She knew from a young age that she wanted people to feel and look their best, but little did she know that the path to her dream would take so much of her.
Goldie Tom is the owner of Goldie Lux Studio, located in historic downtown Gallup, New Mexico. The studio is more than it looks. Not only is it a hair and beauty space, it also acts as a photography studio, art gallery, community space and in the future it will also offer massages, permanent makeup and house a nail technician. There are no limits to Tom’s vision.
“I want it to be a place where people know they can come and feel welcome and feel comfortable being where they are,” Tom said, adding that she also wanted this or a learning institution.
Tom plans to offer internships and hopes to mentor cosmetology students about the business. She didn’t have a mentor to help guide her and learning on her own was a hard road to walk on her own.
“It was really mean and it was really frustrating because it was kind of like every man for himself,” Tom said. “I felt like we were in the same industry, we should help each other. We should take people under our wings to help them.
When students come out of cosmetology school, there’s rarely a place for them because they lack experience, but they also lack a way to gain critical experience, Tom said. She hopes that, through internships and mentorships, she can give students a head start in their careers and show them that being a fashion designer is real work and can lead to a successful creative career.
“I’m an advocate for hairdressers because most people don’t see our profession as real work. It’s seen as a hobby. But working as a hairdresser got me through the last 10 years of my life,” says Tom. “It’s helped me pay my bills, support my family, travel the world and open a salon and be in the position I’m in now.”
She’s been caught out by clients who didn’t call to cancel their appointments, which is time she could have spent on another client, she said. She has been guessed in her career choice by many people, but she sticks to it.
“I love him so much,” she said.
So much so that she’s known she wants to be a cosmetologist since she was four or five years old.
It was a dream and a passion that followed the little girl through elementary school and high school. Tom was always the one who wanted to do everyone’s hair and makeup, but when she was a senior in high school, that dream was put on hold and that passion turned into doubt.
Tom told a close family member about her desire to become a cosmetologist and instead of the support she expected she was greeted with a laugh and a comment about how she would never make money in this career.
It never crossed Tom’s mind that money equals success. With her support system gone, she collapsed. She was out of her way. She went to school and majored in a few different areas but nothing really stuck, then she started working as a bartender, cocktail waitress, then barista, retail manager and finally DJ.
But none of these jobs filled the void and soon Tom just gave up. At the same time, she was engulfed by challenges in her personal life.
“It felt like the world was crashing down on me,” she said.
That’s when she decided whether money or not she was going to cosmetology school. It was an interest that had always stayed with her and it was the thing that was going to save her.
But to truly succeed, she needed to completely clear the air, so she sought out the family member who had laughed at her all those years ago and they came up with a solution. The family member apologized and Tom felt she was ready to move on.
Tom knows this happens all the time, that family members discourage children and young adults from achieving their dreams without even realizing it, but she hopes people understand that words have power.
His journey has also taught him that there is no timetable for success.
She’s done hair and makeup at fashion shows in New York, she’s worked in movies, and now she has a studio where she can do whatever she wants.
She was broken and she had to rebuild herself but she shares her story because it’s important for her to remember that she worked hard to get where she is.
“I finally had the courage to get over it and do what I really want to do,” she said.
Change Labs supports the creation of successful Native American small businesses that provide social benefit to tribal communities.
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