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A Career Without Limits: Cosmetology & Barbering

 beauty, barbering, hairstylist, barber, hairdresser, cosmetologist, barberia, barbering, cosmetology, nail technician, makeup artist, esthetician, braider

Originally printed here by Ali Davidson

"Don't limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve." —Mary Kay Ash

I wanted to be a hairstylist and work in a salon, so I enrolled in cosmetology school. After all, that's what beauty school graduates do — work in a salon — right? But I quickly discovered a salon position is but one of many career scenarios. In other words, don't underestimate the career paths that are open to you with your cosmetology education. For as many patterns as there are to apply highlights, there is an equal number of different kinds of jobs to be had in the hair industry. If working behind a traditional chair doesn't provide the career butterflies you've dreamed about, change your mindset to remove any limits you may have subconsciously applied to your career.

A Career Without Limits... of Salon Walls

People love convenience and they will pay for the luxury of simplicity. You can provide the ultimate convenience to your client by going to them. Über-style hairstyling companies are popping up all across the nation, so jump on board. If one hasn't hit your town yet, start one. Of course, first check with your state board to understand the rules and regulations for such a business. DryBar, a multi-million dollar company, was started by a single stylist who got too busy making house calls with her Xterra.

A Career Without Limits... of Technical Skills

To say that beauty school students learn a lot of information is a tremendous understatement. When you graduate, you'll be versed in color theory, product ingredients, hair chemistry, sanitation, business practices, style and fashion, etcetera, etcetera. Your technical skills aren't the only thing that can make a living.

Choose a topic to develop as your expertise and write about it. Contact appropriate magazines or newspapers about writing a column. Provide content for a textbook or even write your own book. Start a blog or contribute to an established blog. There's a huge market for social media content, particularly knowledgeable content from a licensed hair professional.

A Career Without Limits... of What Fits in Your Book

Providing your talent to the handful of clients you touch in a day is great, but you can inspire the next generation of hairstylists as an educator and, as a result, benefit innumerable clients. This doesn't necessarily mean you have to be a cosmetology instructor. You can educate from many roles within the hair industry. Not only does teaching reinforce your own knowledge and skills, it is deeply rewarding. All of your mentees' successes will feel like your own. Think of how many clients love their hair because of something Robert Cromeans, Sam Villa, or Beth Minardi taught that client's stylist.

A Career Without Limits... of Finding Inspiration

It's not always glamorous and boy, can it be exhausting; but the inspiring, positive energy, and excitement of a hair trade show is indescribable. If you've been to one, you know what I'm talking about. It takes a lot of people to put those spectacular events together and make them run smoothly. If you have the stamina for trade show work, there are countless roles to be filled. From planning to platform artists and marketers to making booths, there are tons of varied opportunities in this realm. Premiere Orlando boasts having more than 650 classes and close to 800 exhibitors and that is at just one tradeshow.

A Career Without Limits... of Money

Admittedly, that sounds terribly anti-climactic—but just hear me out. The most successful hairstylists, salons, and even product companies in this industry have the biggest hearts. (Think John Paul, Sassoon, Leo Passage). The more you give, the more you receive in return. A quick Google search revealed opportunities to work as a hairstylist on a Mercy Ship (ships that travel to Africa and provide free medical care), provide beauty services to people in hospice care, or even travel on a mission trip to provide haircuts to orphans in Mexico. Seek grant funding and begin your own charity if you can't find a cause that speaks to your heart.

Yes, we all need to make a living, but I believe you get back what you put into the universe. I came across a hairstylist on Facebook who doesn't charge for her services; she has a donation box. She only checks the box once every two weeks so she doesn't know who donates and who doesn't. She said she knows some of her clients come to her because they cannot afford haircuts, yet she is making more money now that she doesn't charge for her services than she did working in a salon with a traditional business model. Have faith — do good and good will come.

This is only a sampling of the possibilities. A cosmetology education doesn't have to mean you're a traditional hairstylist. The possibilities are vast and varied without limit. If you ever find yourself losing the sense of excitement you felt on your first day of cosmetology school or notice the career butterflies have disappeared from your stomach, take a moment to remove the self-imposed constraints from your cosmetology education. What a beautiful business we're in! Work, live, and dream without limits.