SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP! I remember in my early days I could work all day and then go out until 2 a.m. dancing, drinking, eating, smoking and then be back to work the next day at noon and do it all over again. As I look back on those times it’s like remembering an old movie. Now, I rarely drink, I don’t smoke, I eat healthier, and I love to get my sleep. I love my cuddle time with my twins (6-year-old boys). When I’m on vacation my family laughs because I’m in bed around 9 but I wake up and am most productive at 4 a.m. I don’t get as sick as I used to and I rarely fantasize about my bed.
As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dawn Bacchi.
Dawn is a 30 year veteran of the cosmetology industry, having worked with celebrities and top hair care brands all over the world. Today, she is a holistic hair care expert, salon owner and founder of holistic brands Hair Goddess by Dawn Bacchi and STA. While her true passion lies in hair coloring and cutting, Dawn is equally as passionate about wellness in many forms- from creating her all-natural and vegan haircare lines to supporting mental health initiatives through donating her services to various charities. Dawn is based in Auburn, CA where she settled with her husband Glenn and their twin boys.
Thank you so much for doing this with us Dawn! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
When I was a little girl, I loved playing with the dolls that had hair that would magically ‘grow’. I would use my mom’s sponge curlers to style their hair, use magic markers to color their hair and even remember using a blow dryer once, which to my dismay, melted the hair to the doll’s head! Fast forward to when I was 13 and had just started modeling that I noticed the hairstylists and makeup artists on set. I absolutely loved watching them work and thought I could do that. From then on, I started practicing on my friends, doing their hair and makeup in middle school whenever I had the chance. By the time I got to high school, I really wanted to find a way to make a name for myself in the beauty world so, with the help of my school counselor, I was able to go to cosmetology school on a R.O.P program. When I first stepped into the school I felt like I had finally found my tribe and realized I was destined to work in the beauty industry all along.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I have been in the industry for over 3 decades now and the biggest lesson I have learned over the years is that I can’t be everything to everyone. I used to try to be everywhere and do everything for friends, clients, bosses, etc., but I was worn down. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would go full force and then drop and get sick. It took a long time to figure that out but I must say my biggest take away now is that it is OK to say NO. I have also removed all the toxic relationships, whether they are clients or friends.
Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The biggest mistake I made when I first started my career was thinking I was the bomb, honestly! I thought I knew my stuff and boy was I wrong sometimes. Luckily, I can look back now and just giggle. Every hair stylist has horror stories, two that come to mind for me involve highlights and a razor cut gone wrong, but the most important thing is developing and working hard every day at your craft. Now, I’m a master at both. Aw, the good old days!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have had so many people in my life that have helped me along the way. Mr. Bill Hoshall has been one of the most supportive, professionally. I started working for Hoshalls For Hair in 1991 and he saw something in my personality that he liked. He didn’t even care if I could do hair well, he just knew he could mold me and we’d get along! He always said, “there are few people that are born with the IT but you can always teach the trade.” He knew I would get bored easily doing the same thing every day so he helped get me an interview with the head of education for L’Oreal Professional to be groomed as a color educator. I remember the interview like it was yesterday and as I sat down for the lunch interview and we ate lunch like old friends, I asked: “ Don’t you want to interview me for the position?” She laughed and said “ Honey Bill said you are a great colorist and responsible, that’s all I need to know. You have the position. Welcome to L’Oreal Family!”
My next HUGE supporter is my Husband Glenn. I can’t say enough about him. He always holds me up with my crazy ideas and he always says GO FOR IT, BABE. He is never bored and so supportive! I also think of my Cousin Diane who passed in 2018. She always stood behind me from day one. Diane gave me a key chain and told me she knows all of my dreams will come true and this key chain is for when you open your first organic holistic cosmetology school. I’m not there yet, but I still have the key chain. Last but not least is my Queen Team- Erica, Hannah, Toni, and Hope. They are a huge part of the growth of the message we’re sending to the beauty industry.
Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
As a hairstylist, I think about what we’re putting ON our bodies a lot. Hair color has been studied for a long time for how it affects our bodies, if it increases risk for cancer, etc. My thought process now is, “why take a chance?” That’s why I now use only organic hair color as well as hair care products for my clients and myself. The organic hair color works amazingly well and now I’m not afraid to color hair daily. I also hate all the plastics and foil used in my industry. I threw out as many of those types of products as I could and now use reusable papers for coloring which are also biodegradable, removing the need for foil in my salon. All of my bottles are recyclable, I use glass as much as I can, and I am actively teaching my family how to live life more holistically.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.
- SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP! I remember in my early days I could work all day and then go out until 2 a.m. dancing, drinking, eating, smoking and then be back to work the next day at noon and do it all over again. As I look back on those times it’s like remembering an old movie. Now, I rarely drink, I don’t smoke, I eat healthier, and I love to get my sleep. I love my cuddle time with my twins (6-year-old boys). When I’m on vacation my family laughs because I’m in bed around 9 but I wake up and am most productive at 4 a.m. I don’t get as sick as I used to and I rarely fantasize about my bed.
- I take two vacations a year and shut everything off — no phones, no computers, and no social media. I am not a huge social media person so I really don’t feel like I miss anything.
- I used to waste a ton of time watching T.V. so I got rid of cable and stopped watching reality T.V. Which is funny because last year I filmed a part in a reality show which will be airing in 2020. When I stopped watching so much reality TV, I realized my anxiety levels were beginning to fade!
- I have always been interested in self-growth so I’ve tried being in the moment, meditation, stillness, coloring, etc., but I have yet to find one of those strategies to work for me to be completely honest. I have found that creating is my version of mindfulness. It could be decorating a house, cooking an amazing meal, planning to grow a garden, going on a new business adventure, etc. I thrive in that atmosphere and when I thrive I notice my family all thrive.
- Find what works for you- what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. Don’t be afraid of creating the life you dream of!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Working behind the chair has taught me some very valuable life lessons. Most everyone has experienced mental illness in their own lives or the life of a family member or friend. It doesn’t matter if it is depression, mood disorders, anxiety, addiction or self-harm. Unfortunately, I’ve known this all too well. My cousin Diane took her life in 2018. After this, I fell into a depression for months and couldn’t function above the bare minimum that was needed to get by. Antidepressants helped me out of the fog I felt I was in. Yeah, I said it. I take antidepressants. Effexor to be exact.
After Diane’s passing, I became her advocate and was determined to navigate the country’s mental health systems to seek out and try to improve the flaws. I reached out to various mental health departments and homeless shelters to see what I could do to help. I volunteer my haircutting skills and hair care products to the shelters. I know what I do matters because people feel better when they look better. I BELIEVE EVERYONE MATTERS AND DESERVES TO BE HEARD and this is the #1 movement I support.
Mental health services have a lot to improve on. There has to be a better solution for the uninsured to get the help they need instead of waiting 6 to 8 weeks for a bed at a shelter to open up. The system is flooded with people who need mental health support. I don’t have all the answers but helping people feel better about themselves by offering free haircuts is a start. I plan to continue reaching out to the community and looking for ways to solve this epidemic.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Invest in yourself first. Learn about ROTH IRA’s and educate yourself on what compounding interest is. I started in my late 40s and it’s fun to watch my portfolio grow but I really wish I would have started sooner.
- I wish someone would have told me to wear sunscreen more and that it needs to be reapplied- seriously! It’s hard to reverse sun damage!
- Don’t try to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ per se. In my 20s I would go out with a certain set of friends every Friday night and pay upwards of $500 for dinners. Looking back now, I sure wish I would have invested in myself with that money we spent on those Friday nights. Again, invest in yourself first!
- Live authentically and don’t try and change people. In my early years, I didn’t know who I was. I just tried to be what people wanted me to be. I dated men who I thought my family would like to see me with. I hung out with people that weren’t who they said they were. With age, you get a sense of self and you stop caring what people think you should be and you live more authentically. Also, watch what people do, not what they say.
- Everything is going to be alright! As I look back, there are so many times in my life that I thought it would all come crashing down! As a passionate person with a lot of love to give, of course, I’ve gone through my fair share of challenging times but what I’ve learned is that I am in control of my power and I will never let anyone take that away from me. I am in control of my life and everything is going to be alright.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health, by far, is the dearest to me. My cousin Diane took her life in 2018, which I shared about above. Sadly, Diane just could not get herself out of the depression. She tried everything to get help but it was too late. The system for mental health needs a big change! When someone needs help they need it NOW — not 6 weeks from now when a bed opens up. I can’t imagine someone that does not have an advocate and people are expected to do it themselves when they are sick and suffering. I was able to be there for Diane and be her advocate. I was banging on doors to get her help and it seemed to me that the resources were all full and it was hard to get my foot in the door. And trust me, I was banging! I was able to get her help but it seemed like, from my experience, a lot of the people making big decisions didn’t even care. I couldn’t get them to listen to me about what was going on and it was frankly exhausting. The doctors didn’t do what I asked…they said they knew better and well, they didn’t. People NEED to be heard and NEED to feel like they matter because they do. A lot needs to change and I know it will be a slow process but I do everything I can to help.
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Thank you for these fantastic insights!