Advice for young hairdressers
September 25, 2007
As I sent off the interns last week, I gave them my best advice on how to be successful in this industry.
1. Find a salon where you can stay. It is better to spend a little time job hunting than to jump into a place that isn’t a good fit. Every time you move salons you will lose about half of your clients. Yes, really.
2. Show up on time (and on time means early!) every day. You can’t build a client base if people can’t count on you.
3. Keep detailed records of every client visit. What did you do to them? What chemicals did you use? What product did they purchase? How did it turn out? Use a notebook, or my personal favorite: a PDA.
4. Be honest with the IRS and every other governing body. Declare (and pay taxes on) all your income including tips.
5. Continue learning. There is more to learn after you leave beauty school than what you learned there.
6. Watch successful hairdressers. See what they do. Emulate them. When they are away from the clients, ask them questions about their techniques and philosophy.
7. If you are at all interested in being a good haircolorist, order the American Board of Certified Haircolorist’s study portfolio. Reading it will make you a better colorist, even if you never want to take the exam.
8. Know when to say “no.” “No” is not a dirty word. If a client wants something that shouldn’t be done or is outside your abilities, don’t say you can do it! Nothing sucks worse than getting in over your head and having to fix something you have screwed up. (Example: Client has been using black home haircolor for 10 years and now wants to be blonde. There is no color you can do that will make her blonde. Solution: Cut off as much hair as she will allow, then keep it short until the previous color has grown out. Then she can be whatever color she wants!)
9. Subscribe to all the trade magazines and web sites. There is no shortage of cheap and free education and inspiration available to you. If you can’t find them, leave me a comment and I will help you out.
10. Keep the drama out of the salon. Your clients care more about what you know and how you are going to use that knowledge to help them than they do about what club you went to last night and how hung-over you are. Don’t party on a school night. If you like to go out, please so do us all the favor of saving it for days when you are not on the schedule for the next day! It’s tacky to have a self-inflicted illness on someone else’s time.
11. Do the housework. It takes a lot of back-stage work to keep the floor of the salon running smoothly. Do the dishes, clean the color bowls, sort out the old magazines and tear the foils. Make yourself useful. Trust me, the day goes by faster when you stay busy.
12. Offer to help a stylist who is running behind schedule. People appreciate the help, and it helps you to become part of the team.
13. Ask for help if you need it, but don’t be needy. Do what you can on your own, but if you really need help, it’s better to ask for assistance than to screw up!