Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Caper '14 - I Am Here and This Is Happening

I apologize for the wait! Part 2 is here!

So we left off with all of us in the bus – the closer we got to Vegas, the more butterflies I felt in my stomach. I was so excited to get the whole experience started! All of a sudden, we saw Buffalo Bills and it became real. We were really going to Vegas and this was really happening! We saw The Strip and I must say, the view from our bus was great. We were sitting up pretty high so everything was right at eye level. All the resorts, hotels, and casinos looked so close and there were people everywhere. It was about 1 pm when we made it to the Caesar’s Palace loading dock. There were quite a few buses parked and we could see other Future Professionals (students from Paul Mitchell schools) making their way into the hotel.

Can we just celebrate Caesar’s Palace for a moment? That place is spectacular! The exterior is gorgeous and it seems to go on for miles, which it probably does. We made our way through the casino and went up to the conference rooms where we were supposed to leave our luggage. There were business conferences going on and we were told to contain our excitement and our voices so we wouldn’t interrupt their meetings. We left our luggage and our school owners, Erik and D’Ann and our staff members, Joaquin, Ashley, and Sarah handed out our hotel room keys and badges. We were also given “I Know D’Ann” buttons because D’Ann has a wonderful work history with John Paul Mitchell Systems and has worked with all of the major stylists affiliated with Paul Mitchell. That button was going to be an ice breaker and conversation starter.

After that, we all went to see the room where General Session would be held the next day. As we walked towards the room, we spotted John Paul DeJoria (Co-Owner of John Paul Mitchell Systems) and Robert Cromeans (Artistic Director of John Paul Mitchell Systems) in the hallway. Some of the more zealous Future Professionals started running towards them, but they were told to leave them alone because they were in the middle of rehearsal. Which to me, made perfect sense because I’m sure they weren’t expecting a grip of students to run up on them like that in the middle of their preparation for the next day.

D’Ann told us we were free for the rest of the day and to be in line the next morning to get into General Session (kind of like an opening ceremony). Two of my roommates, Alyssa and Carmela, needed to visit the ladies room, so Shannon and I waited for them in the hallway. I saw Takashi (Artistic Director for John Paul Mitchell Systems) with his entourage coming our way. I told Shannon, “Oh my God, Takashi is right behind you!” Shannon did not hesitate, she said hello and asked for a picture. Takashi’s girlfriend said no because they were in the middle of rehearsal, so we said bye and were just happy to have seen him so close. Two seconds later, Takashi’s girlfriend called out to us and said, “One picture.” We rushed over and took the picture. All this not even an hour into Caper! As they were leaving, Takashi saw our “I Know D’Ann” buttons and he said “Say hi to D’Ann for me”.

When Alyssa and Carmela came out of the bathroom, Shannon and I were still in disbelief. We told the girls what happened and they could not believe it. We made our way to our luggage and ran into D’Ann. We told her about Takashi with such excitement, all she could do was laugh because we were beside ourselves. We took our luggage to our room, and settled in. We all called our loved ones to tell them we were in our room safe and sound. The rest of the afternoon was up to us so we went to the Peace Love and Happiness Mall to pick up our goodie bag and check out the merchandise. If I had been smarter, I would have stayed and went shopping for myself right then and there. But I think I was so caught up in the moment, I wanted to just see everything and not stay too long in any one place.

We quickly moved along to the look and learn booths and stayed for Rich Magaña’s makeup demonstration. Rich had visited our school last year and I really love watching him work. He did a great beauty makeup look, something that a celebrity would wear on television or a live appearance. I started to feel the effects of not sleeping the night before, so I told my roommates I needed to take a time out. I walked through the Caesar’s Palace Forum Shops and made my way to the hotel room and slept for a little while. I met back up with my roommates and we went back to the look and learn booths. While we were watching the end of the men’s cut demonstration, we met Cutting Specialist Dave Holland. He was so nice and personable. He took a group pic with us and we said our goodbyes.

At this point, we were starving. Carmela – who was suffering a toothache – let us know that she was calling it a night because she wanted to be in line for General Session by 4 am to get a front row seat. Alyssa, Shannon, and I went across the street to Margaritaville to eat dinner. I don’t know if we were just hungry or what, but the food was awesome. The real funny part was, this was a school trip so we were told multiple times, this is a non-drinking, non-smoking event. So, at any restaurant, you could see the Future Professionals looking around to see if other Future Professionals were drinking. Needless to say, we weren’t there to drink, so we had absolutely no worries.

We went right on back to our room after dinner and Carmela was already asleep. So, we all started getting dressed for bed. I always watch tv before bed, so I was happy that the girls did not object to a couple episodes of Modern Family. We started to hear a lot of loud voices outside our door. Alyssa went to the door to ask them to quiet down when one of them ran into our room and jumped on Carmela in the bed, telling her to wake up. Fortunately, Carmela knew this person and everything was ok. I was in shock just because it was so unexpected and didn’t know who it was running into our room. Our visitor left and the group kept it moving.

I slept better than I’ve ever slept in my life that night. I had a plan for Tuesday. Get up early, go to the Career Connection and talk to all the salon and beauty company representatives, and then go to General Session. I wasn’t trying to wait in line for hours and hours. I was going to take advantage of the fact that everyone else would be in line. General Session was supposed to start at 11 am.

But we’ll get into General Session next time! Stay tuned!!!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Caper '14 Part 1 - The Road to Vegas

As many of you know, this blog has been on hiatus ever since I started school. And for that, I apologize because I do miss the interaction. However, I have to admit, school has taken over my life in the best way possible. I have been completely immersed in the Paul Mitchell universe, and I can only hope I can stay here forever. What I'm trying to say is, I love school. So, when the time came for me to participate in a thing called Caper, I jumped in head first.

Caper is an annual event held in Las Vegas for Paul Mitchell students from all over the United States. It's part hair show, part motivational seminar, part specialized training, and part networking event. Combined, it is quite possibly the most invigorating school function ever invented. But, I'm getting ahead of myself. To get to Caper, you must sell promotional goodie bags stocked with Paul Mitchell products. This starts in October, and the idea is, you sell a certain number of bags in order to get your "ticket" to Caper. There is no actual "ticket", though. Believe me, I asked.

So, I sold the required number of bags, which wasn't all that difficult. There were seven bags to choose from, and they varied in content. For example, if you have fine hair that needs volume, there is a bag full of Extra Body products that is perfect for you. If you have a stinky but lovable dog, there's a bag with awesome pet care products (Paul Mitchell products are never tested on animals, by the way). If you're like me and your hair is, let's say "thirsty", the Tea Tree Lavender Mint products are life savers. Based on each person's needs, the sale was relatively easy. Some bags contained what we call ProTools, like a straightener/smoothing iron. That particular bag was worth 5 regular bags. Some people only focused on selling 9 of those and voila, they're all set. I took a different approach. I held lunches for my friends, visited people at their homes, pretty much made myself available to everyone and had them look at some of the bags and place orders. I wanted people to get something they would actually use, or better yet, something they could give as a great gift to a loved one.

Facebook was a great tool in selling bags. Paul Mitchell Schools' Facebook page really helped us out by posting perfectly crafted promotional pictures for us to share and there were even YouTube videos advertising the different bags. My Facebook friends would like and comment on my posts and I would follow up with them and some of them bought bags. I am pretty sure each school had a different number of bags they had to sell based on how much it would cost to send them to Las Vegas. Our magic number was 45. I reached my goal in November, which was a lot sooner than I had anticipated. But I was so happy when it was confirmed that I would be going to Caper.

Bad news was, it was November and Caper is in February. I had a whole 3 1/2 months to wait for the day to come. I mean, of course, I would get my resume and business cards together. I would make sure to get all the appropriate luggage and outfits. And I would certainly have done all my research on all the educators and professionals that would be in attendance. Oh wait, I mean I did all that at the last possible minute. I was scrambling the week before the trip for everything.

Our school owners, D'Ann Evans and Erik Pedersen made sure we had our itineraries and details a few weeks before the event. That made me feel a lot better and I loved having the schedule for each day. Even with that reassurance, I literally stayed up all night before having to be at the school at 5 am to get on the bus to Vegas. Even though I was excited, I was very anxious. I had no idea how this was all going to work, which for someone like me who likes to plan everything out, felt like a freefall. And I have to admit my anxiety was starting to creep up inside me. Fortunately, I was sitting next to Alyssa on the bus, who was just as nervous about everything as I was. We talked and calmed each other down. The bus ride went really well. I was able to sleep, we watched movies, and at a certain point we all started to do our makeup. With all the jostling the bus was doing, that was no easy task but we all did a bang up job. We looked great and were super excited!

Part 2 will be posted soon! Stay tuned!