Dear New Stylists: 7 Things You Should Know
The Top 7 Things Hairdressers Wish They Knew
Pretend you have a time machine and can go back to the moment before you started your career—what would you do differently? Carly Zanoni, aka @the.blonde.chronicles, recently asked this question and it got us thinking about the advice we’d give to our past selves. Keep scrolling to see if you agree!
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“I would be an assistant.”
The beauty of the professional hair career path is that you can have flexibility and freedom to forge your own way. That being said, Carly and a few others all said they should have taken an assistant position.
“Right out of school I worked as a stylist at a commission salon, and 5 months after that, I started booth renting. It all worked out in the end, but I figured out a lot of things the hard way,” said Carly. “Assisting would have been a great transition from school to real salon life, and I wish I had given myself the opportunity to learn not only technical skills, but how to run a business from someone who knew what they were doing!”
Iconic celeb colorist Rita Hazan agrees: “Assisting is so important! You don’t know much after beauty school. Working with an experienced person you get a priceless education that helps you improve your craft, what to do and what not to do. Both are very valuable,” she commented on Instagram.
“I would have established better boundaries.”
LOTS of you said you needed to work on boundaries with clients and your business. For example, Carly shared that she wishes she had a separate business phone number to separate her personal life from her work life.
“Agree 1000% with the business/personal phone,” said @savanahibanez. “After doing hair for 10 years, I feel like it’s impossible to separate the two, and some days I just want to throw my phone away entirely. I miss texts from family members because my phone is always going off. Get two lines, y’all!”
Setting boundaries can also mean standing up for yourself. “(I would) not allow clients to intimidate—you’re the professional for a reason,” shared @car_bury.
“I wish I would’ve had the courage to advocate for myself, saying I needed a break, I didn’t want to double book everyone, longer maternity leave…and so on,” said @hairbyjordanpursel. “Now, as an owner myself, I believe in encouraging boundaries with my stylists, and letting them create their own path.”
Brush up on your client boundaries with this guide. Has the situation gotten too extreme? Here’s how to know when to block a client.
“I would have charged my worth—and NOT offered discounts.”
Do you cringe when you think of what younger you used to charge? Same. “I would have never ‘negotiated’ pricing with clients! I don’t now, but the young, naive, nervous girl I was 19 years ago did! Now, I run the show,” shared @aj_720.
Never start giving deals or emotionally discount, said @jess_loves_color_ and @shantelkeeleystylist. “Stay consistent with my prices and realize not everyone is my friend deserving of a deal or discount,” added @hair_pro_chicago.
There are ways to add value without discounting, such as including a complimentary deep treatment for a loyal client. But lesson learned—say no to discounts! And let’s be honest, It’s pretty likely that you’ve been undercharging anyway.
“I would have saved money for retirement.”
This is a BIG one, and REALLY important for younger stylists to know: Save for retirement! So many stylists said they wished they’d put away money for saving and investing. “Wish I was made to start a retirement account/IRA/ROTH IRA and never touch it,” said @hair_pro_chicago.
So start saving—literally any amount is something! And make sure to study these four behaviors to avoid when saving for retirement.
“I would have taken better care of my body.”
Lots of stylists shared that they experience regular aches and pains these days, and wished they had been more preventative. “I began so long ago—just about 37 years…don’t fall into the ‘wearing heels all day’ trend (as I sit on a heating pad just to function for the day),” said @2500jackpot.
@purrrtykat said she wished she had kept going to the gym to help her body not hurt so much, and @calbluz said, “I would have taken better care of my feet, legs, back, etc so I was still able to work behind the chair.”
And it’s not just body aches and pains that have long-term effects. “(I wish I had) worn gloves for every chemical service. I now have severe eczema due to not wearing gloves and can no longer do chemical services. It breaks my heart,” said @daynapaige12.
“Been in the game 42 years. Be sure to pay attention to your posture, your clients’ positions, and seeking ergonomic design for tools and equipment. I contorted my body for years to accommodate my work and I’m paying the price now,” said @dicicco_randi. “Use your chair the way it was designed which is up and down and turning to accommodate your comfortable position. I also love the swivel thumb shears!”
Start relieving shoulder, wrist and finger pain with an ergonomically designed swivel shear like ARC™ Scissors Phantom Swivel. It comes in three blade lengths with a unique blade design ideal for wet cutting, precision cutting and slide cutting.
“I would have invested more in continuing education.”
You don’t know what you don’t know…and many stylists felt they could have found success faster if they’d taken more classes. “I would have invested in continued education right out of school while assisting,” said @alicialolatte.
“(I would have) invested in more education and classes and improved in my weakness (blowouts and updos $$$$). The game keeps changing,” said @jordanadubetz. Fortunately, there’s an easy and cost-effective way to up your skills: BTC University. For $10/month, you get access to 150+ online courses, with new classes and series added monthly, exclusively for BTC University subscribers. Use code LEARN to get 50% off the annual plan: Click here!
All this talk about improving your skills brings us to our next point…
“I would have prioritized getting good at blowouts and styling.”
“Color and cut skills are important, but I feel that being skilled at blow-drying and styling can make or break an appointment. It took me years to realize this,’ said Carly.
“Ever hear your clients say, ‘I wish I could blow dry/style my hair the way you do?’ This is something that they typically can’t replicate at home by themselves so being skilled at this part of the service increases your value,” she added.
Plus, you can charge extra for it—which helps with the whole “saving for retirement” thing. Check out this math from Gina Bianca about how charging extra for curls can add up to millions of dollars over your career.