Last week we took a brief look into the history of the beauty industry. We decided we wanted to take this week to ask Laura and Ashley about their own history with the industry. Here is a look into their journey from the beginning and what sparked their love for this industry.
How did you end up in the beauty industry?
Ashley: I feel like the beauty industry fell into my lap. I started school 6 weeks after I graduated high school, naïve and starry-eyed about life as an adult. I was not the average beauty school student; I took my work very seriously. I practiced at home and worked really hard to make sure I always had models to practice on. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to make a difference. What that meant at 18 is really different than what that looks like now, but still the basic foundation and drive is deep within. So, while it feels like happenstance that it has fit so perfectly, it was clear that it was always meant to be—even though I had no clue at 18.
Laura: The beauty industry found me. It was a logical way to be with people, do new things every day and make a living making things. The perfectionist in me likes the predictability of knowing the rules of haircutting and coloring. The creative spirit in me enjoys using (and sometimes breaking) the rules to enjoy the art and science of the work. Once I started as a professional, I knew I had found the place I was supposed to be.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is in how you carry yourself, how you value your worth and the worth of those around you.Ashley Seneff
A: Beauty to me is confidence. As I have grown into adulthood, spending all of my 20s working in the beauty industry, I see that idea is so limiting and often inaccurate via cultural standards. The most beautiful people I know don’t look like the cover of Vogue. Beauty is in how you carry yourself, how you value your worth and the worth of those around you. Beauty on the outside affects how you feel about yourself and how others perceive you but that is only one slice of the pie. And—from my vantage point—a very small slice. Your mind, your heart, your confidence is beauty that radiates.
L: Beauty most often to me is a feeling, something intangible in many respects. When we dig into the work of self-discovery, self-awareness and becoming the best version of ourselves, both inside and out, that is when we find our true beauty. Beauty is being authentic to who you are, which can change and evolve. And, in my opinion, should change and evolve.
How has it changed you?
A: The industry has changed my definition and understanding of beauty, but more importantly, my understanding of people. I have met a wide variety of people with different religious and political views, different lifestyles and entirely different value systems. Yet, we have more in common than we don’t. There is a warmth and softness that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I don’t know if that is just getting older or because of the work I do, but I guess I can’t separate the two.
L: This industry has given me empathy and softened my naturally judgmental spirit. I bear witness to our humanity day-in and day-out. I experience people who are different from me daily. I recognize the desire deep within all of us for a sense of belonging and have found more love and compassion than I never knew to be. I have experienced some of the most amazing life experiences, and some of the most traumatic, alongside of my guests. Being a part of that in a small way changes you deeply.
What is the most valuable part of this work and industry?
When we spend the time in the chair discovering ourselves, our inner beauty is manifested into reality—not just in our look, but in our demeanor.Laura Graven
L: The people. We joke all the time, “This work would be so easy if it wasn’t for the people.” But in all seriousness, the people are what makes this work so valuable. People are hard, but most things that are valuable are. The work we do in helping others discover their best look gives them confidence. Women especially don’t always FEEL beautiful. We are so hard on ourselves. When we spend the time in the chair discovering ourselves, our inner beauty is manifested into reality—not just in our look, but in our demeanor. It is a truly special experience daily.
A: I would echo that sentiment. This work is demanding physically and emotionally, but the value of inspiring and giving confidence through image is something that is priceless. Hairdressers have a power they often don’t recognize. When you step into that power magic happens, in your chair and outside of it. Confidence inspires confidence.