5 reasons why I respect Tabatha Coffey, business woman and fabulous hair stylist
Blonde hairstylist Tabatha Coffey got her celebrity break in 2007 when she participated in the first season of the competitive reality tv-show Shear Genius. Her say-it-as-it-is attitude as well as her work ethics endeared her to the viewers so much that, even if she did not come to win the competition, she was voted fans' favourite and was later on approched by the Bravo Network to host her own show, Tabatha's Salon Takeover, lately renamed Tabatha Takes Over, as it branched out to take over business outside of the hair industry (coffee shops, bars, hospitality establishments,...)
If Tabatha recently sold her salon to concentrate on her show, she is nevertheless still committed to educating other stylists and to taking up valuable causes, and recently published a second book in which she takes over the keys of our life and teaches us own to «own it», both in our personal life and at work.
Here are five reasons why everyone should know her.
1- She has very strong work ethics that apply to any kind of business
Tabatha was lucky enough to know which career she wanted to embrace from an early age, and she worked terribly hard to climb to the top. She has always been a tenacious hardworker. She started her apprenticeship aged 15 (after working for a year part time and learning the basis on her own).
Her idol is Vidal Sassoon, and she joined his Academy to train with the best. This is where her say-it-as-it-is attitude as far as work is concerned came from: « Having someone critique me honestly while showing me how to improve was a wake-up call to never be complacent with yourself, your education, or where you work». Still now, her direct way of behaving and managing others is through tough love, but not bullying or being mean. Critiques are simply a way of making people work better.
Later on, in order to become more creative, she moved on to Toni & Guy, and Anthony Mascolo became her mentor. While travelling to world to educate other stylists during hair-shows, she opened her salon, Industrie Hair Gurus in Ridgewood, New Jersey, in January 2002.
She portrays her industry in a very professional way. She demonstrates both hairdressing skills and a business mindset. On the one hand, she teaches managers and owners that there are some tremendous skills and training involved in being a good hairstylist; on the other hand, she teaches hairstylist owners the skills they need to acquire to be good business owners: communicating with the staff, providing education, setting standards and expectation, managing their money. All those skills are transferable to other kinds of businesses and I think that is why her show branched out and appeals to a very large audience.
2-She is not afraid to speak her mind nor challenge gender stereotypes by being a BITCH
She had always been an independent thinker. Well, she was raised in a drag-queen night-club. Growing up, she accepted her physical difference and developed her own sense of style. Her stay in London influenced her punk style and, later on in life, she adopted black as her trademark.
But after the show was aired, she realised that there was a unanimous word people used to refer to her: and that word was Bitch! She was even stopped in the mall by a woman asking her: «hey, aren't you that bitch from TV?»
Instead of taking it badly, she had a long hard thought about what it would actually mean, as far as her personality and career were concerned. She came up with the acronym:
BITCH: Brave – Intelligent – Tenacious – Creative – Honest
Those character traits drive her in her personal life and in her career, and I love the fact that she demonstrates that a woman, working in a typically «feminine» industry, can still have the guts to run her business efficiently, be a hardworker and resolute about her goals.
Tabatha explaining how to be a B.I.T.C.H.
3-She is honest about her own insecurities
I love that Tabatha talks about her own insecurities, it only makes her more human.
Though she has always been a strong character with her own style (she was punkish when she was younger), she had some insecurities about her body. After having been branded as «the fat child» when she was young, she came up with some more insecurities when she moved to the United States (to New Jersey of all places) and saw that she was different from the other super fit women who lived there. She thought that getting her boobs done would be the key to feeling better about herself. After a botched operation and side-effects that nearly killed her, she learned to accept herself as she was. I think she expresses her own fabulousness in the wonderful (black) designer clothes she wears.
In an episode of her show, she also confronts an owner who cannot get over the fact that half of her salon walked out, and her inability to look forward is killing her business. Tabatha sat her down and related her own experience on the topic: one of her stylist who had been with her for 14 years walked out on her, taking several people with them. After being devastated for a few days, she decided to stand up and build her business a second time. That this powerful woman experienced a similar treachery, was humble enough to talk about it and overcame the situation came as a wake-up call for the owner, and she was finally ready to stop dwelling on the past and moving forward.
4- She is out
She is honest about the gay community that has rules and stereotypes she does not particularly abide by. She goes countercurrent. As she says: «I will march to my own drum as a gay woman, defining myself in that aspect of my life my own way, just like I do with every other personal definition».
Though her parents owned a strip club for transgender performers, she had a bad reaction from her mother when she came out and had to go back in the closet again for some time. After a few years, her mother mellowed and Tabatha met her long-term partner.
Though she does not consider getting married, she has been involved in California's marriage equality campaign and has spoken out about the fact that gay couples should be allowed to same safety that marriage provides than straight couple.
Tabatha on gay marriage
5-She is involved in charity
Almost every episode of Tabatha Takes Over is a filled-with-drama experience. But this particular episode in which the owner had enlisted her best drama-fuelled best friend to be her manager was constantly verging on the edge of catfighting. To teach the staff that there should be other priorities in life, Tabatha invited a group of breast cancer survivors to be their models. Confronted to women who were so close to losing their lives, the staff quickly realised the pettiness of their own behaviour.
In another episode, there was an owner who just splashed out her cash on daily shopping trips to the mall, forcing her husband to give up on his life insurance to fund her lavish lifestyle. Tabatha made her donate her extra clothes to a shelter, tag them to be sold, and then took all the staff to give makeovers to women living in that shelter, so that they could have beautiful hairstyles to attend job interviews. The experience taught the shopaholic owner to be more responsible, by putting up face-to-face with people who had lost everything, and to the notion that it can happen quicker than ever in this economy.
Tabatha has also been involved in providing and styling wigs to children who suffer from cancer, to make sure they would have fabulous wigs.
She also spoke out in a video during a nation-wide campaign against bullying. Tough love is one thing, she said, bullying, nasty and deprecating comments are another, and they are not acceptable.