The Three Mainstays of a Sustainable Career

By AHP Staff

No one wants to have a career that could be described as unendurable, tiring, fleeting, or wasteful—these are the antitheses to sustainability. We are hairdressers and barbers because we love the hair industry, and we love what we do. We all want to create a sustainable career for ourselves, but how do we go about it?

There are three mainstays that will help you design and build a long-lasting career as a salon professional: people (social), planet (environmental), and profit (economic).

1. People/Social

One of the most fulfilling aspects of being a hairstylist or barber is the people we deal with every day, and the intimate ways we serve our clients. At times, though, it can also be physically and emotionally draining. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, but that’s a huge factor in career longevity for hair professionals. Do you remember how excited you were the day you passed boards? Then you entered the real world where certain clients started to dim your passion for this industry. The client who complained about the service price when you spent hours saving their hair from box color; the client who moans and groans the entire service about his wife’s cooking; the client who just had a rigorous workout, didn’t use deodorant and didn’t have time for a shower . . . nasty!  

The passion for your craft is still in there, but you must feed the flames for a sustainable career. An effective way to refuel your passion is to get social with our people, other hairstylists and barbers. Attend classes, go to trade shows, make time for industry events.   Fashion shows, photo shoots, and collaborative opportunities can get you just as excited as when you passed your boards! The hairstylist within you will be motivated by interacting with your peers. It’s like the phenomenon where a hairstylist in a room of strangers can and will find the other hairstylist in the room. 

2. Planet/Environmental

Hairdressers and barbers work all day with different kinds of toxic chemicals, strenuous body positions, and grabbing unhealthy snacks between clients. It’s time to take control and consciously avoid all three of these environmental factors. Read the ingredients of the products you’re using and don’t continue using toxic products just because the marketing was flashy and the salesman was oh, so convincing. Get familiar with what you’re getting on your skin and in your lungs.

Your body might be so used to being in a slumping position when you’re performing services that it might feel strange to hold your body mindfully, using proper body mechanics. There are tons of resources available that can educate you on correct body stance. To combat body aches and fatigue, stretch between clients or take a short walk and get some fresh air.

And, not to get too preachy, but your diet really does matter. As they say, you are what you eat. Grabbing a quick meal-in-a-bar, protein shake, or piece of fresh fruit is just as quick and convenient as grabbing a bag of chips. It’s a much better choice that will provide nutrition to help you stay energized throughout the day. It all comes down to simply making sustainable choices. 

3. Profit/Economic 

A hairstylist ensures they're keeping clients happy and staying up to date with industry trends.No matter how incredible this industry is and how much you love your job as a hairdresser or barber, if you can’t pay your bills and stay afloat, your career won’t either. How is a hair professional worth the price tag on their services? It’s all about education. Staying up to date on the latest trends (in beauty and business), techniques, and products is essential for a successful, sustainable career in our industry. Every season, what clients ask and expect changes. If you aren’t up to speed on the latest and greatest, it’s very likely your clients will find some other stylist who is. The only way to stay relevant and keep those clients coming back is to soak up as much education as you can. Hair professionals who have sustainable careers are constantly learning and growing so they can bring in more clients, raise their prices, and make a lot more money.

Maintaining a sustainable career as a hairstylist isn’t easy. Industry stats guesstimate that as many as 90 percent of cosmetologists leave the industry within the first five years of their career. Don’t give up on your dreams and leave this incredible industry! When you’re feeling burned out, overwhelmed, or just not quite as passionate as you used to feel, take a look at which mainstay in your career might need some TLC and fill ’er up.

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