If you’re looking for the beautyBOUTIQUE manager at the Yonge & Eglinton location of Shoppers Drug Mart, chances are you’ll have to get in line. “The girls who work with me always joke that when they try to help a customer, they’ll hear, ‘No I’m waiting for Shirley,’” she says.
Joking aside, it’s practically a given that on Senior’s Day, there will be a lineup of customers seeking Shirley’s beauty expertise, which she’s been perfecting for 25 years with the company. “I love what I do,” she enthuses. “I’ve never seen myself sitting at a desk behind a computer—I think I would go crazy. I like interacting with people.”
And people like interacting with her. One particular customer was so blown away by Shirley’s service that she wrote several letters applauding it. “I had an elderly lady come in whose face was full of bruises due to a fall on some ice,” Shirley recalls. “She had a black-tie event to attend and was just looking for some concealer, so I showed her some Cover FX products. She was going to purchase the products and leave, but I told her, ‘You know, I’ll do them better for you. If you come back, I’ll do the application and you can just go to your event.’” Soon after, the customer fired off letters of appreciation to Shoppers Drug Mart’s head office, as well as the associate-owner of Shirley’s store, and Cover FX.
It’s this personal yet professional attitude that Shirley believes brings customers back time and time again. “A customer can feel when you’re being sincere. I just try to sell them what they need, not what I think they need,” she says.
Shirley also looks for the personal/professional mix in potential employees. “I usually hire people based on attitude, because you have to have a certain personality to work in retail. You have to come across as friendly and really enjoy what you’re doing.”
Shirley’s passion for her job is bolstered by the fact that it allows her to exercise her creativity. Whether it’s applying makeup, building displays or coming up with new ideas for in-store events, there’s always an opportunity to put her imagination to good use. “Everybody has problems, but you come in here and you can step away from all of that,” she says. “It’s kind of like a little fantasyland. You can just forget about your worries and stresses. Makeup is meant to be fun.”
While Shirley finds no shortage of inspiration in the beauty world, she expresses particular admiration for a fellow Canadian, makeup entrepreneur Lise Watier, whom she met last year. “She’s an amazing woman who has become very successful,” Shirley says, “and this year she’ll be receiving the Order of Canada.” Shirley also points out the great work being done by the Lise Watier Foundation, a charity that empowers women and girls in need of financial assistance and a supportive environment. “We sell a Lise Watier lip gloss and lipstick for which 100 per cent of the proceeds go to the charity.”
With such a strong drive to help others, it’s no wonder Shirley has her own fan base. But she insists she’s only doing her job. “I just like making people feel good.”