I AM THE BOSS OF ME
By Rose Prieto
When Tina asked me to write a piece for her blog, I thought about what I should say rather than what I want to share. I've read all of the bios from the amazing Harmony artists and their inspiring words, and I didn't want to disappoint Tina's readers with my candor. But then, she told me to be raw, which allowed me to be honest and speak freely:
I am the boss of my life. That's what I tell myself everyday. I grew up with a father who came from a family of Lebanese jewelers. He was tough, demanding, seemingly-unloving and had high expectations for excellence. When I was a little girl, I would observe him interacting with customers in his Manhattan store, and wonder where his charisma and charm came from because I never saw it at home. As I grew up, he would take me with him on business calls and, again, I would observe a suave, interactive friendly side to him that I seldom saw in my young adult life. By the time I was a senior in high school, he had already presented a myriad of study options for me, all pertaining to jewelry. Jewelry Design, Watch Making, Stone Setting, Repair, Metal work.... all paths I did not want to walk down. My father was one of 12 children who grew up in Cuba, born of Lebanese parents. He and his brothers were renowned watch makers in Cuba, but in the 1950's, my father and uncle fled to New York to set up shop in America.
My father was a good man; he provided well for his family and showed me the art of self grooming. He was obsessively compulsive about his appearance, and as a result no one ever saw him without perfectly manicured hands or a fine pressed suit; I never even saw his naked feet until he was on his deathbed. Although he never said it, I knew he loved me, I just felt it. He was tough, brusque and verbally abusive. I would be lying if I told you that I never answered him back or defended myself during heated conversations. I grew up in Jersey so the most valuable defense mechanism the Garden State taught me was to say what I felt, regardless of who you were speaking to.
After those heated arguments, where the Jersey would pour out of me, he would ignore me for days. Living with him was no picnic, but in retrospect, he taught me how to defend myself and didn't even realize he was doing it. You see, although his passion was bling, mine was beauty. From a young age I understood the contours of the face and I learned, early on, how to manipulate one's features with makeup and eyebrow shaping. I caught the beauty bug early on, and would practice techniques on myself everyday. If my father disapproved of my appearance he would bash me, without filter, saying horrible things; one time he even compared me to a street walker. This, of course, propelled me to wear my lipstick even darker and make my eyes even more dramatic and smokey than the day before. I learned from a young age, that no one can take your inner fire away from you. My father tried to convince me to go into his business, but all I wanted to do was to make women feel more beautiful about themselves, and what I didn't expect, was to be acutely aware of women's emotions and how their personal life affected their self esteem. This is why, today, I get to truly know my clients and try to understand them on a deeper level; deeper than an eyebrow. It is because of this compassion and sincere love that they come back for more.
By the time I was a married adult with children, I had been working as a freelance brow and makeup artist since my college days as a theatre major. My father thought my interest in beauty was a joke. By the time my daughter was in preschool, my father had fallen ill with cancer and was dying. My mother had divorced him years earlier and he decided to spend the rest of his life alone. As his daughter, it was my moral obligation to be by his side and see him to the end, despite the verbal and mental abuse he had bestowed upon me growing up.
I knew how obsessive he was about his appearance. By the time he was dying, he could no longer speak, so I would visit him for the 9 days he stayed in the hospital before his death and I would give him facials. I would brush his hair, massage his skin and spritz him with Guerlain. Everyday I would bring my beauty kit, complete with clean towels, creams, a hair brush and fragrance. I would wrap his face in a barber-shop-style towel, infusing his skin with warmth and, yes, with love. I'd brush his hair, apply balm to his dry lips, massage cream into his hands and face, and then I saw it...the look. The look I never saw growing up. The illumination of pure joy and love on his face. I actually did something to him, touched him in a way that gave him joy. My pseudo facial was a breakthrough and for the first time in my life, he actually showed me he loved me. He couldn't speak and articulate the words, but his face said it all when he smiled. After he died I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I knew that I had a gift and that my hands were capable of bringing joy to others.
I went to beauty school and obtained three licenses, including that of my PMU/tattoo artist. I rented space from others shortly before I set-up shop on my own, just like my father once did in New York. I didn't want to be a jeweler, but I know my father would've finally been proud to see my business-savvy and tough-as-nails business sense. He taught me a lot, including how NOT to treat others and how to survive in an unfriendly world. I pride myself on delivering the finest service, with the finest execution, using the finest tools and supplies; this is why I use Harmony. I must admit that I inherited my dad's obsessive nature with regard to self-grooming! I am meticulous in all areas of my business, including the look, smells and sounds of my beauty studio. I am my worst critic and I only know that I know nothing, and can always be better than I was yesterday. That's ok because I am the boss of my life and I set the tone for my brand. I am my father's daughter and for the first time in my life I can say that I am damn proud of that.
Rose Prieto, C.M.S., L.E., C.C.E.
Certified Micro-pigmentation Specialist
Beauty & Brow Lounge, LLC
"empowering women, one arch at a time"
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