Exploring Beauty with Megan Piety
September 20, 2020
Megan Piety Owner and Stylist at Kinship Hair Co. Santa Cruz, Ca.
Man, where do I start with this woman!
Megan Piety is the owner of Kinship Hair Co. in Santa Cruz and my former boss!
When I first saw Megan, I was working for another salon in town and we were all in an Aveda color class in San Jose. Her vibrant red hair and her beautiful smile caught my eye. I mean, how could it not? Little did I know that the following year I would be working with her, the owner of the salon that I was dreaming of working in.
I have the habit of looking into the windows of salons to see what the space is like, to see if it's clean -- how well do they clean up after themselves? How functional is the space? What is it like to imagine myself in that space?
Many late nights walking downtown with my boyfriend at the time, we would walk down Pearl Alley in Santa Cruz, California and I would stare in the window of the most incredible salon. It was so cute and appeared to be really well taken care of. There were majestic plants everywhere, a nice waiting area, and it just seemed like a great use of the space (I think even in my interview or on my application I “joked” that I used to drool on the windows late at night).
As time in the salon I was working in went on, I began to have a feeling that it was time to move on, I decided to explore some other options of where I wanted to work. I still didn't have that large of a clientele; I still wanted more education; and, I still wanted someone to hold my hand because I knew I had a lot to learn. I took a leap of faith that this salon I loved staring into late at night would be a salon that I would enjoy spending my days in. I also took a chance even thinking that they would want me to work there.
To my pleasant surprise, they loved me and I loved them. They hired me immediately. (It was probably my “jokes”).
The most profound thing I learned from the hiring process at Megan’s salon was this: Integrity. Yes, they wanted me right away. They made that clear, but they encouraged me to put in my two week notice with my current employer before joining their team and leave on a good note. I have almost never seen another stylist do this but I am proud of myself for listening to and following this advice. It made the difference in moving forward honestly.
So, I wanted Megan to be my first official interview for this season of the project. I was nervous and excited! I figured it would be good to start with someone that supports me no matter what I decide, even if it's to leave her salon to go travel, explore different parts of myself, and never return!
Megan's definition of beauty is connection, authentic connection. She talks about how when we all first start out doing hair, we are often focused on "making beautiful hair," but for her it's always been about building community first with her clients. I loved watching her ability to build deep, lasting relationships there at the salon, always leading with love and maintaining strong impeccable boundaries with her conversations. They were boundaries for herself, her clients, the salon space, and the community. I strive to be good at this, like Megan.
The beauty industry started out as an art platform for Megan because she originally wanted to go to art school for photography. She was able to figure out how she could be creative and artistic as well as connect with people in the community with her chosen career of doing hair. She made a point that sits with me always, “the beauty industry is what you make it.” You can do so much in it, it's up to you to decide how you want to show up. (This statement empowers this very project). I love this so much! It's such a driving force for my life. I am always checking in with myself to see how and where I fit into the industry. I remember at first feeling like, "Do I fit in? I'm this weird girl that hates all the drama but loves hair. I don't know where or how I fit in here." But as time went on, I got older and had more experiences doing hair and just living life, I found more of myself. I still find more and more of myself everyday. One thing I really love about this project is an opportunity for me to still feel connected to doing hair and being a part of the community without actually being in a salon. I've loved creating a way to still be involved.
As our interview transitioned to the new (pandemic) way of being in salons, we talked about touch and how sacred it is. We talked about deep eye connection and how much more important that has become now that masks cover our mouths limiting so much of our expressions. She also brought up how important it is to have consent with people regarding how you touch them during massages in the shampoo bowl. Being away from doing hair, I miss this sacred space where people trusted me to touch their heads. It's one of my favorite things about the industry because very few professions get to physically touch their clients and we are actually licensed to do so. A responsibility that I do not take lightly.
With the overdue movement of Black Lives Matter now on the rise, I have been in the deep depths of myself concerning how I fit into it all, how I can show up, and what the BLM movement means in the beauty industry? To me, right now, it means having education and how my school did not offer me many tools. Much like a lot of beauty school, you don't learn a whole lot other than how to pass the state board licensing test so - I believe - continued education is vital for the survival of the industry.
Megan is an incredible curly hair specialist, she has taught me so much about being comfortable with textured and curly hair. She is one of the few stylists to actually teach me about curly, black, and textured hair. I am grateful to her for teaching me what she knows about curls and I always admire her for taking action and the initiative to learn about current events and how she can be involved and make change for herself and her salon.
When I asked Megan, "What do you feel people get wrong about the industry?" Unfortunately, her answer did not surprise me. Megan talked about the stereotype of how people think we just talk to people all day and just do hair. But it's so much deeper and bigger than just a couple of hours of beauty school. Science and math are very much involved in doing hair, a lot of people don't really realize that. Megan also touched on the assumption that hairstylists are dumb or just choosing an easy route in life. This is one of the take-aways that I would like people to gain awareness of with this project. (Almost every interview I conducted this issue was brought up.)
I asked Megan what she thought her personal impact is on the industry. She responded that her aim is to be really kind and welcoming to other people opening up salons. She is a stand for women uplifting other women. She is a stand for salons uplifting other salons -- coming together, learning together and learning from each other. We are all so connected and can learn so much from each other… Being a support to other salon owners, using resources properly and coming from a view of abundance rather than scarcity. She is a stand for connection with other salons.
Megan believes that some of the big changes that need to happen in the industry are these: quality over quantity, eye contact, and education, as well as being compassionate and understanding to all.
Megan is looking forward to growing and learning more about textured hair. She is looking forward to exercising her boundaries and really taking her time day to day to not overwork herself anymore -- focusing on her business rather than just being behind the chair. She is looking forward to saying “no” more often!
I'm so proud to have spent so much time with Megan over the years! She is a beautiful leader and I have loved learning more about what she stands for in the beauty industry.
I hope you enjoy this episode with the amazing, beautiful Megan Piety!
With love and gratitude,
Creator/ Founder of The Beauty Project
Megan's Beauty Statement: "Beauty to me is whole hearted connection.
The beauty industry is an opportunity to educate yourself further, to be in a constant learning environment, and to build a bigger, deeper community that goes beyond what’s happening on the outside.
I am beautiful because I choose to use love and kindness as well as awareness every day. It’s a part of my daily practice.
What I would like people to know is you are so much deeper than your hair or your make up or what’s happening on the outside. You are a soul in a human body. You have beautiful ideas and thoughts. You have lots of love to give and that’s what truly matters. You matter."
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