We had the good fortune of connecting with Rick Ayres and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rick, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I have always thought that the word “risk” has been frowned upon and seen as a negative thing. If it were not for risk, we would never move our lives in any direction. 37 years ago I took the biggest risk of my life/career. I was working as a Medical Buyer for a major medical facility in Southern California after studying Mechanical Engineering at Indiana University/Purdue University in Indianapolis, IN. It was a very safe and steady job with all of the benefits and vacation time you could ever want. I was board as hell. I was always thankful to have the safety that came with this position but did not want to spend the rest of my life sitting at a desk entering data into a computer. I decided to go to night school and become a Hair Stylist. A job that seem to be filled with fun and creativity. After I was licensed, I planed my life “risk” by making a total career change into the hair industry. My parents and friends kept telling me to stay put and embrace the security of my desk job, I felt otherwise. It took me many months to save enough money so I could make the career move without suffering any financial problems. Working three jobs and saving every nickel that I made the day finally came to take the plunge. I walked into this very nice salon in Sherman Oaks, CA and asked to speak with the owner. While I was in Cosmetology school, I used to walk past this particular hair salon often and would think to myself “when I get my license, I am going to work at this salon.” On the day of the interview, I was totally dumbfounded and had no idea what the qualifications were to become an operator in a hair salon. I was asked how many clients I had and how long had I been in salon business. I replied, “I have no clients and have never worked in the industry before.” They looked at each other with a blank stare and I could feel that things were going in the wrong direction. They told me that they would be in touch and thanked me for coming in. Before I left, I stopped and turned around and stated that I was going to do everything it would take to make it in this industry if they would only give me a chance. Then I left. The very next day I received a phone call from one of the owners and was told that they had come to an agreement. The male partner did not want to hire me because I had no clients or experience. The female partner wanted to hire me because she said I reminded her of herself when she was breaking into the business. I was hired! After I has some experience under my belt, the salon started teaching reimagine workshops on Wednesday nights for about 20 people, usually women that were getting back into the workplace after starting families and sending the kids off to collage. All of the staff was welcome to be part of this process. We were asked what ideas we could bring to this workshop. I came to the table with an exercise on “taking risks.” I would open the workshop with a risk exercise and ask for two volunteers. NO VOLUNTEERS as you would have expected. Eventually someone would raise their hand and another would join in out of curiosity. I would have the two volunteers come forward and introduce them to the group that was there for the workshop. I then would explain that raising their hand was the “risk” and gave each of them a gift basket filled with lots of hair and skin care products and thanked them for their participation. This was a real ice breaker and the guests felt at ease with making changes with their image. My life was changed by this process too. I encourage everyone to take care of themselves and allow a bit of “risk” as well.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As I continue to learn more about my craft/trade, I alway great each and everyday with the thanks and professionalism it deserves. Always striving to be better and more giving. One of the best things about being a Hair Stylist is making people feel better about themselves and how personal this service is. I might be the only person that makes physical contact with many people and I never forget how much trust each and every client puts into my hands.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since i live in Los Angeles, I would need more than a week to show someone a great time. The beach and the mountains can be done in the same day. I love to cook and would make an amazing dinner for them and invite some friends over to make it a special get together. I do not like to rush so I would allow lots of extra time for our daily outings. The Getty Museum is a for sure thing. You can see the entire city from there. Downtown, ocean, mountains and valleys. It is breathtaking and beautiful and all in one location. A night on the town is must. The Laugh Factory, Viper Room, Rainbow Room and the Trubadour would be on the list too. A night at the Hollywood Bowl is always an evening to remember with dinner under the stars and a great concert in the canyons. Venice beach will remind you of tons of movie scenes and form here you get the real Los Angeles color. I am exhausted just thinking about all of the fun and experiences! Now I would need to take the train to Santa Barbara for a relaxing weekend to recover.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to thank the people that believed in me (the owner of the salon where I started my journey) and that anything is possible. You are in control of your life and destiny. I would also like to thank my husband of 20 years that has always had my back and supported my every crazy dream. I could Shoutout thankfulness until I have no voice left!
Other: I am an accomplished pool player as well. A member of the Los Angeles Pool League for over 35 years. Captain of a championship team for many seasons. I won the Gold Medal in 2006 as a participant in the Gay Games, Chicago, IL competing in Nine Ball. My most proud award was the Sportsmanship Award (only given to 6 people in the last 40 years) that was given to me by my pool league. I am in the West Coast Challenge hall of fame for my accomplishments in pool events held in California.