February 7, 2015

Good hair cards: A frightening story…

I met a thirties something woman at a department store. We started talking, and she told me she had been unemployed for three years before she was hired temporarily by a department store for the holiday season. She had been an IT worker and administrative assistant for 20 years; but when the economy collapsed in 2008, her job was downsized to part-time, Eventually, she was laid off in 2011. Since then she’s been looking for a full-time job. Yet few companies wanted to hire a long-term unemployed worker even with the best credentials.

The woman said she had applied for a retail sales position three times at the same department store before they finally hired her for the holiday season. Although the job was minimum wage, she was grateful for the position and she made the best of it. Most of her co-workers were in the same boat. They were middle-aged and had careers in other fields that vanished with outsourcing. All were hoping to stay on the job after the holidays, but the store let them all go claiming they had to adjust their budget before anyone could be hired permanently.  The woman looked enviously at the sales clerks. How could she end up like this? Wanting a minimum wage job? Was it really better than nothing? Yes, because all her work experience and college education meant little in this jobless economy.

I felt a chill listening to her story. I had seen this coming 35 years earlier when my father retired early because his factory job had gone to China. I knew it was only a matter of time before white-collar jobs would be outsourced, and I was right. Starting a small business may be the answer for some, but corporate America has broken faith with the American worker and they have forgotten that when we all do well, we all do better. Something is going to happen and it ain’t going be pretty.

It is conversations like this that made me glad I started Good Hair Cards when I did. No, I don’t make enough money from this business to support myself full-time. I still work part-time. But Good Hair Cards is on the right path for now. It will be two years old in April, and I’ve learned a lot about which products sell and which one did not and how to sell and not sell. These days I no longer waste time on social media because it seems as if everyone is marketing a product on Facebook and Twitter. Direct sales work for good hair cards and I have plans to expand my products and reach this spring.

Before we parted, I encouraged this woman to take advantage of every government program she could find to re-educate herself and not to be ashamed of accepting help. After all, when those greedy Wall Street bankers nearly ruin our economy, we taxpayers bailed them out. Now it’s time for Main Street to get their bailout if needed. She is very fortunate to live in New York City where we have a local government that supports small businesses and gives temporary income support to those who need it. I wished her the best. Cheers.