Category: Booth Rental Advice

Clean Beauty…or Dirty Business?

The “clean” beauty movement is picking up steam. Health-conscious consumers are paying more attention to ingredients applied to their bodies and are looking for products made without harmful chemicals. In response to the demand, some popular cosmetics companies are now offering so-called, “clean” beauty lines. Companies considering joining this trend should take into account the substantial legal risks.

A look at the food industry’s use of the adjectives like “natural”, “clean”, “simple,” and “wholesome” illustrates the kinds of risks the beauty industry may face. When consumers began paying more attention to ingredients, companies began marketing their products with these health driven adjectives. However, this led to a barrage of class action lawsuits for false advertising under state consumer protection laws as plaintiffs lawyers argued that the claims made on the front of the label did not match the ingredients on the back of the label.

The food industry started to use the word “clean” after the use of “natural” resulted in a barrage of consumer lawsuits. As it turned out, however, the alternative claim also resulted in consumer class action lawsuits. The theory behind these suits is that “clean” is just a synonym of “all-natural” and signifies to consumers the absence of any synthetic chemicals. Similarly, it is argued that “wholesome” and “simple” are misleading consumers as to the real nutritional value of food products. This is at best an idiosyncratic view, not backed by legitimate consumer evidence. However, merely making the allegation is sometimes sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss, where the court must consider whether “no reasonable consumer” could share the plaintiff’s alleged interpretation.

Adding to the complexity is the difficulty of placing a sufficiently prominent and clear explanation, or definition, for such adjectives in an unavoidable location where the plaintiff cannot reasonably allege she failed to notice it. Courts have sometimes held that consumers need not be expected to turn around the bottle or package to read textual information on the back label before purchase.

We have seen false advertising claims creeping into the skincare industry as well, and this, coupled with the history of the food industry, should put the beauty industry on notice of the legal risks. For example, just last month, a lawsuit was filed in California State Court against the makers of Coppertone sunscreen. Prescott, et al. v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Inc., et al., No. 5:20-cv-00102 (N.D. Cal. filed Jan. 3, 2020). The suit alleges that Coppertone deceived consumers by labeling certain sunscreens as “mineral-based” when in fact chemicals make up a significant portion of its active ingredients. The plaintiff’s theory is that the headline “mineral-based” claim suggests to consumers that the product protects skin from sun damage exclusively with minerals.

In the “all-or-nothing” world of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, any ingredient call-out or characterization creates legal peril by negative implication. If the label says “clean,” the product can contain no synthetic substances. If the label says “plant-based,” the product should not have any synthetic or animal components – even if trivial in amount. Plaintiffs are routinely sending products to labs for rote chromatographic analysis, and the tiniest detectable amounts of disfavored chemicals can trigger lawsuits. In California, the consumer protection laws include California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising law, and the Consumer Remedies Act. Companies making sales in California also need to be mindful of Proposition 65 which requires warning labels on products that contain any enumerated chemicals identified by the State to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm.

Since there are no regulations mandating the definition of such descriptive terms on cosmetic labels, these definitions (e.g., “clean”) can vary from company to company. The beauty industry should heed caution when using “clean” beauty claims. In order to avoid consumer confusion— and ultimately litigation— companies should define “clean” in a way that they can, and do, meet, and that definition should be available at the point of sale.

JCPenney Is Closing Store’s

J.C. Penney continues to shrink as it tries to beat a path out of bankruptcy. The retailer is in Chapter 11 in part because of a huge lack of sales. A sign that the company was out-sized relative to a diminished customer base.

Following a comprehensive review of our retail footprint, JCPenney made the difficult decision to announce over 150 store closures. Liquidation sales at most closing store locations are now underway. In a hearing this week, an attorney for the retailer said that vendors are holding back inventory as they wait for a deal to be signed and closed.

JCPenney is trying to move forward on its proposed deal to sell its department store operations to Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners.

Sephora inside JCPenney is closed in liquidating stores. Sephora items purchased prior to Friday, June 12, 2020, may be returned throughout the entire liquidation sale at most closing stores. Dates may vary by location. Contact your local store for more details.

Most hair salons in closing stores will operate through mid-August, yet this is subject to change on a location-by-location basis. The company spent so much time over the past 10 years “re-branding” itself that it forgot about the most important piece…It’s associates working in the stores and the customers shopping in it. Sad state of affairs.

Their is zero support of managers from upper management. Your job security is based on weather or not the upper management likes you and when you ask for guidance you are basically told to figure it out yourself.

This company talks about training and promoting within the company. They will go outside the company to hire for a job that use associates within the salon. Very poor company on promoting the associates. Sad state of affairs for loyal employee’s of this company. But you will find out in the beauty industry it is all over like a virus, the way employee’s are taken advantage of. No benefits, lack of a living wage, no insurance etc. I hope they all find good employment.

Independent workers: When do we get unemployment?

Hair dressers, gig drivers, landscapers, freelancers and other independent contractors who work for themselves normally don’t qualify for unemployment benefits.  But these aren’t normal times.

The $2 trillion government stimulus program is supposed to finally give unemployment benefits for millions of self-employed people who do not pay into the unemployment compensation system as full-time employees do.  However, many of them are growing more nervous by the day as they wonder when they will see the money.  Laura Grant, like many people on furlough right now, is desperately trying to reach her state’s unemployment hotline to learn if she now qualifies for benefits. Grant is a hair stylist who manages a six-person salon called Beneath the Crown in Florence, Kentucky. All the employees are independent contractors who rent booths. She’s had no luck reaching a live person in Kentucky’s unemployment office. Every time she calls, thousands of other people are trying to do the same.  Hair salon workers, freelancers waiting for stimulus aid.

Laura Grant, like many people on furlough right now, is desperately trying to reach her state’s unemployment hotline to learn if she now qualifies for benefits.  Grant is a hair stylist who manages a six-person salon called Beneath the Crown in Florence, Kentucky. All the employees are independent contractors who rent booths.  She’s had no luck reaching a live person in Kentucky’s unemployment office. Every time she calls, thousands of other people are trying to do the same. She and her fellow stylists have tried filing online for unemployment benefits but have had no luck because they have no “employer.”  “I was able to fill it out, but in the employer section, I had to put ‘self employed,’ so it denied me,” she said. President Trump and state leaders have announced that the stimulus package specifically provides benefits for self-employed and gig workers, but these hair stylists and millions of other workers like them have yet to see it.  Workers at Beneath the Crown are praying it happens. Until it does, they’ll be facing down looming bills without any way to pay.  “It’s been two weeks and I haven’t had any income,” Grant said. “We all have car payments. There are a couple of single moms who work here, so we are all up in the air and we don’t know what to do.”

Kentucky’s unemployment office says self-employed workers should fill out the online forms anyway, and the state government will “fix the issue at the back end” when the federal money comes through. Other states are also telling independent workers to file, even if the form rejects them at this point.  Grant hopes it happens soon. In the meantime, she’s trying to live by the message in her lobby: “Think positive and positive things will happen.

Legalize Wedding Hair And Makeup In Minnesota

 

For years, Minnesotan beauticians have styled hair and applied makeup at weddings, proms, and other major social gatherings where people want to look their finest. But now a crackdown threatens to throw about 1,000 hair and makeup artists out of business.

Last December, the Minnesota Board of Cosmetologist Examiners declared that applying makeup at special events could only be done by licensed salon managers, a credential that can take over 4,000 hours of training. To enforce its rules, the Board has ordered makeup artists to cease and desist and slapped them with thousands of dollars in fines. Violating the law can even risk criminal penalties.  Yet the law is filled with loopholes. The Board doesn’t require a license to offer hair or makeup services for fashion, film, media productions, photo-shoots, TV, or the theater. (Selling makeup at retail counters is also exempt.)

Minnesota’s regulations are not just ridiculous, they’re also unconstitutional. Last month, several hair and makeup artists, along with a Minneapolis-based makeup artistry school, filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Board of Cosmetologist Examiners. (The Board has declined to publicly comment on the case.)  Typically, advocates for occupational licensing claim it’s necessary to protect the public’s health and safety. But that’s hardly an issue with hair and makeup artists, since they use beauty tools found in almost any American’s home, like blow dryers, brushes, and combs. It doesn’t take thousands of hours to learn how to wash your hands and clean your tools.  Moreover, as the artists’ lawsuit argues, “any legitimate government interest defendants may have in protecting public health and safety is wholly undermined by their broad exemptions for services.  Doing hair and makeup for photo-shoots and media appearances is unregulated, while offering the exact same services at a wedding or other special event is illegal unless the artist has completed thousands of hours of useless training, a distinction that is “manifestly arbitrary and fanciful.”

Since “there is no natural and reasonable basis” to license makeup and hair services for brides, but not bridal photo-shoots, Minnesota’s wildly unequal treatment infringes on the Equal Protection Clauses of both the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions. Make no mistake: The state’s licensing requirements are incredibly onerous. Before they can legally work at special events in Minnesota, makeup artists need at least 3,300 hours of classes and experience, while hairstylists must finish 4,250 hours of training.  First, a makeup artist must become a licensed esthetician, which requires at least 600 hours of coursework. Artists who also want to style hair face an even steeper challenge and must complete 1,550 hours of training for a license in cosmetology, a program that can cost as much as $20,000.  Worse, according to the lawsuit, the vast majority of those classes are “irrelevant,” since “at least two-thirds of the cosmetology and esthetics curricula do not relate to special event hair and makeup services.” After finishing the useless classes, both hair and makeup artists then have to pass three separate exams.  License in hand, a hair or makeup artist then needs another license, this time as a salon manager, before they can obtain a special events permit to perform at weddings and other major social gatherings. Becoming a salon manager requires working 2,700 hours in a salon, even if that work has nothing to do with the types of services an artist would provide at a wedding. After all, special events, almost by definition, rarely happen in salons.

Requiring little capital, running a hair and makeup business has been especially popular for aspiring female entrepreneurs (in jurisdictions where it’s not illegal). Demand for their services at weddings isn’t going away any time soon.

A $21,000 Cosmetology School Debt, and a $9-an-Hour Job (Part one)

 

When she was in cosmetology school, Tracy Lozano had a love-hate relationship with weekday mornings. Those predawn moments were the only time she saw her infant daughter awake, and she savored them. When the time came to hand the baby to her own mother, she said in a recent interview, she would stifle her tears, letting them roll only when she had closed the door behind her.

She would put on her game face when she pulled into the parking lot of the Iowa School of Beauty, just outside Des Moines. From what Ms. Lozano could tell, a cosmetology license was a realistic way to ensure a better life, and she was willing to make sacrifices. While also working nights at a Pizza Hut, she borrowed $21,000 to cover tuition and salon supplies and put in eight-hour days at the school for the better part of a year.

The amount of time Ms. Lozano spent learning to give haircuts, manicures and facials was enormous, but the requirement was set by the state, and she didn’t much question it. She was determined to earn enough money to move out of her mother’s house. Only a few weeks after getting her cosmetology license in 2005, she was hired at a local Great Clips.  The job, though, paid just $9 an hour, which meant that her days double-shifting at Pizza Hut weren’t over. Even with tips, Ms. Lozano didn’t earn more than $25,000 in any of her first few years as a cosmetologist. For years, she relied on food stamps and health insurance from the state. She couldn’t cover living expenses and keep chipping away at her loan payments. Thirteen years after graduating, she still owes more than $8,000.

What Ms. Lozano didn’t know was that the state-regulated school system she had put her faith in relies on a business model in which the drive for revenue often trumps students’ educational needs. For-profit schools dominate the cosmetology training world and reap money from taxpayers, students and salon customers. They have beaten back attempts to create cheaper alternatives, even while miring their students in debt. In Iowa in particular, the companies charge steep prices — nearly $20,000 on average for a cosmetology certificate, equivalent to the cost of a two-year community-college degree twice over — and they have fought to keep the required number of school hours higher than anywhere else in the country.

Each state sets its own standards. Most require 1,500 hours, and some, like New York and Massachusetts, require only 1,000. Iowa requires 2,100 — that’s a full year’s worth of 40-hour workweeks, plus an extra 20. By comparison, you can become an emergency medical technician in the state after 132 hours at a community college. Put another way: An Iowa cosmetologist who has a heart attack can have her life saved by a medic with one-sixteenth her training.

There’s little evidence that spending more hours in school leads to higher wages. Nor is there proof that extra hours result in improved public safety. But one relationship is clear: The more hours that students are forced to be in school, the more debt they accrue. Among cosmetology programs across the nation, Iowa’s had the fourth-highest median student debt in 2014, according to federal data.

Walk into any hair salon in Iowa and you’re likely to find a stylist making $10 an hour who loves her job but is struggling to pay off her student loans. Over 10 months, in visits to a dozen salons and in conversations with 37 former Iowa cosmetology students — and an additional 25 in other states — we heard a variety of opinions about how much training the profession requires and the financial returns it offers. And we heard again and again how the dream of becoming a professional hairstylist, or someday owning a salon, can be stymied by debt.  The issue is national. More than 177,000 people enroll in for-profit beauty schools across the United States each year, which on average charge more than $17,000 for tuition, fees and supplies to earn a cosmetology certificate.  Across the Iowa border, in Fremont, Neb., Ashley Sandoval makes $10.50 an hour at another Great Clips location. In the five years since she graduated from cosmetology school, she said, interest has ballooned her debt from $22,000 to $29,000. “I’ll be paying it off for the rest of my life,” Ms. Sandoval said.

The Iowa Cosmetology School Association, which acts on behalf of several of the 13 companies that own schools in the state, would not make a representative available for an interview. But the association did provide written responses to questions through its lobbyist, Threase A. Harms. The group said that its primary concern was successfully preparing students, not making money, and that differences in state regulations made comparing hours difficult. The association also doesn’t see the crippling student debt as the schools’ fault, citing the fact that students are allowed to take out more in loans than is necessary to cover educational expenses. “We have students graduating with minimal debt because they made wise choices,” the association said.

Cosmetology schools have a unique business model in the for-profit school world. They have two main streams of revenue. The first comes from students, often in the form of taxpayer-funded grants and loans to pay for the tuition. Cosmetology schools took in nearly $1.2 billion in federal grants and loans during the 2015-16 school year.  The second stream is the salon work the students do while in school. They spend some time in classrooms learning about, for example, chemicals and how to sanitize the work space, but once they’ve hit a certain number of hours, they start working on real clients in salons run by the schools. In full-time programs, going to school becomes a full-time job, where students clock in and out for seven- or eight-hour shifts.

The total number of required hours varies, but all states require some amount of practice with paying customers. In Iowa, students spend 715 hours in the classroom and 1,385 hours on the floor.

Prices for these salon services — which include haircuts, manicures, facials and, at some schools, massages — are typically set below market rates to attract customers. The salons also sell shampoo, conditioner and other beauty products. One Iowa student said he and others had gotten perks (such as trips and special training) if they sold enough products. Another student, who sued a school in Pennsylvania, reported that her grades were partly based on whether she offered salon products to clients.  The schools don’t have to pay students for the services they provide; in fact, the students pay tuition for the hours they work in the salons.

All told, for-profit cosmetology schools nationwide brought in more than $200 million in revenue from their salons in the 2015-16 school year, according to federal statistics. Most schools are small, privately owned entities that do not have to disclose their profits.  “Without the revenue coming from those salons, most of these schools wouldn’t be profitable, or it would be marginal,” said Leon Greenberg, a lawyer in Las Vegas who has examined the financial documents of several schools he unsuccessfully sued under the Fair Labor Standards Act. “It’s pretty much ingrained in their business model.”  Some schools have pushed their business models to the legal limit — and beyond, according to government regulators.

La’ James International College owns six of the 27 cosmetology schools in Iowa, plus one in Nebraska and another in Illinois. Iowa’s attorney general sued the school in 2014, accusing it of defrauding students through deceptive marketing and enrollment practices. Under a settlement, the school admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to forgive almost $2.2 million in student debt. It had to pay a $500,000 fine, and the owners — Cynthia Becher and her son, Travis Becher — had to personally pay fines of $25,000 each. The federal government also placed La’ James under restrictive monitoring for alleged mishandling of students’ financial aid. (The Bechers declined to comment on the suit.)

Lisa Shaw, a former La’ James massage instructor, said Ms. Becher had met with staff members regularly and often told them, “This is a business first, and a school second.”

Ms. Shaw and Bez Lancial-McMullen, a former La’ James cosmetology instructor at the campus in Davenport, Iowa, recalled attending meetings in which company officials spoke of the need to maintain sizable profits. Students were regularly pulled out of Ms. Lancial-McMullen’s classes to work in the salon, she said. Other complaints submitted to the attorney general’s office about the school describe similar practices, although the Bechers have consistently denied the claims.  Both women eventually resigned because they objected to the way students were being treated. Ms. Shaw left in 2014, saying the company’s owners looked at students “as dollar signs.”  “I feel like the school is predatory,” Ms. Shaw said. “I could no longer be a part of taking people’s money and then treating them like that.”  Stephanie Wood Becher, who is the school’s director of marketing (and Travis Becher’s wife), denied that Cynthia Becher would ever tell employees to put the school’s business needs first.  “Education and betterment of the student is always and has always been the #1 priority for her and L.J.I.C.,” Ms. Wood Becher wrote in an email.

La’ James had to open its books during the attorney general’s lawsuit, revealing annual profits that ranged from $1.2 million to $3.4 million from 2009 through 2012. In Iowa, tuition, fees and supplies for its cosmetology program come to $21,500 per student.  Compared with other institutions, “I think we’re cheap,” Mr. Becher said, noting that the cost includes books and supply kits. “We’re private. We’re not public. We don’t get tax breaks.”  The Becher family also owns more than a dozen limited liability companies, which include a distribution center for its salon products. In 2017, the United States Department of Education reprimanded La’ James for failing to publicly disclose a rape in a dorm in Nebraska. Federal law requires colleges to publish annual security reports and logs about crimes on campus, which La’ James failed to do, “exposing students and staff to potential harm,” according to government reviewers.Joni Buresh, the school’s compliance officer, said in an email that the security reports were available to students, and that she believed that the law requiring crime logs didn’t apply to campuses like the one in Nebraska.    She acknowledged that a rape had been reported to the police but said that school officials “honestly are not confident that this rape incident ever occurred.” Ms. Buresh said they had now filed the paperwork requested by the federal reviewers.

END OF PART ONE.