Years ago, a shelter volunteer kindly (I think!) described my personal style as “The Brawny Paper Towel Man meets the boy next door.” That could still be mostly accurate, though I try to look the nonprofit CEO part most days.
I have the benefit of a soon-to-be 14-year-old daughter who tells me what’s considered “drippy.” For those of you without a teen, drippy is “on trend.”
I also work in an environment with mostly younger co-workers in a traditionally casual field. Our campus is situated in a rural area, with a Barn and Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, with multiple areas getting hosed down daily, and dirt trails criss-crossing 200+ acres. We get down and dirty and I like to jump in when possible.
Our visitors arrive dressed casually as well. The Jake from State Farm look is a little buttoned down for us, even in our public-facing areas. That said, we want to maintain a professional, neat, clean, and friendly look. Staff in front-facing roles wear our logo uniform tops, for example. Clean is clean. But “professional, neat and friendly appearance” leaves room for individual style.
When I make the rounds at the SPCA and check in with staff, I might see a partially shaved head, purple hair, multiple piercings, a long beard or a man bun, and I definitely see spectacular tattoos. I’ve never been one for piercings or tattoos, for myself. Closest I came to a tattoo (outside of those from a Crackerjack box) was watching a college teammate getting the Looney Toon’s Tasmanian Devil cartoon inked on his cheek. Yes, that cheek! Not a visual you soon forget. Getting wild, for me, is skipping a day of shaving.
This is my take: None of these style choices matter to the animals, and I doubt they matter to our adoption, clinic or dog training class visitors (though we have staff in more traditional business functions and they find it important to look that part). Actually, a variety of hairdos and facial hair styles can be beneficial, especially in terms of assessing our dogs’ behaviors and previous socialization.
At the SPCA, we believe a person’s smile, compassion, knowledge, eye contact, confidence, listening skills, empathy and patience are what matters. We care about heart and hustle. We value creativity, flexibility, inclusivity and teamwork. My SPCA co-workers have all this and more. Drippy or dry, they know what’s important.
Now, if I had to get a tattoo… I’m thinking of Scooby-Doo's “SD” dog tag just below my collarbone since we share initials.