So you want to be a hairstylist. That is adorable. As someone in the industry I can tell you that on some level, you have what it takes to do hair. Four year olds cut their own hair all of the time, how hard can be right?! If you are like 90% of the girls I went to beauty school with you probably imagine your life as a successful stylist to rival that of an Orange County housewife but with more jewelry shaped like hair shears. Young stylists are notorious for saying that they chose this profession because of the freedom it allows them to make their own schedule. Well, sweet cheeks, that is only a fraction of what this job entails and that is why only ONE PERCENT of people who start this career stay in it. Here is the low down.
“I want to do hair because I am bad at math.”
Woah, sister (that “sister” reference is not gender specific by any standards)! You are way off base here. Being a stylist means that you are knees deep in math all day long. As a colorist you will measure color, create formulas, and count out processing times in your noggin. When you cut hair you will need to be familiar with geometry and visual measurements. If you are blessed enough to be an independent contractor you will also need to possess the skills of a CPA and financial consultant. Brush off that algebra book, my love. You are going to need it.
“I have been doing hair for years.”
Curling prom hair in your mom’s bathroom does not qualify you for this field. There is nothing more off-putting than a know it all new stylist. Successful stylists know that there is never ever a cap to what can be learned in our profession and furthermore, they hunger to be taught even years into their craft. I know plenty of stylists that have been working for years that still attend classes and watch DVDs at home to keep fresh and progress with what we do. You may know your way around a box of Feria but you will always have a TON to learn about all of the different avenues in the beauty industry. Remember, just because your mom says you do great hair doesn’t mean much. She is the same lady that cheered for you for a year straight every time you went potty in a toilet.
“I want to do hair because I am an artist.”
Comparing hair stylists to an artist is fair on many levels but there is one major difference. Being a stylist is like being an artist that ONLY does commissioned pieces. You will rarely have free reign over what type of “art” you will do on a daily basis and your canvas may not always be ideal. You will have to learn how to make a beautiful piece out of mixed medium and even if you KNOW a wall would look better red, the owner might choose to keep it beige for an indefinite amount of time. This life of artistry is about making the buyer happy, not feeding your need to do what you want. Keep in mind that this is one of the most intimate jobs on the market. You will gain so much by keeping your guest’s desires at the front of your mind.
“I want to do hair so I can work when I want.”
Being successful in this industry requires an insane amount of work. The top stylists I know have had to and continue to work hard for their business. Being able to make your own schedule means that you have the ultimate control over how well you do financially. Want to make some serious money? Work your butt of for it. Be present and willing to actually WORK. Ridiculously successful stylists all have one thing in common, they never lose the assistant’s heart deep inside of them. I talked to a stylist this week that had multiple pots on the burner in our industry and we shook our head at the new breed of stylists coming out of school. The major difference between the “old school” of working in this industry and the “new school” is that of a sense of entitlement. No one on this earth is going to hand you a clientele. Be willing to get through the growing pains in this industry before you expect to see the fruit of it.
So you still want to be a hairstylist? DO IT! Make the most of this profession, don’t let anything in this world get in your way! Be humble, be willing to take chances! What no one tells you is that the days that you grow in this industry are some of the toughest in your life. I learned more about how to be the stylist that I am on the days that I was corrected, on days that I listened to the guidance of people who knew more than I did. Those break through days may not have been glamorous but they were so necessary and now I am grateful for them. Seven years later, being a stylist is the only career I can imagine having. You are only limited by yourself in this field. Make magic happen!