The skills and techniques of cutting and styling hair are starting to make sense to me now. But more and more, people are drilling into my head that skill and technique aren’t what make a successful hair stylist successful.
They say it’s not even the most significant contributor to success. School, and the people in the industry who are vocal about it, all say the same things in different ways. It’s about your presence, it’s about how people feel when they’re around you, and it’s about selling yourself and selling services and products to clients. The selling is given more weight than what you’re selling in a lot of places.
The textbooks in school are fond of the “80/20 Rule” – meaning 80% of your success is people skills, 20% is technical skill.
Well hey, it’s not what I expected, but it’s not necessarily bad news. This is an industry of individuality, and if you look at the way the platform artists and mega-stylists dress and behave – I can do that! It’ll take some work (a lot of work), but I know I can do it. So first things first, I need to do everything differently. I have to approach things from a different angle. (While of course still learning the plane-Jane way of doing it in school to appease the teachers and government exam I’ll end up taking)
Successful hair stylists all have an air of mysticism. They have a “Wow” effect in what they do – and I know it’s intentional, because they want you to think you’re doing magic. They spend a lot of time becoming “Hair Shaman”, with they’re mystical and unusual tools and techniques, everything must be not only functional but further the “show” of their craft.
I don’t want to be as flamboyant as platform artists, because I’m not on a platform. I don’t want people to think I’m showboating. I want people to think “Ooh, what’s this new thing he’s doing? I’ve never seen anyone do that!”.
As an aside: Another thing the hair “mystics” do (but in this case I don’t like it) is rename everything constantly. I feel that they’re patronizing their clientele when they do that. Every big stylist has a different name for their shampoo sinks, retail, coloring, lightening, techniques etc. etc.
It’s friggin lightening hair. You’re not “illuminating” hair. It’s. Bleach. For @%@%’s sake guys, we know you’re using a razor when you’re using a razor, we know you’re shampooing when you’re shampooing, stop inventing fluffy abstract names for the exact same service!
That part of the stylist mysticism I don’t think I’ll mesh with very well… But hey, maybe I can be like the Penn & Teller of hair styling, calling the bullshit for what it is. But anyway.
I want to bring some of that mysticism into my everyday work, but at the same time make it honest, real individuality and not intentional “Look at what an avant’ artist I am” showboating. I bet a few years down the road I will be well on my way. 🙂