Monday, April 21, 2014

The Least Stressful Job In 2014, Please!

The Wall Street Journal recently published a post on the most & least stressful jobs in 2014, based on rankings from The report places hair stylist as #2 on the least stressful list.

Let me clear my throat for a second…actually give me 10 minutes.

WSJ, I generally enjoy your articles but your research team must have spoken to a hairdresser on a beach in Hawaii who had just taken a puff of "the good stuff."

Now don't get me wrong, I love my job. However, as an established stylist, it's still stressful. Allow me to provide some insight on how “easy” it was to get to where I am today.

The minute you finish beauty school and start assisting at a salon, the stress begins. No one can prepare you for this, not even the hair gods. Some hair dressers tend to be diva-ish, they think it's their birthright. (I crack myself up.)

As an assistant you are at the bottom of the food chain and have to eat mucho humble pie. You see everyone doing hair and making major money, but because you have not put in your 2 years (at least) you have to be patient. It’s common practice to assist a busy hairstylist till midnight and get a $1 as a token of appreciation.... (Tears!!!)

The training process of "actually doing hair" on humans is extremely difficult. You think you are talented only to realize you have two left hands and eight fingers. Although training on actual clients is an amazing learning experience, you can ruin a client’s hair and still have to pretend it looks fabulous. "It's hair, it grows!" Well tell that to the person who is missing a piece of hair that's now on the floor...(Constipation!!!)

After the trial period is over, you finally get on the floor to start working with clients and the next level of pressure is on. You realize you have no more tips from shampooing and/or a basic assistant salary. Now you're sitting, waiting for clients, with your mouth wide open catching flies, with no money to pay your rent. Sounds little stressful right? This can go on for a full year depending on how much walk-in traffic the salon has.

Seeing another hairstylist being super-friendly with the front desk and getting all the new clients, can be very distressing. But it happens all the time.

Now for most, building up a clientele is rewarding. At this point you realize you're not only a creative being, you're a sales person.

In many salons (not all) your creative skills are also measured by how you can convince women to get services "they don't need" and selling a certain amount of products per client (3-6 items.) Some may believe this is perfectly normal (I once did.) However it is possible to build a clientele by being honest; the problem is the salon may not think so. Major upselling as opposed to being creative can be incredibly stressful when the security of your job depends on it. 

Upselling is a term used in the industry to sell products or services to clients that they don't need. If they need one product, you have to sell them three or more. That way they will at least buy one. Years ago during a coloring class an educator said, "If you get every client to want highlights, you'll be a rich man." Translation - offer it to as many people as you can, even if their hair is at risk. (This part is so sad and stressful....)

Now here's the really hard part. Cultivating people-pleasing skills. When you're new on "the floor" it’s frustrating when you don't have the knowledge that comes with time. If you're a plastic surgeon, I'm assuming you will not operate on someone till the government, your supervisors and peers think you're ready. With hair it's not so strict, even after getting your license. 

Then there's the myth that as a hairstylist, I'm a therapist. I have a therapist, so I always recommend to clients that they find their own.

In today's world with the media, press and the beauty industry putting pressure on women to look like anyone but themselves; it all adds more stress to your chair. You have to talk clients off the cliff of "I'm not beautiful," or "I want to look like her." (Generally a celebrity)

You must possess the gift of "being honest" while being respectful and encouraging. Not as easy as it sounds, especially if you work in a salon where you need to sell, sell, sell.  Getting a client to see her own individual beauty takes time and patience.

Then you have the client whose happiness depends on their hair and overall appearance. They want their hair to remove all of life's insecurities, solve all of life's problems and save them from the inevitable. (Pressure!)

They may be genuinely nice people, but their dependence on their appearance makes it impossible to make them happy. I get it though. Once upon a time, I too was racked with major insecurities and a lack of self-love.

Then you have the clients that are a breeze. They are realistic, daring and confident. This generally covers a large group.

Keep in mind that you are as good as your last hair cut. So you need to always be on point, ahead of the game and anticipate your clients’ needs.

To wrap things up I want to remind everyone that there is no advertising on my blog, so I can be very honest. Also I'm here to support my co-workers and clients equally. 

I'm blessed to be in a salon where I can express myself creatively first. I'm not perfect but the support is there and that keeps me humble, honest and constantly learning.


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