Watch Out! Your Education Is Showing…

By Danni Gess

This is a Public Service Announcement for all new graduates.

We are a PC world and want everybody to “feel good” with their decisions but I am going to question your intentions in this industry.

(deep breath)

Everybody wants to be special. I get it. We want that instant gratification of having thousands of people pressing the “like” button and tons and tons of followers that write delicious compliments on our brilliance. We want our books filled for months on end with clients clamoring for a chance to be graced by our brilliance. Some of us have a natural gift, like an idiot savant, that requires no work, build up or education. Kinda like Edward Scissorhands.

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But let’s face it, these are incredibly far and few between, like one in a million….or kabillion. The rest of us need to go the old fashion route of learning our trade.

In the olden days (like centuries ago), there was usually a skilled or master tradesman that would take an apprentice under his/her wing to teach that person all the trade secrets, one on one, so that the skills can be passed down to the next generation. Oh, and for quite a few years, he/she would get to be a virtual slave to their every whim. Woohoo!

Nowadays I find most people in our trade want to skip the mentoring part. You know, the one where you are virtually a slave until you’ve become the master?

I mean, let’s face it. The pay typically sucks…. I’m running around, sweeping, holding hair pins, doing laundry, washing hair, fetching that freaking Starbuck’s Low fat Caramel Frappachino while placating YOUR client because YOU’RE running late. Do I have to get a different styling product for EVERY freaking client that sits in your chair or are you just trying to torture me?!?!? I haven’t had a lunch break in, like, 2 years!!! I mean what’s to learn from that CRAP?! Then I have to come in on MY day off and take a class and you’re NOT going to pay me? Your mad I didn’t show up?! WTF! I did my time in school… I’m ready, damnit! LET ME SHINNNNNNNE!!!!!!!

<ehem>

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Here’s the deal.

You can do this the hard way or the easy way.

The hard way is when you graduate from school and jump behind the chair and start making money. Yes. That’s the hard way. Why? Because I don’t know about you but I knew virtually nothing when I graduated beauty school. I didn’t realize entirely how much I didn’t know, which is dangerous. We get comfortable with our base knowledge, thinking we know so much but the benefits of apprenticeship or being an assistant can be OUTSTANDING. Here’s a few ways you can benefit from taking THE EASY WAY…

  1. As an assistant you have a unique opportunity to get in there and get to know hair without the stress of knowing what to do with it. When you shampoo and condition, are you taking the opportunity to properly identify the clients hair texture? The condition? The density? This is a great time to try different products to get to know what works better on some hair but not others. This goes for styling products as well. Observe what the stylists are using. If you are not sure,ask why they chose that product. What effect are they trying to accomplish.
  2. Blowouts, blowouts and more blowouts! Aside from, again, learning what different textures of hair react to different techniques, this is a FANTASTIC way of observing the construction of a good hair cut. How? Well, as you take controlled, clean sections of hair, and you are working the section, are there any disjointed pieces that are longer than the rest? Ask yourself if it belongs there? When the stylist cuts layers, how are they suppose to fall? Take note of it in the blowout. Are you looking at each subsection and mapping out where you want it to fall or are you winging it? Motivate yourself to ask yourself these questions as you work. Not only will it keep your job interesting but you may start looking forward to the challenge.
  3. Watch and Listen! I know you are running around but see if you can take the time to stand a good 10 feet away (don’t crowd your stylist) and watch how that person approaches their client. Everyone has their strengths so find the person who has a killer consultation. Who has the cleanest and varied cutting techniques? Who can balayage and color correct? Ask questions! If they are that good, they will not be afraid to share.
  4. Practice! Be THAT person who is experimenting techniques on friends and family. Be THAT person who asks to help the stylist blowout their clients hair so you can gain experience. Be THAT person who shows up to every educational opportunity, with a smile on and pen and paper.

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There’s a good amount of you that are saying to yourself, “Danni, what the hell?! I can’t find an apprenticeship!” I know. It took me 6 months to find an appropriate apprenticeship back in the day. I got offers from tons of places for stylists jobs though. Yup.  They’d train me for a few weeks but I seemed bright and eager and if I had a problem, I could ask for help…..no.

You are not a brilliant master with just 2 to 4 weeks training.

Okay. Bottom line. What do you want from your career? If it’s to be a brilliant master stylist then you need to actively seek opportunities to learn. Not just at the yearly hair show that rolls into town, but in the everyday moments. To this day, I go into work thinking “What am I going to learn today?”. I actively seek it, which inevitably leads me to it.

You are building a career. Make sure that foundation in solid.

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