1. Pick the school that’s the best fit for you.
Picking the school that best fits you and your needs is vital. Do your research! Look into each school in your area, this includes their website, social media, blogs, and alumni. Tour every school as well. While you can get a good idea of what a school is like from their online presence, you can’t beat that up close, personal experience. At your tour, meet as many students and educators as you can. You’re going to be spending the next several months with them, so make sure they’ll be a good fit for you. When it comes down to it, picking your school is one of the most important first steps to success.
2. Pick the program that teaches you the best, most applicable skills.
Most schools will offer more than one program. For example, at Academy of Hair Design, we have five different programs for students to choose from. Each program will equip you with different skill sets and knowledge. There are two main questions you need to ask yourself when choosing your program.
What things do you enjoy doing? If you love all things makeup and skincare, then esthetics might be the program for you. Many potential students come in thinking they want to pursue cosmetology when in reality their interests lie in nails or makeup. When choosing your program, you’re choosing your career, so you want to pick something you’re going to enjoy doing each day.
The second question you should ask is, what services do I want to provide my clients? If you want to offer a wide variety of services, a program like cosmetology might be best for you. While you’ll mostly learn hair-related skills, you’ll also learn manicures and pedicures as well as basic facials and waxing services. We advise all of our potential students to find a balance between what you like to do, and what your clients are going to want from you.
3. Attend classes in your desired program and learn everything you can.
Once you’ve chosen your school and your program, the next step is to attend classes and LEARN! Depending on the state you live in and your chosen program, you probably only have about a year (or less) to learn everything you can. One of the most important things you can do is just show up to every class. Not just because you are required to attend the set number of hours for your program, but because you want to be successful. That means building a strong foundation of knowledge on theory and practicing whenever you get the chance. As our own education director, Shannan Samuels says, “practice makes perfect and perfect makes money!” The more services you can offer, the more opportunities you have to make money.
4. Promote your brand on social media.
In today’s market, a strong social media presence is a job requirement. While most of us have personal social pages, you want to have a separate business page where you showcase your work and promote yourself. Your social pages are also a great place to build your portfolio. Potential employers and clients alike will want to see samples of your work. Your Facebook and Instagram pages should feel like you. While you need to maintain a certain level of professionalism, have fun with personalizing your brand. A positive media presence can make or break you. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your balayage is, if no one knows about it you won’t make money.
Reviews are another important aspect of your media presence. 51% of consumers will select a local business if it has positive reviews. Getting your clients to leave reviews on your Facebook, Yelp, and Google pages is SO important to the success of your business. Always respond to any reviews you receive, positive or negative. This shows that you genuinely care about what your clients are saying and that you are actively striving to be the best you can be.
5. Practice for your state board exams whenever you get the chance.
The school you choose should have state board prep built into their curriculum. For example, at AOHD, we conduct what we refer to as “mock boards.” Educators set up a scenario much like the state exam and walk our students through every step of the test. We go through this process many times before graduation so that our students are 100% ready. Whenever you are deciding what school to attend, it’s a good idea to ask how they prepare you for the exams and what the school’s first-time pass rate is. Once you’re in school, practice, practice, practice! You can never be too prepared.
6. After graduation, take advantage of continuing education classes.
We like to say, “learners are earners” in this industry. If you’re not keeping up with the latest trends, you’re missing out on clientele. With an ever-changing industry like this one, you must be willing to change and adapt along with it. When your clients see the newest trend on Instagram or Pinterest, they are going to expect that their stylist can recreate it. As a professional, you should always be looking to learn more and be better.
7. Be flexible for your clients.
Just like 90% of us, your clients have busy lives! Between work, school, and children it’s a wonder we have time to color our hair at all. Fortunately, we make time for what’s important-self care. Remember when setting your hours and booking appointments that your clients can’t usually take time off from work to get their hair done. Set hours on the weekend or in the evenings as well as during the day so that anyone can book with you. If you are taking a vacation (which you should!) let your clients know in advance so they don’t experience a hair emergency while you’re away. If you have a client that just cannot find time within your scheduled hours, try to work out another time he or she can come in. Especially when you are just starting to build your client base, going above and beyond for your clients will go a long way.
8. Be dedicated and passionate.
Finding success in this industry depends a lot on how much work you put in. If you are not 100% dedicated to this career and finding success in this industry, then it might not be the right avenue for you. There are going to be days where you don’t feel like cutting hair, just like with any profession. The reality is, you still have to get up and go. However, if you’re passionate about and love what you’re doing, those days will be much fewer and far between.
9. Take time to find the right salon/shop for you.
When looking for your salon home, visit many different places before making your decision. A large chunk of your time will be spent here, so you want to make sure you love being there. Meet your potential coworkers or ask if you can shadow one for a day. This way you can get a good idea of what your day to day will be like. Picking your shop is a lot like picking your school. Do your research, tour, and take time to weigh your options so that you can make a well-informed decision.
10. Network with other professionals and students.
Networking is so important for any career. Getting to know others in your industry helps you to stay connected and relevant. Maintain a good relationship with your school as well. You never know when you might be in the position to hire someone. At Academy of Hair Design, we often have our alumni come back and teach a special class to our current students. This provides a great networking opportunity for both our students and alumni. We’ve all heard the saying, “it’s all about who you know.” This rings true for the beauty and barbering industry as well. Making those connections are vital to your success!
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