More than ever before, hairstylists are exploring the benefits of going solo as educators in their own right.
It stands to reason that a good education is always in high demand, and because of this fact, a growing number of hairstylists are realizing their skills can be a valuable commodity to those wanting to learn a new technique. From basic education and training programs, to on-stage, classroom or on-camera gigs, as an educator, you have the potential to instantly have an audience.
Thinking about taking on opportunities to educate? While it won’t happen overnight, here’s how you can get on the right track and create an action plan to take you from behind the chair to standing in front of an audience.
Have a Game Plan
When it came time for Josie Vilay to take the leap, the freelance educator and salon owner based in Winnipeg, mapped out her schedule for the whole year. Because her salon keeps her so busy, she needed to balance her time there with her time doing education for salons and brands.
“My advice is to start off with a yearlong plan and then, month to month, plan out where you’ll be, how many education sessions you want to do over the year, and at which times of the year,” says Vilay. “See how many you can make work in your schedule, your work schedule and whatever other commitment you need to consider.”
Find Your Tribe
As a freelance educator, you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, looking for opportunities to team up with other educators on different projects is where the real learning will be for you.
“Reach out to someone you may have worked with before, possibly on stage, or at a photo shoot,” suggests Richard Mannah, Joico’s international guest artistic director. “You can always polish your presentation skills, and learn by watching someone with experience slightly different than yours.” At the same time, Mannah says that social media influencers can also be a great source of learning inspiration. “I can learn from influencers, see what they are doing and creating, and it keeps me sharp, too.”
For Vilay, social media helped her launch into becoming an educator. “With Instagram, I was able to show what I specialized in, whether that was cutting or colour or even colour correction,” she says. “Once other salons started seeing my specialty, I had hairstylists and salons reach out to me for training.” Vilay adds that she still loves taking classes and watching online seminars for new ideas she can incorporate into her teaching. “You always need to be looking for new techniques and keeping up to date—that’s part of being an educator.”
Get Real, For Real
By now, we all know who is faking it when it comes to education. You have to be the real deal in order for anyone to take you seriously. That said, you can never have too many connections. “I love what I do, and with freelancing, it really is about building authentic relationships with people,” says Mannah.
While Mannah has said, there’s a sense of security when you are working with a brand, having the freedom to work opportunities in time. “Thankfully, I started working with many different brands, so I was exposed to different mindsets, and was able to really build relationships out of the box.” Bottom line, it takes time to get your name established as an eductor, and maintaining good relationships early on in your career will pay off in the long run.
Make a Connection
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an educator is trying to give your students too much in one session. One way to keep the pace at a level that’s better for you and those learning is to keep a conversation going. “Ask questions so that your audience has a chance to digest what you are say and they can interact with you,” says Vilay, and adds that this simple step gives you the time to regroup and stay on track. Another way to refine your skills as an educator is to ask for feedback from the group. If an in-person question-and- answer session isn’t ideal, try leaving a box out to collect written comments after the session.
Three quick tips for cutting it as a freelance educator.
1. Educate in your posts. For real: Hairstylists want you to teach them something. Keep the steps simple and easy to understand, and use cover photos that will stop them long enough to view the video.
2. Listen up and speak up. Take a public speaking course so you’re more confident in what you’re saying. Then, listen to educators and take notes; you want to come off strong and know what you are saying. Think of educators and influencers you’ve seen on stage and try to emulate their style.
3. Keep trying. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It takes a lot of trial and error when creating content, but do it once and it will become easier and more natural each time that follows.