25 April 2024

Go (back) to school: roads to success!

Go (back) to school, find a mentor, hone your skills, seek inspiration. The quickest way to the top is still through education and training!

Being a hairdresser today is much more than merely a calling or family hand-me-down trade. If you want to get to the top you will need lots of talent and no one can deny the impact of growing up and getting a sound imprinting in your family’s salon. But if your heart is set on a career in hairdressing, you had better LOVE learning… because in the end, that’s what it’s all about! Don’t worry! You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding ways to learn or a specialization. In this article, Estetica offers an overview of some of the opportunities the industry is offering.

Have It Your Way

Whether just starting out or a seasoned professional considering a career shift or boost, be ready for the glut of opportunities available and take the time to consider all your options. As Jim Roberts Rusk/Babyliss Show and Education Director says, “Hairstyling has gone from being perceived as a job that some considered an option ‘if you can’t do anything else’ to a true art… and the shift toward more comprehensive training is a reflection of that.”
L’Oréal Professionnel Artist James Morrison concurs, remembering that, “I trained under an apprenticeship that lasted three years. In the US most people go to Cosmetology School. In the last 10-15 years I feel the standard has improved drastically and new artists are receiving a higher level and more hands-on education than ever.”

And it’s no longer just about color, cut, style. The industry offers a wealth of specializations and other options as well. Just look around you to find opportunities in platform artistry for those who crave the limelight, editorial hairdressing for those addicted to glossy fashionista pages, high-pressure celebrity and film or television work for star-gazers, salon management for the business-oriented, or working for manufacturers in testing, development, or education.

No matter what career orientation you decide on, there will be plenty of opportunities to choose from. L’Oréal Professionnel has 2 Flagship Academies, the SOHO Academy in NYC and the James Morrison’s Atelier in Laguna Beach in California, as well as 5 national academies across the US, not to mention 35 field programs. Moreover, 2014 will see the launch of Experiences, conceived as the ultimate education package that includes flight, hotel, tuition and inspiration. This is in addition to what they call “Development Sessions”, with classes that range from “Brand Yourself” to “Strictly Stylist” to “What Women Want”.

Pivot Point International remains a pinnacle of excellence in training. Offering a wide variety of courses on all levels, they pride themselves on cultivating well-rounded salon professionals using a wide variety of tools and activities, ranging from videos, DVDs, retail curriculum, photo shoots, and participation backstage at trade shows.

Goldwell has one academy in Santa Monica, California and is looking forward to another opening next spring in NYC. Both schools share signature programs, but also offer programs that gain inspiration from their location. For example, John Simpson, Lead Global Artist for Goldwell, will take classes traipsing about the Big Apple for interactive training during his “Inspiration NYC” course. If you’re already on track and pressed for time, TIGI Academy is designed for advanced professionals from all over the world who are seeking to upgrade and update skills in intensive courses that last anywhere from 1 to 5 days. 

The e-Learning Revolution

No matter where you are located or what your level or specialization might be, probably the most convenient and least expensive way to pump
your professional iron is at your fingertips. All our experts agree that the biggest change in education since “they became hairdressers” is the increased accessibility of education through the use of technology, computers, and mobile devices. Today you can log-on anytime of the day or night to watch step-by-step videos, discover new product launches and how you can use them in your salon, and more. All the edu-experts we talked to encourage all salon owners and artists to exploit social media to boost visibility and business. It’s a great way to let your clients know what promotions and initiatives you’ve got going on and to post the fresh coifs of satisfied clients.

Take this one step further by joining professional communities and forums like Hairbrained or a manufacturer’s online “room” like L’Oréal Professionnel’s LP Connect or Joico’s STiLE Lounge where hairdressers can exchange ideas, images, and learn from each other. Take a course or follow gurus like Goldwell’s Artistic and TechniCulture Director Patrick McIvor, on how to optimize your web presence, or log on to Sam Villa‘s website or Damien Carney‘s “Drab to Fab” videos to grasp all those tips’n’tricks on the latest looks in braids or buns, messy or not. But as Damien himself says, “Learning via media is good, but it will never ever replace hands-on and live methods. Digital and social media is simply a tool that was not available in the past. It’s what you do with the tool that counts.”

Instead, Goldwell’s Vice President of Eduction Salon US, Sandra Humphries believes that, Online learning will continue to evolve. We love live webcasts with live chat hosts. They are much more interactive, with immediate feedback to questions and an opportunity to connect with stylists across
the country.” OYA also offers 24/7 in-depth online educational videos covering everything a hair color professional needs to know, including a new easy-to-use app for iPhone, iPad, and Android backed by a toll-free helpline.  

Taking Care of Business

Once you get your skills honed and image polished, it may be time to start looking at bottom lines. In today’s global and e-commerce marketplaces, where consumers are savvier than ever, it will take more than swift shears to keep your salon afloat. One of Wella’s latest concepts is their “Salon Savvy” Business Education, which deploys a variety of formats to zero in on the many facets of actually running a salon, from Retail to Reception Fundamentals, to Social Media. All are taught by top education professionals during live learning events at the Wella World Studio in Manhattan and at the Studio LA in Los Angeles. Online interactive courses and webinars are also available. The best news? Many of these initiatives are free of charge for licensed beauty professionals and Wella salon owners. When it comes to retail training, have the course come to your salon and include the staff, who play a leading role in boosting your retail sales. Goldwell’s Humphries observes, “Business-building programs work best when the whole salon team is involved, like our in-salon program called ‘Profit or Perish’. Business programs held away from the salon often exclude vital members of the team.”

Since the launch of L’Oréal’s C.A.R.E. (Client Advice and Retail Education) program in September, attendees have increased retail sales by up to 15% after just the first day of the program. Recently Farouk Systems celebrated the grand opening of the CHI Lone Star College-North Harris School of Cosmetology where students can attend Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations approved cosmetology, esthetics and cosmetology instructor programs. Lisa Marie Garcia, VP of Shows and Education, says, “Partnering with LoneStar gives us the chance to offer advanced education that can lead to an associate’s degree in business, accounting, marketing and more.” Matrix Global Artists, Brian and Sandra Smith, do specify however that, “A business degree may not help in defining the uniqueness of the Beauty and Salon Business. We recommend going to a salon management course based on your needs.”

Live Learning

Joico’s Damien Carney, although a digital guru, confesses, “It’s the hands-on experiences that get your creative juices flowing and your artistry and vision to come out.” Wella North American Prestige Associate Manager Education, Christina McCarver, admits, “I like being in a different environment surrounded by people I might not know. I love being uncomfortable – when you’re uncomfortable is when you are learning the most.”

But perhaps Judy Rambert sums it up best when she says, “Pivot Point believes learning should be fun and social. The diversity of being able to see a platform artist, go to a trade show, or take in-salon training is what makes learning beauty exciting. It’s social engagement that drives learning to a more active place in your brain.” Indeed, there is no substitute for experience! Push yourself to the limits. Go to trade shows. Participate in manufacturer’s events, like Eufora’s Global Connection, Farouk’s ‘Join the Revolution’, JPMS’s The Gathering, and many more. Compete in the Wella Trend Vision or Goldwell Color Zoom, NAHA, the Contessa Awards, the Stars Competition. One of the most cutting-edge competitions could very well be Sebastian Professional’s What’s Next Award, launched to cultivate creativity by challenging hairdressers to step up and actually set a trend – literally create What’s Next.

These are opportunities where no one is a loser, because the experience in and of itself can never be taken away from you. Better yet, if you win, they can set your career on the fast track to success, with prizes like editorial spreads in trade publications, backstage work at NYFW, photo shoots with industry VIPs, cash prizes and more. These are places where you can shine. TIGI’s Thomas Osborn encourages thinking out of the box, “We learn the rules first in order to break them. There is no short cut to experience, but the more prepared you are, the more successful you will be.”

It Takes A Village To Make A Hairdresser

The hairdressing industry seems to stand apart from other commercial enterprise in one very special way: giving. It may be a Sexy Hair walkathon, or Pivot Point Academy students creating a photo shoot in support of “Hope is in Style Campaign”, or Cosmetologists Chicago raising money to help hurricane or tornado victims. No matter where we look it seems that John Paul DeJoria’s mantra of “success unshared is failure” has been adopted by everyone. One of the many companies that best puts this concept into practice is Wella, the salon professional division of P&G, which has developed the Hairdressers at Heart program to include everything from scholarships and grants; competitions and awards childcare discounts, and grants that allow salon owners to support for community service through their Hairdressers at Heart program. Jim Roberts confirms, “The best result comes from up-close and personal sharing of the art! Offering the talents that one possesses and others desire. No boundaries, no expectations, just sharing to make everyone a better hairstylist.” Amen!

By Marie Scarano


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