What they didn't tell me in school (A lesson for new stylists)

If I have any form of intelligence, it's simply that I'm smart enough to know that I still have a lot left to learn. This post will be mainly directed to students at barber and cosmetology schools, but it's also for me. I can't know where I'm going if I don't know where I've been. 

Dear new barbers and stylists,

Everybody has some sort of aspiration past hair. Maybe it's owning their own shop or salon, or it could be getting a job as an educator for a larger company, or even a platform artist. Hair could even be nothing more than the avenue some people choose to use to make end's meet, going through the motions and lacking the passion.  Here's a list of things nobody told me that would have helped me figure it out sooner.

  • Make decisions to follow your passion. The first 18 years of your life are wasted on lessons that barely prepare you for the real world, and the last 20 years of your life should be spent enjoying what the world has to offer. That means for more than half of your life, you will be working towards your penultimate goal. Why in the actual hell would you waste those years on anything other than the things you want to see happen in your lifetime? If your passion is hair, run, and go get it. If your passion is something else, leave, but go and get what you love.
  • I think labeling it a cutthroat industry is misleading. Some of the most supportive people are my peers. It certainly is a difficult industry, and due to the fact that it's a huge fad to be a barber, getting noticed in your local area is reserved for those who persevere.
  • As a shop owner, it's interesting to me to recognize how much power barbers actually have. Your team keeps the open sign on. This is helping me put my focus on doing things that make my shop a more enjoyable environment for the individuals that spend the most time there.
  • There is nothing wrong with getting your feet wet before making taking a dive, just don't forget to take the dive. I knew in school that I wanted to open up a shop, but that doesn't mean I went straight to the platform. I learned the basics and I spent time practicing my craft prior to taking that terrifying leap.
  • Every decision you make is the right decision, but only if you learn from the lessons that come from the decision you chose.

Here's a second list of more practical advice to ask your first job when you leave school.

  • Don't make a decision until you know what people are offering. Yes, the barbershop makes the rules and sets the policies that are specific to that location, but looking for the situation that works best for your situation is best done with a compass.
  • How does your shop manage retail & back bar?
  • The answer to "Do you have an onsite washer/dryer?" can make or break your decision.
  • Do I lease as an independent contractor, or will I be a w2 employee?
  • What limitations to the facilities do I have?
  • Am I able to set my own prices?
  • How do I grow professionally?

Professional growth is important. If you have nowhere to go, why would you stay? 

I've been fortunate enough to want to dabble in 101 different things over the past decade that I can use in a double dozen different ways to benefit the business I'm currently in. I am also fortunate enough to have been able to put money back into the business to help it grow, and this weekend, my recording equipment finally got put together. This is is my first attempt at something you will be seeing more of in the future, education. I loved educating in my prior career, creating and delivering lesson plans, generating content that resonated, coaching agents, all waiting for that moment of "AHA!" when they finally got it for themselves. I love the satisfaction of sharing knowledge, and I am thankful that I live in a time where all I need is my phone.

This was recorded on an iPhone 8+ in 4K at 24 fps using a Shure Motiv MV88 microphone and an 18 inch LED ring light. All of the post-production was done in iMovie right on my phone. I also use a tripod grip mount and smartphone adapter since I have a larger phone that requires a more stable base. 100% of my setup is portable, and only the ring light requires a case outside of my messenger bag.

I still have a long way to go, but this is where I'm at, and it's better than where I was three years ago.