I've been a hairstylist for over 12 years, throughout those 12 years I've worn many hats. I started out as an assistant making minimum wage, tips if I was lucky. I'm a fast learner, it took me three months to realize I was ready to take control of my own guests, and their experiences. I wanted to start making decisions for myself. I tested out of the assistant program and I was on the floor working mostly Saturdays, albeit competing for clients with 6 other girls that were fresh out of the program as well. Being on the floor meant I was off minimum wage and working for commission and tips. I learned quickly that competition is not how I wanted to build my clientele. I wanted a guest to choose me and I didn’t want to work for a company that promotes selfishness and negative competition.
I was off to my next salon, another commission based salon, but much smaller. This was another learning experience for me as the salon had only been open for a year and the owner was an investor that had never owned, managed or even really been to a salon before. He was bald, ha-ha! I actually never met him or spoke to him. Lack of vision and of strong leadership meant I was gone after 6 months.
At this point I've been in the industry less than 2 years and was starting to lose faith. Was this the reality of the hair industry? What was I doing wrong? I refused to give up! My next stop was a corporate salon with over 1,000 stores across the nation. The promise of education, clients, and a way to move up the ladder sounded like a place with a vision that fit my own. The first year was great! We had technical education every couple of months, I learned how to budget and set goals for myself, I even achieved multiple goals during that year and I was starting to build my clientele.
Things were moving along, I thought this was exactly what I wanted when I started. What I didn't realize was that just because a company makes over 3 billion dollars a year doesn’t necessarily mean they have good visionary leadership, actually it was the exact opposite. My manager did the bare minimum to reach her quotas and nothing beyond that. In fact, she handed off most of her duties to us stylists because she was too busy standing behind the chair to actually do her job as manager and be an effective leader. After four years of being overworked, under paid, and what I felt was under appreciated I was on the search again.
I learned some very important lessons in the first 5 years of my career. I thought that there were three constants no matter where I was working; a perceived lack of leadership, my desire to be lead, and of course, me. What I didn’t realize at the time, due mostly to a lack of life experience, is that all of the situations I just mentioned were actually opportunities staring me in the face. A study done by the Dale Carnegie Leadership Organization revealed that 75% of workers who voluntarily left their jobs did so because of their bosses. Lack of leadership is the reason we leave an organization, people don’t quit jobs, they tend to quit bosses. What that study doesn’t speak to is how many of those who left, and said they did so because of their boss, tried to also make things better by taking some initiative and leading from within.
What we often fail to realize, especially in the salon business, is that salons don’t create themselves. They are created by somebody who, at least at one time, had a vision, or at least a dream. The salon is birthed out of a desire to create something closer to their vision of what could be. The salon is then filled with other humans with their own dreams, goals, desires, and needs. With time, all of the hats being worn by the owner, boss, manager, and leader tend to change and the need for help carrying the load and developing the vision is ever present.
What I've realized now, after 12 years of experience is that the only common denominator in these scenarios was me. I realized that I had the power to lead myself, the cold hard truth is it's time to look within yourself for motivation and leadership. Are you doing anything to give support to your leader? Add value to the salon and other stylists? By simply changing the way you choose to see a situation you determine the opportunities that open up for you. What I perceived as lack of management was actually a great opportunity for me to step up my game. It's much easier to blame outside circumstances and others for our own inability to take initiative, however, nothing outside of you determines your success! It's up to you to decide if we want to stay in bed where its warm and comfortable or take the risk and step out into the cold. I know it can be scary but one small step could be the difference between disappointment and a whole new world of opportunities for success. Enough about theory, here are the steps I recommend to start taking control of your future!
Learn how to articulate the salon's vision.
To articulate anything you have to fully understand it. Is your salon's vision clear to you? Do you need to ask your leadership to define the salons mission, vision and values? Remember, owners are humans with lots of responsibilities and they're trying to balance multiple plates. Not only are they in charge of managing stylists, paying bills, and creating community within the salon, but they may have young children at home or be caring for elderly parents. The point being that maybe you asking this question will motivate and inspire the owners to revisit and redefine what the vision is or was. Knowing that they have a cheerleader in their midst may give new energy to an already overworked salon owner. If you do nothing else but ask this question, you're headed in the right direction. Now that you fully understand the vision you can help others understand it.
Become a master of motivation.
Motivation is two words: motive-ation or, 'motives' in 'action'. We often look to others for motivation but motivation is an internal emotion, why would we look to someone else to give us our motives? Who's motives do you want to be putting into action? Do you always want to be looking outside of yourself for motivation? No, because where there is an absence of motive there will be a lack of action.
Nothing will make a better impression on the leadership and the other stylists than being able to motivate yourself. Take the time to sit down and go over your own personal mission, vision, and values. Do your own goals and objectives align with the salon you're working at? This will help you to determine if you're in the right place and if you can articulate the vision of the salon. Once you've determined that you do want to try to add value to the salon you have to make sure you're leading by example, which means doing your own job well, giving 120% regardless of whether you're just sweeping up hair, or providing a service for a guest. The more energy you put into making sure you're doing your job to the best of your abilities, the more of a chance you have to make an impact on others and create new opportunities.
Now that you fully understand the vision, it's time to own it and live it, it should become a part of your DNA and be exhibited in everything you do! The more you invest in the vision the more it becomes your own, which creates multifaceted benefits to the stylists and the owners. Maintaining a positive attitude within the salon will influence the energy that you exchange with the other stylists, both your guests and theirs, and the leadership, elevating everyone's experience that walks through the doors.
To sum up, learn to understand and articulate the vision in order to help others understand it. Look within for motivation, not outside and as the title hints, you can be an owner by owning the vision, owning the motives, and owning the process!
Hi, I'm Jolene, I started my career in the hair industry over 12 years ago. I have learned a lot along the way, not just about being a hairstylist but about life. I'll keep you up to date on the latest hair color and cut trends of the season, educate you on all different kinds of hair products, styling tools, and everything life!