Three Things I’m Glad I Learned Early in My Cosmetology Career

By Liz Kline

Early in my tenure as a hair pro, I did three things that I’m glad I learned, since they've served me well throughout my career. Gaining as much knowledge as you can early in your career will save you a lot of time—and prevent any headaches from figuring things out the hard way.   

1. Learn about multiple color lines, lighteners, shampoos, conditioners, and styling products.

Any and all of it. I never limited myself to only using one color line or styling aid and using it as a one-size-fits-all. I read backs of bottles and tried different formulas on multiple heads so I could figure out what works best for different hair colors, hair types, and processing times. Having the knowledge of which products work for different hair types helped me recommend solutions to my clients in need of some help, and determine which products are best suited for clients that have “tried everything.”  

2. Don’t limit yourself to working 9–5 hours.

I worked evenings, weekends, and if there was an offsite gig, I was the first to volunteer to take on the challenge. When first starting out, many of us don’t have an established clientele—we need to build one. I took every opportunity to do just that. I started behind the chair, working three evenings a week and weekends. By doing this, I was able to accommodate those that do work 9–5 jobs, and when it came time for me to transition out of working evenings, I had the loyalty of my clients who accommodated their schedules to match mine.   

I will add that this was not a drastic change, and it takes time to adjust your schedule. I worked evenings and weekends for years before making this adjustment. When I did, I started by removing one night from my schedule. I let my clients digest the transition, then removed another evening after some time had passed. Soon, I’d a built clientele, no longer had to work evenings, and eventually transitioned out of working every weekend to every other weekend, and from there, down to just one weekend a month. Making and setting your own schedule is a perk of this industry, but it’s crucial to understand that building a clientele first is necessary for accommodating the schedule you eventually want.  

3. Keep an open mind.

In cosmetology school, we may not like doing everything. But trust me when I tell you to give it your all and learn everything you can about everything. You’d be surprised how many clients will say, “Oh you can also wax my eyebrows?” or “I can get a manicure by you too?” Your typical cut and blow-dry client may just turn into two additional services and increase your revenue. Plus, by doing everything, you expand your knowledge of products and improve your overall skill set. In time, if you decide certain services may not be the right fit for you, you’ll know for sure because you at least gave it a shot. Don’t limit yourself to what you think are your only interests right now; if you do find yourself wanting to specialize down the road, you’ll already know what you’re capable of and who the target market is.  

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