For the past 100 years, there have been two ways to get started in the hairdressing world: either going to beauty school or taking an apprenticeship. And, all these years later, not much has changed… or has it? Most of us know the name Vidal Sassoon because he changed the culture of our community. He made the components of creating the perfect shape, he elevated the standard of the hairdresser, and, most importantly, he elevated the education of our industry. But, would Vidal become the legend he was if the first 10 years of his career, or his desire to learn, had been different?
Thankfully, many people and brands over the past century have helped evolve education for the hairdresser—it’s a lineage. What exactly do I mean by that? When someone who has been in the industry for 50 years mentors and coaches someone who’s been in it five years, the amount of information and knowledge shared far exceeds what that young hairdresser could have ever imagined learning, simply because the veteran hairdresser has had more time.
So where exactly is the future of education going? Cosmetology and barbering schools have continued to elevate the game and currently offer endless options, from state colleges to branded schools. There are even some great apprenticeships out there. Yet, in my opinion, it’s not where you go to school or how you start, it’s what you do afterward that sets the framework for your career.
I’ve been in this industry since I was 15, and I'm now 36. From working in an eight-location salon, New York Fashion Week year-in and year-out, traveling the world educating for Redken and finally owning two salons of my own, I’m often asked how I did it—the answer is simple: education.
Technology is advancing, brands and independent educators are evolving and different platforms are emerging that are advancing how the industry learns. Yet, it’s not what we learn, it’s how we apply what we’ve learned. Behind the chair is the proving ground, not the learning ground. You’ve got to practice, and when you think you’ve practiced enough, practice some more. If you put in average practice and average work, you'll only be average on your best day. The best way to learn is hands on; that’s one-on-one work with someone better than you; that’s taking a hands-on class; that’s not just watching a video, but practicing the techniques before applying them.
And lastly, share the love. Find someone in the industry and give back. Take them under your wing, teach them, coach them and, most importantly, love on them. Pressure is love. Young cats out there, find a mentor, sit at the table with people who are better than you. Be open to it.
Love is sharing, learning is growing. Let’s love learning! Because education is our culture and culture is your king, or queen.