Whether you are a new hairstylist or have recently moved to a new city, finding the right salon can be a tricky situation. “You need to know what you want from your career and see if the salon offers those opportunities, whether that’s education, editorials, photo shoots or giving back to the community,” says Robert Barbosa, owner of Toronto’s Salon Escape. Before you land that interview, we culled together the best-kept secrets from salon owners across the nation that will help you to land (and keep) your dream job.
Matters of experience
“In those first few years, you’ll probably be doing things you don’t like including cleaning the salon. Yet this is also the time where you’ll be building your client base, and once you do, you’ll eliminate those other tasks.”—Mireille Cormier, Eccentric Hair Studio, Moncton, N.B.
“We try to build the assistants we have with us. After two years, we’ll give them a time frame, have them invite friends and family in for services and take time to coach them. We also have Wacky Wednesdays, where we book most of the clients with junior stylists but the catch is that the client has no say in terms of the style or cut. By doing this, we help the hairstylists build their portfolio, and create different looks and it forces more junior stylists to consider different ideas for haircuts, and delve into those ideas.” —Stephan W., Montreal
“Consistency is key. You are only as good as your last haircut.”—Robert Barbosa, Salon Escape, Toronto
“Creativity is important, yet you need to be able to fit into a structured salon environment, it’s a fair environment, but fitting into it by being flexible is key.”—Stephan W., Montreal
“Being well spoken; which means you can speak clearly and concisely. And you also have to be confident. No matter what your experience, you need to believe in your abilities”—Michael Levine, owner of A Michael Levine Salon Group, Vancouver
“Especially in the beginning, nobody likes a know-it-all. As hairstylists, we must continue to learn until the day we are no longer stylists. It’s important to have a positive attitude so that you can absorb information and deal with clients.”—Robert Barbosa, Salon Escape, Toronto
Keep It Simple
“The younger you are, the more you want to show, but sometimes you don’t need to have a lot of technique in there, you should focus each look specifically on what you want someone to see.”—Stephan W., Montreal
“Clean work, not the crazy stuff. Sensible work. I want to see that you’re capable, which means you must also be able to show that you can finish a cut beautifully.”—Michael Levine, owner of A Michael Levine Salon Group, Vancouver
“Showing education is the key. Images of blowouts, styling and colouring will give someone a feel for what level you are at. It’s good to be eager, but you must focus on where you want to be without being scattered.”—Robert Barbosa, Salon Escape, Toronto
Be open to opportunity
“Every manufacturer has a contest, so when stylists decide to enter, there’s really an opportunity to perform. This is also a great way to be inspired by mentors.“ —Stephan W., Montreal
“We give prospective hairstylists a trial day and see what they will do when they’re not given any direction. We like to back off and see if people are self-starters. If you find things to do when there’s nothing to do, that’s key.” —Michael Levine, A Michael Levine, A Michael Levine Salon Group, Vancouver
“Discipline. There are two parts in our job: the technical part, and the part about showing up and early being well-dressed and prepared to work hard. You need to show that you’re willing to go the next step by showing interest, whether you want to do cutting or colouring. It all comes down to discipline.”—Stephan W., Montreal
“There’s so much competition out there, you need be a go-getter to stand out above the rest. You have to go above and beyond which may mean working late nights and always means putting the client first.”—Mireille Cormier, Eccentric Hair Studio, Moncton N.B.
“When I was 18 years old, I worked in a salon in France sweeping floors. I had been there a few weeks and was tired of sweeping because that’s not what I came to the salon to do and I was told, once I had perfected the task of sweeping and was the best I could be at it, only then would I move on to hair; that type of discipline applies to every area of your life.”—Stephan W., Montreal
Photos Credits: Hair: Ken Picton; Makeup: Naoko Scintu; Styling: Desiree Lederer; Photos: Andrew O’Toole