My story of becoming a hairstylist is pretty interesting. In my senior year of high school, I had applied colleges, went through the whole process that you're like supposed to do and got accepted to a lot of colleges that I was very proud to be accepted to. I guess I was raised rather traditionally in the sense that like, go to school, get good grades, go to a great college, get a good job and you know, live happily ever after. And I never really entertained anything that didn't a require college education. So I had been cutting hair all throughout high school on all of my friends and playing and just having a good time and I never actually thought about it as a career path because it was never brought up to me that it could be a career path. And my perspective was, there's $7 haircut salons in the town that I grew up in and then there was this one really nice salon that I had found my freshman year of high school and started going to and I loved it, it was the most amazing thing ever. But like that was it, you could either work in this small salon in this small town or you can work in an ever smaller salon in this small town. So it just never crossed my mind. Then I'm reading this article and I was just like, you gotta be kidding me, somebody is charging $800 for a haircut? That's crazy. And she's doing every celebrity and it was incredible. So I went home and I did a lot of research and I found out that she was not the only one and that, you know, she wasn't like a fluke situation and I decided right then and there, I was like that's what I wanna do. Like that's definitely what I wanna do. And I told my mom, I was like hey I'm not gonna go to college anymore, I'm gonna go to hair school and become a hairstylist and move out to Los Angeles. And that went over really well. Which it actually did though, my parents took it very very well. So I started looking into the process of what I would have to do in order to get myself on that path. So I'm at my salon in this small town in New Jersey and I'm talking with my stylist, and I was like hey, this is what I wanna do, I have no idea where to begin, it's not like this information is not readily available on the internet at all. So like what do I do? You're in the industry, you're the best hairstylist I've ever met, so what do I do? And she was like you have to go to Vidal Sassoon, hands down. So I went home and I did a bunch of research, found out that the only Sassoon academy in the country is in Santa Monica, and pretty much made up my mind that I was gonna go there. It's a nine month program in California, it's a nine to five job, so essentially you're there from nine to five and it's difficult to have a job outside of it. And so I needed, not only to cover the cost of tuition but I needed to cover my cost of living for nine months in Santa Monica, California which is not necessarily the easiest thing to do and I was very fortunate to have a family that supported me. Once you graduate from the cosmetology program at any school, you have to go and get your license. [Text on screen: Licensing requirements vary by state but most require the following: Be 16 years of age or older, have a high school diploma or GED, complete a state licensed cosmetology program, pass a written and/or practical exam] So it's a board certified license, so every state is gonna have a state board of cosmetology, so the California State Board of Cosmetology and Barbering. And you have to go and take this test, there's a written test and then there's a practical exam. So they train you all throughout school to get through that test. It's pretty simple, if you pay attention in school it's pretty simple, you'll get through it. And then after that you're licensed immediately on the spot and you're hireable. To get hired in a salon you essentially, you're gonna take your resume, which at that point in your career is probably very limited and/or next to nothing other than whatever school you went to. And you're gonna go around to different salons that you're interested in, I would suggest touring salons first, show them that you're interested in, you know, seeing if it's even a good fit for you before you just drop off your resume. Because every salon's not gonna be a good fit for you. So I was fortunate enough while I was in Sassoon to actually go around to a bunch of salons with a big group and we toured a bunch and we figured out, you know, everyone went down a different path but everyone was able to figure out like, oh this seems like a good fit for me or this seems like a good fit for me. And I would definitely suggest anyone who's at that point in this career to do, you wanna interview the team you're gonna work for just as much as they're gonna interview you. I went in to Sally Hershberger, dropped off my resume, was told that they're not currently hiring but that they would contact me back in the future if they ever were, and I was walking out to my car and I got a phone call. And so I picked it up and it was the manager and she was like hey, did you just drop off your resume? And I was like I did, she's like can you come back up for an interview? So I was like oh my god, this is the best day ever. And I ran back upstairs, sat down for an interview and then she had me, the interview went fantastic and then she had me come back in for a work trial which is something that's very common in this industry. Which essentially means that you're going to be scheduled for anywhere from a day to a week that you're gonna come back into the salon and shadow one of the assistants or apprentices at that salon. And it's pretty much them seeing how you work with the team, whether you're a good fit for the team and essentially what your work ethic is and how hard you hustle, especially in a city like Los Angeles. After I did my work trial, it just kind of never ended, I just kept coming back and kept coming back and four years later I was still there. When you become a hairstylist, you have a couple of different options. You can open your own salon, which some people choose to do, you can go and work, depending on what state you work in because every state has different laws but a lot of states allow booth renting, which means that you will come in to a salon location, they'll have stations set up and you pay rent essentially, a monthly rent for a station. And you're responsible for everything, you wanna bring clients in, you have to find those clients, you have to keep those clients, essentially they're just giving you a box to work out of. Or you can work in a salon that's commission based, which means you're part of a team, you're part of a culture, you're part of the entire business. And within that there's certain things that you can expect from the salon but there's also a lot of responsibility that you have. So any good salon business is going to run itself strategically which means they're gonna have some sort of system in place to determine how every client that walks through the door because of the marketing or sales techniques that the salon has done, they're gonna have a system in place to make sure that they send those clients to the stylists that are gonna keep them, right? So every salon is different but there's different things that will happen behind the scenes that's gonna track, you know, client retention rates. So when you're just starting out in the industry, in order to even like get into, or if you start out at a salon that is like a team environment and commission based salon, you're gonna have to essentially like earn your way for a little while, you're gonna have to prove yourself. That's gonna mean that you have to go out and sell yourself and bring clients in. So you are always a salesperson in this industry because every client that sits down, it is an opportunity to keep them but that doesn't insure that you will, so what things are you doing to make sure that you're keeping them? And that's the sales aspect of it, you're going to be making sure obviously that you have a clear understanding of what they want, they have a clear understanding of what they're gonna get because those two things don't always line up in our industry unfortunately. That they're actually happy when they walk out the door, that you put the right steps in place to make sure that they're gonna come back, that they're gonna come back as frequently as they need to to take care of it because at the end of the day while hair is very much aesthetic and just the way you look, it needs to be healthy, so there is a little bit of a doctoring part of it as well and making sure, you know, you can make somebody's hair look really good but that doesn't matter if it's falling out, right? If they don't have any hair left at the end of that experience. In my opinion, every step of the way before you're even actually dealing with a client, you're selling yourself. Whether you're out trying to meet new clients and bring them in, you have to show them why you're worth even coming to in the first place. Once they're in your chair, why are you worth staying with. Once they're out of your chair, why are you worth coming back to. Because everyone in the city, they're all competing for the same group of clients and obviously like there's different levels of salons but there's thousands of salons at every level. So at any given moment you're competing with an endless amount of competition and you have to constantly remind your clients why they need to come back to you and that's sales. So as a stylist, you're not very limited, it is so vast what you can do in this industry and it's really gonna depend on what you like and what's important to you. And what I mean by that is certain career paths as a stylist are going to keep you in a nine to five, which is amazing if that's important to you. Another career path could take you around the world and you could have, you know, no schedule and you could be off for three months and then you could work, you know, a year and a half straight on a series of different movies or photo shoots. As a stylist, you can do anything from working behind the chair to becoming a salon manager and a stylist to becoming a session stylist, which means that you're gonna be working on photo shoots sporadically. You can work on movie sets, you can become a spokesperson for a product line, you could become an educator, you could do a mixture of all of those things. It's pretty endless what the possibilities are, just going to matter what makes you happy. Ideally what I'd love to see for myself is I wanna see this company grow to a multi-location salon. Because the whole process has been so new to me and it's ever evolving, I'm not sure if I see myself owning it in 10 years, if I see it being sold and I'm so open to what that path is going to hold, that defining it is not necessarily something that I wanna do because learning everything I've learned along the way has just taught me like an endless amount of knowledge, like that I never thought that I would obtain. I could see myself still owning, you know, all of these salons and continuously growing them. I could see it being sold to a bigger corporation and you know, whether staying on like the team and you know, still working within the salon locations, I could see myself starting another company because if there's one thing that I've learned through this whole process it's how much I really like building something. I love that beginning process, I love working with people, I love figuring out what gets people going and you know, really building a strong team and I think that the most incredible time to do that is in the beginning, so I do have a love for like starting a company. So it's hard to define, I tend to find myself focused more on what I can get done in the next year or two years. I know that in 10 years I wanna be happy, I wanna be financially secure and I wanna be able to have the freedom to decide what I wanna do and I'm okay if that changes. So my advice to anyone who wants to become a hairstylist would be to figure out which path you wanna go down and then you're gonna have to go to hair school. I would suggest going to Sassoon or Toni and Guy if it's even within the realm of possibility for you because the education that you're gonna get there is unsurpassed by none, or surpassed by none. It's phenomenal, it's gonna set you up for success, it's value, it's deeply valued within the industry, so any salon you walk into anywhere in the country is going to know that you have something of value to bring to the team, without even having to hear you speak or getting to know you at all, they know that you have some thing valuable. So if that's at all a possibility for you, I would say do anything and everything you could to make that happen. And then after that, I would say you really just have to figure out what's important to you because as soon as you do that and you have your license, you can do anything you like.
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