So I’ve been in the hair biz for almost a decade, sounds crazy right? When I tell some of my clients, they’re shocked and astonished and flatter me with saying, “So what, you were like twelve when you started?” Tip to those in the beauty industry: take as many compliments as possible (don’t go fishing for them either) and thank your lucky stars because you know you’ll eventually get saggy, right? Anyway, aside from defying the aging process and working in an industry where no one seems to get past twenty-five, the beauty scene can actually be a lot of fun and rewarding. But before all the fame and fortune, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Here are my confessions as a stylist, how I came to be, where I’m heading now, and what advice I can give to those in the field.
When I started my hair journey I actually fell into it. Hair was not my passion and I didn’t care to touch anyone else’s – gross. Believe it or not, I was a Fed Ex driver before my hair days. And not just any Fed Ex driver, I drove the biggest truck in the station. Well, I was driving my big rig for a while when I hit a pivotal moment in my life and thought, “What am I doing with my life? And can’t I just win the lottery?” It was crazy. I just woke up and realized that I wanted to find something that I can be creative with. So that’s when I ended up in Warrenton, Oregon discovering my passion.
For those who are not Portland natives, or have not traveled to the beautiful Oregon coast, Warrenton is smack in the middle of Seaside and Astoria. Well, I was living in Beaverton at the time driving my Fed Ex truck when my boyfriend got an opportunity for an apprenticeship program down at the coast. So I was like, “Yippie, (dry sarcasm) my boyfriend gets to work towards his career and I can… work at a coffee shop that closes at six?” By the way I totally love you, my coffee people, because my life would not be functional without you, but this is where the pivotal moment happened.
Because I didn’t want to be a barista, waitress, or hotel clerk, my boyfriend suggested I attend the local beauty school in Astoria. I gave him several dirty looks and said, “Are you kidding me. Beauty school is for single moms and dummies that can’t cut it at a four-year university!” Okay, so that was my early twenty-something, frontal lobe not developed, and “I obviously know everything there is to know” attitude. Thank god I did not start spouting that out to randoms because I officially became a Paul Mitchell student within a week.
Side note: I taught at a beauty school for a couple of years and I can tell you right now, like I told my students, beauty school will be the hardest part of your career. It’s like high school, but intensified because you have twenty, thirty, forty, and even fifty year olds in the mix who have all different backgrounds and histories. You are with students who really want a career and those who really don’t (which is completely apparent). And the difference between you and a PSU student is that you get to see your schoolmates lovely faces five to eight hours a day, five days a week – rather than the latter who maybe see their super buddy friends two to three hours, one to two days a week. Beauty school students, I feel for you.
Well anyway, besides being a pain in the ass to my teachers (Miss Sylvia, I am so, so sorry I was a complete asshole) I actually started to enjoy it. People think hair cutting and coloring is easy. You get these totally awesome and wonderful clients who know your self-worth and know that you are not a magician. You also get the, “Yeah I want a bob thing, but not too long in the front or too short in the back. I’d like to have a ton of volume on top, but I’m not willing to cut any layers, and I don’t like using product. Oh yeah, I’d also like to bleach out my black-box-dyed hair (I didn’t even tell you that I used box-dye) to a platinum, can you do that today?” We have all been there.
What really sparked my passion is for one, I’m definitely not a desk person. Two, it takes skills to learn the angles of a haircut or formulations of a color. To see a person’s facial features, skin tones, natural hair fall, length and thickness of the hair, and to mix that all in a bag and come up with a hairstyle that looks great and your clients will love – that can be a big nail biter. On top of all that you not only have to create this fantastic masterpiece that your client will absolutely adore, but you also must have the PEOPLE SKILLS. Listen up students, you will not make it in the industry if you don’t know how to speak your client’s language.
So in conclusion to The Confessions of a Hairstylist: Part One, and what you can take from this, is you don’t know everything in your 20’s. Don’t be judgmental, stop being a brat to your teachers, and know how to talk to people.
For part two I will discuss the good and bad about student life, what beauty school is all about, and how the hell I got out of Warrenton. So peace, love, and everything in between. See you next time!