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Once you graduate cosmetology school, many stylists find themselves struggling with daily salon challenges. Once you’ve found a salon, there are new parameters of advanced education, skill level, and client demands that can be daunting. Feeling unprepared for new unique situations like this can take a toll on a stylists’ confidence, leaving many unsure about how to proceed and create a successful career.

To give more insight into these matters, Jesse Linares, Sam Villa ArTeam @jesse.linares recently sat down with Matt Fine, co-owner of Trace Salon + Supply (Middle Tennessee), to discuss these points. A salon owner for eleven years, Matt he has worked behind the chair for fifteen and has recently published a book titled Be.Hair.Now. – written specifically to help guide and encourage the new hairdresser as they build their career. Be.Hair.Now. will be out in September 2021, so be on the lookout! In the meantime, gain more insight below! 


Jesse: What are some of the biggest challenges facing new hairdressers entering the workforce?

Matt: Man, I think the biggest challenge is having patience for the growth process!  We live in a world where you can get whatever you want, whenever you want.  This concept permeates everything in our lives.  But when you are growing your business and getting better in your craft, it takes time.  Most people give up before they have their breakthrough! 

For me, there were haircuts I didn’t fully comprehend and couldn’t consistently execute until YEARS into my craft.  It took time.  So, my encouragement to the young stylist is simple:  give yourself the time and space to grow.


Jesse: That’s so true.  I don’t feel like I had any idea what I was doing until about year five. I remember being so frustrated with my mentor, who would tell me I was doing alright and to keep at it.

Matt: We tend to rush the process of growth because we get impatient.  Anyone who is a seasoned professional will tell you it took them time, practice, and repetition to arrive at their current skill level.  If you’re new to the industry - or even in your first few years, don’t rush it.  Find a mentor, get reps and practice.  Look for opportunities to cut hair.  Look for opportunities to watch others cut hair.  Ask questions.  Then, grab a mannequin and practice.  If you want to grow, you must do the work! 


Jesse: As a salon owner, can you share some tips for a hairdresser to help them in their job interviews? 

Matt: First, I would say show up. This should be obvious, but we should start with the basics. Show up on time, dress like you already work there, and ask for more opportunities to shadow or hang with the team.

We spend a TON of time and energy at work. So, choose your salon wisely. The shop will be looking for a good teammate, and you will be looking for a good home base.  I would encourage shadowing at a few salons or barbershops to get a “feel” for their culture.  See if the salon’s vibe is encouraging and creates growth.  See if you enjoy the team and its working environment. Look for people that will be willing to share their experience and be a part of your growth.  Pursue them.  Owners love to see the enthusiasm from potential new team members.


Jesse: Can you share a few “Do’s and Don’ts” for a new hairdresser?

Matt: Do’s: Say Yes!  I’m a fan of saying “yes”.  There’s an industry fad of saying “no” and “firing” guests.  I’m all for creating the type of guest book you desire.  But in the early stages, you have to say “yes” to take advantage of opportunities.  What many people miss is the momentum that’s created by saying “yes”.  It’s contagious!  When you make someone’s day by giving them an amazing service, they tell people. 


Jesse: It really is all about the experience.

Matt: In the early stages of growing your business, you want to create as many of these momentum-creating moments as possible.  Over time, you will start fine-tuning your guest list to meet your personal desires.  But in the beginning, you don’t really even know what you like - or why you like it.  So, say “yes” to as many opportunities as you can.  At least you’ll be figuring out what services you love, and you’ll be creating growth and good vibes in the process! 


Jesse: You mentioned “fine-tuning your guest list” ... What do you mean by that?

Matt: One way to create a desired guest list (based on either services you love or personalities you love) is to encourage your favorite guests to book two to three services in advance. This will do two things. One, it will allow your favorite services and people to have access to your future appointments first. And two, it removes available time from those guests whom you need to be taken on by another stylist on your team. This process creates growth opportunities for everyone.

Doing this type of scheduling allows you to customize your guest list, helps others around you build their books, fills up your schedule, and allows your preferred service type easier access to your time. It’s literally a win, win, win, win.


Jesse: How about some “Don’ts”:

Matt: Don’t say “yes” if you don’t have the ability.  You can and should “fake it until you make it” when it comes to attitude.  BUT, you cannot fake skill.  This is why “reps” and practice are so important!  If you’re offering services, you want to ensure the services are quality.  Some stylists have the ability but lack personal confidence. In such cases, having a mentor to evaluate/validate abilities can be a huge support.  Some stylists have more confidence than skill.  I love the fearlessness of these individuals!  However, you have to ensure your confidence is supported by an adequate skill level.  If you’re scared, get encouragement to push yourself.  If you’re fearless, you’ll need a mentor who can help safeguard you as you grow into your confidence.  Either way, practice builds your skillset.  So, keep mannequins around and keep practicing your craft!  Practice makes better, so get better always.  



Read more Do’s and Don’ts and much, much more in Be.Hair.Now. - coming later in 2021!