I came full circle this week – I began my beauty career in the corner drugstore of my hometown, and this week I ended up back there – in a manner of speaking. I led several days of beauty training for our hometown drugstore chain—Walgreens. Stopped into one recently? Perhaps you noticed the addition of upscale brands like Essie nail products and La Roche-Posay’s fabulous skincare line.
Walgreens got serious about the beauty business a few ago when Joe Magnacca (who has since left the organization) set out to reinvent the Walgreen’ beauty shopping experience. Along with a fresher product selection and better-merchandised stores, Walgreen’s wants to provide you with a higher caliber of service and more knowledgeable sales people.
Enter Walgreen’s Beauty University: A multi-pronged training approach that consists of an on-line learning platform, full-day training seminars taught by beauty industry experts, and lots of hands-on experience for the thousands of Walgreen’s Senior Beauty Advisors across the country.
I spent the early part of my career facilitating these types of training sessions for prestige brands like Lancôme and Erno Lazlo, and loved (almost) every minute of it. There is something empowering about bringing together a diverse group of women who start out as strangers and end up as confidants because they’ve exchanged their favorite beauty tips and techniques.
Nothing breaks down boundaries faster than passing out a few beauty products and asking women to play with them. What a delight to watch a young woman help a (self-professed) ‘boring, old grandmother’ apply a magnetic nail polish shade. Or, to hear an otherwise conservative woman giggle after her co-worker convinces her to try on a trendy new eye shadow shade.
This conspiratorial beauty bonding epitomizes everything right about the beauty industry – the beauty products provide a platform for women to share their stories, so learning and mentoring naturally happen between women of different ages and ethnicities. Commonality and collaboration become the guiding principles for their communication as women seek to understand one another’s differences, exchange family histories, and understand each other’s cultural practices.
Who knew mascara, or nail polish could do all that?