Image of woman smiling

Women’s History Month: Sydney Berry

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we shine a spotlight on Sydney Berry, an influential figure in the beauty industry and a dedicated PBA board member for eight years. From her beginning as a stylist to becoming a successful salon owner and entrepreneur, Sydney’s journey has been marked by resilience and determination. Not only has she left a lasting impact through her business ventures, but her advocacy for women affected by cancer showcases her commitment to empowerment and support in the face of adversity.

Can you share a specific moment in your career where you faced challenges related to your gender, and how did you navigate through those obstacles?

The initial pushback was while I was attending a Nebraska high school, as I asked for guidance from the counselor “who asked me why I wanted to go to college or trade”? As his words were, “that I would just marry a farmer or be a teacher married to a farmer” pivotal, however, not surprising attitude! Obviously I didn’t listen, college for a year, cosmetology following as a stop gap and a way to pay for continued tuition with a trade career, gifting me the opportunities of a lifetime due to the focus, determination and passion to develop my path in this wonderful industry. 

As a woman in a leadership role in the beauty industry, why do you think it is important to have women in these roles? How does it contribute to innovation and success?

As this is a female staffed and dominated industry, it was surprising the lack of females in distribution or manufactures for a career path inspiration. Men, also, believed that it was common practice to entice/request sexual favors, blatantly. 

Assert value of female leadership, resilience, determination with facts not emotional interpretation of what they felt was needed. Emotional perspective was key plus substantive information to deliver the strategic approach of success. 

Female leadership in this industry is powerful due to the understanding of what is necessary to be dynamic as a valued addition, versus this is a transaction. Women make the majority of 70-80% of all buying decisions in various arenas of life due to their interaction. Women control $31.8 trillion in worldwide spend and are the decision makers for the spend. 

In your journey, have you found mentors or role models who have supported you as a woman in the beauty industry, and how have these relationships influenced your career?

Initially it was difficult as it was a “boy’s club” in distribution, however, several influential men assisted me in joining! At the beginning of my start as a salon owner, my distributor had a female educator that was as passionate about this industry as I was and she assisted me in doing monthly educational events for my clients! The engagement was phenomenal in connecting and educating my clients with all elements of beauty! Geri Cusenza and John Sebastian the founders of Sebastian, were so brilliant in their understanding of retail and service needs of the clients. I could not take notes fast enough, however, I was so very inspired by their actions, words, philanthropic interests and passion, it made a huge impact in how I approached beauty. Jane and Raymond Wurwand of Dermalogica, were very instrumental in their strategic actions in developing the strength of their brand, knowing the depth of commitment to the individual skin therapist in driving the knowledge base of “with these hands” mentality of realizing the impact we each have with engagement with our clients. Paula Kent Meehan and her wealth of knowledge and determination with many of her initiatives with Redken, education platform and to her commitment to the salon industry with her investment with establishing a UCLA a business series for the foundational aspects leadership to financial of the salon owner in growing their respective business strategies. 

Considering your experiences, what advice would you give to young women aspiring to build a successful career in the beauty industry, particularly in overcoming gender-related challenges?

Beauty is MY WHY for what has been my driving force as this industry is so very special in how it impacts consumers by our actions of discovery of beauty for each client. The ripple effect is REAL as a client who feels the connection to the radiance of her beauty and a stylist has illuminated it by actions…creates an energy that is compounded by the continuum of thriving! It is the only industry that allows for our interpersonal skills with our ability to interpret their needs. With the first seminar I attended with Lou Louscey of Psy-cosmetology shared a miraculous story of one magical moment that illustrates this ripple so intimately.

He was a therapist and gave direction of actions to his client. When she returned for her next appointment with him, he asked how did your interaction go from our previous discussion? She replied, I didn’t do it as my stylist told me what to do, which I did with success. He realized at that point, how important a stylist was in the lives of their clients. He wrote a book and did teachings for stylists to learn how to address these encounters as we are not trained in this arena. David Wagner changed his intentions with a startling learning with a client, who had anticipated suicide after her appointment. David was unaware and had the time to spend with her. The humanness of his interaction during her appointment led her to get mental health support and David to understand his impact as a Daymaker! Both of these stories and so many more, such as Noel DiCaprio, who established an all inclusive environment within her salon/spa to support all beauty areas with caring and support. Beauty is a community that cares generously and supports…it is the RIPPLE EFFECT OF LIFE, that I have chosen, to be the change I wish to see in this world as a connector with engagement of humanity, which is positivity impact! 

The Professional Beauty Association will continue to dedicate and honor the diverse talents of women in our industry. Beyond acknowledgment, our commitment extends to creating inclusivity, empowerment, and inspiration for all women in the beauty sector. Together, we will continue to celebrate the invaluable contributions of women throughout history and into the future.