Sunday, December 16, 2012

....and Imagine All You Can Be

Its a little strange to be back home after going to New York for the final interviews for Matrix Spread the Love 2013. This whole weekend seems to have been a dream and the day I arrived seems like such a long time ago. I added so many new family members, planted seeds for the future, comforted others who needed it and praised others who deserved it. I learned from the top people in my industry and I don't even have my cosmetology license, yet.
I went to New York thinking it would be great to win, but I told myself I would be completely happy being in the top 20 and benefiting from all the education and connections we would receive and make, respectively, over the weekend. One thing I didn't prepare for was REALLY wanting to win. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have entered if I didn't want to win, but I am finding that I am a VERY competitive person and really would have liked to win this opportunity.
Well, I didn't win and you know what?
Its okay.
I'm okay.

Why am I okay?

I was me, I was real and I was honest. I didn't go in trying to make anyone feel sorry for me or trying to sell a fake bill of goods. [Please know that I'm not insinuating anyone else did, I'm simply speaking for myself.] I did the best I could and said what I said because I believe the words coming out of my mouth and it turned out I wasn't what they were looking for and that's okay.

Its okay that I didn't win one of the six spots travelling the United States and instantly becoming an industry icon because I won in other ways. I won myself back.

A long time ago, I lost my way and couldn't quite get a footing in life. I was asleep, but now I am wide awake. Yes, I was a sleeping giant. This weekend I came out of hibernation broke through my own fears and perceptions. Only God can stop me now. Matrix, Penrose Academy, Casa de Cristo Church and Apostolic Center, the officer that stopped me three and a half years ago and my family all woke me up. This was the village it took to raise me back up and it all came to a head this weekend when I found, once again, what of what it is I am capable. That is worth more than any prize or cash value because from now on, I will always have me.

For a while I had wondered why there weren't more people I know applying for this opportunity, but I found that uncertainty, opening yourself up to be compared to other and being subject to rejection are very difficult things to face. I faced all of these things and now I'm even better than I was before. You can do this too.

In addition to all this, I receive education from Nicholas French, Brian and Sandra Smith, Daniel Roldan, Ammon Carver and Chrystopher Benson.
Chrystopher Benson even went so far as to let me know he was impressed by the fact that I still cut hair, even though I have tremors.

I learned a new color technique from Chrystopher Benson, a new haircutting techinique from Brian Smith (oh, and he even gave me the mannequin he was using to demonstrate), I receive more education in blowdrying from Ammon Carver and was given insight as to how Nicholas French produces looks for NAHA.

I'll be here all night writing about all the people I met from Matrix/L'Oreal and and the previous Matrix Spread the Love winners, but I will say that it was a wonderful experience meeting everyone else who were finalists. Not only did I add a great many people to my family, I had the chance to be inspired and reminded who I am and "Imagine All You Can Be."

Oh, and I can't finish without mentioning Dr. Lew! Dr. Lew was wonderful and inspiring, well everyone was inspiring, but we were informed that this was a rare appearance.

So, if you were a contestant, a judge, a winner, a previous winner or an educator from Matrix, I want to thank you for the role you played in changing me these last few days.

The last thing I want to say is, if you are considering applying for 2014, DO IT! Its okay to be afraid, new things can be scary and the benefits are immeasurable.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One things ends, another begins

Today was a week of completion for me. Monday was my last day at Par Exsalonce CityScape Salon and Spa and today was my last day at Penrose Academy (formerly Kohler Academy). I can't explain what a great feeling it is to have completed something into which I put so much effort.
When I was younger I always wanted to be the best or at least close to the top, but somehow I could never quite cut it. I either lost interest or didn't have the passion to be the best. I do want to mention that I'm not saying I AM the best at this point, but I have no doubt the capacity to do so is within me. In the past I really wanted to find what I was passionate about and hoped every time that the new thing I was trying was going to be the thing where I would excel. Well, I did excel at a few things, but I would eventually hit a wall and my passion subsided.
There were other things where I think I was just trying to survive and decided I would try them and make myself be happy if I could make some good money. The problem with that was I would eventually feel I was spinning my wheels and become depressed. Each time I would hope that it would be my time. I hope no more. I now know that this is my time.
I'll get to my point. I really had trouble standing out in my class at Penrose Academy because there was so much talent in my class, technically and academically, so I participated in everything I could. This helped earn me a finalist spot for Matrix Spread the Love 2013. In addition, I managed to get an interview at two of the best salons in the United States. In August of this year I interviewed at Mane Attraction in Phoenix. Keep mind I don't graduate until Friday (or by the time you're reading this, tomorrow). I didn't get that position, but I will also mention I was the only person in that interview group who did not yet have a license.
And here is my big announcement, in early November I was hired at Aura Salon & Day Spa in Scottsdale. I set the bar high for myself and Aura exceeded my expectations. If you're wondering why I didn't make an announcement about this sooner, I'll let you know that it was because I was still working at another salon and since they were still paying me, I didn't want to distract from them.
So next week, I'll be in New York to find out if I'm a Matrix Spread the Love 2013 winner. If not, I still already won a spot at Aura Salon and Day Spa as an apprentice (and let me tell you, this is a BIG deal). No matter where I land on my feet, I'll know its where I belong.
Above all this, I am most proud when I hear my mother say how proud she is of me.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Where did the year go?

It was just about a year ago that my mother and I were having a conversation about how I would be nearly done with school in about a year. It seems so strange that my life can change so much in a year. 13 months ago I was jobless and had no idea what I was going to do with myself and today I have a job in one of the best apprenticeship programs in the United States. In a month, I find out if I will have the opportunity to travel the United States spreading the Matrix gospel. This place in my life takes back, way back.
I remember when my mom worked at a salon on the Southside called Lady Di. If you're from the Southside, you'll know that it was in an old Victorian house across the street from what is now Little Caesars on Central just south of Vineyard. This is where she made a friend who would later become her business partner, Pat. She went to speak to the salon owner right out of cosmetology school and, if I recall correctly, was hired on the spot. She still tells me about a lady who worked there named Gracie, who pretty much kept to herself. From what my mom said, Gracie was busy with her own life and really didn't have time for anybody else's drama.
The odd thing about Gracie was that, through the course of things, she taught my mom quite a bit of what she knew. "You're really going to learn the most once you get in the salon," is my mothers words of wisdom for me. She still tells me that whenever she didn't have clients at Lady Di, she would watch Gracie work. Gracie was a mentor to my mom and I can say that this mentoring, combined with my mom's Pivot Point education, made my mom the stylist she later became when she opened her own salon with Pat.
As I finish this volume (you know, as in an encyclopedia) in my life I'm can't help but compare where I am about to be with where my mother was at this time.
I will say that I didn't get to spend much time with my mother back then (sometimes she was nice enough to take me with her to work), but I know she was busy trying to become independent and raise myself and my three siblings. I also get to spend much more time with her now and have the benefit of everything she learned in her career.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm officially a Matrix Spread the Love Finalist!

Today Matrix made the announcement naming the 20 Spread the Love finalists. I'm so happy to be one of them. As I've mentioned before, of course I want to win, but I'd be completely happy with the accomplishment of having been a finalist. I can't say that I won't be disappointed if I don't win, but I think the fact that I'm a finalist will open so many doors for me in this industry (and probably outside the industry, as well).
As I'm getting into the home stretch of my education, it seems there are so many emotions that are surfacing and I have to say that I am so glad I made the decision to join the beauty industry. Its a risk that is worth my investment and I am so excited to see what else happens in my career if this is what has happened in under one year.

Thank you for reading my blog and taking an interest in me and thank you to the village that it took to raise me and thank you to everyone who has and continues to believe in me.

Sadly, my grandfather passed away two months too soon to hear about this accomplishment, but I know that he would have been proud of me nonetheless. And I am glad all of you are here to celebrate this with me.

Whatever happens from here, I know its the best for me and I'll keep that attitude in mind when I go to New York and find out if I'm one of the six who are chosen to represent Matrix next year.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Salon Inspiration for Matrix Spread the Love 2013

Here is another video I put together as part of my Matrix Spread the Love 2013 Semi-Finalist application/audtion. In this video I interviewed Aura Salon and Day Spa Co-Owners Christy and Sarah. Watch my video to find out why they inspire me.

Please be sure to click through and "Like" my video on

Four Questions for Spread the Love 2013 Answered

As part of my semi-finalist audition/application for Matrix Spread the Love 2013, I had to answer four out of ten questions. Here are my responses:

Please be sure to click through and "Like" my video on youtube.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

More about me

I've been asked to tell the people at Matrix Spread the Love 2013 a little more about myself so here goes. I was born in Phoenix, Ariz. at the county hospital. I was my mother's third child and second son (out of four children). Growing up I always knew there was more for me and I knew I wanted to do something significant with my life.
There is so much to say, but I'll try to describe my life as Cliff's Notes. In grade school I focused mostly on academics, but my high school was a magnet school and provided so many more opportunities. I started by taking aerospace, but my sophomore year I decided to take advantage of the the performing arts magnet program. As a result of this program, I participated in our annual musicals, I performed in an amateur group called The Amigos, won a City of Phoenix Scholarship, became the school drum major, traveled to Germany and New Zealand (with the Phoenix Youth Orchestra) and won a music scholarship to Arizona State University playing bassoon.
College was even better, I was in one of the university orchestras, two wind ensembles, played the saxaphone at two bowl games (one of which was the Rose Bowl, yes, I marched in the Tournament of Roses Parade) and a period music ensemble. I also joined a fraternity and came out to my family. The latter of which became a strain on my relationship with my parents for a few years.
At this point I should mention that my mother's career choice played a big part in a my life. My mother attained her cosmetology license when I was about ten years old and from that point on, I was always fascinated by the industry. Thing was, I didn't want to do what parents did, at the time I wanted to get as far from what they did as I could. Around the time I was in high school, my mom was told she could no longer work as a cosmetologist because she developed bursitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. This did not hamper my fascination with the industry, however.
After college (which I didn't finish, yet) I worked in banking, then at brokerage house, followed by a media company, which brings me to now being in cosmetology school. Somewhere along the way I became depressed and had anxiety disorder (which sometimes rears its ugly head). I didn't want to take medication so I learned to manage it by watching what I eat and drinking chamomile tea to keep me calm and would say that I am much better at handling this challenge life has thrown at me.

Here is the deeply honest part of my blog. If you've read previous posts of mine, you'd see that I was convicted of a DUI about three years ago. This was the best thing that could have happened to me. Although that sounds like a horrible thing to say, I did come to have compassion for homeless people, specifically youth, as a result of my 15 days in tent city at the county jail. I decided I was going to turn bad into good. I reconnected with my faith and found a church that accepts me the way I am and began taking seminary courses. Although I finished the coursework for a degree, I didn't really pursue my diploma until a few months after one of the deans of the school passed away. I now have the piece of paper that means so much to employers and have already taken classes that count towards my masters degree. I also joined an organization called the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to help me raise money for homeless youth-related causes, but the organization was very hierarchal and about a year and a half later I found it wasn't the best fit for me.
I managed to do all of this without having a car for a year and being on house arrest (I was able to leave home for work and volunteer-related work). I also re-connected with my musical roots and joined the the choir at my parents' church. When I found the choir leader didn't exactly have a soft spot for gays, I found the church I mentioned earlier where I began taking seminary courses and joined their Praise & Worship Team (which is their version of the music for Sunday services). Since joining my current church, Casa de Cristo Church and Apostolic Center, I was a project manager for our Fall Festival (our Halloween Event) and began teaching youth. I even preached the main Sunday Service, twice. This however, was put on hold when I went back to school for cosmetology.
So how did I end up at Penrose Academy? Well, I was just laid off from my job of 5-6 years at a small media company where we were doing something very different. I met the owners of that company when I played rugby on a local club in Phoenix, Ariz. As I mentioned previously, I had developed anxiety and depression and was having panic attacks and missing a lot of work. This led to me losing my job at the brokerage company where I was working. My new bosses didn't have an issue with this.
At the media company, I hung on as long as I could because I really wanted to see it through. After a couple of years, I knew I needed to move on but I really didn't know how or what I would do. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciated the opportunities I had at this job. I was able to interview celebrities for the magazine (like Andy Cohen and RuPaul), I had my own segment on their radio show and I had the opportunity to travel for marketing as a representative of the company. The job came to an end almost exactly a year ago when the company laid-off four of ten employees. I had no idea what I was going to do, but I knew it was an opportunity to start all over again and become the person I always knew I could be.
I looked at temp jobs until I could make some money, but that went nowhere. One day, my niece decided she wasn't going to stay at her cosmetology school any longer. The school wasn't teaching her much and she had enough. I told her I would help her find a better school.
Since my mother went to a Pivot Point school and was able to do things that others who worked with her couldn't, I thought that might be the best option for my niece. The only school that I was referred to through the Pivot Point International website was Kohler Academy (which is now Penrose Academy). I asked around and decided to look at two other schools with her, as well. She also had one in mind and I went with her to find out about that school. When the person in admissions told her that some people stay behind the chair and some go to the corporate side, a light bulb went on.
Why did I never think about that (the corporate side of the industry)? The beauty industry is wide and varied and there are so many opportunities I had never considered. I knew what I would do next. I contacted Kohler Academy and told them I was interested. I also went with my niece to look at two other schools, but in my mind I had already decided on Kohler. They didn't take everyone and anyone, they had a higher standard and higher expectations of their students and if I was going to go back to school, not only was I going to do it right, I was going to the best school I could find.
I was accepted and was told the admissions person liked that fact that I was humble and so interested in learning. I also found out a few students were Spread the Love finalists. When they told me what it was, I KNEW I would apply for 2013.
This brings me to where I am. People tell my I am a much happier person and see a complete change in me. I still get stressed out when I come to a new situation, but as Jill Kohler says, "Get comfortable being uncomfortable." She also says "Be a better version of yourself." Both of these phrases have inspired me through the last year and have encouraged me to start doing interviews in July of this year. Even though I've had anxiety through those experiences, I'm glad I've started. The more I do something, the less scary it becomes.
I really hope this has helped give you a better idea of who I am and why I be great for the 2013 Spread the Love Tour. Great things happen to people every day, I don't see a reason why I shouldn't be one of them.
Thank you for your time and consideration.