Women on Having It All: Mia Liguori McHugh and Tracy Liguori
Liguori McHugh and Tracy Liguori; Co-Presidents, Scruples Professional Salon Products; Lakeville, Minnesota
As co-presidents of creative and marketing/advertising respectfully, Mia Liguori McHugh and Tracy Liguori share with their brother Frank the leadership of a powerhouse beauty company known for its hair color line. But they share so much more—a beautiful family legacy, the story of the power of surrogacy, and the belief that they can help each other achieve their professional and personal dreams.
Do you believe a woman in the professional beauty industry can “have it all?” And, what does that mean to you?
Mia: “Yes, I think you can “have it all” as long as you are realistic as to what “all” means. The ultimate conflict most women face is the struggle of balancing home and career, and sometimes you must make tough choices. As long as the scales are balanced and you are not always selecting work over family or vice versa, it can work.”
Tracy: “I believe a woman can absolutely have it all in the professional beauty industry. Having it all to me means loving what you do, loving your life and being able to sustain a healthy balance between family, career and personal time. The professional beauty industry has been unbelievably kind to our family for generations. Our grandfather was a barber who owned his own barbershop in Manhattan. Our mother, ChessieLiguori, was a hairdresser, and our father, Frank Liguori, was a beauty supply salesman. Our parents met at a hair show and fell in love. Fast forward 52 years and my brother, sister and I are co-presidents and run a second-generation company, Scruples Professional Salon Products, Inc.—the business our father co-founded in 1983. Not only do I love what I do, but we have an incredibly strong family.”
How is being sisters a benefit to your business? When is it challenging? How do you divide leadership?
Mia: “My sister Tracy is my best friend and the best person I know. I feel fortunate to work alongside her and our brother Frank. We all love Scruples, but we love each other more. Be sure, there are days we disagree, but the arguments are never personal and once we make a decision, we all back it 100 percent.”
Tracy: “I think being sisters and having similar upbringings has offered us a benefit in business. The respect and love we have for each other far exceeds any business disagreement that could occur. When we do not see eye to eye—and it does happen—whoever has more expertise in that area makes the call. We always agree on one thing, we would never let business get in the way of family.”
In the pursuit of “having it all,” what sacrifices have either of you had to make, if any?
Mia: “For me the biggest sacrifice has been time away from my family. We had a mother who stayed home and was always there for us. I thought growing up, I would be the type of mother she was. It hasn’t worked out that way, but I’m glad. I don’t think I would be the best mother I could be if I was home. My hectic work schedule has made my children more independent. I also have a wonderful husband who holds it all together.”
Tracy: “I think that any time you strive to “have it all” there are sacrifices along the way. At the end of the day you are only one person and there are only 24 hours in a day. You have to constantly prioritize because you are pulled in many directions. It is knowing when to put family first and when to put your business first, knowing your family will be fine without you for a bit. Missing a child’s game, being a little late for a meeting, these are the little sacrifices along the way. If things get too out of balance, that’s when you suffer big consequences. The key to having it all is balance!”
If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what would be your favorite page?
Mia: “My favorite page would be Scruples 25thAnniversary Celebration. Tracy and I planned and executed a fantastic event. We did it all, from writing the script, hiring 50 models, assembling the team, and creating and editing a tribute video. All of our distributor partners were there along with our education team from around the country and our families. We honored the past and focused on the future. It was truly an amazing evening.”
Tracy: “Looking back, starting out in the beauty business was a great time. Our father would not allow us to work for him unless we worked in the field learning the beauty business from the ground up. This experience was invaluable and necessary for accomplishing what we are doing now in running Scruples.”
If we were looking through a scrapbook of your life, what page would you want to rewrite?
Mia: “I have always regretted not taking a semester abroad when I was in college. My roommate went and begged me to go but I chose not to. As an adult I have had the opportunity to travel the globe with Scruples. I now know what I missed out on. I would love to rewrite that moment in time and see Europe as a 20-year-old college student.”
Tracy: “I wish I could rewrite my mothers passing. She was an unbelievable woman who was loved by everyone who knew her. She fought her battle with cancer for three long years and passed in 1999. The effect her death had on my father was heartbreaking to watch. The fact that some of her grandchildren never knew her or can hardly remember her is a shame and a loss. She passed far too early.”
What’s your favorite tool or strategy for maintaining balance in your life?
Mia: “For both work and family, I use my outlook calendar, my “Task-Task” app, and good old-fashioned Post-It notes. Organization is the key to keeping all the balls in the air. I also try to make the most of the time I have. When I have been away on an extended trip, I plan one-on-one days with each of my kids so we have special time together. In this hectic world, it has to be the quality of time not quantity of time. I also have “NO E-MAIL SUNDAYS.” I don’t even open upOutlook. If I do, I get sucked in.”
Tracy: “In order to maintain balance you must be skilled at prioritizing. It is the only way to achieve balance. There must be give and take between family and work.”
What can you share about your personal story of surrogacy?
Mia: “Tracy and I were brought up in a loud, Italian family full of unconditional love. When someone in your family needs your help, you don’t stop and question; how will this inconvenience me? You help! When my sister found out she could not have a second child because of cancer, she was devastated. She had a hysterectomy but her ovaries were left to produce the hormones that a young woman needs. The doctor told Tracy she could have another biological child using her eggs, her husband’s sperm and a surrogate. I had just had my first child, and had a great pregnancy. I discussed the possibility with my husband and he was in full support. After all, it’s only nine months of my life,and I could give my sister a lifetime of happiness. I knew throughout the pregnancy and delivery that this was my sister’s biological child, not mine. It’s important to keep that clear in your head. On August 23, 1996, through our joint venture, we gave birth to Frances Marie Lubeley. The miracle baby as we call her. People have expressed how wonderful they think it is that I did this for my sister, but I really feel like I was the one that received the gift.”
Tracy: “This is truly a story of a miracle born from tragedy. I was pregnant with my second child when I was diagnosed with cancer. I was told, by my doctors that I could not continue to carry the child within me. If I wanted a chance for survival and to be a mother to the child I already had, the pregnancy would need to be terminated and that I would have to undergo an immediate radical hysterectomy. There was no choice to be made. Although I was devastated at the loss of my child, the surgery was successful at removing all signs of cancer. My husband and I wanted to have another child, and during a post-operation visit, my doctor told me it was still possible. My ovaries were left intact which meant that I still produced eggs. All we needed was to find someone who would carry a baby for us. My sister Mia, the most giving person I know, stepped up and offered to carry our baby.
The process is extensive as well as expensive, and there is no guarantee that it will be successful, but we decided to try. We went through months of legalities, inner muscular shots, and bills. It was all worthwhile when we got the call … Mia was pregnant with our child. We went to every prenatal visit together and when she went into labor in the early morning hours, I picked her up and together we went to the hospital. Mia delivered to me a miracle—a beautiful baby girl who just turned sweet sixteen. I can’t imagine life without my beautiful miracle baby or my beautiful sister. Mia gave me a gift that can never be repaid!”
What’s the best thing anyone’s ever told you about yourselves?
Mia: “Recently someone told me that my spirit reminded her of my mother. That is the nicest compliment I have ever received. My mother was the kindest person I have ever known. She was always happy and always helping others. She told me once, “It is not the things, but the people in our lives that make it priceless.”She passed away from cancer in 1999. Sometimes when I miss her so much and I wish I could talk to her, I call the one person in my life most like her, my sister Tracy.”
Tracy: “The best thing anyone’s ever told me is that I remind them of my mother. She taught us how to love and what’s most important in life. Truthfully, I think Mia is more like her than I. Her giving spirit and kind ways make everyone around her happy, just like our mother.”
What do you hope to achieve in the next five years?
Mia: “I hope to continue to see Scruples grow in a positive and responsible way with integrity for the professional beauty industry. I hope to support my children and help them achieve their dreams both big and small. I plan on balancing and enjoying all the gifts in my life. We get one opportunity to make our life meaningful, and I don’t plan on wasting a single day.”
Tracy: “In the next five years, I would like to see Scruples continue to grow and help hairdressers achieve their dreams. I would like to be present for my adult children as they encounter adult issues and help guide them through and achieve their goals and dreams. I want to enjoy life while I have life to enjoy.”