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So you want to be a Hairstylist??

So you want to be a Hairstylist??

I read an article recently filled with great advice for Hairstylists and Salon Owners.  It inspired me to write my own thoughts down on what I feel should be shared with all potential stylists.

It explains the reason why they should want to enter the industry and gives fundamental insight into whether being a Hairstylist is really what they want to pursue.

Very few aspiring Hairstylists understand this essential truth.

Its not about the hair.

Surprised?  😯

I think most people signing up for hair school would disagree with that statement, but most of us who are earning our living as career Hairstylists know this as fact 💯

I’m sure any Hairstylist you ask will tell you how much they love doing hair. Coloring, cutting, styling – it’s something we are extremely passionate about. A way for us to express our artistry and create.

As artists, hair is our medium.

The feeling we get from creating something truly beautiful is what drives us to continue, to find the next medium and create 🎨   It’s this feeling that most young Hairstylists are chasing in their journey to turn their passion for hair into a career.

Now if you are reading this as a paying client I’m sure you are a bit confused, and rightfully so! Sound like I’m forgetting something? 😕

You are right – there is something enormous missing and this, for some Hairstylists, is where it all goes horribly wrong.

PEOPLE!!! Our medium is a person! 🙋🏼‍♀️

Not a piece of canvas, not an inanimate object. A PERSON with feelings, hopes and desires.  One who has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to their hair.  One who actually OWNS, USES and WEARS our art everyday!

You should want to be a Hairstylist because you love 💗  making PEOPLE love 💗  their hair.

Being a Hairstylist is not about you – it’s about every single person who sits in your chair. Every person who hands you their time, their trust, their hair, and amazingly allows you to touch a tiny piece of their heart. A person who invites you into their life every 6 – 8 weeks.  That’s an amazing privilege and responsibility to carry with you every day.

It is through a Client that you chase your artistic passion, to bring what they are dreaming of to life.

Not a people person? Stick to working with canvas 🤷🏼‍♀️

Trust me though – you’ll be missing out on an amazingly rewarding profession!

So do you still want to be a Hairstylist? 💇🏼‍♀️

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

Hairstyling Apprenticeship Standards – a Grey Area?

Hairstyling Apprenticeship Standards – a Grey Area?

I thought I had a handle on the requirements of both the Apprentice and Sponsor in the Hairstyling Apprenticeship process.  Recently I had my eyes opened to some inconsistencies which allow some to fly under the radar and fast track the system.  I refrain from saying ‘cheat’ the system since most Apprentices do so with the consent and approval of their Sponsor and the ‘system’ itself.

For as long as I can remember, the apprenticeship process required both schooling and work hours.  Work hours are spent with a sponsoring Stylist who is required to teach and sign off on all the essentials skills in the apprenticeship handbook.  I’ve been through the process as the Apprentice and now as a Sponsor.

Imagine my surprise when registering my third apprentice discovering an entire ‘grey’ area I had not realized existed.

Hair styling is classified as a Compulsory Trade in Ontario. After completing the schooling and work hours mentioned above, it requires a final exam to become fully licensed. Traditionally, this is 1500 full time school hours, 2000 salon working hours, totalling 3500 hours.  The new part time Apprentice school program of 480 hours requires an additional 3020 salon working hours for the same 3500 hour total.  Seems simple enough right?  As long as 3500 hours are completed, regardless of the schooling path they choose, the hairstyling apprenticeship is fulfilled and they are able to take their final exam to become fully licensed. 

Here’s where things get interesting.

When completing paperwork for a recent hairstyling apprenticeship I was informed that if I signed off all the ‘skills’ in the handbook the final exam could be taken

‘Whenever I felt the apprentice was ready.’  

Pardon? Ready as in she has put in her 3500 hours, right?

The clarification I asked for didn’t exactly sit well with me; ‘No – she doesn’t really have to complete all the hours – just send her with a letter that says how many she completed and that you feel she is ready to take her exam’.  Well really. Where’s the consistency in that?

Just to clarify – PLEASE correct me if I am wrong.  I’ve sponsored may Stylists since this happened and to my knowledge things are still the same. Now with the Ontario College of Trades gearing down, my hope of a consistent system is less than before.  I would love to find out that this murky grey area I uncovered is but a bad dream and there is actually a concrete system to ensure every hairstyling apprenticeship requires exactly 35o0 hours to achieve full licensing.

Most of you that know me can clearly see I’m a black and white type of person.  At a fork in the road I will go left or right – I’m not into off roading down the middle, throwing caution to the wind to rip donuts in the mud. I realize not everyone is the same but here is what really bothers me about all this.  

HOW is this fair to the apprentice and THE CLIENTS?

Why should one apprentice work a gruelling 3500 hours when the next one doesn’t have to? Why should one sponsor make the decision that an Apprentice has completed ‘enough’ hours when 3500 is the actual requirement? Why should a client have to question whether the newly licensed hairstylist you have an appointment with has in fact completed 3500 hours?

There are provinces where hair styling is not regulated at all.  You could go into a salon and book an appointment with a hair stylist who doesn’t have a license, which you may or may not be aware of.  In that situation you rely on the reputation of the salon you are going to, their education program and the quality of their work to know whether the stylist will serve you well.  Sadly, even though there are governing bodies for hairstyling apprenticeships in Ontario,

I encourage you as a consumer to do your homework.  

Make your stylist choice based on more then just whether they hold their license.  Learn about their work, inquire about their training and education, ask who their Sponsoring Stylist was.  After all – finding a great Hairstylist is really about trust! Has your Hairstylist earned your trust?

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

The Art of the Blowdry

The Art of the Blowdry

Women used to flock to the hair salon for their weekly shampoo and roller set. All the ladies lined up in a row, hair wound tight on rollers, sitting under the dryer, coffee in hand waiting for their hair to dry. I’m sure there are still some faithful weekly roller setters out there but lets just say the phone is not ringing off the hook with requests.

Now some of you, I’m sure, think this happened eons ago and wouldn’t have affected any of us in our careers, but I can tell you that

Friday’s meant one thing for me early in my career, and that was roller set day.

I loved seeing these clients once a week, catching up with what they did on their weekend, who came over after church last Sunday and who was coming to visit this weekend, all while I shampooed and put their rollers in. All the clients knew each other too and looked forward to catching up between themselves, asking about each others children, new grand (and great grand) babies and of course who was in the hospital and what kind of casserole they took over to the family. They didn’t even own a blow dryer or a curling iron. Seriously!

I know it all sounds cliche. I know it sounds like 1940 but believe me it was NOT!

Those women with their rollers wanted what everyone really wants – their hair exactly how they liked it.

They just happened to like a hard, backcombed set that would last a week. But there were also clients who came in once a week and wanted something different…..

A few clients requested a curling iron set. Like the roller set only softer, yet still quite formal looking.

And then it happened – my foray into ‘The Art of The Blowdry’.

Ethel* was a wonderful lady, bright, happy and beautiful. What Ethel wasn’t was a roller set client. Her chin length grey hair required more muscle then what those rollers could handle and after her shampoo she promptly told me that she would like her hair blown dry with a round brush. Now don’t get me wrong – I’d used round brushes in hair school, punishing my classmates with a blow dry every now and then, but we spent 95% of our time rolling and backcombing. Doing a round brush blow dry was just not a honed skill of mine.

But Ethel was patient, and bless her heart came back again and again, and I learned how to smooth, curl and volumize all with that one little round brush.

All those roller sets that I could do with my eyes closed had already taught me how to section, angle and roll the hair for the best results.  What I needed to do was apply those same pricinples to Ethel’s blowdry to make sure it was the stuff of her dreams. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much Ethel, and her blow dry, was actually teaching me.

Hairstyling is an art, and one that gets passed over far too easily at the end of a service.

That blow dry lasted Ethel for a week. A week where she could feel beautiful with her hair exactly how she wanted it and I was lucky enough to be the person that could do that for her.

Now realistically I’m aware that times have changed and for some the thought of washing your hair only once a week is enough to get you into the fetal position. What hasn’t changed though, is the feeling that each client wants and should always have walking out the door after getting their hair done.  A chance to Experience Beautiful.

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

*name has been changed out of respect for the client

 

Ideas are born by the emotions we experience!

Ideas are born by the emotions we experience!

This is a personal story but one worth sharing since I know it’s relatable. This is my experience, my light bulb moment, when I realized it was about so much more than the hair.

My name is Carrie Robinson and I am the proud owner of the Studio.

Here is my story…..

I loved playing with hair from a very young age but it wasn’t until my teen years that I knew I wanted to be a Hairstylist.

Whenever I was having a rough time as a teen, or when I wanted to take a break where I couldn’t feel guilty for doing ‘nothing’, I would make a hair appointment.  I’d look forward to that appointment from the day I booked it until the second I walked in the salon door.

As soon as I stepped inside the salon I felt looked after.  I was the focus of my Stylists’ attention and I knew once I was finished, I’d feel confident and beautiful.

It was a boost to my mood, but more importantly it introduced me to what self-care truly is, and how vital it was for me.

Sometimes the Stylist would genuinely connect with me, invest in making me look and feel amazing, and other times not.  There were a few times things went south and I didn’t walk out feeling great about myself or my appearance at all.  Times where I had to stare at that bad hair service in the mirror for weeks, feeling the disappointment, while it grew out or while the colour faded. 

Those times taught me what I didn’t want.

My visits were frequent enough that even my Mom noticed.  After a particularly rough week in teenage drama land 🙄, I’d just hung up the phone from making a hair appointment and my Mom said…

‘You can’t just go and get your hair done every time you have a bad day!’

That was when it clicked. When I realized how much a visit to the salon actually did for me, and it really wasn’t about the hair. It was so much more than that.

In that moment I decided that I wanted to make other people feel the way I did when my hair service was amazing.  I wanted them to feel special and taken care of every single time they got their hair done. Not sometimes, every single time.  I wanted to provide an atmosphere where self care was simply part of the experience. 

I didn’t want to provide a simple service. I wanted to provide an experience.

Armed with a love for doing hair and an idea spurred on purely by an emotion, I knew in order to make it happen I had to accept responsibility to learn and do whatever necessary to provide a client with that level of service. The level where service truely does become an experience.

And the rest of the story? There are chapters upon chapters just waiting to be told 📚 but I’ll share the next one another time 😉

 

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

What does it take to be a Master Stylist, and who makes the rules about becoming one?

What does it take to be a Master Stylist, and who makes the rules about becoming one?

 What does it take to be a Master Stylist, and who makes the rules about becoming one?

Simply put, everyone makes their own rules.  Sorry to say but its absolutely true.

There is no universal system, no Industry standard of exactly what is required to earn that title – and it’s simply that – just a title.  And it you dig a little further, its actually a marketing title.  Seriously! Think of the implied trust you feel when booking with a Master Stylist! That’s marketing at its finest.

Surprised? It’s always blown my mind.  In an Industry where practical experience, continuing education and personal dedication make a massive difference to the skill and service abilities of a Stylist? Here’s the biggest doozy of the entire thing:

Literally anyone can become a Licensed Stylist and 3 days later decide to call themselves a Master Stylist.

Anyone!!

Now you may feel this blog getting a touch hyprocritical seeing as we currently have a Master Stylist position in the Studio, and I myself used the title in the latter part of my time behind the chair.

But there’s a difference between hypocrisy and honesty, and as always, my focus is on the latter.

 

The best way to explain is always to break it down as much as possible, so let’s start with the definition:

mas•ter (noun): A skilled practitioner of a particular art or activity

Sounds like someone who knows it all right? Someone who’s seen it all, done it all and perfected everything.  Not a single thing left to learn. Done. Complete. No further action required.

The truth is, our Industry evolves incredibly quickly with new products, ideas and techniques, and claiming you know and can do it all is like asking you to believe I rode my Unicorn 🦄 to work today and she’s available for pictures 📸 in the parking lot. 

Laughable, right?

 

For me the title ‘Master’ (even though I get it is a noun when used as a title🙄)  has actually always been meant as a verb in reference to a Master Stylist:

mas•ter (verb): Acquire, complete knowledge or skill in (an accomplishment, technique, or art)

Stylist titles are not a descriptor of who we are, but of what we are committed to doing day in and day out.  What we are committed to acquiring.

A Master Stylist has perfected the art of seeking the unknown and making it known.  They’ve mastered the process of dedicating themselves to continual, obsessive learning.  It speaks of someone willing to fail, make mistakes, try again and never allow the clients they care for to suffer because of their learning process. Someone who cannot stop until what they are working on becomes exceptional to their standards and instead of rests, find something new to do it for – all. over. again.

 

Bottom line? Ask what a Stylist’s title means to them. As for us, let me assure you:

Is there a system? Of course.

Is it based on a series of key performance indicators that access the level of service they give? Obviously.

Is it indicative of the price they have the ability to charge and their level of compensation?  Absolutely.

 

As a final thought I leave you with the words that sum up my vision of a Master Stylist perfectly:

‘People who become ‘Elite’ at what they do aren’t striving to be ‘Elite’ just to join some special club.  They take great joy and satisfaction in the pursuit of mastery, and they compete against themselves, not others.’ – Justine Musk

 

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

Hairstylist Life! Hair Contact before Eye Contact

Hairstylist Life! Hair Contact before Eye Contact

A quick trip to the grocery store.  A night out meeting a few new people.  A binge session on Netflix.  Do these things have anything in common for you? Before this gets too weird let me explain a phenomenon of the Hairstylist Life: Hair Contact before Eye Contact.  Yep – that’s right – those of us who live, eat, breathe and sleep our careers as Hairstylists know this debilitating problem all too well. Basically it boils down to Hair Contact before…well….anything!

For most of you this may not seem like such a big deal.  ‘So what? You notice the hair?’ Just for interests sake let’s have a look at the definition of ‘notice’:

Notice [noh-tis] verb: To pay attention to, or take notice of

Believe me when I tell you – we don’t ‘notice’ the hair.  We painstakingly, obsessively, analyze, overanalyze, formulate, recolour, recut and restyle the hair all within the first 30 seconds of setting eyes on it, all while appearing in the throes of a catatonic state.

Seriously.  This is the Hairstylist Life.

Let’s take the example of a quick trip to the grocery store. This is a true story from the vault.  

I was running in quickly to grab some bananas and as I’m approaching the produce section a beautiful haircut catches my eye.  I don’t know whether I’m still walking or have now stopped dead in my tracks in danger of being cart rear-ended, but I don’t even care. I am transfixed by this haircut.  I’ve already broken down the first 3 steps of how I would replicate it, thought of two different clients with the right hair type that I could give it to and rolled over the possibilities of who the Stylist was that created this beautiful piece of art.  I have taken memory still shots, calculated my cut angles and I’m only coming up on 25 seconds.  The haircut turns to the left, I reach the 30 second mark and I am quickly transported back to the real world where I will now make eye contact (or simply notice that there is a head and body attached to the haircut).  Huh.  That’s when it hits me that it’s a client. I just made hair contact before eye contact with a client whose hair I have been cutting for the last 4 years.  I was to my car before I even realized I forgot the bananas.

One of my favourite things to do is binge watch on Netflix.  Whether at 2am when sleep won’t come or on a rainy Sunday afternoon, the dangerous autoplay keeps me tuned in far longer that I should be. While I’m sure lots of you love a good Netflix marathon, I doubt your partner, in pure desperation screams, ‘can you STOP talking about the hair!!’ while trying to coexist in your viewing space.

For instance – did you wonder how long Gemma’s hair could stand up to those highlights during the first few seasons of Sons of Anarchy?  Did you notice the exact episode when she had to start using extensions for those blonde pieces? Your Hairstylist did. When Joey and Dawson had their emotional breakup while standing on the dock of the Creek were you thinking about how much James Van Der Beek needed a haircut, and that he was dancing precariously close to the edge of mulletville? Your hairstylist was.  Or lets see…..while the entire school was chanting ‘Donna Martin Graduates!’ were you obsessively fantasizing about flat ironing Donna’s frizzed out, desperately in need of a trim hair? My guess is no – you probably weren’t but your hairstylist definitely was!  It’s Just a side effect of the Hairstylist Life!

We won’t even get into the embarrassment of being introduced to someone for the first time and spending the first 30 seconds of hair contact time mute, left eye twitching, right hand reaching out to touch said strangers hair and suddenly snapping out of it to realize you violated their personal space before even saying hello.

Hair Contact before Eye Contact is simply part of the Hairstylist Life.

Being a hairstylist isn’t something we can shut off when we leave the salon – it follows us, invades our minds and inevitably makes us better artists because of it.  Inspiration can and does strike anywhere.

So be kind – we realize we are a special breed and that those who love us have a special appreciation (or tolerance) of our constant obsession.  And really – even with the embarrassing experiences – I would change a thing.

It’s the Hairstylist Life.

 

Thanks for listening,

Carrie

www.cihairstudio.ca

hairstylist-life

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