N.J. anesthesiologist makes hairpin turn and opens beauty salon

A desire for something completely different leads to the business of hair and makeup.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted April 23, 2012

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Thomas Bering, MD

Specialty: Anesthesiology

Location: Hoboken, N.J.

Company: Rebellations Hair & Beauty Studio (link).

Annual revenue: $400,000

Why he started the business: After more than 25 years as an anesthesiologist, Dr. Bering was looking for something new. He met a stylist who planned to open her own hair salon, and he decided to invest. That partnership didn’t work out, but he liked the salon business and opened his own shop. He leased a 1,500-square-foot space in a hotel built in the 1920s. He worked with salon designers, bought furniture and hired stylists, some of whom now manage the business.

The salon offers hair styling, makeup application and facials and was one of five finalists for the Salon Design of the Year Award in the 2011 North American Hairstyling Awards run by the Professional Beauty Assn. The event, held annually in Las Vegas, is the Academy Awards of the industry. Dr. Bering got to walk down a red carpet, and Rebellations came in second.

“The beauty industry has enabled me to add something totally outside the box to my life experience,” said Dr. Bering, who primarily fills locum tenens assignments in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Why he still practices: “I like it more than ever because it’s safer, especially for the very elderly. Indeed, for those who share my focus on geriatric anesthesia, these feel like the glory days. I actually think less often of full retirement as time goes on ­— unless the beauty industry becomes even more fun than it seems already.”

Words of wisdom: “If you truly hunger to become proficient in something outside your comfort zone, you need to retain the humility to shrug off or laugh about the ego wounds that come with the inevitable mistakes you’ll make. You can sometimes far surpass your expectations.”

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