As an ARROJO cosmetology graduate you can be a salon professional, an educator, a stylist for fashion, editorial, film and TV, a platform artist, and you can take your craft and travel the world. All aboard for our cosmetology careers guide.
A recent guest presentation by ARROJO studio master colorist, Ellie, got students talking futures. Aside from the demo, what grabbed their attention was Ellie’s discourse on her own career. Nobody knew, before settling in New York, she spent years as a successful, travel-the-world-having-a-jolly-good-time cruise ship stylist. No student even knew that cruise ship stylists exist, let alone prosper. The surprise, interest and excitement this generated reminds us that boundless opportunities await the talented and ambitious; and inspired us to write this signpost to success.
After school, finding employment in a salon is almost always the next and best step. If you’re planning to be a client-stylist, the logic is obvious, but whatever career path you want to take, working in a salon allows you to continue your education, gain experience, make contacts and clients, and build a high-class reputation.
Whether the salons you choose to apply to be big or small, trendy or traditional, tend towards an environment where the focus is on the team, not individuals who rent a chair in a space. Being part of a team enables you to learn from the people around you and use more experienced stylists as mentors. Team-centered salons are also likely to have a structured training program for young stylists, and that’s vital to your development. Have patience and commit to the training you’re given wholeheartedly; remember hairdressing is a craft to be mastered and the more you learn early in your career, the more chance you’ll have of long-term and lasting success. Through continued salon education, you’ll also develop a better-rounded skill set, and that will be crucial if and when you want to diversify.
Two to three productive and successful salon years should give you a burgeoning client base, and enough knowledge and experience that if you want to branch out, you can.
With cognition of the craft, and good presentation skills, being an educator will be easily within reach. A great way to start is to get involved with the education of the new apprentices at the salon where you work. To continue in this direction, look to join brands that use their expertise to provide advanced education to their peers. For example, companies like ARROJO, Vidal Sassoon, Wella, and others, offer open seminars for all stylists to come to learn techniques that are developed and practiced by these industry leaders. To teach these advanced seminars can be your charge.
With great experience as an educator, and a stylist, you can become a platform artist. Here the role is to attend national and international hair and beauty shows, and deliver education to audiences ranging up to 5000 of your peers. The presentations typically involve a runway show of your latest work, producing on-stage haircuts, and an explanation of modern trends and techniques. You have to be ambitious because only a big success will draw crowds to their show; and you have to have the ability to execute your concepts in ways that wow. It’s a long-term goal; if it’s for you, look to join a company well regarded for such appearances and work hard to become part of their artistic team, as it’s their role to support the main artist live on stage. Once you can add main stage experience to your credits, they’ll always be a platform for your work.
Another way to teach: Go back to school as a cosmetology educator. This is a chance put all your cosmetology skills into practice: makeup and spa treatments, nail and skincare, and hair styling. You can teach life skills, as well as the discipline of the craft. You’ll be a hands-on educator, full-time, with the potential to influence each person’s own direction, character, and physical ability as a cosmetologist. You will shape minds, and careers. Many find this grass roots path the most rewarding of all.
For the creatively driven, a different option is to be an editorial or session stylist. Normally the work is freelance and involves working for magazine editorials and fashion week runway shows, as well as advertising, film, TV, and theater. The key is to have a strong portfolio of editorial work so people can see your artistry and direction. A great way to get this is to collaborate on your own editorial concepts with makeup artists and photographers in the same situation. Then, once you feel your portfolio is strong enough, send it to editorial booking agents and agencies. If opportunities are slow to arrive, volunteer your time and skill to established session stylists. This way you get vital experience and contacts and, once you gain the trust of your peers, and a well-rounded portfolio, your book is more likely to be filled with your own creative endeavors.
Harking back to Ellie’s experience as a cruise ship stylist: with a stop in every port, this is clearly one of the best ways to use your craft to see the world. You’re likely to be your own boss, while still representing the travel firm and their values. It’s not a typical salon environment as luxury spa treatments, care and updos, and retail will be your biggest earners. Self-promotion, marketing, and the ability to create your own opportunities will be essential to success. The rewards are freedom, travel, a commission-based high salary, a great addition to your resume, and the unique experience this will bring.
Remember, too, that many of the best and most successful stylists have multifarious strings to their bow. On Monday you could be rejuvenating clients with fabulous new looks. On Tuesday you could be sharing expertise with stylists eager to learn from you. On Wednesday you could be doing a high fashion magazine cover shoot. On Thursday you could be traveling to a main stage show. Opportunities are endless. Variety is the spice of a hairdresser’s life.
Choose your path. And be the best. — AC