• Career Planning: Make Way

    Sketching out your career path well before you have your license in hand sets you up for success and eases job-hunt-induced-panic. When Michelle McKinney was in cosmetology school, she concentrated on studying for tests, creating a portfolio and doing her best on the floor. “After graduation, I hand-delivered my resume to the top salons in the area,” McKinney says. The December 2015 graduate says that was a big mistake.

    “Salon owners don’t care if you graduated at the top or won every contest,” she says. “They hire for who you are, assuming they will retrain you. Start reaching out to salons while you are a student. Schedule an appointment, project your best image and know your community. Until I started looking for employment, I didn’t know 90 percent of salons in my area were chair rental!”

    McKinney was hired at Beaux Cheveux salon in St. Joseph, Michigan, within a few weeks of her graduation, but her path is fairly typical: Go to school with the intent of getting a salon job, graduate, and then look for one. There is a better way to get the career you want, and it all starts with goal-setting.


    Setting goals doesn’t have to be tedious. Although many students set technical goals, such as learning balayage, mastering curly cuts and more, planning a career path starts with a dream. Ali Davidson is the director of membership for Associated Hair Professionals, which helps students plan and accomplish goals via resume and cover-letter templates, goal-setting and tracking forms, a MODERN SALON magazine subscription—and more once they become working stylists. She says you should start by daydreaming about your Big Audacious Goal—your B.A.G.

    “This isn’t your schlep bag; it’s your Gucci or Prada bag that you’ve dreamed of ever since you saw it,” Davidson says. “Even if your dream sounds far-fetched, it’s important to define it. Describe in great detail what defines your B.A.G. and what attributes, training and experience those living that dream might have. Where might they have started their careers? Start there. Gain that experience. Hone those qualities.”

    Rachel Bettis , an Ulta Beauty artistic team member, says a self-assessment is a great starting point for figuring out your goals. “Sometimes stylists might not know what they want to do with their careers because they haven’t discovered all the opportunities out there or what skill sets are needed to take advantage of them,” she says. “A few great ways to learn about opportunities in the industry include shadowing a trainer or educator, setting up an appointment to interview a stylist or a salon owner, or visiting salons in different areas.”

    Once you have an idea of the many opportunities, define your dream job, do a quick self-assessment and write everything down. What are your likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses and passions? What did you like and dislike about previous jobs? How do you define success? Compare you self-assessment to your Big Audacious Goal. What do you have now and what do you still need to achieve your B.A.G.?

    Next, do the same with short-term goals, both technical and soft, explains Chris Sulimay , Keune ’s academy and technical director. “Naturally, you need technical skills, but you also have to be able to grow a clientele,” Sulimay says. “To succeed at the people side of the business, focus on getting clients to return, asking friends to refer you and booking the next appointment before the client leaves. Do all three in the school clinic, make them goals, and you’ll be on your way to succeeding at any long-term goal.”

    Steve Bobian , who worked in the fitness industry for 11 years before attending beauty school, says he understands the importance of goal setting—and of creating a timeline. While still in school, he allowed a year to perfect balayage, which was not taught in his school, by practicing on a mannequin and trying different techniques.

    “I watched Guy Tang YouTube videos, practiced through trial-and-error and ultimately let my brain dictate my approach,” says Bobian, who shortly after his December 2015 graduation became an assistant at Grand Salon in Denver. “I believe short-term goals are really baby steps toward long-term goals. When the long-term goal is not achieved, revisit the short-term goals to get back on track.”


    Once you’ve set goals, how do you achieve them? Create a simple to-do list that’s really a step-by-step action plan of activities. For instance, to get a job, you might want to create a resume and a portfolio first. Then, research online to find salons that focus on the specialty you are interested in, make a list and call at least one a week (remember that timeline), asking to stop in, introduce yourself and chat with the manager.

    If, like most students, your primary immediate goal is to get a job in a great salon, start by defining one. Joanne Powers founded Shear Art Salon & Spa in Tampa, Florida, and is also CEO of Summit Salon Academy in the same city. There are two Shear Art locations, and she also acts as treasurer of Mens-Department Barbershop in nearby Largo. To help her students decide among her own locations—or others—she says her academy provides monthly coaching to help determine if they want to work in a small, medium or large salon, or an independent or corporate one.

    “Develop a strong plan in school, then look for a salon that provides an associate program and some kind of level system for future growth,” Powers says. “To focus on a specific direction, take every opportunity to explore that direction, make mistakes and learn from every aspect of your education. Find what inspires you, and take time to think about your future career.”

    Most activities in your action plan will enhance your education, skills or experience. They should be goal-specific and measurable; they don’t have to be complex or take a lot of time. For example, recent grad Dylan Cox , who is an apprentice at Cortello Salon , Jacksonville Beach, Florida, says his short-term goal was to master ombre color, which he did with practice—on mannequins and friends. His one-year goal was to find himself in the right salon, and his five-year goal is to make a certain amount of money.

    “I started shopping salons about two months before graduating,” Cox says. “My school had certain nights they would invite salons in to come and see us in action, which was a great way to network. I also looked at salons’ social media reviews. I even made an appointment at one to experience a hair cut. I looked for a salon with the same type of clientele I wanted.” Today, Cox has already met two of his three goals.

    Once you have goals and a plan to achieve them, find a mentor or buddy who can provide useful feedback and honestly assess if you’ve achieved a technical or soft-skill goal. Tap your mentor’s expertise as you build the skills that your dream job demands.


    There are only so many hours in a day to practice and master basics, so if your goal involves a specialty like haircolor, make enhancing coloring skills a social activity. “One fun way to build skills is to have some friends from school come over with their doll heads,” Cox says. “Have dinner, socialize and then cut, color and style the mannequins. Many brands have specific contests that students can enter; team up with other students and brainstorm entry ideas.”

    If your goal involves enhancing your soft skills to build a clientele (or eventually teaching on stage), Sulimay says nothing beats scripts. Write one yourself, find one online or ask an instructor for one that involves a client consultation or even teaching something you just learned.

    “Then, practice it so much that you sound natural, not robotic,” Sulimay says. “Remember, great actors are reading scripts. For stylists, client scripts involve those magic moments when certain conversations are natural, such as talking about products at the back bar, discussing additional services during the consultation and suggesting re-booking when you mention maintenance and how long a look will last.”

    Getting a job in a good salon is another goal for which an action plan can be fun. To build job interviewing skills, grab your friends, practice interviewing one another for jobs and video record the interviews. Role-playing can be fun, and the playback will tell you a lot about your body language, where you stumble and when you sound confident. You can do the same with mock consultations and other scripts, or with technical skills. In fact, going straight to video is helpful when skill-building to meet any goal. Try videoing yourself:

    • Placing ombre or balayage color on a section
    • Round brush styling for volume
    • Giving your 30-second pitch on why a salon should hire you
    • Selling your friends something silly, like an empty hairspray can
    • Consulting with a friend who needs a totally different cut
    • Using words you’d never normally use. “If you never tell someone they look beautiful, practice saying it,” Sulimay says.
    • Bobian, whose long-term goal involves a move to New York City, built skills by practicing on friends, family members and mannequins. He also involved social media in order to move toward his goal of getting noticed beyond his local area. (Which underscores a point: goals, action plans and skills are always intertwined.)
    • “When a Paul Mitchell national educator began doing #MannequinMonday on Instagram, I submitted two of my works in hopes of being featured on her Instagram and Facebook page,” Bobian says. “For someone new, this would have been a huge break in my career.
    • “The online world offers endless education that’s fun,” he says. “When I was in school, YouTube, freesaloneducation. com and Periscopes were my main sources of supplemental learning. I also jumped at the chance to help during school-sponsored events. These included haircuts for the homeless, fashion shows and doing hair for women in recovery. I could practice techniques while simultaneously showcasing my talent to an audience and seasoned hairstylists.”


    Each time Bobian did something hair-related, he promoted it online, often using as hashtags the names of those he hoped to work with one day. It’s still his way of networking to achieve a long-term goal, and everyone needs a network.

    There are two kinds in the salon industry: client and peer. You can do some client networking in the school clinic but in general, networking with owners who can give you a job comes first. In addition to researching and visiting local salons, go shopping!

    “Networking locally can be as simple as going to your nearest beauty supply store and asking if they have any classes coming up,” Cox says. “Some are even free. This is a great way to meet local stylists and salon owners.”

    “Networking should start the minute you become part of a people business,” Powers says. “Become comfortable with introducing yourself to people you’ve never met. Strike up a conversation about their hair, skin or nails. Present yourself as a professional.”

    Doing so will not only find you a salon with a strong team, a full training program and benefits; it will get you the right client network for you, which might be the most overlooked type of networking for success.

    Once you have secured a job, go where your target clients go, introduce yourself and talk about hair. Take part in local charity events and cut-a-thons. Ask all your friends to send you clients. Post your work on social media, and tag friends who can share your work with their friends.

    If you aren’t super confident about one-on-one networking, Sulimay suggests that you join a business network while you are still in school. “Business Networking International and Toastmasters are two great places to start,” he says. “They hold events where you have to dress up and meet strangers without drinking alcohol. Everyone there is a professional who is looking to grow a business, and hairdressers do very well at these events.”

    Sulimay adds that if he had not been able to build a successful client network, he would not have become a successful educator who can answer every question he’s asked with authenticity. When it comes to networking with pros who can advance your career, that’s easy. Go to shows and seminars and introduce yourself. Follow pros on social media who do what you’d like to do.

    “Put yourself out there and get your work seen,” Bettis says. “Introduce yourself to people and business owners in your community, as well as to other stylists and artists. Attending trade shows and submitting entries to competitions are other great ways to get noticed.”

    Of course, social media is another important tool for drawing attention to your work. “I’ve joined hair-related groups on Facebook, which is my favorite networking tool,” Cox says. “If you have a question about a color line or anything hair related, people from all over the world will respond. You can even post and showcase your work, and get feedback.”

    Don’t be overly reliant on social media to build either a clientèle or a peer network. After all, you are in the people business, and all the action that matters most takes place face to face.

    Source: Modern Salon By: Victoria Wurdinger

  • 8 Need-to-Knows for Selecting the Perfect Shears

    Shears are an integral part of your health and success as a stylist. Picking the perfect pair is not a time to try to save a buck or make an unresearched impulse-buy; you’ll be using these every day, multiple times a day, so make sure you take these tips from Fuel Hair to heart.

    1. ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL SHEARS DON’T EXIST. Every stylist has a different set of needs; look for a pair that fits you and your cutting style.
    2. THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT FACTORS WHEN SELECTING SHEARS ARE COMFORT AND CONTROL. Choose a handle type and a finger rest that feels good. Size isn’t everything-your control is determined by blade length.
    3. A SWORD EDGE IS GREAT FOR PRECISION-CUTTING. The blade will push away hair quickly, but it’s slightly less forgiving. It’s perfect for cleaning around ears, perimeter-cutting and strong precision cuts.
    4. CLAMSHEL EDGES GIVE A SOFTER FINISH. The rounded edge will draw in hair for a more feathered end result ideal for channel-cutting.
    5. PROCEED WITH CAUTION WITH A STRAIGHT HANDLE. You’ll need to bend your wrist a bit to use this one. Some stylists prefer it, but others complain of repetitive wrist strain.
    6. OFFSET HANDLES WILL PROVIDE MAXIMUM COMFORT. The slightly angled handle will leave your wrist in a more natural position.
    7. INVEST IN AT LEAST THREE SETS OF SHEARS. You’ll need one pair for everyday cutting, a blending shear and a longer shear with a sword blade for perimeter cutting and barbering. Consider a traditional thinner in addition, but modern blenders usually work just fine for that.
    8. SHEARS ARE AN INVESTMENT. There isn’t a set amount to spend on shears, but invest however much you need to ensure you’re delivering the best service possible for your clients and maximize comfort for yourself. Safeguard your wrist strength by doing your research before selecting a pair.

    Source: FirstChair

  • What’s a Typical Day for a Cosmetology Student?

    Cosmetology school teaches through a balance of books and hands-on learning. People have different learning styles– some take in written information with ease, a memory with traction, and adaptation to applying that knowledge. Others learn best through practice and doing. At cosmetology school, intellectual and practical training work together to provide you an all-encompassing education.

    A typical day, then, involves some semblance of textbooks, observation, and practice applying skills on mannequins. At first, you will be more focused on the proper techniques involved in whatever style of hair, skin, or makeup you’re working with at the time. One of the fun parts about cosmetology school is that as you begin to feel more confident in the skills you’re learning, you can see how much room is also left for creativity. While you learn traditional stylist techniques, you’ll also realize your role in the salon comes with its own space for innovation. You can become proficient and skilled in what’s already known and the cutting current edge, and see all the space left to your future for initiating new things.

    After some time with textbooks and mannequin practice, students begin to practice on clients. Clients are often excited to work with students because while practicing, students bring fresh knowledge and perspective to the field . In the salon, open communication goes a long way.

    As a cosmetology student, you’ll find your own balance of confidence and pioneering, of learning from mistakes, of asking the kinds of questions that lead you to answers that allow things to click into place. You’ll get to work with mentors one-on-one but also learn in a group setting where you can collaborate with colleagues. While you’ll find a rhythm and a familiar structure in each day, you’ll also find each day full of adventure and unexpected learning opportunities, too

    Source: Avalon School of Cosmetology

  • How to Protect Your Hair While Sleeping

    It’s pretty common knowledge that hair should be protected from sun exposure and harsh environments. However, most people don’t think about caring for their hair while they sleep. It may not seem like a significant cause of stress, but there are a few things to consider:

    Shampooing hair and then letting it air dry while sleeping is not a good idea , especially for those with thick, coarse hair. Wet hair can stretch more than dry hair leading to tangles. Also, pulling and tugging wet hair while sleeping will weaken hair and cause breakage.

    Protect hair while sleeping by Shampooing at House of Heavilin, Kansas City

    Another hair sin is to sleep with a hair tie. Wearing any type of hair tie while sleeping will also pull and put stress on the hair causing it to weaken.

    An easy step that can be taken to protect the hair is to switch pillowcases. Silk or satin pillowcases reduce friction resulting in fewer tangles.

    Another tip to protect hair while sleeping is to apply a small amount of essential oils . They will be absorbed while sleeping and can be shampooed out in the morning. This practice leads to restored shine and overall healthy hair.

    Restore shine in your hair by applying oils in at night

    Another tip is to wrap hair and cover it with a satin or silk scarf. This keeps natural oils where they belong, on the hair and scalp. This practice is fairly common as it protects the hair’s style and natural oils, which can be rubbed off on cotton pillowcases leading to dry, brittle hair.

    Tips to protect hair while sleeping

    Also, have you ever heard that you should give your hair 100 strokes? Well, it turns out the old wives tale may be on to something. Taking extra time to dry and brush hair free of tangles is beneficial. This extra care helps distribute the scalp’s natural oils to the ends.

    Source: Ogle School