Starting today, we’re going to be running a series aimed specifically at aspiring hairstylists and pro groomers. Whether you’re in training, considering a career in the craft or a super-enthusiastic consumer who wants to take their passion to the next level, you’re sure to find something useful in this column. We’ll be diving into all sorts of stuff, from essential principles of styling and professional training versus self-taught learning to carving out a successful career as a stylist and building your own brand.
If I were to deconstruct everything we’ll be discussing in the coming posts and break it down to one non-negotiable rule, it is this: you need to really want to be a hairstylist. Everything else can be learned, adapted and worked around. But if you’re not passionate about the craft, you’re not going to get far. The same can be said for many other industries, but it bears mentioning here. When you’re going to be on your feet for hours on an end and making it big as a pro hairstylist involves making friends with constant jet lag, you need to know that you really really want this.
If you’re ready to commit, hairstyling can be the most exciting, rewarding and satisfying work ever. First, there’s the work itself: if you’re a creative person, nothing is as fulfilling as working with your hands and imagination to build something beautiful. Secondly, it’s a career that brings you a lot more than just the work itself: you meet people from all over the world, you travel, there’s no end to the kinds of projects you can work on and you’re exposed to so many different kinds of opportunities and experiences that at the end of the day, hairstyling isn’t just about working with hair but about living life to the fullest.
Since we’re only just starting out here today, we’ll be talking about some of the essentials of hairstyling. Here are some fantastic tips to help you get started with a career in hairstyling.
1. Know Your Reasons
Figure out what it is that draws you to hairstyling. Is it creating art? Is it an interest in the beauty industry? Do you like working with people? Do you enjoy making people feel great about themselves? Is there a particular niche that fascinates you for some reason; say, for instance, bridal hairstyling? Did someone inspire you greatly? Do you hope to contribute something to the craft and beyond? Knowing why you want to become a hairstylist will give you direction and motivation. It’ll help you get through the hard days- and trust me, there will be many.
2. Toughen Up
The beauty industry is unbelievably competitive. If you’re going to allow every harsh word or weird look get to you, you’re not going to last long. Appreciate constructive criticism, seek professional advice and lose the rest. Don’t let emotions get in the way of work- yours or others’. Nip insecurities in the bud.
3. Tune The Negativity Out
There are going to be a lot of people who’ll end up discouraging you- intentionally and otherwise. Some will not take the industry seriously and others won’t take you seriously. The notion might seem harmless typed up on a blog, but such feedback can destroy careers before they begin. Learn to shut all the negative voices out. You want to do this? Do it. Remember, every single celebrity hairstylist and hair guru started out as just another enthusiast.
4. Respect Money
Be straightforward about money. Respect its value in your life. You might be an artist but artists have to eat and live too. And if you’re good at what you do, you work hard and you deliver, you deserve to live well. Don’t be awkward about money, do undervalue your service and don’t allow anyone else to dictate terms. A lot of people are going to tell you things along the lines of, “But it’s just hair”. It’s not. It’s a mood, an identity, a lifestyle and an art. If art in frames can go for millions, art on people deserves its due as well.
Be fair in your pricing; it will increase as you build your brand and clientele, but keeping it honest always pans out better in the long run. There’s nothing shameful about wanting to be successful. If you want it, earn it. Be proud of it.
5. Prioritize Training.
I’ll be blogging in detail on various aspects of professional hairstylist training later, but regardless of the kind of training you choose, one thing’s for sure: you need to train to be a good hairstylist. Whether you go to hairstyling school, do cosmetology and hair courses, apprentice under a professional hairstylist, intern at salons or practice long hours in front of the mirror, at the end of the day you’ve got to put a whole lot of study and work into it. Like everything else, hairstyling gets easier and better with repeated effort and you’ll soon develop your own signature styles. If you want to become a successful hairstylist, you need to learn and keep on learning. There’s simply no shortcut to style city.
6. Build What You Know
It can be tempting to try your hand at a bunch of associated projects and niches in the beauty industry, given how attractive and inspiring everything is. But remember that bit about being the jack of all trades and master of none? Figure out what you know and love and are good at, and then stick to it. Don’t get stagnant and complacent- you must still keep learning, growing and improving within your niche. But do pick a niche and work hard at it. If hair’s your thing, prioritize it. Don’t get sucked into makeup or clothing or accessories. Or at least not yet. Master one trade at a time, if you must diversify.
As your hairstyling career expands, figure out your own unique brand of styling. Maybe you’d like to concentrate on women’s hairstyling or men’s grooming specifically? Perhaps retro-inspired hair is your thing? Do you feel drawn to celebrity hairstyling or runway hairstyling particularly? Or do you want to focus on the bridal hairstyling industry?
Carve out a specific place for yourself in the industry and give it your all. In this market, people pay for specialists.
I hope these tips prove useful. In the coming posts on the theme we’ll take an exhaustive look at all the most popular concerns of aspiring hairstylists and everything you need to know about making it big in the industry. Write to me with your questions and keep learning!