Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Welcome to Our World event on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. First off I have to send a shout out to Maisie Dunbar who has been involved in the event since its inception 12 years ago. She was kind enough to escort us into the city, made sure we had everything we needed, fed us and housed us overnight and gave us a fabulous tour of her beautiful spa on Thursday morning. So thanks again to Maisie, I really could not have done it without her generous hospitality. According to the Professional Beauty Federation website. " Welcome to Our World is one of Capitol Hill's most popular learning events, and features complimentary salon services along with hors d'oeuvres, beverages and a sampling bag for every attendee. Plus, learn about the professional beauty industry's key issues, including access to cosmetology education, consumer protection, equitable taxation, fairness in financial aid for our students, and small business support. Invited are Members of Congress, staff, and those interested in learning more about a committed group of individuals representing a dynamic industry. " Eric Schwartz, COO of OPI and President of the Professional Beauty Federation gave us a briefing of what to expect and what we might want to mention during these complimentary services. He mentioned we are a $60 billion business– a business that touches more than 400 million people a year. Eric encouraged us to share a little about ourselves and about our own beauty employment history and to just relax. Reading up on the issues before hand I decided to focus on education and representation through state boards. Being a nail tech, the conversation just evolves naturally. The beauty industry does not have paid lobbyists, so this is as close as we get to our issues being heard. After initial introductions and a mini consultation I did go on my soapbox about keeping our education standards and hours high to protect the integrity of this business. I also asked them to safeguard our state boards that are an important part of our governing agencies and not let them get lumped in with other boards to save money. We are a thriving industry that needs to take its rightful place as millions of small business owners, manufacturers and entrepreneurs and tax payers I might add.