When it comes to fighting legislation that affects the beauty industry and your career, talking just isn’t enough. PBA government affairs advocate, salon owner and 39-year industry veteran Pam New embodies the idea that one person can make a difference.  Deeply involved in the legislative process in her home state of New Hampshire, Pam turns advocacy into action by fighting for the rights of beauty professionals in her state and setting an example for professionals everywhere.

PBA recently sat down with Pam to learn more about what motivates her…

PBA: Why did you get interested in being an advocate for the industry?

Pam: I felt that our industry needed the same respect as other industries. Many times we are regarded as uneducated and uninformed, although our profession has immediate and constant contact with the general public and their health and safety and have the opportunity to help people in many ways.

PBA: What are the biggest issues you see affecting the industry now?

Pam: Deregulation!  Many people feel as though anyone can cut hair. Unfortunately, they do not realize exactly what is involved in our profession and our training. Our industry is constantly evolving. To be successful, we must always continue to keep ourselves grounded, humble and well educated.

PBA: What steps have you taken to support and/or fight legislation in your state?  Can you explain the process of some of your experiences and the results?

Pam: First of all, I sincerely thank PBA for all of their help and expertise in killing numerous bills that I have worked on. PBA Action Alerts were very instrumental and helpful.

With any of the bills that I have tackled over the past 15 years, I have always followed the same process:

• Through my statewide network, I distribute petition sheets for licensed professionals and their clients to sign.

• I have developed relationships with all of the editors of our state’s newspapers; fortunately they realize when I send a letter to the editor it’s a serious issue that the public needs to be aware of.

• I attend and testify at every hearing, usually accompanied by many licensees and/or students. I have been repeatedly scolded for “packing the house” and I will always remind our Legislators that these are public hearings and the public (aka the voters) is welcome to attend. Whenever I feel the need to make a statement, I have actually made copies of the petition sheets and have dramatically dragged them in with the proverbial wheel barrow. I will always point to the petition sheets and explain that these are all from the voters. This is a perfect, strategic move to kill a bill, especially with a few hundred people waiting out in the hall!

PBA: What have been some of the major hurdles you’ve had to cross?

Pam: The new government, also known as the “Free Staters”, do not believe in any governmental regulation whatsoever. Unfortunately, they have picked my state to take over government. Apparently they are taking our State Motto of “Live Free or Die” literally.  Matter of fact, they now have over 11,000 people (who have signed their petition and pledge) who will be moving here.  My concerns with the upcoming election are that possibly the names and/or parties will be different, but the agenda will be the same.  They actually had a conference recently focusing on “How to Become a Legislator”.

PBA: How would you describe your working relationship with elected officials in your state when you first got involved and how has that changed today?

Pam: I have always had a great working relationship with our legitimate Legislators and still do with the ones that still remain in office.  However, I have found it very difficult working with this new group. Possibly because I do not believe in their agenda, although I will always try to view any situation from all sides.

PBA: What advice would you give other professionals who want to make a difference in their states?

Pam: Become involved, be aware of your surroundings and put any competitive situations behind you.  Many times it may be a former employer or employee that can become your best ally. Team work will get anything accomplished if everyone is rowing the boat in the same direction!

You Can Be A Beauty Advocate

PBA’s Government Affairs Team works throughout the year to track state and federal legislation affecting the beauty industry. Those interested in getting involved in the legislative process can can do so in many ways: Become a PBA State Captain and help spread the word in your state when legislation is introduced that can have a negative impact; volunteer for Welcome to Our World, an annual event on Capitol Hill giving professionals the opportunity to educate law makers on the importance of a strong beauty industry to the U.S. market; and, most importantly – BE INFORMED! Visit probeauty.org/advocacy for more information or contact PBA Government Affairs Director Myra Irizarry at myra@probeauty.org to learn about ways you can get involved.