"I have always been an advocate for women. For me the inside of their head is as important as the outside – their hair. There’s a need to understand both.” So color icon, Beth Minardi, the renowned hair color expert presently with Samuel Shriqui Salon just off Madison Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, reveals the intuition and the artistry that combined are the secrets to her success.
Born to a steel executive dad and a stay-at-home mother, Beth moved at age 10 to Florida's Space Coast, an environment that allowed her to indulge her passions – horses – and gave her a chance to learn to surf. Her elementary and high school years she recalls were “great, as Florida had become a melting pot of sorts – and learning Spanish became rather matter of fact.” At the University of Central Florida, she studied Early childhood education and theatrical arts. After graduation, and soon after acting in a film being produced in Central Florida, she became amazed at the artistry she witnessed in the hair and makeup trailer: “It was like an amazing explosion of creativity going off inside my head!”
Her parents were less-than-pleased with Beth’s decision to leave graduate school and head to beauty school instead. But it was her calling.
“I saw opportunity in providing beauty and in creating beauty products from a woman’s point of view, certainly, but with a commitment to outstanding quality and hopefully, with a cumulative effect."
Beth Minardi entered the corporate world at the age of 25, working for Bristol Myers and Clairol, but by her 30s she opted to be an entrepreneur. Rising through the ranks in the 1970s, a chauvinistic climate was the norm but she persevered, working in the lab to learn precisely how to create her own color. She stayed in the office from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., succeeding in business by really trying. On the road 11 days out of every 14, she took a hands-on approach to learning and evolving her technique, even working with models in the Park Avenue headquarters for Bristol Myers where executives were insulted to see women with hair color in progress as they arrived and departed from meetings on the executive floor.
Keeping her mind open to possibilities, she escaped the “golden coffin” of the corporate world through courage and hard work. “When I began my career, the idea that there were no limitations for women in the workplace was not conventional. A strong woman equaled a bitch and she had to work twice as hard as a man to achieve equal success. Times have changed, of course, but there is still a glass ceiling. Of course, there are exceptional women whose success, grace and intelligence I admire tremendously, with Arianna Huffington being at the top of the list."
After leaving her post at Clairol, Beth remained on as a consultant and TV makeover personality. She opened, with her then husband, a boutique image makers' salon, on East 61st Street, right off Madison Avenue. Of course, celebrity clientele was a part of the mix but famous names don’t motivate Beth.
“For more than 23 years at my salon, traveling today to share and garner knowledge at hair color forums throughout the US, I’ve learned more than I could ever have imagined."
“Working with top hair color chemists, I understood more and more about precisely how hair cosmetics work. I developed my own color team at Minardi Salon, and trained them from the ground up. Excellence was the standard.” Beth’s professional goal was and is today to elevate professional salon hair color to an art form, and without question she does just that.
Always staying focused, refusing to fail, never allowing herself any excuses even as she raised a family. This is no small feat in a male-dominated industry. And yes, along the way she garnered a celebrity following, including Brad Pitt and Sarah Jessica Parker, as well as Renee Russo whose glistening auburn tones make an extraordinary statement of beauty and strength.
Strength then is a mantra for Beth who as she candidly puts it, “crashed to the depths over the shocking breakup of my marriage. In one flash of discovery, my world changed forever. A trust I dedicated myself to was extinguished,” she says.
“I realized that everything was now 'up to me' and that I could never allow my darling daughter to see me fail, or fall apart.”
Elevating color to an art form, Beth’s artistry has made her indeed an icon in the beauty world. Blending and weaving subtle tones to enrich a shade and bring renewed depth, Beth not only knows how to flatter a face, but like a sculptor, she uses the play of light and shadow in hair to accentuate the shape of the head creating a dimensional effect that is hers alone. Beth Minardi’s skill is not in the obvious but in the subtleties, the talent to create a look that turns heads with a sensual allure that draws the eye and invites a glance to linger.
The Quick 10
1. Which app do you use the most?
A meditation app called CALM.
2. Briefly describe your morning routine.
AM stretches then make coffee and feed Mango, my dog.
3. Name a business mogul you admire.
4. What product do you wish you had invented?
5. What is your spirit animal?
6. What is your life motto?
Keep going. Don’t look back. Don’t give up.
7. Name your favorite work day snack
Crunchy peanut butter on celery.
8. Every entrepreneur must be:
Passionate, courageous, focused and patient to be successful.
9. What’s the most inspiring place you’ve traveled to?
10. Desert Island. Three things, go:
After my daughter and my dog, I would bring Coconut Water, a sturdy, spacious tent and flares (with matches).
Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.
A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.
The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.
In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.
Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")
The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."
This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.
Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.
She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."
Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.
"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei
While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.
Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.
The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."
This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.
Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.