Take It From The Pros!
Tell me a little bit about who you are, and how you work with beauty school students.
Under the MODERN SALON Media umbrella, we have three communities: MODERN SALON, for seasoned stylists, SALON TODAY, for owners and managers, and FIRST CHAIR, for students and new graduates. I am the Executive Editor for MODERN SALON and the Editor in Chief of FIRST CHAIR. For both of these major industry publications I get the tremendous opportunity to work with some of the COOLEST, most talented, fascinating, artistic people out there—hairdressers! FIRST CHAIR is the community JUST for students and new grads—inside we feature all the need-to-knows to help them hit the ground running as they begin their careers in beauty. Whether that’s exploring additional service opportunities like extensions or eyelash enhancements, checking out major industry trends like keratin treatments, dissecting marketing advice or how to build your portfolio and resume skills, we’re all about being the starter’s guide to a beautiful career.
What is your advice to someone who is looking to start his or her career in beauty?
My best advice is to completely immerse yourself in the industry—spend a day in a salon either shadowing a stylist or booking a bunch of services for an all-day pampering fest. Seriously. Spending time in a salon is the best way to see if this is the industry for you. For me? The salon is my home away from home. The smell of hair products and nail polish makes me tingle! “Like” MODERN SALON on Facebook and see what the pros are reading and talking about— and FIRST CHAIR.. After all, it’s the community that’s built JUST FOR YOU! There’s nothing better than going to work every day and doing what you love… If you love beauty, and you have a passion for it, you WILL succeed.
You went to beauty school yourself. What’s your most cherished memory?
My most cherished memory at beauty school was the study abroad program I did through my academy, Pivot Point International in Chicago’s suburbs. Every so often, we have life experiences that serve as benchmarks for our personal timelines. Something monumental will happen and, for the rest of our lives, we’ll remember that day–everything that happened pre-event, and everything that happened post-event. Maybe someday someone asks you, “When did Jenny get hired at the salon?” And you’ll respond, “Oh, well, Anne had just celebrated her 30th birthday and George fell off his bike that day… so, it was in October!”
For me, my trip with Pivot Point International will always serve as a benchmark in my life, a monumental life experience I will NEVER forget! We did it all–we had no wasted trip, no wasted hour, no wasted minute. Every thing we did was on purpose, direct and FANTASTIC. On our first day, we took a motorcoach tour through London to get a taste of what to expect in the coming days. And, we took a trip to Camden, where Amy Winehouse and Kelly Osbourne live, for some shopping a taste of the funk town. Our second day took us to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, the Tower of London, British Crown Jewels and London Bridge. Then, we moved onto two fabulous days of education with Yolly ten Koppel at the Sassoon Academy in London. Day five was Hampton Court Palace and the city of Windsor. Then, that same day, I got to cross Abbey Road! Then, we took a trip to see Warhol and Picasso and the Tate Modern museum and to the Globe Theatre AND saw Queen’s We Will Rock You musical!
Our last day, we were given the entire day to do whatever we like. At this point, we were all very familiar with London’s transportation system and some of us wanted to re-visit some of the places we fell in love with. For my classmate Mena and I, we decided to purchase tickets on the Chunnel to go to Paris for the day. Wow, it was so worth it. A two and a half hour train ride later, and we were in paradise! We took an open-tour bus tour through the city.
This trip was so inspirational and I felt completely inspired!
How has the beauty industry changed your life?
Growing up, I always knew I loved hair and beauty. I’d spend hours poring through magazine—attempting to recreate the looks on myself and willing friends. I loved reshaping eyebrows and playing with make-up. I even borrowed my mother’s shears from her cosmetology years and chopped my own hair (including one time when I was six, before I was to be a flower girl in my uncle’s wedding, oops!). I remember late night trips to the drugstore to color my hair on a whim—and the early morning salon visits to fix what I’d messed up the night before (don’t worry, I know better now…). I knew I loved beauty, but didn’t quite know what to do with that passion.
After graduating college with my journalism degree, I thought I had come full circle when I landed a job in the beauty industry as an editor for MODERN SALON Media. Little did I know that, soon I would not only be an editor, but a cosmetology graduate! After I expressed my interest in going to beauty school, before I knew it I was enrolled. For almost two years, I covered beauty professionals by day, and by night, was becoming one while attending cosmetology school at Pivot Point International in Chicago’s suburbs—talk about the best of both worlds.
Throughout my education, I saw first-hand how beauty can change lives—and documented my entire journey on firstchair.com’s Beauty School Diary blog. From making over one woman who suffered from trichotillomania (constant hair pulling or twisting), to witnessing a 12-year-old’s emotional hair donation to Locks of Love, to watching students fight through Chicago’s rough winters eager to make it to school and let down their client, to hearing of my friends making incredible financial sacrifices to make it through the cosmetology program—this is an industry that changes people and empowers people. This is an industry that TRULY changes lives—for both the client in the chair, and the stylist standing behind it. The most fantastic part about the professional industry is there are so many opportunities that can lead you to success. In addition to specializing in cut or color, you can be an editorial or runways stylist, travel the world to industry shows as a platform or guest artist, become a salon owner, manufacturer’s rep or educator—whatever you want!
Though it was certainly a tough two years—working by day, going to school at night (something many students have to endure in order to fund their education), studying for exams on weekends, traveling to hair shows and events, and trying to maintain some work/life balance—it was the absolute best decision I could have possibly made. I gained so much knowledge about this industry—knowledge that only could have come from years and years of experience as an editor—not to mention the amazing friends I gained and experiences I had at school.
Different life choices and paths have led each of us to a career in beauty. FIRST CHAIR strives to serve as students’ navigation system as they begin their journeys and pave their way to success. As they begin to build their book and develop best practices, MODERN SALON will continue to guide and inspire.
I am SO proud to say, FINALLY, that I am a beauty school graduate!