Help Wanted

Today’s tale is one for all the up and comers in our beloved industry. We are in the business of Beauty. Our customers and clients come to us because they want to look better and in turn feel better about themselves. They look to us for helpful hints and tips on how to care for their hair and to style their new ‘do.

Over the past year I have had many young ladies and gents come through my door asking if I was hiring for the shop or if our Salon would take an apprentice under our wing. For the most part, I had to say no – and not for the reasons you think. I didn’t say no because of lack of business, lack of clientele, lack of budget or because the economy is slow. I had to say no because as I saw it, if they were not able to brush their own hair, how were they able to help our clients and customers with their hair care needs. One young lady still stands out in my mind.

I hear the chirp of the shop’s door chime and look up to see a young woman wearing jogging pants, an over sized jacket, no makeup applied and her hair in a messy ponytail. “I just finished school and I need my hours…do you guys take apprentices?”. It was at this moment I decided that I was gonna change her life.I took a breath, put a smile on my face and crossed my fingers that the demo flat iron beside her would not become air born. I asked her where she went to school and I asked her if part of the curriculum focused on how to apply for a position in a salon. “Not really” she answered. I let her know that we were  not looking for an apprentice at the moment, but I would take her resume. I also asked her if she had a minute to chat. She said yes. I asked her if she loved doing hair or just liked it. “I LOVE IT!” she exclaimed. I told her I was happy to hear it, because it is a lot of hard work and long hours, but if you love it, it’s all worth it. I then asked her if I could give her a few tips. I let her know that our industry is a visual industry, that being said, she must always look like she is ready to cut/color someone’s hair. I let her know that she needs to have her hair done and a little make up applied – even if it’s just lip gloss. I let her know of Salon’s in town that I had heard were looking for apprentices and told her to go home an do the following;

– call the Salon you are interested in and ask to speak to the manager and ask to make an appointment to come and see them. * Shows professionalism and shows you understand their time, as yours, is important.

– have a shower, do your hair and apply a little makeup. You need to look good and smell good. *think about it, would you want to get your hair done by someone who’s hair was not tidy and they smelled like the gym?

– dress appropriately. Put on a nice pair of pants and a nice shirt – preferably black. (black compliments the client – puts the attention on them). *make sure the pants are clean and the shirt is pressed

– bring your tools along. You never know, you may be asked to give a cut so they can see your technique and composure around their clients.

I let her know you only get one chance to make a first impression, and that most people wouldn’t attempt to see past the jogging pants and wouldn’t give her the time of day. I then told her one of my favorite sayings “when you know better, you do better. So now, you will do better”. She laughed. (whew…thank you Maya Angelou and the powers that be that left the flat iron in it’s place).

After she left I found myself thinking about how we are not educating the up and comers. Sure they are learning cutting and coloring techniques, but these alone do not a stylist make. Students need to be taught customer service skills, interpersonal skills, how to communicate with their potential boss and coworker, how to sell retail product to their client sitting in their chair – they need to be told how to dress for their interviews and in turn for their career. Listen, I am a mother of a teenage daughter so I know you cannot guarantee what you have said has been heard nor can you guarantee what you have taught has been learned. What I do know is this; not educating students and giving them all the tools they will need if they choose to get ahead is, well, cruel and setting them up to fail. Plain and simple. Starting out in this industry is hard enough, and brings out it’s own road blocks, emotionally, physically and mentally. How about instead off adding another roadblock we give them the green light.

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