheim. Another great day was the grand opening of Minardi Salon. And before that, the first day I walked into my own office at Clairol—I was 26. I have won several amazing awards—receiving them were great pages for my scrapbook. Also, bringing my two-year-old daughter on stage with me at Haircolor USA with Leland Hirsch so many years ago was a favorite. My worst page was walking out of Minardi Salon for the very last time. I lived so much of my professional life there. That day was black for me.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
She’s Still Climbing that Mountain: How I Did it in the Beauty Business
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
I would probably be on a horse farm. I adore them—riding them, washing them, hanging out with them, brushing them, and just sitting with them—such peace and beauty. Or I’d be teaching drama to kids in a private school somewhere. I would NOT be an accountant!
What are you working on now? What’s your next professional step?
Right now, I’m working on wonderful new additions to the Beth Minardi brand. I am planning another book about hair color and getting ready to tour the U.S. in 2014. I hope to someday be a part of my own advanced color academy where licensed pros can explore color deeply and, again, elevate what we do to an art form. I’d also like to continue to enhance my behind the chair work at the salon and to continue developing a top-rated salon color team. I’d like to be a part of the group working to take horses off the streets of NYC as well.
How would you like to spend your retirement?
I hate the word “retire.” I prefer “working differently.” I’d like to continue lecturing and teaching on a much less intense scale. And, I color hair because I LOVE it. I’d like to work at the salon four to six days per month, conduct webinars, and travel with my daughter. I don’t think I will ever leave NYC, but I’d love a comfortable place in the country where I might have a pool and bird feeders, trees and a fire place.
I want to remain healthy and active, and I will always have a cat or a dog and my wonderful circle of colorful friends—and hopefully a great guy with whom I can share it all!