How I got good.

Posted in Answers on August 23rd, 2011 by Reagan

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I recently got an email with a question that really had me thinking. She was wondering how I “got so good at hair”. This question had me experience severe flattery syndrome.

But more important than posting this question so that you can all see that someone thinks I’m “so good at hair”, I thought it was actually a really good question to answer for you aspiring stylists. It could even be good for someone struggling in any career field.

Here it goes:

I started out beauty school interested in hair, but not really having any idea of where it could take me. I was in for a rude awakening when I graduated and I didn’t have a full clientele immediately. I spent a long time just doing hair on the side because I wasn’t making enough money, and I had to rely on waitressing as my real source of income. When I moved to NYC, I found out that you can’t work on the cutting floor without assisting experience. I thought I knew so much about hair, but in truth, I wasn’t sectioning the hair off right, I didn’t know the difference between a stationary blade and a moving blade, and there was so much terminology I had never even heard of when it came to hair. I was embarrassed and it took a lot of pride swallowing to realize that beauty school doesn’t count as experience in NYC. Most people assist for 2 or 3 years before getting on the floor.

I chose cutting/styling over color. I still can’t really explain why I did, but I’m glad. There is definitely more money in color, but cutting/styling feels a little more creative. I worked my ass off. I cried, I messed up a few haircuts, I got laughed at by my teacher and I worked terrible long hours handing people hairspray and shampooing clients for the real stylists. I spent so much time leaning over shampoo bowls, that I had to get weekly back adjustments by a chiropractor. But I also learned a lot. I learned which blade was my moving blade, how to section off for different haircuts/head shapes and most importantly I was in an environment that challenged and inspired me.

I still feel insecure sometimes when I watch some of the stylists I work with. I wonder if I’m that good or if I’m that professional, but I think that a little of that is important in any work environment. What if I didn’t feel slightly insecure? I’d go to work every day bored, not trying new things, not looking for constant inspiration. I don’t feel afraid of looking stupid, if a stylist I work with knows more than me, I ask them to teach me. We all have our own styles and we can all learn something from each other. I look through magazines, I play with my friends’ hair, I watch old movies and use what I already know to come up with new things.

Something I’ve learned over the years….especially since I spent over three years in a salon that didn’t challenge or inspire me…is that your talent/creativity will become dormant if you aren’t pushing yourself. If you go to work and cut/blow, cut/blow, cut/blow, without any variation, you will never grow. If you have an extra 15 minutes with client, ask if you can try a new bun or braid on them that you saw in a magazine. You’ll find out that hair is the most fun think that ever was.

18 Responses to “How I got good.”

  1. Alexandria Says:

    I’d love to give you free reign over my hair one day. Maybe if I’m in NYC sometime soon I’ll hit you up :) You can try out any braids or buns you want on my little head.

  2. tammy Says:

    This is good and inspiring.

  3. maura Says:

    thank you for posting this! I am an aspiring hairdresser (starting school this winter) and this really helped boost my confidence! I mean, if you (creative, talented and beautiful) feel insecure about your hair ability’s than maybe I am better than I ever imagined!
    Love your blog!

  4. Foodie Says:

    Very well-put! No matter what our profession, we all need to feel insecure, competitive and inspired, and to make the effort to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. kacy Says:

    Awesome, thank you! I’m finishing up assisting right now, and am nervous and so so excited! Your words helped for sure!

  6. fiona Says:

    thank you. :)

  7. Emily Says:

    This was a great post! Of course, I am always a huge fan of whatever you post on your blog. What I love most is how honest you are about how you felt after finishing school. My partner and I just opened a cosmetology school this past January and a lot of the goals we have for our academy fall right into line with what you said you felt lacking after you finished. That is gratifying to know that we weren’t the only ones feeling that way, maybe we can make a difference on the educational end of things. It is true, that you just have to work your but off after graduation to gain that on-the-job experience, school really can’t give you that. Thank you for highlighting just how much work this industry is, and how truly rewarding it can be when you put time and energy into yourself as a stylist. Love you and your blog and plan on HDOF as a tool in our classroom. :)

  8. ash Says:

    such good timing…i’ve been doing hair for almost 4 years now and im in a little bit of a boredom rut. good to get a reminder about going after what we want.

  9. Amanda Blair Says:

    Great advice and for all types of jobs as well. I have to say that I think one of the things that makes you so great at what you do is what you just described. You have confidence in yourself but you know that there is always room to grow/learn/be better and you are humble enough to allow others to help you. I think it’s a wonderful trait to have :)

  10. lisa Says:

    when I finished school, I looked for an assisting job. I KNEW I did not really know what I was doing, school teaches you state laws, health and safety and very basic “rules” Any decent hair stylist started as an assistant learning real world applications. I wish I could do nothing but color, I adore it. I have recently had to get out of the business after a lifetime ( I am 48), and I do miss the creativity, and the ability to get a hair cut whenever I want one!!! but the job I do know is a wonderfully fulfilling job.
    So I guess the point is, getting good at hair is practice practice practice, and NOT letting fear stop you! love the blog!

  11. MelanieBaker Says:

    Thanks for being so inspiring and wonderful! love u!

  12. Carol Says:

    This is good advice. Unless you try new things, you will get stale at your job and your life. My question is how did you get so wise so young?

  13. Allison W Says:

    You are so good! And you did a lot of work to get good! I love your blog and your tutorials, I have learned so much! I have tried very hard to be more creative with my hair, and you have inspired it. :)

  14. ChakeciaDoesHair Says:

    I loved this post! I graduate 6 months ago and I was one of the few who didn’t do hair, but my own, prior to attending. I have NO client and I have to get a job ASAP to support myself. I keep telling myself it could take years to get the where I feel like I should be but its hard when ppl I went to school with are already out there working. But I want to be a great stylist not mediocre.. not “ok”.. GREAT. Good things come to those why wait.. thanks for this! (=

  15. Abby Adams Says:

    Um… I love this post. You’ll never get “good” at something if you aren’t willing to bust your a** everyday and constantly challenge yourself. Good for you.

    I love hair but would never be brave enough to cut someone’s hair. I think cutting/styling is a much braver choice than coloring. Nothing is worse than a bad haircut. Nothing.

    Now could you just move to UT and become my stylist? I’m sure SLC is just as cool as NYC and my little one with the middle name Jane can be friends with your little one with the middle name Jane. Awesome.

  16. Krystin Says:

    Reading this made me feel so much better.. Thank you. You are are awesome and I am now addicted to this blog! So glad I came across this. :)

  17. Maura Says:

    Out of curiosity, which hair school did you go to?

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