"This IS a Real Job!!"
I'm tired of it. People asking me "when are you gonna to get a real job?" They're always asking "are you still just doing hair or are you working yet?" What ya'all mean, am I working yet? Hell, I probably work harder and make more money than most people I know.
I look at what I do as a hair stylist, as one of the best jobs in all of America. I set my own schedule, I can do my own thing. I take vacations when and as often as I please. I dress the way I feel, and even though I don't own the shop where I work, I am my own boss. I pay my booth rent and there is no limit as to how much money I can make. Now what other job can I get with this type of control and freedom and I can be as creative as my mind will take me? Ain't none.
The hair business is a great, although I do realize we all need a little help in money-management and securing insurances and preparing a way of living after we get old and can't do hair anymore. I know many other jobs are probably more professional in the way they set you up for a retirement fund and all, but I'm thinking more about my life ahead as I become older. But right now, I'm making a pretty good - no, I'll say, I'm making a great living. And yes, I am a little concerned about saving money for later and maybe even getting into another type of something so I can keep getting paid by something I like doing. I love to talk, so maybe I can speak to groups about the secrets to being successful as a professional hair stylist, because I've got some stories to share with you.
I will tell you one thing, being a hair stylist has been great, and the next person who asks me when am I gonna get a real job, I'm going to tell them to kiss me where the sun don't shine.
- Shireeta from Dallas, TX
'Over-Anxious Ashley' Goes Under Before She Gets Over
Ashley just recently graduated from beauty school, where she was by far the best hair stylist at the city's top school. Unlike some of the other students, she didn't have time to build a clientele on the side while attending school. She had 3-year-old Shawanna to care for, while enrolled in college part-time taking business courses. Ashley was preparing for a comfortable living for herself and her little one (her man took off as soon as their daughter was born and hasn't been seen or heard from since).
As expected, Ashley had a choice of hair salons to work at, so she chose Beautiful U 4 You, a high-traffic salon with a reputation for cranking out high-fashion styles. The stylists who work there are considered some of the best trend setters in the country.
Ashley was confident and ready to get paid. But because she didn't already have a clientele, it was taking her longer than expected to build her own regulars. She was assisting a couple of other stylists, while working long hours, getting a few walk-ins, but not taking home much money. 'Anxious Ashley' had jumped the gun a little by moving into a nice apartment and buying a new SUV.
About eight months later, after struggling to pay her bills and a babysitter to watch little Shawanna, things got pretty tight.
So Ashley had to move back home with her mother around the same time her car got repossessed. Some of her so-called friends from beauty school were laughing at her when they saw her driving her new little 'hooptie' around town
It would leave a trail of smoke all the way to the salon. Plus, some of her co-workers would tease her because she couldn't afford to go out to eat and drink with them.
But, even with all the peer pressure, Ashley stayed focused. It's all about sacrificing, she kept telling herself. She knew she had to penny-pinch and put in her time, as she continued to learn all she could. Hair is her passion and she was determined to make a good living from this industry. Sometimes you have to go backwards before moving forward, and she was cool with that.
7 Years Later
Ashley is rolling in doe. She's still working at Beautiful U 4 You Salon and her clientele is booming. She recently purchased a new home, with a garage to park her new sports car, along with a spacious living room to display her framed college degree in Business Administration. Little Shawanna is now 10 years old and attending private school, and Ashley has put away a nice stash of money in the bank, while negotiating a deal for a line of new hair products bearing her name. She had a plan and stuck to it. Of course, being talented and having some business sense did help. But she didn't cave into the pressure and took her time to let her life develop. Every now and then, Ashley looks around to see who's laughing at her now.
T.P.: Living Without a Plan
"My name is T.P. and I'm rollin' in the hair business, baby! I am making 'big paper' up in here. What in the hell do I need a plan for? Hey, I PLAN on making as much money as I want - when I want and how I want, 'cause T.P.'s got it like that."
Well T.P., you had it like that -- until age caught up with you. Your back is hurting and it's pretty certain you're going to have to pull the curtain. Reality is real. The show is over for you, T.P.
T.P. was always talented - even in beauty school. Everyone knew she'd make it big in the hair field - and she did - for a long time. She was set for life, so she thought - a nice big home, a big body BMW and a Yukon SUV. Plus, T.P. could go on vacation whenever she had the notion. But time has a way of kickin' you in the ass.
Now, T.P. is saying "I didn't put away any money. I have no pension. I have no stocks, no 401 k plan, no investments. My clients used to keep my knot tight. I remember when I had to double my prices just to break down the rush. But now, these ailments are slowing me down. My clients are dying daily, and to be honest with you, I don't even know how to do these crazy new hair styles. Who me? T.P.? Go to a class? I've always told the clients who want something different to just stick to what I give you and stop searching for new fads that won't last."
Two Years Later
T.P. is broke. The beautiful home is history. The BMW got scooped up in the middle of the night because paying the note got tight. A bad insurance job lost everything on the Yukon, on the night it mysteriously burned. Four boxes of weave were in the truck and the fire smelled like burned hair. It was an awful ending to probably the most talented hair stylist in the city. But T.P. had no plan. Living week-to-week, or day-to-day, lasted too long. The worst thing that could happen to a successful businessperson is to lose it all - but it happens often.
T.P. was last seen residing in a former client's garage, looking at old photo albums.
My name is Marilyn and my product stash at the salon stays low, but that’s by design. Why should I keep buying products when I can borrow from my co-workers? That’s one reason why I like working at Multiple Hair Creations. There are so many stylists, I can rotate who, what and when I borrow.
These workers are so slow, they don’t even realize I hardly ever purchase hair products. I’ll borrow a little shampoo here, a little perm there, a squirt or two of spritz here, a dab of gel there, a stocking cap or three, and lots of bobby pins – whew, I’m so slick I can make a living out of mooching.
One day I sat down and figured out how much money I was saving by not buying what I need at the salon, and believe you me, I’m pocketing big bucks. I’ve been doing this for months, ever since I’ve been at this salon, and I don’t see an end in sight – I’m just too legit to quit.
Meanwhile, behind Marilyn’s back, her co-workers at Multiple Hair Creations were meeting about how they weren’t going to take it anymore. They knew what she was doing, and they came up with a plan. All at once, everyone was just going to say “No,” and let her suffer. In addition, they all ordered small lockers to be placed at their stations, so when they left for the day, Marilyn couldn’t snoop around for products and other items that she would permanently ‘borrow’ without asking – usually late at night when everyone was long gone.
THE DAY OF
You should have seen the look on Marilyn’s face when she stepped into the salon (empty-handed, of course). Besides noticing that all eyes were on her, she sensed something in the air. Then she spotted the new lockers at every station except hers – with a big sign on each one, saying “NO - NOT TODAY, NOT TOMORROW, NOT EVER !”
Needless to say, Moochin’ Marilyn had a rough day. Most of her clients ran out of the salon half-done. She was scraping the bottom of the bucket trying to complete a perm that she couldn’t confirm. Minutes later, a tall high-fashion hair do went “pew,” right on cue and collapsed, leaving a strange trail of residue on the way through the incredible view of an out-of-order scene that included only enough sheen to reach in between – while spotting another client who just fled, scratching her head all the way to the parking lot because Marilyn skipped her shampoo and conditioning service.
Moochin’ Marilyn quit that day. All that time she thought she was getting over, she was actually going under. Marilyn is now searching for a new location to resume her penny-pitching ways. But her old salon put out an APB (All Points Bulletin) on her. So be on the lookout for Moochin' Marilyn – she is unarmed (no products) and extremely detrimental.
I Am NOT A Thief - I Just Accumulate Clients."
I love my working situation. I'm the only male hair stylist in a salon that attracts many, many beautiful women -and I love beautiful women. My co-workers call me "Stealing Sterling" because they accuse me of stealing their clients. Hey, I can't help it if a fine lady wants me to put my hands and my magic touch in her hair. I tell all the female stylists in the salon that your client is your client ONLY when they are in your chair.
Let me give you an example of what usually happens: First of all, I dress nice, I smell good and I am well-groomed every day. So, while I'm creating an attractive style on one of my clients, I'm noticing someone else's client staring at me, just a grinning away. So I smile back and give her a little wink. We're exchanging sex appeal. So after that client leaves the chair, she grabs one of my business cards from the reception desk and calls me to make an appointment.
On her next visit, she sits in my chair and her former stylist is pissed off at me. I tell her, "don't get mad at ME." It's not my fault she wants the hands of this man in her hair. And she probably loves the way I touch her while she's totally relaxed in my chair. And besides, I carry all the top fragrances at my station. I know about pleasing.
After a period of time, the other stylists were getting fed up with all the ladies jumping in my chair. So one day when I got to work, they had moved my station to a private room in the back. This way, they felt I would not be able to get eye contact with their clients any longer. But the one mistake they made was to put me next to The Ladies Room. So after positioning my chair at the right angle, while keeping the door open, I can now hold a conversation with all the ladies who visit The Ladies Room - and that's pretty much everyone.
- a Very Happy Sterling (by the Ladies Room) from Baltimore, MD
'Fast Food Frances' had to have it
She couldn’t help it. Fast Food Frances just had to have it. Every time the salon door opened at Richie Rich’s Rightous Salon, one of the most popular salons in the city, the aroma from Big Dickie’s Discount Burger Den across the street rushed inside the salon and Frances couldn’t fight the feeling as she would send one her waiting clients to the fast food spot to scoop her up ‘The Quick-n-Loaded Combo,’ which consists of The Monster Burger - a half-pound processed piece of meat, loaded with strips of bacon dipped in honey mustard sauce, a carton of extra-greasy french fries with extra salt and an extra large Dr. Pepper - and sometimes a bucket of chicken if she planned on working late. Because she was such a regular customer (eating from Big Dickie’s at least twice every day five times a week), they would throw in a large slice of double chocolate cake for free. She also was often seen washing down her desert with a few straight shots of vodka.
While all this was going on, Fast Food Frances would ignore her customers and co-workers’ warnings about her health. All that mattered to Frances was that she was hungry and the food tasted good - and she didn’t need anyone telling her how to eat. When Frances first began working at Richie Rich’s 5 years ago, she weighed about 125 pounds and dressed really sexy. The last time she was forced on a scale (a few months ago), she clocked in at 242 pounds and was wearing outfits that resembled a large comforter or a blanket with buttons.
Frances never ate fruit or vegetables and acted like she was allergic to water. She never brought food to work and kept her nose pointed in the direction of Big Dickie’s Discount Burger Den. While she was a very talented and successful hairstylist, her diet seemed like it wasn’t important to her. What was important to Frances were the luxuries of life: her tinted-windowed BMW, her high-rise condo in downtown, the plush furniture with all the electronic toys you can imagine inside her home, and of course, those ‘Quick-n-Loaded Combos.’
Well, Frances is dead now. She ate her way to the grave. She put better fuel in her car than food in her body. This should be a wake-up call to all the hairstylists who don’t eat right. Stylists are always saying that they don’t have time to eat right – they gotta keep making that money. Well, you better slow down and take care of YOU, or you’ll be joining Fast Food Frances sooner than later. EAT HEALTHY !!
Harriet Sho' Is Popular - At Home !!
Everybody in Detroit knows Harriet. She is responsible for creating the famous 'Pull-N-Puffy Ponytail.' For years, other hair stylists have looked up to Harriet - and she has shared her skills with several other stylists who have gone on to become internationally famous. Most people in Detroit thinks Harriet is just as known nationally as she is at home. But in reality, Harriet is just a local hair hero. She never travels and she never advertises. Why? Hell, her appointment book stays full all the time.
A group of hair stylists who were taught by Harriet convinced her to finally attend a hair trade show in Chicago, and they were amazed that nobody knew who Harriet was - except for her 'homies' from Detroit. While other less-talented, but aggressive hair stylists were on the convention floor making money and meeting more people, all Harriet could do was talk about how she taught all these people everything they know.
Poor Harriet. All that talent and very little drive to go after the national and international money. But don't get mad at her if that's all she's searching for. As long as Harriet doesn't get mad at others for all the money they're making.
The moral of the story:
You don't have to be the best to make the most.
©HAIR WARS U.S. Tour
"I Love Hair Classes"
I am a hair stylist living in Detroit and I strive on furthering my hair education by attending as many classes on techniques as I possibly can. I've met a few stylists from Chicago and cities in Ohio at trade shows and I was (presently) surprised that Illinois and Ohio requires hair stylists to attend classes to maintain their licenses. I had never heard of that before. In Michigan, you don't need hours to keep your license - you simply pass the State Board and you never have to learn anything about hair again ~ if that's your choice.
But that's not me. I love going to classes. If I just learn one little technique that can help me make more money or create the style better or quicker, then it's worth the time and money. Once I felt I didn't learn anything at a class, but I met someone there who is a genius in chemicals. We still keep in touch and she has taught me so much that I never learned in beauty school. So going to classes to network is extremely important, too.
What really bothers me is when the other stylists in the salon I work at talk about how "great" they are and how they don't have to go to classes. But every time I bring back new techniques and knowledge, they're all around me, asking me all these questions and they want me to show them everything I learned. I'm like, "you better take your ass to the class" and don't keep giving me that sad puppy dog-like look - hey, we're like doctors in the hair game. We all need to learn all we can about hair and hair products. Don't get left behind, because I'm movin' ahead.
-Tiffany ~ Detroit, MI
'Early Earl' Is Late
Earl is early for everything. So how could he possibly be late for the Hair Wars show? Let's backtrack Early Earl's steps and see why his models were in the hotel lobby crying.
Saturday, 3 p.m.: Earl checks in the hotel with a few of his models. Others are on the way.
Saturday, 10 p.m.: Model shows up 5 hours late, telling Earl 'the show ain't 'til tomorrow." Earl politely tells her to leave - for good!
Sunday, 6 a.m.: Earl's up as early as usual, going over the day's checklist.
Sunday, 3:55 p.m.: All the models are completed and are trying to check in backstage. They're actually a little too early. Earl is smiling.
Sunday, 5:27 p.m.: Sexy models convince Earl to let them run up to the hotel room right quick.
Sunday, 5:58 p.m.: Earl finds the models, but has a hard time keeping them all together.
Sunday, 6:23 p.m.: Earl & his girls race backstage, only to find out they missed their call. All that work and money spent for what? Earl let it slip away.
So the moral to the story is: No matter how much you prepare yourself to be early, you can still wind up being late. It happens to the best of them - even 'Early Earl'.
Is 'Dangerous Donna' Pimpin' The Game?
Her name is 'Dangerous Donna,' one of the most innovative hair stylists in the world, and she has earned the right to sell educational DVD's. She loaded up the SUV and along with a couple of her co-workers, headed to the Bronner Brothers Hair Convention in Atlanta. It was time to get paid.
'Dangerous Donna' took over 2,000 DVD's to the show and vowed to bring home none. Once the trade show floor was on jam, her DVD's weren't selling fast enough. What she didn't realize, it was a bad year for all the vendors. After Sunday sales of only 250 DVD's, 'Dangerous Donna' literally turned into 'Discount Donna,' as she marked her $99 DVD's to $49 and her $49 DVD's to $25.
One of her top competitors, 'Winkie The Wonder Weaver,' who operated a booth directly across from Donna, stayed firm on her DVD prices ($49 - $89). When the convention was over, Donna disappointedly took home over 800 DVD's. She said that would never happen again. Once at home, she found a cheaper way to make DVD's by buying her own camera, editing and duplicating equipment - although she knew the quality wouldn't be the same. Her new plan was to sell more DVD's (at cheaper prices) and hopefully make more money on volume.
The following year, 'Dangerous Donna' returned to Atlanta with 3,000 DVD's and a bigger booth. Her new prices: "All DVD's $14.99." The hair industry was SHOCKED. They couldn't believe 'Dangerous Donna' was selling her techniques for 'chump change.' This made most stylists on the trade show floor drop their prices in order to compete. 'Dangerous Donna' was regarded as a 'leader' in the hair game, so she set the standards. 'Winkie The Wonder Weaver,' who also returned to Atlanta, refused to drop her prices. When the convention was over, the final numbers told the story.
'Dangerous Donna,' with a bigger booth and bigger staff, resulting in bigger expenses, sold all 3,000 DVD's. Winkie sold only 850 DVD's.
Donna's expenses (3,000 DVD's, 2 booths, staff, hotel expenses, transportation, food, etc.) came to $29,500.
Winkie's expenses came to $13,200.
Donna sold 3,000 DVD's at $14.99 ($44,970) minus expenses = $15,470 profit.
Winkie sold 850 DVD's at an average of $69 ($58,650) minus expenses = $45,450 profit
'Winkie The Wonder Weaver' was outsold by more than 3-to-1, but made almost $30,000 more than 'Dangerous Donna.'
"I'm not trying to outsell anyone," says Winkie. I just want to get what I'm worth, and I'm worth more than $15 a tape".
As far as Dangerous Discount Donna's next move: she's planning on returning to Atlanta with a new price: $9.99.