posted on: 04/25/2023
Every single member of the professional hair industry knows how special it is to be a member of this very extraordinary community. It’s a melting pot of personalities, backgrounds and skills, stirred with artistry, challenges and triumphs. Every single person’s journey is unique and filled with passion and a TON of hard work.
In celebration of National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, Sam Villa shines light on the incredible journey of one of their newest ambassadors, Justin Michael Parra (@justinmichaelparra), stylist at The Cutting Edge Salon.
“My journey started in 2014. I was 25 years old, serving tables and still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. My mom owned a salon my whole life; she always wanted me to go into hair, but I initially refused because I thought ‘doing hair was for women.’ She introduced me to a man named Frank Hopson, who owned our local Waco, Texas RDA, and I became a direct sales consultant for him instead. My dad, being in prison my whole life, wasn’t around so Frank took me in, mentored me, and showed me a side of the beauty industry I never knew existed. After a year of working for him, he took me to Vegas to attend the 2015 Redken Symposium and it changed my life forever. I saw platform artists and international educators. This was where I first met Sam Villa. I knew, without a shadow of doubt, that that’s what I wanted to do with my life. I spent all of my savings and applied to beauty school.
“Beauty school was not easy for me. It was a privately owned institute, so everything had to be paid out of pocket. I was homeless three times during beauty school, and I had to take two leave of absences in order to pay off the school fees. I carried my clippers everywhere I went, doing haircuts and color anywhere and everywhere I could. Hair was my obsession and my escape from reality. By the time I finally graduated, not only was it the first thing I started and finished on my own (through much adversity), but I had a full clientele. A year after beauty school, I was already an educator; two years after beauty school, I had been on three different local news channels for hair; and three years after beauty school, I was recruited by Redken.
“In 2018, I checked myself into a rehab facility for drugs and alcohol. I decided to take back control of my life. After healing from addiction, I was able to see the world clearly for the first time. I think it’s important to mention my past struggles because without that huge moment in my life, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Three years after beauty school, I decided to move to my current salon because I realized I needed more structure and professionalism in my career. It was during this time that I traveled to NYC to train with Redken, which was the most incredible experience of my life. I am currently not a Redken artist, but if I ever decide to retake my certification exam and move forward in that direction, I will aim to be.
“I am thankful to Sam Villa for this amazing opportunity to not only further my career, but to share my story, my knowledge, and inspire those like me to find their purpose and see that anything is possible!
“My advice is to never give up on yourself or your dreams. Stay committed and know that mistakes are okay as long as you learn from them.
“And also, always find ways to reinvent yourself and market yourself:
- Don’t post just hair on your social channels. Consumers want to relate to you and see your work. So, posting some personal things every now and then will give your followers an idea of who you are and make you more relatable.
- Stay true to yourself. Don’t do what everyone else is doing, authenticity is the most favored.
- Pick your brand and stick with it. For me personally, my name is my brand, so I wanted my name to not only represent me but also my work.
- When deciding what to specialize in, follow your heart. Whatever you enjoy the most and are getting the most requests for, that is what you’ll specialize in.
“One of the most beautiful things about being a hairdresser is the people you meet along the way and how they can inspire you to be the best version of yourself,” says Parra.