I was the tender age of 18 when I naively walked into the beauty industry. Having graduated high school at the height of the recession in 2009, incurring massive amounts of debt from college didn’t seem like a great option. Instead, I chose to pursue a more creative path – hair! This decision was highly scrutinized by both family and friends. Many feared that I was headed into a profession that is frowned upon, that I was wasting time and money on a fruitless venture. While their opinions weren’t totally baseless, the past six years have taught me just how much this profession has given me. Let’s explore my journey.
As I just stated, I was very young when I enrolled at the Aveda Institute Minneapolis (one of the top cosmetology programs in the country). I had absolutely zero idea what was in store for me. My best friend at the time had chosen to pursue the industry, so I decided to join her! One of the first obstacles I was faced with was gaining the dexterity of working with hair. Most of my classmates were girls, and consequently had an innate advantage over me. After a few months of being in the program, one of the instructors took interest in me and connected me with a Master Stylist at Juut Salonspa of Minneapolis. I began assisting under her, and quickly gained the skill set necessary to stand out from my peers in the program.
After assisting for nearly a year, I graduated at the top of my class and was quickly offered a job working for Juut as a New Artist. Much to my surprise, the learning wasn’t over. In order to be placed on Juut’s salon floor, New Artists have to undergo a year’s worth of specialization training (Stylist or Colorist). I chose to pursue the Stylist path due to by experience assisting. These 12 months were brutal! The pay was low, the expectations were high, and failure was highlighted often. I considered quitting several times. In fact, the group that I started with nearly shrunk to half of its original size throughout of training. Nonetheless, I survived and was placed early in my permanent salon.
Once placed into a salon, the next obstacles a Stylist faces is gaining a clientele, as well as achieving high metrics for promotions. Juut’s structure is somewhat complicated. It breaks down its seniority scale into New Artist, Studio Stylist, Senior Stylist, and Master Stylist. Each of these titles contains 3 levels in order to progress to the next rank. The average timespan it takes to get from New Artist to Mater Stylist is approximately 10 years, which takes a lot of time and dedication. One of the things I am most proud of on my journey through hair is that I was able to achieve the title of Master in 6 years, while pursuing a degree full-time.
While my journey through hair has certainly not been easy, it has been a great learning opportunity. I have not only learned a great deal about hair, I’ve also learned a tremendous amount about people and life in general. Every person is unique, every story is meaningful. Through hearing each and every one of their stories, I’ve gained knowledge, become culturally aware, and inspired. Though I now realize the challenges that surround hair, I am equally aware of all that I’ve gained through working in the beauty industry. To those of you that feel compelled to follow your passion and pursue a career in hair, I say go for it – enjoy the journey of hair. For those of you that would like to learn more about me, check out my salon’s website Juut Salonspa.