Aimee Buckley is in her own words "a crazy nutty hair scientist", and Manager of an upmarket salon in Charlestown, NSW. She is an avid reader, fan of camping, auntie, friend, and fiancé to a very lucky man. On top of this, Aimee is a breast cancer survivor, with a fantastically quick wit and a contagiously positive outlook on life. Here, in her own words, Aimee shares how her diagnosis led to a perspective change that strengthened her commitment to her career, and herself.
My first career aspiration was a nun. I was 8. And I knew that I wanted to save the world, and was fortunate enough to be raised by parents who taught me that I could do anything if I tried hard enough. I clearly recall the laughs and the comment of “oh god, don’t do that to yourself!” Obviously there were some factors I didn’t yet know about a nun’s life!
So I moved on to my next goal of saving those who had been wronged, like the characters in To Kill a Mocking Bird, and if I’m totally honest, LA Law. It was the 80’s.
A steady string of career choices followed, until I got my first casual job as a salon assistant in what was then a very talked about business.
"It was my job, my hobby, and my significant other. I’d do anything. I was the “yes girl” and I prided myself on going the extra mile"
At 15 years old I decided that making people feel amazing was the right place for me and that I could, if I tried hard enough, make every woman know that they are as perfect as they looked.
This rapidly turned into a quest to gain a cult following that I was ready and able to bleed myself dry for, and I loved it. It was my job, my hobby, and my significant other. I’d do anything. I was the “yes girl” and I prided myself on going the extra mile even if the Award Rate was substantially lower than the male trade equivalent at the time.
I set out to raise the profile of the industry so that the phrase “she’s just a hairdresser” never slipped through another pair of lips - well not at least the ones I heard in the bathroom at local nightclub The Castle!
Somewhere in mid to late 20’s things started to taste bad. My friends were getting married, having kids, moving out and travelling the world, and I was still me. Still making my life about everyone else and becoming confused as to why, when I tried so effing hard every effing day, did I have to still prove myself?
At around 30 my career was exactly where I wanted it to be – I had the cult following, I had the new projects, I had the respect … I even had the elusive pay grade – which included actual real life lunch breaks and toilet stops that so many in my field never find.
"On Saturday I found the little lump of gold that would change my life forever. I had breast cancer. What. The.....?"
But my life was still about everyone but me, even though at the time I didn’t see it that way. I was happy. So what was wrong?
Six months after my 31st birthday and my 105th broken heart, I booked a trip to Thailand. I was brave, I was free and I wanted to do this! That was Friday. On Saturday I found the little lump of gold that would change my life forever. I had breast cancer. What. The. Fuck?
I’ve always been great with a project, and this was no different: Identify problem, negotiate solution, absorb and move on like nothing happened right?
I grilled myself good and proper about what it was that I was truly afraid of. Dying? Nope. As if that was going to happen. Letting my clients down and losing my cult? Yes, but no. Terrifying my family about something that was already reconciled? Definitely. Being given an opportunity to change my life and really be me for once and for all and choosing to pass it up? You bet your life that’s what I shit my pants over and it still scares me 4 years later.
Some pretty heavy self-analysis took place here… Soooo Type A control freak of me, but so confronting and liberating!
And it was seriously the best experience of my life up until that point. And I am so grateful.
I finally saw that what I endeavoured to make clients feel, was what I really wanted to feel myself. I was fluffing up the wrong egos!
I came to realise something that I now tell all my baby hairdressers that I teach….Your career is for yourself. Point blank.
It might disguise itself as a blood sucker, or parade around like a martyr that everyone wants to buy into because it can save the world, so you buy into it too and feel the burden of it and revolve your life around it and think you’re nothing without it. But in actual fact, your career is nothing and non-existent without you.
"It doesn’t matter what you do, or where you do it, but your job satisfaction will have a direct impact on how you see yourself"
You are not your career but you are allowed to make it part of who you are, and damn straight you can rock your egotistical self when you perform your craft, because that’s what you chose to master.
A career is a choice. Choose wisely.
It doesn’t matter what you do, or where you do it, but your job satisfaction will have a direct impact on how you see yourself.
I now know that you can’t save anyone until you’ve saved yourself.
I chose to see myself as the crazy nutty hair scientist that puts on a great comedy show if you stick around long enough. And that’s perfect for me.