Don Bewley: A True Believer
On October 30, while hundreds of salon owners made their way to San Diego for Eufora International's Vision Quest, the company’s co-founder and leader, Don Bewley, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. He was 63.
As the news spread, tributes to Bewley poured in—most carrying a clear unifying message: "Don believed in us more than we believed in ourselves, and he constantly challenged us to be better than we ever thought we could be." In the spirit of everything Bewley stood for, his wife, co-founder and business partner Beth Bewley made the only decision she thought possible—the business summit must go on.
The summit’s opening Sunday morning focused on a celebration of Don’s life, as Fred Phillips, vice president of sales, took the stage surrounded by Eufora educators. He shared anecdotes of Bewley’s sense of humor, his larger-than-life personality and well-known sayings.
“Don was all about the hairdresser, and the best way to honor him is to make this a successful event while celebrating his life,” Phillips said.
A 30-year veteran of the salon professional industry, Bewley was one of the few hairdressers to still own a professional manufacturing corporation. He and Beth founded Eufora more than two decades ago with the mission of serving independent salons. But his beauty career began in New York City, where he trained with some of the industry’s best and learned to be a talented stylist. He went on to own multiple, profitable salon locations in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was recognized as one of the top five retailing salons in North America. He also enjoyed many years as a platform artist and a distribution executive.
No pleased with what he was happening in the industry he loved, Bewley decided he wanted to take a greater role in elevating the salon industry--not just creatively, but also from a business perspective. "Hairdressers built this industry, and they deserve to reap the rewards,” Don said at the time. "I believe in the power and talent of my peers, and as a proud hairdresser myself, I know that greater success is possible through the right education and a committed manufacturer who is dedicated to more than just selling products."
His vision became the foundation for Eufora, which became one of North America's fastest-growing professional companies.
A loving and committed husband and father, Bewley leaves behind his wife, Beth; two sons, Sean and Sam; and his daughter, Brynn. As the heart and soul of the Eufora family, he also leaves behind thousands of stylists, salon owners and educators who have been inspired by his passion, vision and undying belief in the power of professional beauty.
Visitation for Don Bewley will be held Thursday, November 5 from 4-8 p.m. at the Eternal Hills Memorial Park in Oceanside, California and Services will be held Friday from November 6 at 1:00 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Oceanside. A Celebration of Life will be held at 5 p.m. on November 6 at the Omni La Costa Resort.
Some of those close to Bewley share their favorite memories:
"Don was an inspiration to us all. His passion for this industry made him the mentor and the leader we all will remember him by. He taught me how important educating my team was and how I needed to lead them by example. Right after my first walkout, he called me and asked me to come out to California and take a three-day business course. He said to me, 'You need us right now. Get out here and let us help you put the pieces back together.' He was so right; those three days gave me the tools to build my team back, better and stronger than ever. That was an act of love and unselfishness on his part. He coached me for months after that. My phone rang at all different hours, and it was Don, just to chat and check up on me and the team. He took my daughter by the hand and gave her the confidence to step out of her box and become an educator as well as an excellent hairstylist who now mentors many of our young team members. This man has made such an impact on so many lives in this industry. He did it with love and determination. But I must say that what I admired the most about Don Bewley was how he loved his wife and children. They meant the world to him. My heart aches when I think of all of us without Don’s presence. I miss him already." —Maggie DiFalco, owner of Maggie The Salon in Pembroke Pines, FL
“As professional hairdressers who have been in the industry for many years, we sometimes struggle, lose our way, our drive and even our purpose. Don Bewley was the one who gave that back to me and my career. He believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself. He allowed me as an educator to share my spark and passion with my peers. Don made being a true professional in this industry cool again and reminded us that we're always the student and never the master. As I write this, the Eufora nation is gathered together in San Diego for our Vision Quest business summit. Yet another example on how Don dedicated himself to grow and educate our industry. I can still hear him say, ‘Squeaky wheels get the grease!’” —Eufora educator Jen Snyder, owner of Rock, Paper, Scissors Salon in Hanover, PA
“My favorite memory is from my first Global Connection event. I was so nervous to meet Don for the first time, and I went up to him outside of the hotel and introduced myself. I went to go shake his hand and he pushed my hand away and said, ‘I don’t shake hands, I give hugs.’ That’s when I knew Don and Eufora were something special, and I knew I was home. Don has more passion about bringing hairdressing back to hairdressers than I have ever seen. I will miss him deeply.”—Anthony DiSalvo, Eufora educator and owner of Salon DiSalvo
“I probably wouldn't even be a hairstylist today if it wasn't for Eufora and Don Bewley. Don truly loved our industry, and he believed in hairstylists. He made me believe in myself, as well as believe our industry is just as professional as any other industry. Not only am I hairstylist, but I am also a salon owner and educator/trainer. Never in a million years did I think I would be an educator, but Eufora saw in me something I didn't see in myself. I was taught by Eufora that in life you have to get uncomfortable to be comfortable. When my father-in-law passed away, Don called me every day for two weeks to make sure we were okay. He cried with my husband and me. So you see, Don wasn't just a boss; he was family, and he will be greatly missed. We at Eufora International will be doing everything we can to keep Don's dream alive.” —Stacy Grow, Eufora color trainer and educator
“As well as being a great friend and mentor, Don always had time for me and my family. He was a straight-shooter who did not mince words—he always told it like it was whether good, bad or indifferent. And you always came out better and stronger for having been in his presence. I would follow him to the moon and back. Here’s to my hero and icon, Don Bewley.” —Taylor Jameson, former global educator
“I have known Don for 12 years. We met via a phone call I made to Eufora. I was just trying to get information on some of the classes at an upcoming Global Connection. I spoke with him for almost an hour. His passion and excitement made me want to take every class. When we ended the call, he told me he was the owner of Eufora. I couldn't imagine the owner of any company taking that much time with a brand-new stylist just to explain classes, but that's just who he was. I have been a Eufora educator for the last 10.5 years and couldn't imagine where I would be without Don. He was personally invested in every stylist living his or her dreams and elevating our industry through education and passion. He was the kind of guy who called when my husband was in the hospital, or to make sure I was on track to enter NAHA. He wouldn't let me give up and pushed me to greater heights. He took so much joy in watching us grow and accomplish our goals. He knew your kids’ names and your spouse’s name—half the time he knew your pets’ names. As one of our educators put it, ‘The spark may be gone, but the fire he lit is still burning bright.’” —Vanessa Rockey
“Don Bewley was a one-of-a-kind man. His love for this industry and the people in it was his life. He was a life-changer—you could hear him in his office daily reaching out on a personal level to stylists around the nation, always being accessible to everyone. He loved his hairdressers; he was a hairdresser. Don was an educator, and he lit up a stage. He was funny, a great singer and a real entertainer. Don loved his wife Beth and always said she was the backbone of Eufora. Don was an amazing father to three—Sean, Brynn and Sammy. He was a soccer coach, baseball coach and life coach to so many of us. On a personal note, Don Bewley believed in me more then I believed in myself. Because of his vision, I was able to work with him helping salons owners be their best. The beauty industry is a better place because of him. He will be deeply missed.” —Gayle Fulbright, owner of Headlines The Salon in Encinitas, CA
“Don could make me laugh, make me cry and challenge me when I didn't want to be. There were times when we could argue like brother and sister, there was a crazy Cleveland connection that ran in our Ohio blood! We had a way of always hitting each others’ buttons, but deep down I always knew our passion had the same goal—to elevate the industry one stylist and one salon at a time. My most favorite memory with Don has got to be how much he loved to karaoke! I will always remember the evening at Global Connection 2011 when we sang song after song around a grand piano in the hallway outside the conference rooms. All his favorite people were around him, loving every moment. We miss you bunches, Don, and know you will always have a place in our hearts.” —Rowena Yeager, Studio Wish Salon in Twinsburg, OH
“I am sitting here in my room at the Hilton waiting to walk out in the hall and face hundreds of people who have come together to grow through the Eufora philosophies Don Bewley lived for. They will be looking to those close to him for reassure and hope. Don would want us all to go on, and so we are. The thought that comes to my mind is, Don always believed in people more than they believed in themselves. He helped them grow through that belief. He became my mentor and my friend and showed me I could make a difference in people's lives, too. I will miss him both personally and professionally.” —Tamra Fiedler Segret, owner of Studio 700 Salon and Spa in Corona, CA
“I have a memory of Don that will always stick with me. I had posted on our educator page, asking, ‘Does anyone get insanely excited when Don Bewley, THE Don Bewley likes your Facebook status? I mean, I am just a stylist in upstate New York where not much is going on, and he likes my status!’ Don then sent me a private message that said, ‘Hi, I just want you to remember that I am you, Kristen.’ Here is this man, co-founder of Eufora International, accomplished hairstylist and businessman taking the time out of his day to remind me that he too is me. He is the struggling hairstylist, his is the salon owner, his is the student in cosmetology. He was always saying that he has been us at one point in his life and knows the struggles we go through daily, and that he will never sell out or sell us out for us as hairstylists and has our back. Through he is now gone, his legacy will forever live on in the company, and the Eufora empire he built with global educators, salon owners and stylists.” —Kristen Pepper, stylist, Salon ROC in Rochester, NY
“I have to say I'm one of the lucky ones who got to sit and chat with Don in his office—no matter what the issue was, he was there for me. I love this man more than I can explain. He did so much for me that the only way to repay him is to live his dream out! My favorite saying from him is, ‘Just shut up and do it!’ My heart is in such pain to see the one who believed in me when I was at my lowest. He grabbed my hand and I never let go—he made me who I am today. I can also remember walking in his office and seeing the picture of Vidal and Don. I always wanted to meet Vidal but never had the chance. I was so jealous over that picture, and now as I sit back and think I have a picture with a legend—many, many pictures with him. Don even made me become a better mother to my daughters because I saw the way he worshipped the ground his wife and kids walked on! I will truly miss the advice from this man.” —Jackie Gonzalez
“I first met Don in 1978 when we were both working with Fred Lendhardt at the Locksmith Haircutting Studio, in Beachwood, OH. It was a very high-energy, fast-paced salon, oozing with ambitious young/talented hairdressers. Don was just cutting his teeth in the industry back then, and he was outgoing, with a gregarious persona and a wonderful charismatic presence that draws you into a conversation. I have great respect for Don, and it was no accident that he and his wife Beth built an enormous brand and culture within Eufora. They had the recipe for grand success right from the start: passion, drive, vision and the toolbox to execute! My thoughts and prayers go out to Beth and the kids and the entire Bewley Family. The beauty industry has just lost one of the great ones last week!”—Scott Fisher, co-founder of PS Lifestyle in Cleveland, OH
Originally posted on Modern Salon.