It’s time for an overdue conversation about systemic racism within the professional skin care industry. Recent events have inspired reflection on the role ASCP may have unknowingly played. As part of our reconciliation with this, we are providing our fellow estheticians and skin care experts a platform to discuss the inequalities and injustices they have experienced and explore proposed changes as it relates to the profession and the skin care clients we serve.
Join ASCP Executive Director Tracy Donley and Ella Cressman, licensed esthetician and fellow ASCP podcaster as they engage in some incredible stories shared by JoElle Lee and Toshiana Baker about their unique journeys into to the world of beauty. Listen and even relate as they share the challenges they’ve endured and the successes they’ve achieved along the way. Both of these women are successful estheticians that just happen to be African American.
A highly respected skin care expert, educator, and celebrity esthetician, JoElle Lee is the author of Esthetician on a Mission: Business Building Workbook and co-author of Multicultural Skin Treatments: Learn How to Effectively Treat Skin of Color Using Chemical Peels and Laser Treatments, a trusted guide for treating diverse client populations.
In addition to being featured in numerous national consumer publications and a guest on radio programs across the country, JoElle is recognized for being the former personal esthetician to First Lady Michelle Obama during her time in the White House.
JoElle specializes in no-downtime chemical peel treatments, customized corrective facial treatments, and a wide range of laser treatments for skin of color. JoElle feels there is a gap in basic esthetic training and education when it comes to treating clients of color, as well as preparing estheticians who want to have their own business.
Over the years, JoElle has helped many estheticians and small businesse owners in the industry solve complex problems and increase their bottom lines. With her straightforward, no-nonsense approach, JoElle's philosophy is to uncover learned negative beliefs or thinking that has created a barrier within your business, and then tear that wall down. She uncovers hidden assets, underperforming activities, and undervalued possibilities of your business.
JoElle teaches effective and profitable marketing strategies and how to stand out from the competition. Many of her ideas and strategies have been implemented and resulted in not only increased profits, but a more diverse loyal clientele.
Today, JoElle can be found conducting personalized skin care consultations, serving as keynote speaker at events, teaching classes on multicultural skin, and sharing her expertise via webinars, online courses, and social media.
Toshiana Baker has served the spa, beauty, and wellness industries internationally as an esthetician and educator for nearly 15 years. A passionate organizational leader, dynamic speaker, and bestselling author, she has held a variety of industry leadership roles, including director of esthetics for a 30-location corporate spa organization, regional account and education executive for a leading cosmetic and brow artistry brand, and global director of education for a renowned skin care, cosmetics and fragrance brand.
Applying her rich expertise as a spa and wellness expert, Toshiana founded SpaWorx in 2016, a consulting and training development agency to educate, enlighten, and empower spa, beauty, and wellness organizations, as well as support growth in their financial performance. SpaWorx has happily served a range of clients—from solo estheticians to large global beauty corporations.
In addition to her consulting agency, she volunteers as a commissioner and executive secretary for the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA). She is also a contributing author and subject-matter expert for the Pivot Point International textbook for foundational esthetics curriculum.
Toshiana will excitedly open membership for the Network of Multi-Cultural Spa and Wellness Professionals (NMSWP) later this summer. NMSWP is a professional platform dedicated to “the promotion, uplift, and edification of underrepresented spa and wellness professionals across all disciplines to create a community of professionals with access to resources, education, and opportunities, while demonstrating through our work our commitment to excellence and the highest quality in our vocation.” Through this network, Toshiana envisions a community that is better equipped, aligned, and supported in furthering the mission of being well and whole while fostering global healing and wellness.
0:00:01 Speaker 1: Associated Skin Care Professionals, ASCP, is committed to advancing the careers of estheticians. As a part of that mission, we want to have meaningful conversations about developing an inclusive culture of understanding and knowledge. Recent events have inspired reflection on the role ASCP may have unknowingly played in contributing to institutional and systemic racism.
0:00:27 S1: As a part of our reconciliation with this, we are providing our fellow estheticians and skin care experts a platform to discuss the inequalities and injustices they have experienced and explore proposed changes as it relates to the profession and skin care clients we serve.
0:00:48 Speaker 2: You are listening to ASCP Esty Talk, where we share insider tips, industry resources and education for estheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk because ASCP knows it's all about you.
0:01:04 Tracy Donley: Hi there and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk. I'm Tracy Donley, Executive Director of Associated Skin Care Professionals, and I'm very fortunate to be joined today by my podcast partner, Ella Cressman. She is a licensed esthetician and host of ASCP Esty Talk's podcast series, Ingredient Decked Out. So if you haven't heard that, check it out. And today, we are going to have a much overdue conversation with two fabulous ladies from the world of professional skin care, that is JoElle Lee and Toshiana Baker, and each of them have incredible stories to tell about their journey into the world of beauty.
0:01:48 TD: So I invite you to listen as they share their challenges that they've endured and their successes they've achieved along the way. Both of these guests are successful estheticians, but happen to be African-American women, and Ella and I are not. So we are totally aware that a conversation about systemic racism and diversity within the skin care profession need not be dominated by two white girls, right? So instead, we would like to provide a platform and questions to encourage understanding and education on the subject. So I am very grateful to our amazing guests for joining us, and I promise, this is just going to be the beginning.
0:02:33 Ella Cressman: Yes, and I'm super excited. Welcome, ladies. Tracy and I started talking about this a few weeks ago... Or last week, I guess. There was two women that came to the top of my list and that is you guys. So I am very honored and excited to share your story and also to share in this podcast with you. But before I know about you guys and because I love, honor and respect you both so much. But before we jump in with questions, can you each share a little bit about yourselves and your background? Let's start with JoElle.
0:03:06 JoElle Lee: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. I'm very excited about being on the podcast today and excited to share my story as well. My esthetics journey actually starting in Chicago. I was going to school to be an actress, and I was...
0:03:28 EC: Oh wow!
0:03:29 JL: I was in college for that. I was also taking business, too, so it was weird, I was like "Okay, I'm gonna own a business and be an actress, the whole thing going on."
0:03:38 TD: Wow! That's a lot. That's a lot.
0:03:40 JL: Welcome to 21 years old. So I'm there and I'm waiting tables, and I decide that, "Is there something else I could do besides wait tables that would give me flexibility of time?" And I was going to an esthetician and loved beauty. It was something that I loved all my life, but I had not really known about an actual career that involved beauty or one that could be as flexible as the esthetics career was. And it was actually another esthetician who encouraged me to go to school. And she said "You know what? The program is not very long, you can take a break from college, wrap that up, and then return to college and you can do this part-time." Well, when I got to esthetics school, I just really, really fell in love with it, and I was fortunate enough to be at a school where a plastic surgeon in the area actually came in and taught the Anatomy and Physiology.
0:04:49 TD: Oh, thank goodness.
0:04:54 JL: Yeah.
0:04:54 EC: Yes. Yes.
0:04:54 JL: ____ a CIDESCO certified teacher.
0:04:57 TD: Oh Wow.
0:05:00 EC: Oh wow.
0:05:00 JL: It was really like all the stars had lined up, the moon had set perfectly, everything that happened there, they said had... That was the first time they had ever done it.
0:05:10 EC: Wow.
0:05:13 JL: Everything that was happening was happening to everyone for the first time, so like I said, it was just in the stars for me. And I just fell in love with the medical side, when I really started learning about how much more I could do, so actually, I asked this doctor if I could mentor and train with him. I ended up training with him, even before I graduated school. And then I worked for him the first four years of my career, and I had extensive training with him. I worked in a burn unit, I worked at the hospital with him, I assisted him in all in-office procedures. He was an African-American surgeon who had a specialty in skin of color, who really taught me chemical peels, microdermabrasion, especially with... Microdermabrasion actually had just came out when I graduated, and he was teaching me how to micro peel and laser. And so I just had a wealth of foundational training. And it was actually there, and I know eventually we're gonna get to Michelle Obama, so I'm just going to get rid of that elephant in the room right away.
0:06:30 EC: Yeah. Okay.
0:06:31 JL: And Michelle Obama was one of my very first clients outta school, and I met her at this doctor's office, this doctor...
0:06:39 TD: Oh, you met her?
0:06:42 JL: Yeah.
0:06:42 EC: Oh, it gets better. It gets better.
0:06:44 JL: Of course.
0:06:44 TD: Oh my gosh. Okay.
0:06:47 JL: I met her, and then I found out that she lived upstairs from me. We were in these condos, and they lived upstairs from me.
0:06:55 Toshiana Baker: This is crazy. What year is this?
0:06:57 TD: In Chicago?
0:06:58 JL: This is Chicago.
0:07:00 EC: Wow.
0:07:00 TD: But what year was it, JoElle?
0:07:03 JL: Oh, please. Well...
0:07:04 TD: JoElle's like, "I don't want to say." Update me.
0:07:09 JL: Right. 2000.
0:07:11 EC: 2000. Okay.
0:07:12 JL: '99, 2000. So I'm really practicing on... Really practicing. I wanna say, when I started working with the doctor, I met her within 30 days. But she continued to be my client, and he had a very high-end clientele, in general. I was exposed to a lot of people in politics, as well as celebrities that came to town. So that was a big part of my career in the very beginning. Now, what I decided to do, I decided that I wanted more training in not just on skin of color. So then there was a company that was coming to Chicago, they were gonna build seven medi spas, and they wanted people to specialize in laser treat... All the different types of laser treatments. They also wanted nurses on staff, and they were doing extensive training as well. And they brought me on board and I helped them open the 7 Medical Spas. And then I trained with them, but I was the only black esthetician in that company, and they only put their medi spas in predominantly white areas.
0:08:20 JL: I spent another four years in that position, but that really filled a gap for me, too. I really felt like I could address skin as a complete whole. At that time, I wasn't even servicing Michelle Obama. So when I moved and went to the whole other side of town to have this training and work at this facility, so was actually out of touch with her for several years. And then he started running while I was there. And at that particular time, when he started running is when I decided that I wanted to develop my own product line and that I wanted that line to be in different medical spas or spas.
0:09:03 TD: And how many years were you into it then as a licensed esthetician at this point?
0:09:09 JL: Oh, 10 years in.
0:09:11 TD: Okay, okay.
0:09:12 JL: And, I'll be honest, of every decision that I made in my career, it was very definite, and I would always prepare myself for the next thing. So even when they started running, I said, "If he wins, I'm just gonna prepare to move to DC, just in case. Just in case they call me, I have to be ready to go." And I had operated... I operated my life that way. If I want something, I just plant the seed and water it. That's how I look at it. I plant the seed and water it. So I said... And I meditate, I pray about what I wanna do, I really go with what my heart and mind leads me to. But I decided that I was just gonna start telling my friends, "I'm probably gonna have to move to DC." Well, and...
0:10:11 TD: That is serious manifestation right there.
0:10:15 JL: Right. So I was like, "I'm just letting everybody know that I'm gonna make this relocation. I don't know when. But I need to prepare." And that is another reason why I wanted the product, because I knew I wasn't gonna have any clients there. I knew that I was... The only client I was gonna have was her when I got there. But I... Of course, I don't have contact with them. But I just believed that I'm booked. So long story short, they eventually called me. So I end up in DC now, and I'm... Like I said, I'm at the White House doing the services, but I still have to find a place to work in. The whole thing, all the licensing is different there. So there's no... I decided to live in Maryland at the time, in DC, estheticians could laser. They could be a medical esthetician, basically, but within a year or so after being there, all those laws change. Basically, an esthetician can only do a facial. She put in chemical peel and she put in anything. So that was my entire background. Meanwhile, I just started speaking at the Face & Body conferences, I was just starting to do the education piece. "Okay, I'm really feeling confident enough now that I have enough to share." So I'm speaking in conferences, speaking engagements, I'm teaching classes on my own. I'm doing that at the same time as the product. And that started to become a little bigger. I would say, after a couple of years of being at... In DC, rather, the product started to grow very fast.
0:11:57 TD: Now, this is the product line that you created...
0:11:58 JL: Yes.
0:12:00 TD: Or your education series? Okay, the product line. Okay.
0:12:02 JL: Yeah. So I just wanna say that, out of all the decisions that I made, this one was, it... Although it was going well, it was the one I didn't enjoy most. So far, it was like, "Okay, I need to start liking this, because I'm really in this." And I did it for seven years. And I gotta tell you, I just really did not enjoy having a product line, and maybe it was having it in other locations and doing all the training and whatever, but I wasn't enjoying that piece. That was one part of my career that I did not enjoy, I was wanting to get out of it. I...
0:12:43 TD: Quick question on that product line, JoElle, sorry to interrupt you. Was this a product line that was specific to skin of color, or was it a product line for everyone?
0:12:54 JL: No. A lot of people try to make it a, "I hope we talk about that because I really don't like saying, 'This product is for someone of color.'" The thing about skin is that the physiological pieces are pretty much... If we all go to med school, we're gonna learn about skin. The actual structure of skin is gonna be the same. You have a heart, I have a heart. You have a liver, I have a liver, right? However, you may be more susceptible to things based upon your ethnic background, whether it's blood pressure, diabetes, whatever, right? So the doctor will ask questions related to your ethnic background. I think we get lost with skincare products because it's not that we're not designing a product for someone of color. It's that we're not designing a product that addresses the main concerns of someone of color. So if I'm in an industry that is predominantly white and they're making anti-aging products predominantly: Anti-wrinkle, sun damage, all these things, and that is 90% of what I'm looking at, you are not in touch with the conditions of someone of color. But if I make a cleanser and you make a cleanser, we're both gonna start with the same base. You get what I'm saying? It's not like, "I'm gonna make a black cleanser today. It's that I'm gonna put in this bottle the things that address black conditions or things that they are more susceptible to get, but it's a cleanser."
0:14:29 TD: Right, and you're starting with the same base.
0:14:31 JL: Exactly. Yeah, if you make hair products, you're saying, "Yes, we're all starting with the same base for the shampoo, but now I'm gonna have to formulate this shampoo for what happens in my whatever market that I'm in, what are they most susceptible to?" I don't wanna say, "I was selling a black skin care line, and honestly, it was only white spas carrying it." That was the irony of the whole thing. I think I only had a couple black estheticians carrying my line. So what evolved at that point was I loved the teaching. Every time I would go speak or any time I would give a class, that started to be my new passion. So then I set a new goal for myself. I said, "I've been in a treatment room almost 20 years, I don't wanna still be treating at 50."
0:15:22 JL: This was my goal. I said, "I wanna create a whole new platform, a whole new way that I'm gonna do business, and I really want it to be what I enjoy most, which has led us up to this moment right now." So I was speaking, and the main questions that I would get was about treating skin of color, "I didn't learn it in school, JoElle." And I said, "Well, my specialty is peels and laser. I could definitely put something together on my specialty, right?" Because that was what my experience... Most of the treatments that I performed and what my experience was. And then someone encouraged me to write a book. Once I wrote the book, I started touring with the book, I did more and more classes, and now I've evolved into an entire educational platform, and here we are.
0:16:12 EC: And that's exactly how I met JoElle. I don't remember how it came about on Facebook, we came across each other's past some serendipitous way, but I reached out to her and I asked her if she would... If she had a stop on her tour for Colorado, because we needed that. And many of you know that I run a big group of almost 4,000 estheticians here. And I thought that would be something amazing. So that's how I met JoElle. She literally wrote the book on multicultural skin care, and have been just stalking her ever since. And so I'm so excited to have you on here. And Toshiana, can I call you Tosh? Is that okay, Tosh?
0:16:52 TB: Absolutely, you can call me Tosh. Most people do.
0:16:55 EC: Whack. Okay. I met Tosh another serendipitous way where we were connected from a mutual friend, and they're... She must have known that we just had to meet each other, and I felt just an instant connection, both with JoElle and with Tosh, I didn't fully understand their amazing-ness. I just like, "Oh. She literally wrote the book on it, I wanna meet her. And Tosh, Oh, she's awesome, I wanna meet her." But when... It's just the tip of the iceberg. So when I met Tosh, I fell in friend-love with her. So big time girl crush on Miss Tosh. So, Tosh, can you share some of your background with us?
0:17:29 TB: First, I just wanna say thank you for inviting me to be a part of this. I'm extremely nervous, but it feels so much more comfortable to be in this space with you guys. Because I have been such a fan of JoElle's for so long, and of course, it's been a absolute girlfriend love fest between Tracy, Ella, and I. But I am Toshiana Baker, and most people do call me Tosh, like Tosh.0, and that really has been... It used to be a family nickname only, so I could differentiate how I met people based on what they called me, but I quickly learned as an esthetician that if people cannot say your name, spell your name, that kind of thing, they can't book with you. And so I tried different nicknames at Starbucks, and I ended up using the one that I have been using.
0:18:24 EC: I love that.
0:18:25 TB: They finally got it from Posh, like Posh Spice, to Tosh, like Tosh.0. And I have always had to say, Tosh, like Tosh.0, even though I feel like I was the original. But anyway, I'm an esthetician coming up on 15 years. Esthetics is my second career, it's my third career, if I'm really counting, but my background was journalism. And I grew up in Syracuse, New York. And Syracuse is very much a college town between Syracuse University, Le Moyne College, some of the stated New York campuses and that kinda thing. And so considering that we're talking about race and diversity and that kind of thing, Syracuse was originally one of the cities that a lot of black families migrated to from the south because of its industrial opportunities. So there was a lot of industry work, there were car manufacturers, there was Carrier Air Conditioning Dow chemical company, there were a lot of companies back in the day, as they say.
0:19:43 TB: And so there is quite a bit of diversity in Syracuse, but one of the things that was also amazing in hindsight is there were a ton of programs for youth. There were things to constantly occupy ourselves that were not always your typical athletic outlets, if I'm being honest.
0:20:04 EC: Yeah. Yeah. That's great.
0:20:06 TB: So we had access to a lot of arts, a lot of performing arts, drama, and there was a rich appreciation for the African-American community, some of the heritage and cultural celebrations, that kinda thing. And so my mom was a single mom, and so she had me and my sister in nearly every activity that you could imagine. She would tire us out with activities.
0:20:43 EC: That's a smart mom right there. I get it.
0:20:46 TB: We didn't realize... You look at so many things in hindsight, because when you're a kid you don't know that your lifestyle, your experience as a child is any different than any other child's. We don't sit around as kids discussing these very heavy issues of family structure, and racial issues, and advantage, and all of that. But in hindsight, one of the things that really blessed me and put me on the path was, I got involved writing at the age of nine. I was a very expressive writer, and a teacher saw something in me and put me into a lot of area-writing clubs, and speaking, and monologues, and oration, and oratory competitions, and that kinda thing. So those that know me know I'm a little bit of a drama queen, but I have been undercover drama queen. So the blessing in my journey is that journalism made a way for me. I got a full scholarship to Syracuse University, to the Newhouse School of Communications, which at the time was the number one communications school in the country, and I went for absolutely free up until the end.
0:22:06 TD: Wow!
0:22:08 TB: Which is a whole nother story. But it was an initiative by the University, as well as the Syracuse newspapers, as well as the Syracuse City School District to create a pipeline for more black journalists. They were noticing that the people telling the stories for the city were not representative of the city. And so there was a program that created high school curriculum classes on writing and journalism, and then by the time you graduate as a senior through your submissions and work at the newspaper, you're basically competing for a scholarship to Syracuse University. I have to say that's not what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to be a pharmacist. However, my mother made it very clear that if I won the scholarship, I was going. I was going wherever it was free.
0:23:00 TD: Yeah. What a majorly difference, a contrast, though...
0:23:03 TB: About it, right?
0:23:06 TD: Writing versus pharmacy, being a pharmacist.
0:23:08 TB: It's a full circle. I see... It's kind of like JoElle said, manifestation-wise, we were always taught to have a goal, have a vision, have a plan, and have a certain faith, activating a spirit of prayer and great gratitude, so that you manifest whatever it is that you want. And so, I see now how I've come full circle in a lot of ways, and all of the things that I have really wanted to do as a child, I do now, but the journey was very, very different than most people's journey. So, I went to college, went for journalism, the starting salary outta college was $18,000 and that's enough money for me not to live with my mother. And so, that was the end of my relationship with the newspaper. At the time, there was an internship program that was a component of the scholarship program called INROADS, and INROADS is around to this day, it started back in the late '60s, early '70s, as an internship development mentorship program for minority students, to refine them and prepare them for corporate and community leadership. And so, it was through my coach at INROADS that I found a job. We're working for Liberty Mutual insurance as a Worker's Comp claims adjuster, go figure.
0:24:22 TB: So I worked in insurance for seven years, and I handled worker's compensation claims, and liability property claims. And the thing about insurance claims is that the longer you stay, the more complex the claims get. And so by the time I got to year five or so, I was dealing with death, I was dealing with rape, I was dealing with assault, I was dealing with just very traumatic, life-changing, "never will be the same" type incidents. And I was always just very aware of the humanity behind my claimants, and even though I worked for the insurance company, they loved me, because I could interview the claimants very well, because of my journalism background, and I wrote very good reports, that kinda stuff.
0:25:07 TB: But I was always very aware of the humanity behind what I was doing and was very empathic with my claimants. I could tell when something didn't sound right or something didn't seem right, and I have been that way since being a child. And so pulling in my background being a child of a single mom, she always did self-care at home, she couldn't afford to go to spas and salons. So we did everything at home, we did our nails, we did our hair. Going to the hair salon was a privilege, and usually for Easter. [chuckle] So all of those things tied together, and I was miserable doing insurance, and I was working with a bunch of absolutely miserable people, and I decided that I would go to school for esthetics, part-time, because insurance, that's the thing, too. They pay you really well because they want you to never leave.
0:26:00 TB: So I just used my salary to relocate to Maryland, thought I needed a change of location, then I realized it wasn't just a change of location, and there was just a ton of stuff going on in my life, 'cause like JoElle said, the things we do in our 20s, just very interesting.
0:26:14 TD: I can second that.
0:26:14 EC: That's a whole nother podcast, alright? It's another podcast.
0:26:19 TB: That's a whole nother...
0:26:20 EC: That should be called The Whoopsies.
0:26:22 TB: Right. And look, it should be called Thank God There Wasn't Social Media Then.
0:26:27 EC: Yeah. Okay. Thank you. I can imagine.
0:26:30 TD: Sure.
0:26:31 TB: But not to prolong a story, essentially, I got into esthetics out of insurance, and transitioned from a corporate insurance career to being an esthetician, and that's where I found my completeness and my joy just in two years in the treatment room. By that time I was here in Baltimore. And one of my buddies that was my running buddy since esthetic school, she was the only other person of color in esthetic school with me, we were very, very close. We went and worked at the same place and everything. She was tragically murdered. Just under two years of me being in a treatment room, and she worked two rooms down from me. And we nearly worked the same schedule. And so that really rocked me emotionally. I didn't know grief at that point, I didn't know... I just didn't know how to handle all of it. So from an emotional standpoint, that's what pushed me out of the treatment room.
0:27:27 TB: I remember praying and being very, very upset at the thought of going to work and walking by her room. And I was looking at DermaScope, and in the back of DermaScope, they had a job listing for a Yon-Ka regional educator. And I had no idea what Yon-Ka was, I had a friend from school that had mentioned them, but I applied, and on Sunday, I had the job by the following Wednesday or Thursday. And so that began education for me, and I have been an educator now for 12 of the 15 years I've been in esthetics. And I have had a very corporate career journey, where I went from regional education to... I had pretty much half of the United States, the Caribbean, and Puerto Rico I had. Then I went into regional operations management, where I had four free-standing spas, including the Saks Fifth Avenue spas and salons. Worked all kinds of corporate jobs. I worked for Anastasia Beverly Hills as an educator, Elizabeth Arden as their Director of Esthetics. Just a lot of jobs, y'all, just a lot of jobs. [chuckle]
0:28:40 EC: Yeah.
0:28:41 TB: And I was always... And it's important to say there was never more than maybe two to three... You could count on your hand in any given environment the number of black women, usually are extending the labels to people of color, where you have Latin, Latinx community colleagues, Asian, Indian, Native American, because it was a very white journey. But in all honesty, I didn't expect it to be any different. And my mother worked in diversity inclusion affirmative action for 30-some years. And so I just had an expectation that I would be in a lot of environments that were predominantly white, but I was always still wanting to be the best. I wanted to present myself in a way that made opportunities available for myself. And that worked. But then I got tired of some of the corporate game-playing and went out.
0:29:37 TB: In 2016, I started my own company as a consulting agency. I do training and development, I write curriculums, I write programs for companies that cannot afford full-time education teams, collaborate with product developers to bring some of their written collateral to fruition, helping small businesses scale, and just applying everything I've learned in my journey to the profession. I volunteer, I do whatever I can to give back, you know what I mean? And one of the things that is basically a culminating thing for me, too, is that I'm creating a network for multicultural spa and wellness professionals because for so long I wish that's what I had coming along. And so, like JoElle said, I had to think of the end game: What is my retirement opportunity? What do I really wanna do? What contribution do I want to make to the industry, to the profession? And so that's current day for me.
0:30:37 TB: But I'm constantly lending myself to whatever cause that I can to support our profession because, like JoElle also said, we have deregulation, we have issues of, especially in states where there's a very large medical presence and doctors see the value of having a medi spa, has made it very challenging for the esthetician to expand and scale their career without having to go into a medi spa space, which that's fine if that's what they want, but not every esthetician wants that. So lobbying and getting involved with legislation, getting involved with the schools, and looking at accreditations of programs, so that there's some consistency in what estheticians learn. And all of that is what I busy myself with.
0:31:27 EC: Are you tired?
0:31:28 TD: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
0:31:29 EC: Whoo. I need a nap. That's so much.
0:31:33 TB: Look, I was just trying to tell you...
0:31:35 TD: I know. I know you're busy, and I feel like I gotta step up my game, too. I gotta...
0:31:41 EC: No. I think that is amazing, and both of you, I'm sure we definitely need to have you guys on separate podcasts and really dig deep into your backgrounds and just understanding... And I really am so impressed with just everything that you guys have already done in such a short period of time, 'cause you guys are so young.
0:32:03 JL: Well, I can really relate to Tosh, when I even had the products, I'm at a conference, I can count on my hand the black attendance there, and I'm the only black line there. So you're in an industry that has really just targeted, I don't even know if I wanna just say all white people, but it's just a very European-based career and concept.
0:32:30 TD: I think that is definitely something we wanna touch on, for sure, and go deeper into that and look at some of the origins of our history. Before we jump into that, I just wanted to first say thank you for sharing your background and sharing a piece of you with us. And I just wanna make sure we're gonna move forward here, our goal is to have an honest conversation. And I want everyone to be as open as possible. And sometimes, that's difficult or really uncomfortable, but I think it's time that we have this conversation. So to all of our listeners who are listening to this, hang in here with us, hang in here with us 'cause I know these two ladies are amazing and they are really gonna help us start understanding even more so the changes that we need to make. So with that, I think I'll turn it over to Ella with your first question. Ella, and then, JoElle, and Tosh, just feel free to jump back and forth and reflect on each other's comments as well.
0:33:53 EC: Thanks, Tracy. Yes, I'm super grateful for this platform, because, I think, as you mentioned, it is long overdue. And what a time, right? What a time we're in right now. It's an incredibly uncertain time, and it's an incredibly emotional time. So I guess I wanna start out by asking Tosh, how are you feeling today? The past four or five months have been crazy, but especially in the past month. What has life been like for you? How's it going? How are you?
0:34:22 TB: Well, it's like I said, I'm a very emotional person. I've always been a very empathic person and read people based on their aura, or their spirit, whether they give me the heebie-jeebies or not. [chuckle] And so it's one thing to alter your entire life and your business model and how you relate to family based on the pandemic of covid, and trying to find ways to cope with all of the things that we've all had to change because of covid. But it's another thing that in the midst of isolation or quarantine or whatever we're calling it today, to witness more hate, more ugliness in such a blatant... Just a blatant disregard for humanity that it was very unnerving, it was disheartening, it was disgusting. I can't put my finger on why it is all what it is, like why did it take the death of George Floyd versus Rodney King's beating, or Abner Louima, or all of the names that we've heard over the last 30-some years, or even prior to that, why is it this now that's created such a... The Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
0:36:04 TB: And then it just seemed like the news cycle, and I'm a bit of a news junkie, because that's my background, and I just got sensorial overload and emotional, and had to really unpack and had to do a lot of meditating, and prayer and some energy work to try to get my mind around, what is my work? What is my role in this? Because we're all paying attention. And I have witnessed people in their inability to cope with what's going on, being complicit to the hate and the silence, being unnerving for people who need to know that the people we have surrounded ourselves with and related to as colleagues and associates also see what's going on, and they don't feel that this is acceptable. So, emotionally, I've just been incensed. I go from anger, to frustration, it triggered a lot of my own different incidents, things that were done and said throughout my life. It triggered a lot of that, because what you don't realize is that there is a persistent trauma. There is a persistent trauma as a black person. There's a persistent trauma because we never get to wake up and not be black, you know what I mean?
0:37:35 TD: Yeah.
0:37:35 TB: I've been a plus-size woman, more plussed at times than others, so I could switch classifications. There are certain labels and things that you get put on you that have certain prejudices associated with them, because we all have unconscious bias. However, we as African-American black, whatever you feel comfortable calling yourself, we are never not black. And we get to a certain place in our lives where we're very unassuming and unsuspecting of other people's hate to us. And these things shake you at your very core, because then you're thinking of your fathers, your uncles. Me as a black woman living in my house alone, could I still be asleep in my bed and someone come in and shoot me eight times? You know what I mean? It just is so personal. And so that's how I feel. Raw.
0:38:33 EC: I appreciate you being raw because honestly, you mentioned being complicit and being silent. And I think this is very uncomfortable for me to ask these questions because this is a sidebar, but I thought if I acknowledge that we're different, then am I being complicit? And I don't wanna acknowledge that we're different because I feel... I don't wanna point that out, but I feel like...
0:39:00 TB: Well, I think we are taught that for a long time by our parents, especially our generation. Just you don't see color.
0:39:08 EC: No, everybody's the same, we're all the same.
0:39:10 TB: We're all the same.
0:39:10 EC: But I cannot identify with... I don't wake up black, I wake up white, and I don't have those same fears, I want to understand then, I wanna know, is it okay to ask questions? Is it okay... Instead of just grazing over it, but being able to talk... I appreciate you both here so much, to have this conversation again. It is uncomfortable for me because I don't wanna point it out because I'm afraid if I'm pointing it out, and my race, amplifying it, and I don't want to. So I'm glad that you guys can help talk through it with me [chuckle] and Tracy, too.
0:39:50 TD: Yeah, absolutely.
0:39:52 TB: One thing that is so important is that as much as JoElle and I have a common compassion and a desire as teachers to help people understand and be inspired to change and be empowered to change, we are just two people as well.
0:40:11 TD: Yeah, absolutely.
0:40:14 TB: Some people will not want to be the person that has that very heavy responsibility of educating someone who just doesn't know better. There are others who do. You know what I mean? And so I feel responsible and JoElle, please speak for yourself, but I feel as educators, we're probably more aligned with feeling compelled to speak because someone can feel empowered to change or inspired to see something a little different, and that's our heart as educators. But all black people are not going to feel comfortable doing that because that feels heavy, too, that if someone is ignorant or unaware, now you're one person trying to educate someone on something that feels so huge.
0:41:06 EC: And I think that's an interesting part, too, is you had mentioned why right now is all of a sudden, this happening and coming to the forefront of why is it right now? I wish I could answer this, but I do know that it has woke me up in a different way. I don't know what triggered that, and I've been going along in my life up until just recently thinking that I've got it figured out, and I am doing everything that we need to be doing to be equal and to not be racist. And I unknowingly, just understanding systematic racism... Or systemic racism a little bit more, I have a lot of things that I need to change, and ask questions and do differently. And so that's what really, for me, made me say, "We gotta start somewhere, right this second 'cause there's got to be other people out there like myself."
0:42:19 TD: JoElle, how are you doing?
0:42:21 JL: You have to ask me how I'm doing even after this conversation?
0:42:31 JL: I'm just gonna be honest. When covid really started to happen, I was on a tour, book tour, and I had decided that, "Okay, the tour is over." And I wanna say that that was mid-March. And immediately I went into, "How do I save my business? Mode." So I was late to the response to the initial covid, right? I completely dived into work. I wanna say, a month later, when I really saw how this started to affect my son, my husband, us being home, is when emotionally, it started to take a toll. But it wasn't immediate.
0:43:17 JL: The other moment for me that got very emotional was, I've been mentoring estheticians for years, and they all were reaching out to me for answers, and I didn't have an answer. They all wanted me to tell them if they should work, if they should go back to work. If they should leave esthetics, what do they do when they go back? And I was honest with them, I said, "These are such personal decisions based upon everything personally going on in your life. There's no right or wrong answer." But they were just looking to me to fix it, or tell them what to do, and I really felt helpless. And that started to take an emotional toll. Like Tosh, I started watching the news too much. Once I got my new platform up and running, I started taking in too much information. I started to not sleep. I started to have anxiety. Everything was getting bigger and bigger, so I had to pull back what I was taking in as well.
0:44:27 JL: Then when George Floyd happened, I honestly believe that a lot of that emotion from everyone came from the emotion of covid. We're all home, emotional. Everybody's home and everybody is not occupied. So when something happened, we weren't occupied. We are home, we are watching. We are watching it eight times.
0:44:56 TD: And we feel vulnerable, too, I think. Just like you said, with the covid-19, we're all just feeling vulnerable.
0:45:03 JL: We're on edge anyway. And I know this might sound bad to say, but I said, "I think a lot of people went out to protest, happy to go out. There's somewhere to go? With people? And I can go with a cause?" I'm going to have a cause, I'm out, I'm protesting, I'm with other people, I'm feeling the energy of that. I haven't felt an energy of people." I think all of that was driving the response, but I really think it was that people had the time to really pay attention. So what that did for me, personally, it really opened old wounds, and my entire upbringing, I was the only black kid in my school, all of that, I dealt with racism on a daily basis. I can't think of a time in my life on some level when I wasn't dealing with it.
0:46:00 TD: JoElle, when you were saying old wounds, that had been stuffed or suppressed, or...
0:46:07 JL: I think what happens is, and Tosh can chime in if she wants, if you've dealt with racism at any time in your life, and especially on a consistent basis... I'm not talking about, "Oh, one day somebody called me the N word," but I'm saying that if you've dealt with racism at all like I dealt with it for several years on a daily basis, there's some level of, "It's just that way, that happens to you." And it's not necessarily that you suppress it, because the part for me was why people were acting shocked, surprised. But we were saying again, "I'm not shocked at what happened to George Floyd, that is not the word. I'm not shocked, I'm not surprised. It's been going on forever. But it doesn't mean that I suppress something more than I've had coping skills. I've developed coping skills over time."
0:47:05 TD: I think you have to... It becomes your normal.
0:47:10 JL: Right.
0:47:10 TD: I mean we don't know... You don't know what life is like without it, honestly. You just learn to do the code-switching and the things that would make you less of a target to people, you don't wanna stick out as much. You accept it as your normal. That's the best thing that I can say in support of what JoElle is saying. You accept it as normal. And like her, I was not surprised. I think the only reason that we see some of the response, and even that was very delayed, is because it was taped on video. You couldn't... There was evidence.
0:47:44 JL: But they thought there's been tapes now for years.
0:47:47 TB: Right, and that's the other thing, so it's like...
0:47:51 JL: There's too many. I really believe in... This is what I mean about... No matter how bad something is happening, there is usually something else happening at the same time. I really believe that the timing around covid and what has all happened, it had its place. 'Cause again, everything that is in the news right now is on 10, it's on 100. All information, I don't care what it is, it goes to 100 immediately. And it's because we're tuned in, because we're not distracted, because our life has been turned upside-down, we're waiting for a day to turn it on and get something different. You're in a different state of mind.
0:48:36 EC: So what is your reaction then to both you and Tosh's point, that this is just the normal, I expect it? So what's your reaction then that you're seeing a different result from this bad behavior?
0:48:51 JL: My biggest concern about everybody running to do their black awareness moment is, how long is it going to last? What I noticed immediately was, every esthetician's gonna decide in 24 hours who's gonna... They're still gonna order from if they don't make a statement on Black Lives Matter. And this company has not made a decision around black people since it's been open, and you're expecting in 24 hours for them to relate to you, to build a business around you. And I didn't think that was fair. You chose to spend your dollar there knowing what they represented, they won.
0:49:37 TD: Sure, and that's not how any relationship is formed. You don't make a decision in 24 hours, whether it's gonna be your husband or...
0:49:44 EC: Totally, but a lot of businesses were. And that's when you have to ask yourself, "What is genuine? Am I just trying to save the dollar?" I had a company contact me, I don't wanna name them, that actually asked me to do something to help them make a statement or something that they're doing, they wanted backing for their black moment, so to speak. The whole way they approached me was racist, and I said, "You are calling me about doing something to say out loud, you're not racist, and then you ask me to do something racist."
0:50:23 TD: I feel like I wanna underline what you just said, 'cause I want everyone to hear that that is an example of racism.
0:50:30 JL: Because when you aren't really genuine and really trying to make an effort to relate, connect, and get it, you're just scrambling to be, "This is what we did in the name of black people in the George Floyd moment." When you're running it that way, I don't think you're... You may think you're fooling someone of color doing it, but you're not.
0:50:58 TB: It's insulting. It's just insulting.
0:51:03 JL: And again, that still means you devalue me on some level, because... And what I told this company, I said, "Wouldn't it have made more sense to call your customers, who spend their money with you, who are of color, and ask them what changes you could make? Wouldn't that have been the easiest thing to do? And film instead of you telling them what you're going to do?" And I said, "But one of the first things you could do to show that you wanna be in touch with black estheticians or even in touch with any of their clients that may be of color, is that you would have some marketing material with some people of color on it. You would be selling a product that addresses conditions that people of color face, and you've not... And you've been in business 20 years, and that never occurred to you. And that's the problem that I have."
0:52:00 EC: Yeah, it makes sense.
0:52:00 JL: I appreciate "I woke up today" and all of that. I hear you, and I hear that you're putting... But we are a society that while this is going on, we're wrapped up in it. How far is it going to go, and how many things are gonna stay in place?
0:52:18 EC: Yeah, and that is, only time will tell. And I hope that it's permanent changes that we're all making, and the conversation doesn't stop in two months or six months or one year, or what have you. Toshiana, you were mentioning something, I think.
0:52:40 TB: I just... Like you said, you're hopeful, you're trying to reserve some optimism for things to improve, but because you have seen so many stories, so many names, so many instances, and then you're still trying to funnel justice, fairness, equity through a system that is racist, so you don't wanna sound cynical, but you're very realistic. You are constantly trying to ground yourself in the reality of what we're dealing with, that the criminal justice system, the people who make our laws down to the communities and how our communities are zoned for representation, all of that is a part of a systemic system that is designed to disadvantage black people, and it's not... And I'm not trying to disregard other people of color, but the reality in my opinion is that the disparity is greatest for black people. So you're trying to be conscious and respectful that there is more than a moment, and this is a movement that is being collectively encouraged by people to get involved, but you're also putting that and positioning that over a system that was never designed for fairness, justice and equity for black people. And knowing that makes you have to be grounded in a reality that what we hope to be the outcome may not be the outcome.
0:54:35 JL: Being racist, having biases, it's a learned belief. It's taught on some level to you. Now, there's some level of it that's just... I was never exposed, I'm just ignorant to it. But if you have hate for someone that's not like you, on some level, you've been taught or it's a learned belief, it's inside you. And even when they talk about that the police need more training, or we just need a training program, I said, "How do you train a person not to be racist? How do you train that?" If they lean toward racism, if they lean toward being biased, if you're prejudiced for whatever reasons that you have, and you feel like you're in the moment, do you know what it takes to change a learned belief? It's not 24 hours, it's not.
0:55:27 JL: And that's what I mean when I say... When they say, "training, make changes, do this and we're gonna do things different," you have to change the belief of that system, and company, and whatever, whoever is making these changes. And that is a long process, it is not overnight. It is not firing everyone that just said something that they shouldn't, that's not it. And that's the point I'm trying to get across is that there are some things that I'm not gonna be able to train you not to do. And one of them is, "If you come to this job as a police officer and you go through a police academy, and we discover that you're a racist, there is no section at the Police Academy that goes, "And so now for all the racists that are here, we have a specialized program for you to make you not racist by the time you graduate."
0:56:20 TD: Very true, very well said, JoElle. I don't think anybody could argue with that 'cause it just is so much deeper than... Like you said, it's not training.
0:56:32 JL: Exactly, you don't just watch George Floyd's video and go, "I've been racist a long time, I think I'm gonna stop today, that video really hit me a certain way." It's not like that.
0:56:43 TD: But I think what we can change, and please tell me what your thoughts are, is maybe it's not hate for someone, but it's being quiet and just saying... Just going along with it. And that's what I'm understanding as systemic racism, is just being quiet and just minding your own business. And that's not okay.
0:57:12 JL: But you're taught that too, Tracy. But you see, you've been taught that, too.
0:57:15 TD: Right.
0:57:16 JL: That's the point I'm getting at, that's still a belief.
0:57:20 TD: To be quiet?
0:57:21 JL: Because on some level if I'm keeping quiet and I'm observing, if I'm even saying, "Hey, this happens, and I've been watching it happen, but I haven't said anything, I haven't done anything." I've accepted it, too. That happens.
0:57:34 TD: Yeah.
0:57:35 TB: I think what's coming to the forefront is, you're always gonna have extremists, you're gonna have terrorists, you're gonna have people who have extreme belief systems, but I think some of the movement that we see is for someone who has been a quiet observer, or has not realized that they were even involved. They were quiet 'cause they didn't realize that it had anything to do with them. So the first things first, implicit bias, unconscious bias, everyone has it, everyone has it. It doesn't matter your ethnic origin, your age, your gender, everyone has bias, but racism is most... What we're talking about as far as affecting change, racism is the system, it's the policies, it is power, it is power imposed on laws, power imposed on systems, practices, facilities, programs that then are carried out to keep people advantaged and keep other people disadvantaged.
0:58:50 TB: So when you are a quiet observer you are still a participant because either you're being advantaged by the system or you're being disadvantaged by the system. And what we know to be true is that black people as well as communities of color in the systemic continuum are your disadvantaged communities, whether they actively participate in protests or community organizing or not. If they just get up and go to work every day, they're still disadvantaged by all of these systems, the laws, the procedures, all of the things that they have to submit to as a citizen. And the continuum shows us that white privilege is such that you're advantaged, whether you realize it or not, you're benefiting, whether you realize it or not. In the media, we see examples such as the ladies who pay people for their kids to get into certain colleges, lied about different things. Well, there have been black mothers that have had to bend the truth to get their kids in the best community schools that have gone to jail for years. So that's when the system plays out through policies and procedures. And so when we talk about the police, you talk about law enforcement, and so they can't enforce laws that are not supportive of their racist beliefs, their supremacist beliefs if those laws don't exist.
1:00:24 JL: And especially if there's no consequence, too.
1:00:27 TB: And there's no consequence, exactly.
1:00:29 JL: The real issue is that I can use that power on you, and there's no consequence.
1:00:36 TB: And what you witnessed in the face of that particular police officer, as he snuffed out George Floyd's life, is that brazen disregard, not only for that man's life, but he knew in that moment that he was a member of a system that would support him being able to get up and go home.
1:00:58 JL: But my point in that whole video was, if four police officers work at the same place, it can stand there. This was business as usual.
1:01:08 TB: Yes, absolutely.
1:01:10 JL: See, the only people freaking out are the other people, but they're like, "We do this everyday, all day. He'll be fine." I think they were surprised he died. 'Cause they've been putting knees on necks regularly, because had that not been a regular transaction, out of four people, someone would have said, "Hey, just put him in a car. We normally don't do this."
1:01:35 TB: Right.
1:01:35 JL: We normally don't do all of this." But no one said, "This is abnormal." No one on that team said, "This isn't how we do it."
1:01:45 TB: And so you're seeing...
1:01:46 JL: This was standard procedure.
1:01:48 TB: You see their protection as law enforcement, there's the even and elite. Our respect, our reverence obviously is such that they are above the law. The law doesn't apply to them the same, and so that's some of the outrage that you're seeing, Tracy. But what you're seeing, and for some people for the first time, is that privilege and advantage is real whether you actively participate or not, whether you're the person calling people slurs or not, whether you're the person being pulled over just for driving while black or not. You are subjected to the system as a citizen of America, and I think...
1:02:33 JL: But even in the Klan... I'm sorry Tosh, go ahead.
1:02:36 TB: No, I think for me personally, that's where I feel like I can affect change, right? Some biases are learned, and so I believe, like the Nelson Mandela quote, they can be unlearned, but I can't fight some of the biggest people who are just, like you said JoElle, their mind is that, "I will never... " You know what I mean?
1:03:00 JL: I know, there's some people... No, it's not changing, but I believe I'm with you Tosh in regards to, there's bias on some level with everyone, and some things could be unlearned, and as we learn and as we know better and... Yes, you would make changes, you would think differently, all of that. But even inside esthetics, and albeit should have been esthetics, there has been bias towards me just for being black in the industry. There have been estheticians who just don't think you know things because you're black.
1:03:38 EC: How does that make sense? It doesn't make sense to me.
1:03:42 JL: You have no idea. You are not as credible.
1:03:47 EC: Can you share experiences or something, an example of that, so we can better get our brain around it.
1:03:57 JL: For example, if I'm teaching in a room of people, there will be some white people in that room who just would immediately assume I couldn't know half as much as her. Just assume because she just believes black people aren't smart. She just believes they're not.
1:04:22 TD: How has that feeling, that experience then shaped who you are then today? I mean, that's just one of the many, but how has that shaped you?
1:04:31 JL: I don't think that... I'm not saying that, "Oh, she thinks I'm dumb and now I'm affected." That's not what I'm saying.
1:04:39 TD: Okay.
1:04:39 JL: I'm saying that if you were to talk to the people holding a spa conference, they have no desire to attract black people there to buy. They don't feel that they're buyers. I've had this conversation. The vendors wanna know what ethnic group will be there before they decide if they're coming. It's part of the decision-making process. They're gonna come, they're just gonna look, they're not gonna spend money, that's not the right crowd that we're seeking, we're not looking for them to carry our product. Again, if I'm making products for everyone except people of color, am I mad that you don't want people of color at a place where you're gonna be vending?
1:05:25 TD: Okay, so we were talking to Tosh last week, too. There's two things I wanna share in this component, is because here we have this huge newsworthy story... Newsworthy isn't the right word, this potentially...
1:05:40 EC: Movement, yeah.
1:05:40 TD: Cultural shift movement thing that's happened in this last couple of months. And we're also estheticians, so we're talking about how in our field can we help make changes to where this isn't a real thing, where people are asking, "Oh yeah, what kinda people are gonna be there before we decide?" That is messed up. But how do we do things? So there was two things that made me very... I was unaware of. And one was, I was in JoElle's class... Was that like two years ago, JoElle, when you came to Denver?
1:06:11 JL: Yes.
1:06:13 TD: And it was a great class. I was sitting in there with some amazing people that I had known and some new people that I hadn't known. And at the end, there was one esthetician from Colorado Springs who had raised her hand and she's like, "I just wanna thank you." And there was quite a large... I think there was... Maybe 75% were African-American or black women.
1:06:35 JL: Was that your class?
1:06:37 TD: Yeah.
1:06:38 JL: No, we had a lot of white people in that class.
1:06:41 TD: We did?
1:06:41 JL: Because I remember, even when I came back to Denver, it was that way, we still had more white than black in there.
1:06:47 TD: Well, then it seems like am I biassed?
1:06:49 EC: Yeah, yeah. That's an example right there.
1:06:53 JL: This is the whole class.
1:06:56 TD: Yeah, I have to go back and look at the picture. But I remember one raising her hand and saying, "It's just so nice to learn from someone who looks like me." And I remember thinking, "Wow, I didn't even think that that was a consideration." It didn't... It's something that I hadn't thought about before. And then also when we were talking to Tosh last week, she was mentioning that this industry is... How did you put it, Tosh, about European? And JoElle mentioned it earlier today, too, but this industry...
1:07:26 TB: Well, I think because this industry, American esthetics was very much a pickup of European esthetics, and there was such a value placed on the European standard and model, their techniques, even up till recently, their approach towards products and textures and fragrances and all of that. So esthetics in America is very European-influenced. And as JoElle said, the products aren't necessarily stated to be for European or white people, it's just that there's no representation in the marketing, that there are differences and that people experience skin conditions slightly different.
1:08:21 TB: And the thing is, what we were talking to is that it's taught in our esthetics curriculum. So it is creating and perpetuating a system that excludes people of color, while intentionally or unintentionally, I'm not into pointing fingers to that degree, but because it's built on a European model, it's going to perpetuate exclusion of very mass groups of people that don't reflect who we are as the esthetics professionals.
1:08:55 TB: I mean, it's down to things like... Simple things like, we talk about some of the falsehoods that are taught about skin of color, but even your brow measurements. Your brow measurements are based on people with very narrow features. So if you have fuller lips and a fuller nose and bigger eyes or that kinda thing, our standard brow measurements that we all learned, they're gonna make you look crazy if you have more prominent features as people of color do. Your bone structure is different, so it's gonna create imbalance.
1:09:29 TB: So it wasn't... It's not as overt, it's not as apparent and obvious. It's subtle, but it's consistent. And so it is very... To your point, representation matters. I've had people say the same thing to me. They're just happy I'm me in the room, because they're just happy to see someone who looks like them. They're happy with someone with a common experience or a different journey to help enrich their understanding of what's possible for them as an esthetician.
1:10:01 TB: And representation matters. I can't say that enough, but racism in esthetics is things like when I was in the treatment room, I went to pick up a older woman on Mother's Day weekend, and she looked at me... Her regular esthetician had called out, and she looked at me and she said, "You can't touch me."
1:10:23 TD: Oh my gosh.
1:10:24 TB: "Well, get a manager. You will not touch me."
1:10:27 EC: Okay, Karen.
1:10:29 TB: Okay? And it is at the same time as I'm experiencing someone who is obviously more overt in their prejudice, right? I am expected as a professional to remain professional. I don't have the ability to respond or react because I could be punished or disciplined. I can't...
1:10:51 JL: [1:10:51] ____ Have some level of understanding that this is what can happen.
1:10:56 TB: Right? So there are clients who would make their beliefs known to me in servicing them, and I have to maintain a certain professional decorum as an esthetician of color in a facility where I am a minority, and I'm managed by someone who does not look like me, does not understand emotionally what that does to someone when they are looking... Someone's looking at you, doesn't know you from Adam's house cat and says, "You can't touch me simply because of your skin color."
1:11:26 TD: So two questions on that. How did you respond, and how should that have been handled?
1:11:39 TB: I thought it was handled well. How did I respond? I went back to my anteroom and cried for a moment. For a moment.
1:11:47 TD: Yeah.
1:11:47 S2: 'Cause you give yourself a moment. You don't have a lot of time to react 'cause I was more angry than hurt. Hurt set in later. I was pissed. You know what I mean? Honestly.
1:12:02 TD: Yeah, absolutely.
1:12:03 TB: Because this woman had been added to my book because her esthetician called out. So I'm taking it... So I'm already, as an employee, you know how we do? I'm trying to readjust to this person...
1:12:13 S2: Pick up the slack.
1:12:14 S2: Albeit move to my book, on a service, Mothers Day weekend, where it's crazy. I don't even have time to eat, take a sip of water, can't do the water 'cause I can't do the bathroom, and I'm just trying to stay on schedule by picking up this woman, and it's just all of those things running through your head.
1:12:34 TB: And so I go to the dispensary, I called the manager, I told the manager. The manager did not wanna believe that it was a racial thing. She was like, "Well, there must be something else." By the time the manager got to the relaxation suite, all of the other guests that were present had been picked up for their service, so this woman was sitting there by herself. And the manager made me go back into the relaxation suite with her. That was the thing I don't think I would have done if I were a manager, but...
1:13:07 EC: 'Cause she's putting you in an uncomfortable situation and...
1:13:11 TB: Really uncomfortable, right?
1:13:11 EC: Yeah, exactly. Yup.
1:13:14 TB: But the manager essentially had my back and was like, "Okay, ma'am, if you don't want her, then you don't get a service. I don't know how to... I can accommodate you, this is who is available. And that was that. And so she gave her a minute to decide if she was either coming with me or she was not. Well, the woman came with me.
1:13:36 TD: Oh my.
1:13:37 JL: Let me do your face.
1:13:39 TD: I can't even believe that.
1:13:45 JL: Let me do it.
1:13:45 TB: That woman came in my room, disrobed and had the best facial of her life, became a regular of mine.
1:13:52 TD: You are classy, girl.
1:13:54 JL: I woulda gave her some surprised eyebrows.
1:14:02 TB: That is the story that I share with when I've met other estheticians of color, because everything... I won't be defeated, I just decided I will not be defeated. And that woman became one of the first investors in my business.
1:14:17 TD: Oh my goodness.
1:14:19 TB: Because she was legitimately generationally ignorant.
1:14:26 TD: Did you ever talk to her about it?
1:14:28 TB: Absolutely. Come on, y'all, you know I did.
1:14:32 TD: For the people in the back.
1:14:33 TB: I would say, it was probably her third visit, because I would get this feeling in my stomach every time I saw her name on my book, and I wonder why is she coming back to book with me when her other esthetician is available, you know what I mean? So why is she coming back to me? And I had to ask her.
1:14:56 EC: Yeah, how did that conversation go? I think that would be really helpful for some people that are listening.
1:15:02 TB: I asked her, "If you don't mind me asking, what makes you rebook with me?" And she said, "It was really one of the best facials I've had." And she had been coming there for years and she is very fixed in her way, she grew up in a community of people like herself, and the only black people she had witnessed were people who were hired help. And she was just taught that there was a differentiation between when you're going to have personal services and when you see somebody who looks like your domestics and your lawn people and that kinda thing. And so you have to hold space for people in ignorance. When you realize how ignorant they are, you have to see, "Is it willful or are they open to being any different?"
1:15:57 TB: And so that's what I sense from her. Again, you guys, I'm very big on energy. And so something constantly stayed in my spirit about this woman. And so I would just, in a journalistic fashion, ask her questions, get her talking. You know how we do with our guests? We get them talking. "Have you ever been mistreated by someone? What makes you feel... Like, "Do you feel comfortable now? Things like that instead of constantly being an indictment against her being racist. But, "Have you been mistreated? Has someone violated you or made you uncomfortable that you now associate that with people of color or whatever. And so she was just telling me different life experiences that she had, that from a human perspective I could understand why things were that way for her. You know what I mean. It didn't make it right. I was able to say, "Well, that really hurt my feelings. I'm happy we're at a different place." You know what I mean? And she apologized. Come to find out her daughter was dating a black man, as we went on in the... So there was a lot there. And people have their stuff. It's like any client, it's like any guest, we're servicing broken people, we're servicing people looking to feel better about themselves or their life, or their station and position in their life.
1:17:23 TB: We have the responsibility to assist people in feeling better and how they show up in the world. And so I'm not saying it's all gonna be rainbows and unicorns, but you have to ask yourself, "Is there an opportunity for somebody to change here? Can I learn something? Can they learn something? And truly come from a compassionate place to say... And be honest, "That was offensive." You know what I mean? And I never wanted to see you on my book again, but I'm happy, I'm happy that we're able to get here, but it's like you also tell people your room is your professional space and so you cannot make it okay for people to violate you in your professional space.
1:18:05 S1: Thank you for listening to ASCP Esty Talk. That wraps up part one of a platform of understanding inequalities in esthetics. I am thrilled that you hung in there so far with us, make sure that you download part two, you won't wanna miss what these ladies share next.
1:18:24 S2: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all inclusive association for estheticians that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights and an opportunity to spotlight your sick skills, join at ascpskincare.com, only $259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP knows it's all about you.