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From Corporate to Creative: How This Hair Colorist Found Her Calling

People

"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

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.

Arianna Huffington.

4. What product do you wish you had invented?

Saran Wrap.

5. What is your spirit animal?

Arabian Horse.

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?

Venice, Italy.

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).

4 Min Read
Culture

We Need Moms in the Resistance

After I exchanged enough information with the Uber driver to confirm that neither one of us was likely a serial killer, the spotless sedan was quickly filled with enough small talk to occupy the brief ride.

"What do you do?"

"I'm a writer."

"Ah, what do you write?"

At the time, I was deep in writing my debut non-fiction book, Raising the Resistance: A Mother's Guide to Practical Activism, and had been busy typing away about feminism, reproductive justice, antiracism, and other topics that don't normally come up during a short Uber ride with a stranger but had consumed my work and much of my life.

"I'm writing a book," I responded.

"Oh! About what?"

"Motherhood and political activism."

In response to this revelation, he promptly drove us into oncoming traffic. No, not really. He just wrinkled his nose and said, "Well, that's an odd combination."

This wasn't a completely isolated incident. Many people express a bit of surprise about the intersection. As I explored other books in the parenting genre, I saw many titles about the stages of parenthood—pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, sleep training, etc. There were lots of books about a mom's journey to postpartum weight loss, but none about a mom's journey finding her role in a political uprising.

If we want the future to be kinder and more just, the next generation must also be kinder and promote justice.

I understood it might seem strange, because our culture puts impossible pressure on mothers and it's rare to empower them. Being apolitical is presented as the safest, most neutral option for women to take because it doesn't anger anyone or make things awkward. But choosing not to engage in politics is in itself a political stance. There is no true neutral option. Just like Desmond Tutu famously said, "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor."

Of course, I wouldn't assume oppression is the goal of any mom who just wants to avoid Facebook arguments and keep the peace at PTA meetings. But as we face injustice, we cannot avoid neutrality.

It doesn't help women to embrace apolitical stances either. Maybe one mother doesn't like to get involved in politics, but everyone around her does. The bank managing her mortgage does. Her boss paying her less than her male colleagues does. The insurance company determining her healthcare options does. Decisions affecting our lives are being made all the time. Women are already severely underrepresented in elected offices. We cannot simply sit back and trust our self-interest will be represented when we don't have a seat at the table. That hasn't worked out for us so far.

I was inspired by so many other women who realized they needed to be the ones to step up against bigotry and injustice. As a young mother of a toddler and an infant after the election of 2016, I also noticed that those leading the newly minted resistance were also mothers. I rode a crowded bus to Washington, D.C. from Louisville, KY to attend the inaugural Women's March which became the biggest single-day protest in the history of the United States. And who did that? Mothers. Founder Bob Bland gave birth to her second daughter shortly after the 2016 election and joined fellow moms and co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour on stage with her baby in tow.

Maybe one mother doesn't like to get involved in politics, but everyone around her does.

Since then, I have continued to see women juggling their roles as mothers and political activists. In the ongoing uprising against racism and police brutality, my city—Louisville, KY—has become an epicenter of protest in the wake of Breonna Taylor's killing. Many of the Black leaders who have been fighting racial injustice locally for years are also mothers. I watched them braid their daughters' hair while they discuss the need for an end to structural racism in our community on Zoom calls. Many of the protestors who have been filling the streets for over three months and facing rubber bullets, tear gas, and arrests kiss their children good night first. When it's time for protestors to be released on bond, you may even see a line of minivans outside the jail with moms volunteering as part of the community bail fund to help the released protestors get back home.

Even moms who lived previously apolitical lives and sought not to create waves have found their place in political activism as they feel morally compelled to take action. The resistance is filled with new activists who you can catch saying things like, "I never expected to be here."

Of course, I wouldn't assume oppression is the goal of any mom who just wants to avoid Facebook arguments and keep the peace at PTA meetings. But as we face injustice, we cannot avoid neutrality.

Motherhood and political activism should be viewed as a natural pairing. So much of our lives are not only determined by political decisions, but we have the enormous responsibility of shaping the future. If we want the future to be kinder and more just, the next generation must also be kinder and promote justice.

Moms fix their kids' skinned knees, hurt feelings, and broken hearts. Our country is looking largely hurt and broken right now and we, as mothers, need to rise up and help fix it by the way we raise the future.