steve duross - craftsman. artisan. entrepreneur. musings on running and growing a small business

a nice way to make a living

finding this picture of me (and crew at my original salon, the atlas hair co. circa 2000) was a blast from the past. juxtaposed with my current team of stylists from duross & company (only 16 years apart) makes it feel like a lifetime. my aging process aside, little changes in the daily life of a salon. as long as the team is working from the same playbook, it can be a delightful experience.

we imagine that you might be scrolling through Facebook and seeing what's been happening around our house. it even might seem exciting. and for us it is. even on the dullest days. the difficult ones. we all chose this profession because we love to chat. we love to judge. to look, to learn and to share. we want to be the best in our field. to excel. to improve ourselves and our craft. but glamorous it is decidedly not. being a good stylist takes an enormous amount of energy. being great one takes much more energy. but the grass is always greener. that most people are quite content with their daily lives is a wonderful thing. after all, our work is a mere reflection of our inner lives.

when i look at myself in this picture, i know for sure that at that moment, i was at the top of my game as a stylist. platform artist. mentor. teacher. gossip. conversely i also think it was at the height of my beauty. not that i've fallen so low that i am now banished to live under a bridge.. but like the portrait of dorian gray, i have aged. a lot. hopefully wisdom has accompanied the process. now my job is to raise up everyone in this house. raise them high. teach them from my mistakes and hope for the best. learn to let go and trust. not in every area, but certainly where creative freedom is encouraged to grow.

there is a local salon owner who i admire greatly. Nick is the kind of guy who has been very successful with his salons, and gives back to the community. nick is the measure of the kind of salon owner i aspire to be. nick often say that there is enough hair to go around, that stylists and salons need not be in competition with one another. personally i love the idea. i love the spirit. but i'm not sure that in every case i agree. i believe competition fosters an advancement in skill. that mediocrity holds little to no merit in the long game. that those who cannot grow or will not elevate their work must eventually depart. i simply want my salon's work to be elevated to the point where we can welcome new clients looking for something more. it is the core of my foundation not only as an entrepreneur but as an artist. one day while on stage in front of a few thousand stylists, i realized i was as good a stylist as i would ever be. that was the day i stepped off the stage with american crew and never looked back. it was no longer in me. eventually i also gave up teaching in boulder colorado one week each month because i wanted to get a dog, have a regular life, perhaps even fall in love. the apex is the moment of greatest achievement. it is also the moment when decline begins. everything i aspired to was wonderful. everything i now aspire to is wonderful. if you are anything like me, you might ascribe to the notion that there is no there there, that in this moment there is everything the universe can offer. each and every day when i climb out of bed, i see the day filled with infinite possibilities awaiting my awareness. i never know how brilliantly my light will burn when i turn a corner. but i do know that my life has been filled with many, many moments. most of which fill me with an abundance of gratitude.

most days i sit at a desk, answering phones and greeting people. i fold laundry, enter checks into quicken and pay the bills. the world has blessed me with an opportunity to be present while my team is reaching for brilliance and though i look at the younger version of me and think 'how sweet it might be to look that way once more', i cannot say that i need any of those moments to come around again. fashioning a life emeritus in this place is the goal. my job is to hold the universe together so that others might achieve. it is in their achievement that i will succeed. and thus far, it's been a hell of a nice way to make a living.