My feet only kind of hurt today

This isn’t me complaining, I promise. I won’t say how much I don’t like it, because that’s not how I feel. I just notice that they hurt. I was busy, not overly so, but now I remember in full how my aching body feels after a long day of physical labor.
During work it’s less noticeable because I’m preoccupied with activity. As I stand here looking at my phone for no good reason out of delirium, it dawns on me… I should write about this.
At the end of the day, your feet will hurt in this profession. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have a dress code and we dress fashionable. This usually means adding height. Especially for a gal like me standing tall at a measly 5’3″, some heel is common. Now work standing and bending in those bad boys for hours.

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Why kids can’t come with me to work

I often think of opening my own salon just so my kids can be there too. After all, what is the problem with children anyway? They are just smaller, younger versions of us. I dream of a mommy hair salon where there is a room dedicated to just the children for playing, and I imagine it being very busy during the day, because quite frankly, mothers can now get their hair done without having to also pay/find a babysitter. That way my kids can be there too. I can work for my family, and also be with my kids.

Over the years I am certain one of my three daughters will be interested in my craft and will learn a lot just by being around it. Maybe I will be benefitting them in the long run.

The problems
1. Health: It is not the best environment for young growing bodies to be exposed to regularly. There are chemicals and debris.
2. Neediness: My children are very young still and often want me to hold them. If I can’t because I am in the middle of applying a highlight- and one of them (or even two) are crying- that is a huge disappointment to them and even worse it is a distraction to me and my client.

The advantages
1. My kids can learn that women can work too and kids aren’t taboo.
2. My kids will learn and see the practice of business skills and ethics that I mostly learned by mentoring the salon owners and colleagues I had from my own young career days. Sorry mom and dad (who probably will never read this because he isn’t a thoughtful parent) but you didn’t teach me much about business when I was young.
3. Convenience for me and other mothers who also tote kids with them everywhere.

I am always spotting little salons that are out of business. I could also quickly move into a small houses that would be easy to convert because the separated rooms are already in place. It is just a matter of getting the upfront funding to open, and marketing for the clientele. Which I have learned is not that difficult if you have done it before and know what works and what doesn’t.

In all honesty, it is a dream, but will probably only ever be a dream because it isn’t worth it for the two problems. If over time we overcome the second, the first will always be a deal-breaker.


Know what you want, and what you can have too.

As a client it is very helpful to your stylist if you have at least a vague idea of what you want, and what you don’t want. Make sure that your hair will actually do what you are asking as well. When you go into the salon, and you say, “Do whatever you want”, you and I both know that isn’t what you really want. My (maybe even rude) joke is- ok, lets do a blue mohawk. The point is, you don’t want just whatever, you want something specific, even if you aren’t sure what that is.

It is our job, behind the chair, to notice certain things about you in order to ask the right questions and suggest options you might be interested in. What kind of clothes you are wearing gives us an idea of the comfort level you select in your every day activities. Are you wearing a scent? Makeup? Which car in the parking lot is likely yours? – I wouldn’t ask this but I would try to guess. Which magazine did you select? Did you sit down and start looking at your hair or are you looking at me instead, trying to figure out if you trust me…

Then the conversation- keep in mind this is haircut specific:
1st question- How long do you want to spend on your hair every day?
2nd question- Do you wear product? Do you want to wear product?
3rd question- How do you feel about the texture of your hair?
4th question- How much length do you want to lose?
5th question- Do you pull it back/up often? Do you want to?
6th question- Ad nauseum until we get to an understanding of what you do/don’t want, and whether or not we can get there given any limitations.

Clients beware! Sometimes you can’t have what you want the first go-around. It takes a little bit of growing into the shape and lengths you desire, but each cut will get you closer to what you want.

I have said this before, and I will say it again- Always quote the work before you begin. Let the client know, I charge $x amount for this service and this is what it includes. This cures the uneasiness the client may feel while you are doing their hair, and they can always choose not to have the service if they don’t have enough money with them.

Next up… Color consultation information.


Secret #2: Get Technical Skills

Technical Skills:

In no profession can you get away without performing. There is an old adage “fake it till you make it”, and this is unfortunately true. In most cases, even a hairdresser that is a natural will fumble at first. On the same note, every seasoned professional will find a client in their chair that they will not be able to satisfy once in a while. On-going training is imperative to stay current with trends, and innovative techniques often accompany flashy new equipment.

If you are just beginning, this is the best thing you can do for your career. PAY ATTENTION!

Attend as many classes as you can afford.

Apprentice or assist in a salon you want to work in long-term, build a career instead of a job.

Learn how to use every piece of equipment you own, and learn it well.

Learn the difference between cutting hair dry, damp, and wet.

Learn the difference between razor, scissor, and clipper.

Learn the textures and densities of each client. Also, how weather affects the texture of each clients hair.

Learn the products that make your job easier. This will make your clients hair work for them, rather than your client work for their hair.

Practice, practice, practice!

When you are new, offer to do everyone’s hair you know. Make sure they are aware of your skill level, though.

Pay attention to what you are doing. Be present with the hair and build on your skills in steps.

Watch others and learn from them. Notice the details- tension, where to begin, systems, directional cutting, ask coworkers what color formulas they are using and take mental note of consultation, clients hair before, and results.

Color can be very tricky- stick to one line until you fully understand how color works. Once you get a few tricks up your sleeve, experiment with other color lines and see the differences. Once you work with different ones you will see which you prefer, and which your clients prefer as well.

Don’t trash the clients hair, be cautious if you are unsure.

ASK FOR ADVICE!!! Don’t be a know-it-all from the get-go, you will fail. You will get sued. You will lose your job.

In summary, know what you are doing. If you don’t know yet… learn!


Secret #1: Value of communication

Communication: This must be crystal in order to know what the client wants. Not only words, of course communication is a whole body experience. Touch their shoulder before you touch their head to reassure them of your grace, this establishes trust in contact. Look in their eyes so they know they have your attention, listen to their choice of words in describing what they want, and analyze where they are coming from. Ask the questions that feel natural for you to comprehend what they need from you, and give them an understanding of the limitations you have (whether it is time, training, or their hair is simply not going to do what they want). Let them know your rates for their request, offer alternatives to their service and pricing if you aren’t sure they are certain or dead-set on what they want. Have consistent pricing too. People hate going to the hairdresser and having the surprise ending- that she is now charging you more than she did before but forgot to tell you. I always quote the work before I begin. It’s the only way to be fair to both the client and yourself. Don’t just come up with something either, have a base and structure additionals consistently.

Make sure you are actually connecting with your client, tap into the way they understand the world, look at their hair from their perspective. Ask as many questions as necessary, in ways that speak to that person…

Every now and then I will have a client who says, “maybe I didn’t tell the last girl what I really wanted, because look at it, it’s______.” That undesirable trait may or may not be your idea of foul play, but it most certainly is according to the client (who is no longer patronizing the last hairdresser). Communicate clearly to avoid repeat offending. My response to this is almost always, “I am the professional here, it is MY responsibility to make sure I know what you want before we begin.” Don’t argue with a client about whether their hair is gold or not, accept how they see it and make sure you do it how you have agreed.

Additionally, it’s not enough to know what someone does want, you must know what they do not want.

For all the readers who are clients, this series of articles is a valuable tool for you too. Make sure the hairdresser doesn’t proceed until you are comfortable with the communication.

Stay tuned for the 2nd secret….