Flashback to 2004, my last year at high school and time to decide what to do with my life. I was expected to go to college and do A-levels so I applied to the local sixth form. When the date came around for the interview I realised that sitting in a classroom for another two years just wasn’t for me so made the decision to be trained for a skill, one that I would always have and could always make money from, no matter what happens in the future. I think this thought process was created by the era that I was growing up in, one that wasn’t yet ruled by the internet and technology but could see where it was going and that a lot of jobs would eventually become redundant in the modern world.
And there it was, my decision to become a hairdresser. A hands on, creative job that will always be needed! I was lucky enough to find a job straight from college and worked at the same salon for five years. However, as much as I had lots of fun times there, it also affected me in other ways and I actually only realised this a couple of years ago. As the saying goes, hindsight is a wonderful thing and if only I had realised these things sooner, then maybe I would have stuck with the industry.
So here are my five life lessons I learnt from working as a hairdresser –
1. Have confidence in your ability
I really struggled with confidence both at college and in the salon. I always just assumed that everyone was doing a better job than me. If I struggled to do something I would always question whether I was cut out for being a hairdresser. The truth is, most hairdressers aren’t perfect! In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a perfect haircut or colour since my college days and where I used to be judged on the fact that I was taking too long with clients, that was actually me perfecting the style and paying attention to detail.
2. Don’t let others put you down
The hair and beauty industry can be quite brutal at times. People are quick to judge you and try to bring you down. Hairdressers are generally very opinionated and quite out-spoken (yes I know I’m stereotyping) so if they see someone struggling with confidence they will, maybe unwittingly, use this to make themselves stand out more.
3. Be willing to say no
This is a very important lesson for a hairdresser, while still being one that is relevant throughout life. If your instinct is telling you no, don’t do it. There was times when clients would ask for things that couldn’t really be done on their hair, but instead of standing my ground I would always give in and just do it. The client will soon forget that they talked you into doing it and if it’s not right they could so easily turn on you and your salon.
4. Appreciate the loyalty
My lack of confidence meant that I would sometimes forget to appreciate the positive. Over time I gained a lot of loyal clients, the kind of ones that will only come to you and if you’re booked up for weeks in advance they are willing to wait. Living in a small town it was also nice to see that they spread the word between friends which developed my client base. It seems so obvious writing about it now, but it’s actually something I failed to see at the time. I didn’t realise that people actually liked coming to me, in fact, the first time I realised this was when I was informing them that I was leaving… the look of shear panic in some of their faces at having to find a new hairdresser made me feel quite sad.
5. Always strive to learn new things
No matter what industry you work in, we all have to be willing to learn new things constantly. The modern world is progressing at lightning speed and we have to keep up. Hairdressing qualifications in the UK seem to be more about just getting a certificate than actually deep-rooting the skills you need to be a successful hairdresser. So as well as formal training, remember to be a sponge and learn from everyone around you, take their feedback positively and you’ll hopefully see your success sky-rocket.
Thanks for reading and I hope this post can help you to reflect on your past (and present) jobs and what life lessons they have taught you.
(All credit goes to Pixabay for the images used in this post)