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Life After Beauty School: Apprenticeships VS Mentors

Let's talk about the ins and outs of the beauty industry, how one would start a career, how to get a mentor and how to further educate yourself on your professional journey.

If you're not in the beauty industry, but you're just kind of curious and you want to know a little bit more about it, this will be a fun one.

How does one start their career in the beauty industry?

There are multiple avenues you can take in order to acquire your cosmetology license.

Option one, you go into beauty school. There's a bunch of different schools out there. You've got Paul Mitchell, Aveda, Tony and Guy and so many more.

I'm just going to say it and you can hate me for saying it, but when you go to beauty school, you don't learn anything.

You are there to get your piece of paper that states that you are licensed by the state and you can properly sanitize and disinfect any bacteria and cross contaminants, etc. That's what the license is for. It's not to say that you're a great cutter or you're a great colorist.

It's pretty scary for the typical new stylist because they know they don't know a whole lot.

As a salon owner, I have mentored a lot of different women and some men, and usually they come out of beauty school and they're so green and so open to learning and working on their skill, but they really don't know what direction to go in as far as specialty.

Do I want to be a cutter? Do I want to be a colorist? Do I want to focus on men's cutting? Do I want to focus on fashion colors... like pink and blue? And I mean, each avenue you go down, you really have to focus a lot of time and energy into honing in on that skill. And so what I think happens, stylists don't know where to go, so they'll just get hired at any old salon without mentorship, and they'll just sit there, start posting on social media, start handing out their card, and just start doing hair when they really don't know what they're doing.

and if you're a client, you maye have sat in one of those young stylist's chairs at some point and probably had a not so great outcome.

It's typically because they just were under-educated.

And so this is where I feel as a salon owner, it's my duty to make sure that if there is a stylist fresh from beauty school coming to work for me, they learn the right way to do things to be able to create that success. And this is kind of a long process.

So, you get your license, you find a mentor and then you work under them as a assistant. You are shampooing, you're ripping foils. You're watching . You hope that they have some sort of educational program where they're going to show you just proper ways of cutting different shapes to cut, and then you have the ability to practice while you're learning under them until you are ready to actually work on a person.

So that, to me, seems to be the most successful route. Finding that salon that is education focused and really taking their time to train you properly and not rushing you to get behind a chair and do hair when you really don't have the confidence or the repetition to be able to give the clients what they're looking for.

If you just jump right in, you pick up bad habits. You do things just to get by, but you really don't know what you're doing and then you make mistakes that you don't even realize you're making. And what happens over time is that you build muscle memory in mistakes.

And then I have found if I have a stylist that has been doing hair for five, seven years without any sort of mentorship and they come to me, it's almost harder for me to break down the bad habits and explain to them what they've been doing wrong without conflict of ego or them thinking, "well, I've been doing this for seven years and nobody has corrected me until now."

Yikes. So that's kind of scary and it happens quite a bit.

Your mentorship path will really set you up for success.

Option number two an apprenticeship program. This is how I got my cosmetology license. I didn't even know I wanted to do hair. I just happened to be at the right place right time. I was working at a salon, not as a stylist, and I fell in love with the ideology of the salon. And that's what made me excited to learn to do hair.

At that salon specifically, my mentor had been mentoring other stylists to be apprenticeship programs, but it was a two year program. It was 2400 hours. I had to go to classes down in LA. I think I had to 40 classes to learn a little bit more of the disinfecting sanitation part of my licensing, and that was extra. But I was able to learn full time, hands on and work in the salon and get the mentorship that I needed to set me up for success. I was watching someone who had a successful career and how he was able to manage his clients work with different types of hair, and I was able to learn just by being there and assisting him. So that to me, was the best way to go.

I don't think there's a right or a wrong path. I think it's really important that each individual decide what's right for them.

Want to hear more on the topic of Life After Beauty School. Listen to this blog episode.


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