Golden Gourdine

Golden GourdineThe act of helping others awakens the human spirit. I recognized that truth even as a child, when I began volunteering at nonprofits in my hometown of Davis, California. I was raised by a single African-American mother who supported us through her work as a poet. My childhood was defined by love, laughter, respect—and beauty products! Our bathroom resembled a salon, as Mom continuously searched for elixirs that could tame her curls, add moisture and stop breakage. I grew up swapping how-to hair techniques with my best friend, and got my own tresses colored when I was 23. I couldn’t believe how the added dimension made my eyes pop. I stared at my stylist and said, “You are an artist.” That’s when I knew I wanted to be part of this industry. Transforming people’s physical appearance is another form of giving, because when we look good, we feel good.

After studying marketing and communications, I worked as a tradeshow manager for a global footwear company. In 2007, the start of the recession, I showed up one morning and found our office doors locked. My company had folded overnight. On a whim, I sent my résumé to a friend at John Paul Mitchell Systems, and scored a gig in the show and event department! That was a dream come true. Apart from growing up with JPMS products, I knew this iconic company would never suddenly dissolve. Some employees have been here 25 years, because we truly operate according to the Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated. As Corporate Culture Ambassador, I lead health, wellness and culture programs within the company. I also represent our team at humanitarian, environmental and ecological engagements around the world, which involves lots of travel. I’ve done everything from collaborating with the Challenged Athletes Foundation to awarding a disabled sports pro an Ed McMahon-sized check for being an incredible inspiration, to strapping on a beekeeper’s suit to learn about the safe relocation of these important insects. This summer I spent two days in Montauk, working with A Walk On Water, which provides surf therapy to special needs kids. They started the day frightened or withdrawn, then through the healing powers of love and the ocean, emerged smiling. Such transformations are miraculous to behold. —AS TOLD TO FRANCESCA MOISIN

More in Brands