Whether you’re a seasoned stylist or you’re unwrapping that first pair of shears, you can always find something new to work on. I caught up with a few Babe stylists to get an idea of what human traits equal success in the salon. Here’s our top 5:
1) Personable: While this one may seem a bit obvious, it’s still a point worth visiting: stylists don’t work with hair as much as they work with people. In fact, stylists often fill in the role of de-facto therapists since they’re constantly interacting with people, hearing all the latest gossip and in some cases, forming life-long bonds with the people they’re servicing. It’s not so much a matter of being ultra-talkative, but it does help to have an approachable, conversational demeanor. The ability to put clients at ease, and to send the subtle message of “I’m here to talk with you” can turn a good appointment into a great one. Heck, you might even make a friend or two! Open and safe communication, even if it’s just small talk, will set the tone for the entire experience.
2) Willing to Learn: Maybe it’s been 20 years since you first finished cosmetology school and got certified. Maybe it’s only been 6 month. No matter what, things in the beauty industry are always changing. Sometimes the changes are subtle and sometimes they’re profound, but there’s one principal that doesn’t change: those who adapt will survive and those who don’t will get left behind. This isn’t meant to sound foreboding, (and no, we’re not even going to get into Darwinian evolution) but it’s still applicable. Stylists who aren’t willing to learn new or alternate methods, whether it’s for hair extensions or not, hurt themselves and limit future opportunities. Having a well-rounded palate of skills and an ability to be versatile puts you a notch above the average stylist. “The more I think I know, the more I find I don’t.” Never stop learning.
3) Confident and Assertive: Clients want to be able to trust their stylists, especially when they’ve got them in the chair with a set of shears to their locks! The customer is always right. You’ve heard it before and it still holds water, but remember: you’ve got good ideas too! If your client requests something that you know won’t work, don’t hesitate to help manage their expectations, or help them find an alternative that will work. Remember that some things really are a matter of aesthetic taste or opinion, but others aren’t. For example: if a client has hair unsuitable for extensions, it’s much better to face a little bit of disappointment in the initial consultation, than a full-fledged hair disaster halfway into the appointment. Be upfront about what will work and what won’t…and when something won’t work? Solve the problem by seeking an alternate solution.
4) Calm: Days can get overbooked, clients can get cranky and any other number of small impediments may come your way, but once the stylist loses their cool, all bets are off. Don’t let it happen to you! Take a few minutes and go cool off if you need, but don’t lose your cool in front of your clients. Not only does it lower your credibility as a professional but it can also throw your own work into a tailspin. You can’t always predict what will happen, but you can predict how you choose to respond. Maintain your cool under all circumstances.
5) Thorough: It’s quite easy to fall into a routine. However, don’t let something become so routine that you start omitting steps. Also remember that just because something is routine to you, it may still be a brand new experience for your client. It may help, depending on the cosmetic process underway, to make a sort of “mental checklist” of all the necessary steps. For newer, or less experienced clients, it may be helpful to narrate what you’re doing out-loud any time there’s a change in step. (For example: “OK, now that I’ve parted the hair, I’m going to start sectioning off the strands for installation…) This helps clients feel like they’re continually in the know, and eases them into the process along the way.