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Last updated: November 02, 2017

Students: Read This When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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Whether you’re starting cosmetology school or continuing on in your program, fall brings on a nostalgic, back-to-school vibe. So to ensure your success continues, we’ve gathered words of wisdom from 10 industry pros to keep you motivated. Check it out!


1. James Morrison, TIGI/Bed Head Co-Founder

  • The most significant areas of learning are discovering how we learn. Do we grasp concepts by getting in there hands-on or do we mentally pick apart a concept or technique? My approach to learning is to learn by doing.
  • “Nothing fails like success” and ” A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” are two of my favorite quotes. I like to remember them when I feel like I’ve mastered something.
  • Continue to be open to new ideas and to develop your creativity. As we mature creatively and we gain a sense of our potential, we understand there is a process to creativity and that process can be applied to many mediums.
  • Be willing to be willing to learn. Our egos are lousy masters and when we feel we know it all, we slip into stagnation and risk being mentally blocked.
  • Remember that this is a journey. As some wise being said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” I say to you—enjoy the journey!


2. Traci Sakosits, Sassoon Academy North American Creative Director

  • Education is an adventure of discovery. Rather than viewing education as a “Do I have to go?” experience, adopt the attitude that education is meant to be an adventure.
  • Be involved with all aspects of your education all the time. The stylists that have the most success involve themselves with the class as a team and the school as a whole.
  • Confidence is power and experience is priceless. The more you expose yourself to different opportunities at a student level, the more confidence you will have once you graduate and become a professional in the industry.
  • Most importantly, the process of learning should be fun and it will prepare you for the future in a very rewarding industry. People learn best when they’re having fun. Let go of all barriers, judgments, and fears.


3. Antoinette Beenders, Aveda Global Creative Director

  • First, celebrate that you’ve chosen to do something that you really love—you’ve found your passion!
  • Education is an investment in your future. Take advantage of the opportunity to learn from your instructors and your peers while you’re in school.
  • Focus on fundamentals and quality. Build your skills by doing your best work every day. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, and you really understand hair, you’ll have developed your foundation for greater creativity and innovation. 
  • Remember, making a mistake isn’t fatal. We make discoveries, not mistakes.



4. Michael Shaun Corby, Living Proof Global Creative Director

  1. Start working in the town where you want to live. It doesn’t make sense to start working in a city and build up a clientele if you don’t want to remain there.
  2. Figure out what you really love to do and focus your career accordingly. Don’t start working as a colorist if you hate it and don’t go to a cutting shop if you really love to do color. Consider specializing in one area of cosmetology rather than making yourself miserable. 
  3. Be a good self-promoter. It can be very easy to sit back and read magazines or run and grab Starbucks several times a day, but that will not build your business. When I was starting out, I would take my business cards to malls, banks, restaurants, office buildings and many other public places. On the back of the card I would print, “Free Consultation” then I would sign the card in front of them and tell them they had two weeks to use the card.
  4. Become newsworthy in your community. Get involved with events in your community, charities and school functions. Let the local newspapers know you are involved and work with your community to spread good will and beauty to everyone.
  5. Network, network, network! Always keep up your contacts, make sure you get business cards from everyone and be friendly when meeting someone new. You never know when these people can help you with your career.


5. Stephanie Kocielski, Paul Mitchell

  1. Get serious!
  2. Practice until you own the technique.
  3. Hang out with the right people.
  4. Take daily risks and push your dreams.
  5. Feel great and do something for yourself every day!
  6. Remember you chose hairdressing.
  7. Become dangerous.
  8. Keep score.
  9. Find a source of inspiration, exhaust it and replace it with a new one!
  10. Enjoy the gift. Not everyone is as lucky to do what we do.


6. Michael Baker, Inventor of the De-Bulker 
“I was told this as a young hairdresser,” says Michael. “Do these things and you’ll go far.”:

  • Suit up.
  • Show up. 
  • Shut up.
  • Be early.
  • Look good.
  • Listen.


7. Kim Todd, Owner and Founder of diPietro Todd Salon & Academy
To Do: Start looking at salons while you’re still in school, perhaps three quarters of the way completed. 


Why?  This is a learning experience to see how different most salons are from one another.


What To Do:

  • Make a casual visit to check out the salon. Feel out the energy and see if you like how it feels. If so, call the manager/owner to set up a meeting for an interview.
  • Learn as much as you can about the salon you have in mind and come prepared with questions about the salon and training program.
  • After several visits and interviews, it will become apparent which salon is a good fit for you.
  • “I personally like when students persevere even if I am fully staffed,” shares Kim. “It shows me that the potential employee is hard working and dedicated.”



8. John Allan, Owner/Founder of John Allan’s in NYC/Chicago

  • The John Allan Company believes that the fundamentals of cutting philosophies should be the backbone of education at the student level.
  • Confidence comes from understanding and having a foundation for cutting.
  • Establish a core technique for cutting hair first and foremost. 


9. Ann Mincey, Chief Spokesperson for Redken 5th Avenue NYC

G – Get up each morning with a yes on your mind. Yes to absorbing the technical, scientific, business and creative pieces of your career puzzle. They all matter.


R – Reach out to your instructors and peers for guidance and understanding. Be willing to ask for help.


A – Always be grateful. No matter what is going on, you can find something to be grateful for. Feeling and expressing gratitude is one of the most powerful emotional charges you can give to your heart. All the things you are going to be paid to do—gratitude can make you rich!


D – Dedicate yourself to a product line that you can be passionate about. Learn everything there is to know about the products, ingredients, formulations, usage. Take courses from that product company, become a positive contributor to the culture and the future. This dedication will serve you with income, friendships and experiences.


E – Enthusiasm is contagious! Someone said, “Set yourself on fire with enthusiasm and people will come to watch you burn!” Today more than ever salon professionals are called to be “positive purveyors of hope.”  This is the greatest mission of all.


10. Ben Mollin, Joico Guest Artist

  • Find places that encourage independent thinking.
  • Get a job in a salon answering phones for a little while—talk to others and listen to their stories.
  • While in school, try to find a place where you can work part-time and always respect the people you work for. If you don’t respect those you work for (or with), you won’t learn.
  • Never say the words ‘I know’ unless you’re 100 percent sure you do.
  • Take criticism as being a necessity for a better you.
  • Always stay true to yourself.
  • Hair is an art form and we have the ability to touch people’s lives. Don’t be catty or selfish and give the industry a good name!