Great questions! I’ll answer these the best that I can!
1. How long did it take for you to start a career?
My situation is not the common one. I started my career as a hair “artist” before school. I paid attention to what my stylist was doing, I asked questions, I did a lot of research on the internet and I dared to try everything myself. I did funky cuts and colors on my own hair and soon my friends took notice. I then did their hair, their friends, my family, their friends and it took off…before I even knew how to even wrap a perm. The mistakes I made on my own hair and then learning how to fix it on my own was the best education I could have received…so the day I got my license, I was on the salon floor making money.
2. What are the worst parts of the job?
DRAMA. Seriously, finding a chill salon with an owner who is understanding and willing to educate you is worth it’s weight in gold! The attitudes start and end with the boss. This is also extremely hard to find it seems…so you either have to keep up with the Jones or fly out on your own.
3. How much do you say you make?
This depends mostly on location and how the salon is ran. My first two years was in a salon that was located in a busy area with high end clients. I specialized in color and Keratin treatments…so my average ticket was $200. When the clients tipped accordingly, it was even better. However, I was only 44% commission, so I wasn’t doing terribly, but if I would have stuck around, I could have easily been making at least 20-30k within a few years.
But then I moved across state, lost all of my clients, entered into a trendy salon downtown with terrible management and after working 40 hrs/week for 6 months, my gross pay was only $1000…for those 6 months! Which is bullshit, so I walked and never looked back.
I wont say what I am making now…but I can promise you it’s nothing like I could have been making on the other side of the state. I’m lucky to have my husband to help me out while I build my business back up.
4. Is it salary or commission?
Salary in this industry is pretty much unheard of. In a corporate setting, you may make wage vs. commission…which means a lower commission and if that isn’t made, you’ll at least make minimum wage for the hours worked. Independent salons, however, are commission OR chair rental. With commission, they will take somewhere around half your earnings, but with that, they should offer education, promotion, insurance, include all product and salon essentials (besides your shears/tools) and just take a small portion out for color expenses They also control your schedule. In chair rental, you provide color, insurance, all tools, sometimes product, and you pay a certain amount weekly to your landlord…and you don’t have a boss. You keep the rest of your earnings and taxes will now become a bitch. But that’s that!
5. Can you live comfortable with your earnings?
It most definitely helps to have extra support in the first few years of your career. If someone told me this in the first place, I would have lived with my parents while attending school and in the first few years of my career… because it’s not easy. But if you are passionate and you don’t put up with bullshit…if you dont cheapen your skills, you can do really well! You just have to want to do it.
6. Best part of the job?
The smile on the client’s face when you have exceeded their expectations…knowing that you just turned their day, their week, their month around just by making them feel good about themselves. The little things…the way they say they wish they could take you with them to blow dry their hair every morning or shampoo their scalp every night. When they come back and say “do exactly what you did last time” you know that you have done something really special for them.
7. Did you go to college too? Before or after?
I did! I went to four years at a university and didn’t finish… because the education was pertinent but the degree itself didn’t matter to me. I am also a musician and it got to a point where focusing on school was actually getting in the way of me living out my dreams, so I dropped out and THEN went to cosmetology school. I don’t regret a thing.
8. How long did beauty school take?
Full-time, you can finish in about 11 months here in Michigan. It took me 12 exactly because I skipped a little (michigan summers are too beautiful to be in school all day, every day!). Part-time will take you about two years. I recommend going full-time if possible. Get in and get out…because it can be draining!