I’m on stage at my kindergarten graduation.
Each person walks to the microphone, receives their diploma and tells the audience what they wanted to be when they grew up. It’s my turn. I knew exactly what I wanted to say. “I want to be a… nurse”. What?! That’s not what I wanted to say! To this day, I regret saying this. What I really wanted to share was my dream of being a “beautician”. Since I was a little girl, I’ve been drawn to hair, makeup, really anything beauty related. I feel it comes naturally to me. I knew what I wanted to do the instant I received my Barbie mannequin from Santa Claus as a 4-year-old. Fast forward to my high school and college days, I was the go-to girl for blowouts, haircuts (not good ones) and updos. I always felt a sense of calm when helping others. I loved making my friends look and feel beautiful. I went the college route because my parents told me “that’s what I had to do.” I received excellent grades, excelled at the sports I played, but knew deep down I wanted to do something different. I graduated college with a Business Administration degree and put my degree to good use for 6 years as a case manager for an insurance company. During this time, I also met my wonderful husband. While planning our wedding, I finally said that I wanted to make a career change- start our new life together on a fresh note. I knew I had a passion for the beauty industry and didn’t want to sit behind a desk anymore thinking about the ‘what if’s.’ I left a career in insurance for cosmetology school. And so my journey began…
My journey starts just like most other cosmetology students. You receive your kit and your books, complete your hours and take the state board certification. Little did I know, beauty school prepares you for the test, not behind the chair. I felt very uneasy about the next step. I secured a great assisting position at a high-end salon and did great. I was confident in styling, formulation and application of color, but lacked confidence in cutting. I was so afraid to cut too much or too little that I was making mistakes because of it. This lack of confidence and unrealistic expectation lead to another change. Rather than being behind the chair, I decided to work side by side with salons. I took a position as a distributor sales representative and provided salon education and retail sales and support. This minor shift actually utilized my background from both business and cosmetology school. I was in the beauty industry and following my passion.
I’m sharing my journey in hopes of helping someone who’s trying to find their niche. Little did I know, there is more than one way to be in the beauty industry. Learn the inner workings of a salon though, it is very helpful. I recommend getting into a salon to assist while attending cosmetology school. This will help connect the pieces while you study and earn your hours. Since I’m a visual learner, I absorb information better with practical application.
Not sure if being behind the chair is for you? That’s ok. Explore avenues like distribution, education within a cosmetology school or a hair care company or working with print magazines. Never be afraid of stepping outside of your comfort zone.
This is where you’ll find yourself. Stay determined.
Here are some helpful nuggets of knowledge that I’ve learned along the way. They are great to reflect upon. I hope you enjoyed reading about my personal journey!
1. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed and excited at the same time. Use this time in the salon to absorb the knowledge and guidance of your fellow stylists. They were in your shoes once.
2. Immerse yourself in all things related to your field. The more you educate yourself in your craft, the better prepared you will be for your clients and building your book of business.
3. Be a good listener. Watch how your stylists interact with their clients to meet their needs.
4. Be a good assistant. That means sweeping the floors, taking out the trash, cleaning the dishes and doing the laundry. Anticipate your stylist’s next move.
5. It’s OK to make a mistake. That is how you learn.
6. Keep asking questions.
7. Don’t give up. When you’re feeling in a rut, use it as an opportunity to learn and reignite your passion.
8. Find a mentor. This person shares in your experience and can pass along little nuggets of knowledge.
9. Be humble.
10. Remain teachable.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my personal journey!
– Jaime Williams-Troutman