Setbacks, failures and disappointments. We’ve had enough of them recently. I’m quite ready for them to stop, honestly. But I feel a Karen Carpenter moment coming on. We’ve only just begun.
Retired cosmetologist and former spa owner Sarita Pittman has four words for the downcast, mopey and butt-on-couch: “Get up. Work harder.” Yes, that’s rough and cold advice.
But she of many an amazing hairdo and founder of the women-empowering Stiletto Society speaks from experience. Recently, she wanted people to know about those experiences.
“I wish I didn’t have to feel disappointed and hurt,” she says. “But I can turn around and tell someone else, ‘Just because you’re struggling now doesn’t mean you’re not going to succeed.”
Pittman has had more success in life than most. At one point during her hair styling days, she was making $10K+ a month. She developed a line of beauty products. She owned Vanity Day Spa.
But behind the mask, there was depression, betrayal, loss and much more. She outlined these events in a Facebook post called “True Story.” Honest and raw, it piqued my interest.
“A lot things you don’t see,” she told me. “You don’t know a person’s story. You don’t know what they went through. You don’t know the diagnosis that people have.”
Pittman says she didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about her “True Story.” Like all good social media blurbs, it was unplanned and quickly written. But I would call it a book’s first draft.
It starts when she’s 20 years old, fresh out of cosmetology school and working at an unhappy barbershop in Hinesville. She returned to the family couch, gloomy and jobless for months.
“My grandmother, she was one of those ones like, ‘I don’t care what you’re going through, but you better get up, get dressed, put your face on and act like nothing’s wrong,” she says.
Nana power! There’s something aspirational to crusty, old-fashioned “faking it” – that dishonest stance that somewhere back in the 90’s we replaced with the more authentic “letting it all fly.”
You say to yourself, “This isn’t what I feel. This isn’t what I am. But it’s what I want to be. So I’ll do it.” Pittman used this strategy later, in another form, when she started her own small salon.
She grew clients, lost them, grew clients and lost them again. But through the ups and downs, she gave to charity based not on her income, but based on her desired income. She was very frugal.
“I gave to what I wanted to grow to,” Pittman says. “And I started working harder and harder.”
She eventually developed a loyal following (she says she’ll go head-to-head with anyone on color) that grew into a multi-stylist salon, Atira’s. She bought the spa. She ran it for six years.
Workers stole from her, contractors didn’t deliver. She describes “finding reliable staff” as her career’s biggest challenge, a soul-sucking enterprise that had to end when her doctor ordered it.
She gave it all up in 2013 to tend to her health and family. But so many women asked her for business advice that she decided to start a group to motivate and market female entrepreneurs.
It’s called Stiletto Society, a combination of in-person and online education and networking for women that flies the flags of Pittman’s woe-to-wealth story.
“People want to skip steps,” she says. “And sometimes in life, the very step that you’re trying to skip is the step that’s going to prepare you for your next [step].”
It’s a relevant message for today’s discouraging times. No one cares about your discouragement, only your actions. So act!