Monday, October 6, 2003

Eckberg: Daily Grind

Salons will never cut you loose

With clippers in one hand, a comb in the other and a counter full of hair products nearby, the owner of the corner hair salon and its NASCAR cousin, the barbershop, are not usually seen as mainstream examples of American entrepreneurs.

But that's exactly what they are: business owners who worry as much about a bottom line as a hairline.

Stability is the hallmark of this craft. Take a good look at the economy. Layoffs happen daily - thousands of them. Not so with hair stylists.

People can do without Nehru jackets, Dior purses, French wine, FUBU jerseys and foreign cars with neon license plate lights. People don't need any of that stuff.

But they do need haircuts. It is a recession-proof line of work, and it's going to stay that way for eons to come.

But one major hurdle remains. You must pay tuition to go to school.

And then after you go to school, within a year or two, you have to go back to update skills, learn new techniques and check out new trends.

To make it easier for some to get that first leg up on a career, Frederic J. Holzberger, founder, president and chief executive of Aveda/Fredric's Corp., is offering $25,000 in scholarships to 20 candidates to attend Aveda Fredric's Institute in Hyde Park.

This is the first, but the Natural Talent Scholarship Contest will be an annual award.

"We are doing this for a number of reasons. Many people want to get in the industry but can't afford it," he said.

"Maybe they've lost their jobs. And we want to make sure that we are giving back to the community and honor people who have a natural talent - a gift from God."

One of the 20 will get a $10,000 scholarship. The others will receive partial scholarships.

Most of the 20 finalists were from the region, but some came from as far away as Athens and Dayton, Ohio, and even Austin, Texas.

Holzberger knows a lot about getting ahead and the value of education. He started out as a commercial electrician, attended night school at Miami University and graduated with a degree in marketing while working full-time.

"I have never met a cosmetologist, esthetician or a nail technician - manicures or pedicures - who has been laid off. They may have peaks and valleys, but they're not laid off," he said.

"You can't say that about too many industries."


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