It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know


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Written by Ali Davidson

Want success in the beauty industry? Make friends with fellow hairstylists, instead of competing with them.

This is the big secret to success. If you’re a recent cosmetology school graduate (or anyone working behind the chair), you probably have a billion things on your mind and not much patience for reading full articles so learn that one thing.

Find your tribe and get involved in the hairdressing community right away. Don’t wait until you’re a little more established or have a few more years under your belt or things aren’t so crazy. Things will always be crazy and you’ll always wish you knew just a little bit more. Get involved now.

We begin our careers in cosmetology school surrounded by our people. Many industry veterans talk about cosmetology school as the first time they ever felt they truly belonged. It’s an impactful time for many reasons, but paramount is that feeling of finally finding one’s tribe. But what happens after graduation?

Ask someone who is just one year out of school: Are you still close with many of your cosmetology classmates; you know, the ones who were your tribe? You will find out how quickly we can drift apart when we end up at different salons with varied hours, focused on building our own clienteles, and no longer able to see each other every day.

But it was the friends you met in cosmetology school that made all the difference in your schooling experience, and it will be the friends you make in the industry that will make all the difference in your work experience.

If you aren’t friends — real-life friends — with the other hair professionals in your town, you are missing out. What you know as a hairstylist is important, but it’s who you know that will advance your career by leaps and bounds.

This isn’t just true in relation to building your clientele, but also about opportunities outside of your salon, in varied roles throughout the industry, besides learning new things and staying inspired.

It’s been said you are the product of the five people you spend the most time with. Ask yourself: What kind of people are they? What kind of hairstylists are they? The break-room dwellers might tell some good jokes, bring in great snacks, and provide hours of entertainment, but here’s a glimpse into the future: they’ll still be in the break room tomorrow, and next week, and three years from now. More importantly, they’ll still have break-room clienteles, skill sets, and paychecks. Is that what you want for your life or are you striving for a career? Find stylists you admire and shadow them. That’s the way out of the break room shadows.

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” ~ Amy Poehler

Finding a good salon fit and incredible hair professionals to work with on a daily basis is super important, but don’t stop there. No matter where you claim a chair, the way your salon operates is not the only way. There is a ton to learn from other hair professionals and it’s crucial to broaden your horizons to interact with hairstylists beyond your salon walls.

The easiest way to connect with fellow hair professionals is to get involved with the AHP (Associated Hair Professionals) Root in your town. They are groups of hair professionals who get together once a month to learn from each other, lean on each other, and grow with each other.

Each month, AHP Root groups get together to explore a topic pertinent to hair professionals, such as marketing, haircolor, or customer service. These are smaller, more intimate face-to-face gatherings with real talk, creating real connections among Root members, and real community in the hair industry. Every hair professional at any point in their career is invited to get involved with the AHP Root gatherings in their town. (Find an AHP Root meeting near you by using the Root Finder on www.associatedhairprofessionals.com/roots.) Roots are product-neutral and completely free. There’s no judgement, no competition, and no ego allowed. This is a real opportunity for you to make connections that will advance your career exponentially faster than you ever could alone.

“Call it a clan. Call it a network. Call it a tribe. Call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~ Jane Howard