How to Navigate Through a Competitive Industry That Continues to GrowWhether you are a self-taught hairstylist, a beauty school graduate or drop out, there is nothing but space and opportunity waiting for you in the hair industry. For centuries the demand for a new hairstyle has been present, and it won't go away. It seems like just recently the hair industry has taken over everything in the beauty market. Supply and demand, that’s the name of the game right? There will always be a huge demand for someone getting their hair done. Stylists will emerge because of that, but how does one get into this flourishing and competitive industry With anything, you must have direction and structure. You have to know what you want to do! While you can go out on a limb and try something new, if it’s not your passion or your strong suit; it may be challenging.
Determine if the Hair Industry is the Right Fit For YouLet me start off by asking you a few questions. Do you have experience doing hair? Do you love to do hair? Does caring for hair come naturally to you? This and so many more questions you have to ask yourself to determine if the hair industry is something you want to pursue. You see the glamorous lifestyles of the stylists on social media, but you do not jump into that straight out the gate. Most owners of hair companies, top celebrity stylists, and top local stylists started in someone’s shop paying booth rent. Hey, some may have even started in someone's kitchen. They say Rome was not built in one day right? The same logic pertains to your career in the hair industry: you will have to start somewhere and work your way up as you gain experience and clientele. Once you have determined that YES the hair industry is what I want to do, then make yourself knowledgeable about the industry and hair!
To Enroll or Not Enroll in Cosmetology SchoolDon't let the thought of cosmetology school scare you off. Yes, it is essential to learn about your craft from seasoned professionals but is it necessary to succeed in the hair industry? This is something you will have to ask yourself and do research on before you decide to enroll. Beauty schools are technically a new thing so before; there were many self-taught stylists that made their mark in the hair industry. On the other hand, to get your foot in the right door, you might need that validation from a beauty school that shows you know your stuff. So knowledge of hair, hair care, products, and treatments are significant and should be your first step. Here’s a list of some of the top cosmetology schools in the country (in no particular order):
- Aveda Institutes - 64 locations across America, students are placed in actual salon roles to help educate them on the industry.
- Paul Mitchell School - One of the most popular beauty schools, locations all over.
- American National College - Based mostly in the southern United States with extensive cosmetology courses.
From the Source: Interview With a Hairstylist in the Hair IndustryLet’s go straight to the source: someone in the hair industry! Malehah Hamlin is an excellent stylist from Atlanta Georgia with a passion for healthy hair. On top of being a great hairstylist, she is also the owner of Excentrix hair studios. Who else better to give someone new in the hair industry tips than a seasoned stylist in the hair industry?
Interview with Malehah HamlinWhat’s your name/age and when did you start in the hair industry? Malehah Hamlin Age 27, I got started in the hair industry at age 23. Why did you choose a career in hair? I chose the hair industry when I realized that doing hair made me feel free. It’s relaxing for me. Can a self-taught cosmetologist (Check out this article: pros and cons of being a cosmetologist) be just as successful as a beauty school graduate? Yes, I feel like being a hairstylist is a gift. It’s something that can’t be taught because it just shows, to me. I did an apprenticeship with my mother, and I feel like I am just as successful as others who went to school. What advice would you give to a newcomer in the hair industry? I would tell them to make sure it’s something they really want to do. If the money wasn’t a variable would you still do it? You have to keep your passion in this industry, if not it becomes very overwhelming. How do you set yourself apart from others in this industry? What is your niche? I think it’s my love for healthy hair! Like I love seeing my client's hair grow under my care! How has social media helped your business in this industry? It has helped a lot! When I first started, I had to send out cards in the mail which was scary because I didn’t want to offend anyone. Social media is free advertising! Why not take full advantage of it! It has reached people that I could never reach by just passing out cards. What are the top 3 keys for anyone starting in the hair industry? 1. The golden rule: Treat your clients like you would want to be treated. 2. Know your stuff! Be confident. 3. Stay in your lane! Stay true to yourself. What sets the good stylists and bad stylists apart? A good hairstylist is very knowledgeable, caring and has a passion for what they do. A bad hairstylist is a complete opposite; bad stylists are usually very money hungry and rude.
Find Your Specialty then Find Your ClienteleSet yourself apart from the crowd is how you get your name out there in the hair industry and its also how you become successful. Finding your niche goes hand in hand with discovering and working on your passion. Yes, every hairstylist can do the same thing, but their method(s) make them stand out. Whether you have a love for installing hair extensions, full lace wig or you just love natural hair: decide which services you want to offer and capitalize on that! Depending on where you live at can also determine your specialty. For example, living in Atlanta, a stylist must know to install hair extensions. These days that’s where the clientele is going, and that is what is taking over the hair market. Along with their methods, their clientele is also a HUGE key. You need to build clientele and retain clients. You can create your clientele in various ways: word of mouth, social media, flyers in hair stores, the list goes on. If you do not already have a few clients that you have in rotation, you are already two steps behind. Here are some ways to build your clientele:
- Finding a salon with a lot of walk-in traffic.
- Team up with someone in the hair salon. Two is always better than one!
- Do not be afraid to offer some free services in beginning.
- Leave your business cards at hair stores and hand them out.
- Go to networking events.
- Provide specials to existing clients and let them spread the word.
- Always accept walk-ins.
- Use your family and friends to help spread the word.
- If possible add more services to what you already to (be a one-stop shop).
- Use social media to it's fullest extent, it's free!
Finding the Right Salon Fit For YouFinding the right salon(s) that help you progress ahead is key in this industry. You want to make sure that the booth rent is reasonable and fair also. Everything is a stepping stone to further you on your career path. Do you want to own a salon one day? Start by working in a salon and seeing how it operates, learn the dos and do not's and make the best of it. You cannot correctly flourish in an environment that is toxic and does not suit your working style. It's okay to go from one salon to the next as long as you are doing so for your growth and the growth of your business.
Apprenticeships are Your FriendAn apprenticeship is learning a skill or trade under a skilled professional in that field. Taking part of one of these can only benefit you, regardless of what you think you may know; you can always learn and understand more. Doing this will also aid you in building that clientele and knowledge that will help you in your business. I believe this can be an excellent option for those of you who do not want to enroll in cosmetology school or even for those of you who do. An apprenticeship is a program that can help all and any who are willing to learn. Be a Dominating Force in the Hair Industry Here are some takeaways:
- Remember that you have to start somewhere before you can be the boss.
- Never stop learning about your craft; there is always room for improvement.
- Do not be afraid to go back to school.
- Do not be scared to work for someone who is more seasoned.
- Set yourself apart from the pack.
- Make sure the hair industry is your passion.