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Written by Marco Pelusi
Starting out as a stylist is not as easy as one may think... No matter how savvy the school was that you attended, the first few years as a budding stylist are all about learning and building.
As a young stylist, it's incredibly important to align yourself with a salon that will provide ongoing education. This may entail working as an assistant for one to two years, which can be a very valid and very lucrative learning experience.
As an assistant, you have an opportunity to observe the technique, skill and expertise of the stylists you work with; and this experience also allows for a great opportunity to meet and connect with people.
Remember, however, this salon should also offer you haircutting and haircolor education in an effort to help you hone your skills. Everything from a proper shampoo to gray coverage should be covered in your education. Try to view your first couple of years as a learning experience and a chance to get educated on real-world salon settings, real clients and real business situations.
Don't expect to make a huge amount of money during these years as well. The skills you are developing may take years to properly develop. Give yourself time to learn, and the freedom to make mistakes.
When you are ready to start servicing clients of your own, find a salon that has an overflow of clients to send to you, and one that is motivated to make money with you. If you are in a state with booth rentals, do not immediately begin renting a station before starting to build a clientele. Find a salon where you can work as an employee on an hourly rate, or on commission. This way, the salon is motivated to send you clients, and you both win, while you build your clientele.
Then, if you are in a state where station rental is available, you may consider renting a station, once you will develop a strong client base. Take this early time in your career to understand how to best build client relationships. One satisfied client generally ends up leading to five satisfied clients because of positive referrals. Talk with the clients you love and ask them to refer you others like them! Offer discounts on services or products when current clients refer new clients to you.
This is a great place to start. It can only grow if you stay focused and care about your work and your people. Give excellent customer service and remember that rule one is, "the client is always right." "The client can be wrong," is rule number two. But, when in doubt, ALWAYS refer to rule one.
Work hard and show a positive good attitude and be good to others. Get educated, as much as you can, and build relationships with the people who are like minded. Fill up your book, and most importantly, have fun.