A couple of months ago, the state of Idaho told Miranda Hale, Nadia Saakyan and Micalah Howard that their successful cosmetology business is illegal and must end. The trio learned their entire business model is prohibited because it is based on offering on-site makeup and hairstyling services where it’s needed instead of in a licensed salon. In Idaho, state statute says it is illegal to practice cosmetology “except in a place or establishment licensed therefor.”
Nadia notes, the state’s action “has completely ruined our income and livelihood.”
These aren’t just hobbyists or fly-by-night practitioners. Longtime friends and business associates, Miranda, Nadia and Micalah are highly educated and well-trained. They bring their talents to an array of events that include weddings, pageants, fitness competitions and film sets -- places one would expect to find skilled, paid professionals working to get hair and makeup just right.
Nadia told me, “It’s been extremely scary having someone show up and say you can’t perform your craft anymore that you’ve been doing for your whole life, pretty much. But also the fact that we have to turn away hundreds of brides and fitness competitors ... because we legally were told we cannot perform our craft outside of a licensed business.”
The three women have amassed an enthusiastic following of clients, who heap praise on them for making important events even more memorable and successful.
“I used Nadia to do my makeup for my engagements and wedding, as well as Miranda for my wedding hair,” said one commenter on Facebook. “I felt so beautiful and confident in all my photos, and got so many compliments on how flawless I was!”
Wrote another, “They're the most professional and reliable in the business. Not only do you enjoy their talented artistry that makes you look your best, but they are absolutely great to be around. They make your special day fun, relaxing, and enjoyable.”
Their skill and expertise are in high demand in other states and around the world, Nadia said. Their skill and expertise is in demand here in the Gem State, too, if only it were allowed.
Continuing to offer on-site services to clients could result in fines and the loss of their licenses to practice anywhere in the state, something that worries Miranda. This is what I love to do. This is what I choose and love to do more than anything. I went to school for it, paid $30,000 for it and being told I’m not allowed to do it unless it’s in one place at one specific time. That’s not fair,” she said.
Freshman Rep. Christy Zito, R-Mountain Home, who represents Miranda in the Legislature, was appalled to learn that the state is putting them out of business, and for little more than a technicality.
“We have got to loosen these regulations to so that people can make a living,” Zito said. “I don’t understand why the state would stand in the way of these entrepreneurs being productive and providing safe and responsible services to their customers.”
A representative of the Idaho Board of Cosmetology declined comment on the issue. Last year lawmakers allotted more money to the agency to investigate illegal cosmetology practices.
Meanwhile, Miranda, Nadia and Micalah have pledged to fight on. They’ll take their case to the Idaho Legislature, which is getting underway. The three have started an online petition urging the Legislature to change the law. The petition started with a goal of collecting 1,000 signatures; they had almost 1,100 as of this writing, including mine. The petition is available at www.tinyurl.com/help-mnm.
Miranda, Nadia and Micalah have the right to use their skills, talents and passions to earn a living and support their families, add value to the community, and provide excellent, safe, sanitary service to their clientele, all of which they’d been doing all along. The state shouldn’t stand in the way of that.
“We’re going to try hard to get [the law] changed. This is what we love to do,” Nadia said. “We want to abide by the rules, but when the rules aren’t fair and the law isn’t fair, we’re going to stand up for what’s fair and what’s important for us.”