From work colleagues it’s more about the things they’ve learned and what a difference I’ve made in their careers, like: “You changed my life/career.” And then from my employees, the best thing I hear is how much I care about them. They know I’m tough, but that I care.
If you were training another woman to takeover your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
Be very clear with your expectations. Set them up front and be very consistent. That has served me well. I’m the most consistent human being on the planet. People know what to expect and there are no surprises from me. Be a great communicator—be present with the people you’re leading.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
GK: I asked my staff and one of the girls said, The Girl That Can. Everyone laughed but I think it’s true. I will work at it until it happens.
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
I would be doing something with gardens or flowers—maybe a florist. I like my garden to be random and wild—a very natural kind of garden. I plant things, and if they bloom, great. If not, I move it. I got that from my dad. He was a huge gardener and we grew up with the most beautiful gardens.
What are you working on now?
For the first time we had a small walk-out: We lost five people in about a week. It happened in our Walnut Creek location and I didn’t see it coming. I was not prepared at all so all our focus has been on rebuilding the space—hiring and training. It’s been a challenge. Obviously we’ve had people leave here and there, but this was a very weird situation.
How would you like to spend your retirement?
I don’t know if I’ll ever retire. I love what I do and I can’t imagine not doing it. As long as my body holds up I will continue to do hair. I don’t see retirement as doing something different. I love to nurture young ones. I don’t feel like I should start thinking about retirement—it’s not even on my radar. I feel very healthy.
One of the things I love about this career is the relationships you build. Having that social interaction every day is such a driving force. I just love those relationships and can’t imagine giving that up. It’s motivating and inspiring. It’ll change a little bit some day, but I can’t imagine giving it up completely. I don’t feel like this is work. Coloring hair and the interactions with clients are not work at all.