The Unspoken Truth in the Beauty Industry - A Stylist Speaks
Well somebody has to say it!!!! There are a few unspoken truths in the beauty industry that are rarely spoken of. To be honest I don't know if they are rarely spoken of or if there's no platform for them to be spoken on. I've been in the industry for at least 20 years. I've been a Hair Designer for 9 years and a salon owner for 6 years. I will be the first to say "IT'S HARD OUT HERE!" First of all the industry we walk into already has a precedence if you will. You jump in and fall in line or you're destined to fail if you don't. Hair Stylists know what it is, let me know if this sounds familiar. Fresh out off school you find yourself in a booth rental salon, of course because that what we've always seen and that's what we are taught in the African American community. You are looking around at veteran stylists work HARD and pull long hours. They work double sometimes triple booked schedules. Shuffling people in and out like cattle. Clients are frustrated but they come back week after week for the same treatment. Stylists do what it take to make sure their chair has a client in it at every given moment of the day. They bend over backwards to "please" their client because truthfully they "need" them. They take them after they come in late because they can't afford to send them back out the door. With that practice why would they ever be on time?? They sometimes need them to the point that after they are paid for a service they will quickly shampoo the next client and give a "complementary" deep condition so they have at least 20 minutes to run and pay a bill with the money just collected. This is to make sure somethings not turned off or disconnected by the close of business. The mentality is hustle hard, make the money and pay those bills. Truthfully that is the mentality of most so called entrepreneurs. Stylists sell themselves short with the "do what it take to make that money" mentality. Most of them don't even realize what they are doing it, and to be honest I understand the logic behind it, I was once there. My survival was solely placed on doing a few heads a day just to maintain. If that didn't happen I didn't eat or a utility was turned off! New to the industry you learn early to get that client by any means necessary. Hide your products and techniques so the stylist beside you can't steal your secrets on what it takes to maintain your clients. Say slick things so clients question the chair they sit in so they will make their way over to yours. Watch a new stylist go Edward Scissor Hands on a client so you can swoop in and save the day by fixing cut, and gain a new client in the process. When I tell you I have seen it all...I have seen it all.
Now let me tell you what that type of behavior that has created in clients. I don't think stylist realize the problems we create for ourselves. Have you ever gotten the feeling of being disrespected as a Hair Stylist? Like your profession is "low class" and not on the same level as other professions. That "oh yeah she went to beauty school" as they look down on you? One thing I've come to understand REAL QUICK is though I've chosen a profession to serve others I am NOT a servant. And believe me there is a huge difference in the two. We want that respect however we jump through hoops of fire to maintain a clientele base that don't respect us so we can eat and pay a few bills. It's like a piece of meat has been thrown on the ground and a bunch of dogs jump down on the ground to fight for it! After you've fought for that piece of meat you get up and say "I deserve respect". Take a minute allow that to soak in. Clients love to watch stylist act a fool to maintain their patronage, because it let's them know they are in control. Moreover, if stylists continue to do what has been done in the past the problem will remain. How many stylists have found yourself in this situation. You've jumped through your rings of fire to maintain that "entitled" clientele that gives you little or no respect but the bills are paid. After years of service "something" happens and you are not able to do their hair that day. You feel like I've jump so many hoops, clearly I deserve a pass!! That client treat you like the worst thing since "black gel". You got sick, your kids got sick, your car wouldn't start, all kinds of real life issues that occur in everyday life, happens to you. You are not able to service them for an event, special occasion or what have you. You are made to feel guilty because you are not the robot they thought you were. serve them as their servant not matter what because I control this relationship. I say all of that to say this...
Clients - be mindful to the way you treat your stylist. Show some compassion, stylist miss time with their families and skip out on their own lives to make sure you are beautiful for yours. It's a unique relationship between you two but understand they are real people with lives that consist of families, bills, mishaps beyond their control, etc. They are not robots, meaning they get tired, burned out and overwhelmed. They are not servants to you, they are providing a service that they chose to provide. One more thing for the road, tips are always welcome and go a long way with a stylist! Trust me when I tell you we remember the tippers, they hold a special place in our heart.
Stylist - understand that what we put out in this industry is what we get back. We shape and mold it how we see fit. If we make subtle changes it will create a huge impact. People are quick to say there is no professionalism in the salon but I totally disagree. We choose to implement it or not. Believe me clients look for it and are quick to point out when it is not present. The way we treat them reflects the way they look at us. Don't EVER be afraid to loose or let go of a client. We want their business but you also have to weigh the cost. Sometimes the cost is too expensive for product. I once had a new stylist tell me "for someone that is quick to fire a client you sure do maintain a booked schedule" and she was right! I maintained a "booked solid" schedule down to my last day of working behind the chair. I mean booked 6 plus months out SOLID and I am not exaggerating. I never begged a client to sit in my chair and the moment I felt a lack of respect I politely excused them from my chair and the salon. So don't sell yourself short for anyone. Respect your clients and they will be loyal and respect you in return. Teach them how to treat you and they will love you for it! It will create a lasting relationship far beyond the salon.
This article was just a tiny tip of the iceberg. I hope everyone reading this got something out of it to ponder. There is so much more to this subject, maybe I should write a book!!
Until next time