It's good to stretch beyond your comfort zone, and in September I stretched beyond mine when I joined the Professional Beauty Association and a host of salon owners on Capitol Hill to lobby our representatives on The Small Business Tax Equalization and Compliance Act. After a full day of lobbying, we joined the 144 volunteers in offering complimentary beauty services to members of Congress and their staffers at the Professional Beauty Federation's 11th annual Welcome to Our World. (The Professional Beauty Federation is an organization that represents the interests of the professional beauty industry-Federation members include the Professional Beauty Association, International SalonSpa Business Network, American Association of Cosmetology Schools, International Spa Association, JCPenney Salons and OPI Products.)
Before I took my first steps on Capitol Hill that morning, I'll admit I was intimidated. In the past few years, my personal stretching has led me to interview industry celebrities on MODERN SALON TV to a number of public speaking engagements. But those experiences were within the warm, familiar embrace of the professional beauty industry. This was different-this was the national political scene.
As it turns out though, the day couldn't have been more exhilarating. In the morning I joined a group of salon owners for a briefing on the proposed legislation by professional lobbyists and then we were divided up into teams. The powers that be had the wisdom to pair me with Frank Zona, owner of Zona Salons in Norwell, Massachusetts, the Chair of PBA's governmental affairs committee, and a longtime lobbyist on this issue, and Brad Masterson, vice president of Y Public Relations.
First, we visited Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) who represents Frank's state. More accurately, we met with Brown's staffers. But after Frank updated the staff members on the proposed legislation, we did have about 90 seconds to meet the senator personally.
Now, it was my turn. When we arrived at my congresswoman's office, her assistant pleasantly told me Representative Lois Capps (D-CA) was excited to meet me. "Really? Maybe she doesn't get many constituents visiting D.C. from our rural area in California," I thought. The congresswoman couldn't have been lovelier. She spent more than 30 minutes with us, patiently listening as we informed her about the issue and allowing me to interview her on video. We even chatted about local news and her favorite salons back home. After the meeting, Frank joked, "That was about the best you could ask for-I thought at any minute she'd bring out the milk and cookies." And Rep. Capps might have, if her staff hadn't interrupted us to remind her she had four minutes to get down to the House floor and vote.
Finally, we met with Brad's representative Dina Titus (D-NV). Since she also had to cast a vote, her staff led us down to the room just off the floor of the House of Representatives. There, amid hundreds of other lobbyists and members of Congress, we talked to the congresswoman about the legislation and she too pledged her support.
These issues have the very real potential to shape the way you do business in the future, and my experience proved that one voice really can make a difference. And it's as easy as a warm conversation, one on one. If I can do it, so can you! Visit one of the professional associations' websites (probeauty.org; salonspanetwork.com; beautyschools.org; americasbeautynetwork.com) to see how you can get involved. And, watch salontoday.com in the following months as we invite legislative experts to keep us all up to date on these important issues.
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