Sherri was a young, talented but somewhat naïve 18-year-old when she graduated beauty school many years ago. No one told her about the importance of selecting the right salon and how it could impact her career. So with no direction from a seasoned stylist and no internet to search for answers (because it wasn’t available back then!), she started working at a no-appointment salon.
Note: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this type of salon. Obviously the business model is successful because it’s been around for a very long time, and it’s a great fit for some stylists.
For Sherri, this wasn’t a good fit. She loved cutting hair and she was good at it, but she didn’t enjoy the atmosphere or the routine. Wet. Cut. Repeat. There wasn’t much variety. There weren’t any clientele-building opportunities, and there wasn’t anyone available to inspire her and teach her new techniques. She felt stuck. And disillusioned.
Change Is Good, Right?
You probably figured out the Sherri described above is me. That was my first experience as a licensed hairstylist, and I admit I was relieved when my (now ex) husband and I were relocated to a small town in Missouri. The change would be good. I anticipated a fresh start.
In life, our career paths can change, either by choice or by circumstance.
For me, leaving the no-appointment salon and settling into a new salon in Missouri felt like a gift by circumstance. I was eager to build a solid clientele and provide the best haircuts these Missourians have ever had!
And then we arrived.
I quickly discovered that military families were not well received by the residents in this new town. And much to my dismay, I learned there weren’t any nice salons for me to settle into.
I had such high hopes of elevating my hairstyling career only to find myself flipping burgers at Wendy’s. That was not at all what I had in mind at all.
What Are You Made Of?
We all assume that our career success will be a steady uphill trajectory with minor hiccups along the way. But our choices, as well as our life circumstances, can set us back in a major way. And that is precisely when we find out what we’re made of.
Do you have a set plan for your career success? Do you have a support system in place that will keep you focused on your career goals so you won’t get derailed when life circumstances happen?
Honestly, while I was busy making French fries and Frosty’s for the very people who didn’t want me in their town, it would have been so easy for me to feel sorry for myself and just give up on my goal of becoming a top hairstylist.
I was living in a small town without anyone to encourage me or offer some much needed guidance. I felt so alone.
And that kind of isolation can drive our thoughts into despair causing us to lose sight of our dreams.
Don’t Give Up
My first glimmer of hope was when I discovered that my landlord, Cookie (yes, that was actually his name), was opening a salon in a new strip mall that was within walking distance from where we lived, and he offered me a job.
That gave me the spark I needed to keep going until the salon was open. I couldn’t wait to dust off my scissors and start creating beautiful hairstyles again. And then I discovered that the new “salon” was actually a barbershop…and a tobacco shop.
Oh the joy of life’s ups and downs! Yes, it was another life circumstance that rattled me, but I didn’t allow it to break me. Admittedly, I was miserable but all was not lost. I learned a lot about tobacco and that men love to gossip way more than women do!
It Takes Courage
Every work day as I walked to the barbershop, I passed by a cool new salon that was being built in the same strip mall. I really wanted to stop in and check it out but I was afraid. I wasn’t sure if I could handle another disappointment so I let the voices in my head and my insecurities hold me back.
Then one day my (now ex) husband came to the barbershop to take me to lunch (or so I thought) but instead, he took me to that new salon and encouraged me to go inside and said to me, “That’s where you belong.” It took some courage but I did it. As soon as I opened the door, one of the owners, Michael, warmly welcomed me and said, “We were wondering when you would finally come in!” I found out later that they saw me walking to the barbershop each day and hoped I would inquire about working there.
That day was the most important day of my career. I was hired and they mentored me and taught me how to become the successful stylist I dreamed of becoming. Michael shared his amazing haircutting techniques and Randy, the other owner, shared his hair color expertise.
Was that the only mentoring and training I needed to elevate my career to the level it is now? No. There were MANY obstacles and learning opportunities I had yet to navigate. But being mentored by two amazing and caring men who saw my potential and pushed me to refine my skills was an essential game-changing first step.
One of my mentors taught me how to mentor.
As I looked back, I realize each disappointment strengthened my resolve that I truly wanted to be a hairstylist. And not just any ordinary hairstylist but a top hairstylist. A six-figure hairstylist. And I am!
Who – What - Where
I never would have become a confident stylist without being mentored and working around other stylists who were striving to be the best. Their influence literally changed me.
And when I used that confidence and clarity to identify exactly what I wanted to achieve as a stylist, it changed the direction of my career.
These were my top three laser-focused goals:
1. I established who I wanted to work on and who I wanted to be known for in my industry.
2. I determined what hair service I wanted to specialize in. For example, I fell in love with haircutting, and I wanted to become the best at haircutting that I could possible be. That is the service I wanted to have on my books every day.
3. I specified where I wanted to work and what type of salon I wanted to work in. I made sure the salon aligned with my goals and provided the best opportunities for growth.
Do you know what your specific “who, what and where” goals are?
Other People’s Experience
Does any of this resonate with you?
You might be thinking that because my career started a long ago that this doesn’t really apply to you in today’s world. Granted, there are a lot of changes like technology, new trends, and improved tools and products. But in reality, the process of building a successful hairstyling career is the same now as it was then.
You’ll experience many of the same choices and make some bad decisions along the way. You’ll be faced with obstacles and circumstances beyond your control that you’ll be forced to navigate. And you’ll feel the same fears and doubts, not to mention you’ll experience a sliding scale in your confidence level all throughout your career.
But the good news is – you don’t have to take this journey alone.
In fact, my number one success tip is that you find someone who has already achieved mastery in the area you want to excel in and model your behavior based on their experience.
I will be forever grateful to the people who believed in me!
It’s amazing the impact one person can have on your life, just from the influence of how they see you and what they see in you that you may not even see in yourself.
Mentors light the way!
What are your thoughts about working with a mentor?
On Point Hair Academy and my Own Your Chair program were created for stylists like you who need just a little help (or a lot of help) in different areas of their hairstyling business. You don’t have to take this hairstyling journey alone.
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Remember, your work is not about you. Your work is about how you make your clients feel.