Cosmetology and Happiness

Lauren Whisler

When it comes to finding happiness, people all over the world are willing to do whatever it takes in order to know what “happiness” feels like.  Reading books about happiness and listening to others’ stories about their own roads to happiness will not benefit anyone for one main reason: many people have been falsely taught what true happiness is all their lives. Some may argue that happiness goes hand and hand with sensual pleasure while others maybe believe that receiving honors is the greatest good. Others may even complain that happiness is unattainable due to the fact that the world, especially countries such as the United States, has become consumed by the idea of constantly working in order to make a living. For parents, work, bills, taxes, and children are always getting their attention; therefore, it is easy to understand why the average middle-aged U.S. citizen may struggle with putting away time to think about what is necessary for him or her to do to fulfill their true purpose in life. Certain jobs may even push people away from experiencing Aristotle’s definition of happiness due to the fact that many jobs no longer require workers to think and form judgments for themselves. Written to help people visualize what a “division of labor” system looks like, The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, was created to show the positive sides to working. Additionally, the Nicomachean Ethics by Aristotle was written to help citizens grasp the meaning of happiness and understand how to do what they are meant to do. By looking at both passages side by side, Smith and Aristotle appear to suggest that there is a correlation between work and happiness. After comparing private smaller owned businesses such as my grandma’s beauty salon to a larger public business such as Regis salons, viewers will be able to grasp the idea of how some careers may lead to finding happiness while others may lead to very successful and more efficient lifestyles.

By illustrating a side of a smaller business where less profit is made but more relationships are formed, readers will understand that  people such as my grandma may be able to live in accordance with reason but are still unable to perform as well as those who work in big corporations. Born and raised in a small city outside of Houston called Corrigan, Brenda Redd went to beauty school and initially worked for her mother in law before owning her own hair salon in 1979. Curious as to why my grandma preferred working alone, I asked her a few questions. In order to truly enjoy her job, Brenda believed that “being her own boss” and not being “one person in a huge crowd” would be the only route to her success. By owning her own private business on the same lot as her house where she lived, my grandma was able to have flexible hours and work anywhere from 8a.m. to 6/7 p.m. on Tuesdays through Fridays. Throughout the week, she would at least see ten people a day and charge around twenty dollars for a haircut. According to Aristotle, when he says that a “good man’s function is to do this well and beautifully [or nobly],” he is referring to our special ability to reason.[1] Unlike other animals, humans are given the ability to reason in order to achieve the “most desirable thing in the world,” happiness.[2] One who uses his or her ability to reason can form judgments or opinions and think for him or herself. Because my grandma did not have to rely on others and could use her ability to make her own choices, she, in a way, is fulfilling her function. Even though she may not be living a life of excellence, virtue or pleasure, she is still able to form friendships with her customers and enjoys being around them and listening to anything they feel like talking about. Sometimes, she almost feels as if she were her customers’ “therapists” because they would come to her and tell her about all their problems going on in their lives with their husbands, work, etc.  Through the eyes of Adam Smith, my grandma’s beauty salon may have not been lived up to its full potential due to the fact that she was in charge of running the whole salon instead of only being giving one task to do at a time. When Smith says, “By reducing every man’s business to some one simple operation, and by making this operation the sole employment of his life, necessarily increases very much the dexterity of the workman,” readers are able to assume that if my grandma had hired more people, she may have become better at running businesses and skilled at making more profit.[3] Unfortunately in this case, it seems as if it was impossible for my grandma to find happiness and use the division of labor techniques without feeling lost in the crowd. If my grandma is unable to live a life according to both Smith and Aristotle, is it possible for anyone?

By illustrating another side of businesses that are larger and more profitable such as the Regis Corporation, readers will understand that people such as Paul, Florence, and their son Myron Kunin perform very well in the workforce today but may struggle finding their happiness in life. What started in 1922 as a small business called Kunin Beauty Salon is now a “company [that] owns, franchises or holds ownership interests in nearly 10,000 worldwide locations.”[4] In order to also continue growing as a beauty school business, the Regis Corporation merged its cosmetology schools with Empire Education Group, Inc.[5] As a result, Regis is now part of the largest beauty school operator in North America and currently maintains a 55% ownership interest in the combined company in the U.S. and the MY Style concepts in Japan. By building up and becoming a massive affluent company, Regis Corporations benefits from many of Adam’s Smiths outcomes connected to division of labor. When Smith states, “the advantage which is gained by saving the time commonly lost in passing from one sort of work to another, is much greater than we should at first view be apt to imagine it,” he reveals that having one specific job instead of several results in having more time to continue growing the company. [6] Due to the fact that each employee in a Regis Salon has a specific job, they also are able to direct all of their attention to doing one thing. For example, if one is in charge of cutting hair while another is charge of dyeing it, both employees can perfect their techniques as much as possible and also know the newest and most efficient methods/techniques. Because my grandma never had time to remain updated on the newest ways of highlighting hair, her methods may still work but take longer and use different materials.  After comparing and contrasting both small businesses and large public corporations, it is clear which business is more productive. However, knowing if those who own and work in larger businesses achieve happiness is less clear. Even though many of the employees at places such as the Regis Salon may seem happy, it is harder for them to form relationships with their customers due to the fact that they at least see around 10 people and hour. Instead of using their ability to reason, some employees may seem as if they are just performing their daily routine and doing what they are supposed to at each station. The easier and less thought-provoking a job is, the less “human” a person becomes. Overall, those who work in larger businesses still have the opportunity to find happiness as long as they remember to continue performing their primary function.

After comparing private smaller owned businesses such as my grandma’s beauty salon to a larger public business such as Regis salons, viewers are able to conclude that some careers may lead to finding happiness while others may lead to very successful and more efficient lifestyles. However, even though it may be difficult to live in accordance with reason while working with hundreds of other people, it is still possible as long as we remember to remain independent and think for ourselves. Because we are in charge of controlling our lives, no one can tell us what we can and cannot do when it comes to finding happiness. If we are able to exercise our ability to reason daily, our “end” will consist of happiness and goodness.



[1] Aristotle. The Nichomachean Ethics Book I. Edited by W. D. Ross. London: Oxford University Press, 1959,7.

[2] Aristotle. The Nichomachean Ethics Book I,7.

[3] Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. Edited by Andrew S. Skinner. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1982. I.1.5

[4] “The Regis Story.” Accessed May 05, 2016.

[5] “The Regis Story.”

[6] Smith, Adam. The Wealth of Nations. I.1.7

[7] Oliver, Dana. “These Vintage Hair Dryer Photos Make It Seem Cool Under The Hood.” The Huffington Post. March 20, 2014. Accessed May 05, 2016.


2 thoughts on “Cosmetology and Happiness

  1. I thought it was really interesting that you compared your grandmother’s business to the larger hair salon. I think that today, as people in society start to want more efficient solutions, a lot of people are less inclined to keep such a small business like your grandmother did, but I see the positive sides of the argument that you present. I agree with your last point that if we live according to reason and living out our virtues excellently that we will find happiness. Similar to what we discussed in class, I think it makes humans feel more connected to their work when it is not divided (such as one person cutting and coloring the hair), however I agree with your point that both workers can be happy. Great job!

    Nicole Herleman

  2. Great job, Lauren!
    Investigating the amount of happiness and fulfillment acquired by both large and small businesses in accordance to reason was very interesting. I especially enjoyed reading about the experiences and thoughts of your grandmother. It really helped to provide valuable insight into the life of a small business owner. It makes me wonder about if human fulfillment can truly be achieved when a person only has one responsibility in the workplace. I would like to hear more about this because in my experiences working for a small business, I have found that a complete division of labor leads to difficulty. For example, where I work, some people only have one assigned position so if they need someone to cover their shift, there is a very limited amount of co-workers who can step in. Having been trained for multiple positions, I have found an increase in personal happiness because the variety adds excitement to work, so things don’t get boring. Overall, I really loved your article.
    -Brittany Wierman

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