If you weren’t a Career Hair Stylist what else would you be?

Career Hair StylistReflection.  It’s a scary and crazy thing.  I’m forced to admit that I’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately to ‘think’. By think I mean worry, stew and contemplate what catastrophe will occur or more simply put – drive myself crazy.  I know rationally what ‘they’ mean by rest is not particularly what happens in my brain when forced to lay still and stare at the ceiling, but I’ve never really been one to zone out and have unproductive thoughts.  I’m sure you can see the problem.  So as I ‘rest’ one of the things that has crossed my mind many times is what would my career look like if I wasn’t a Hair Stylist? What other profession would allow me to be productive and continue to work right now?

You see, when you can no longer physically do the things you love (in my case colouring and cutting hair) you start to wonder where life could have taken you if you had chosen a different path or even where life will take you if faced with not only with a fork in the road where you can choose left or right, but a solid 3 million ft high mountain which you are either forced to climb (be productive) or sit down in the middle of the road and cry (which would not be productive).  I know I’m being dramatic.  Indulge me a little bit.

And so I wondered.  Then I wondered some more since I have the time to ponder.  Here is what I came up with:

I’d want a career that helped people.

Seems simple enough.  I would want to make a persons day better in some way so that after they spent time with me they would feel lighter, more positive and just all around happier because of the time we spent together.  Many professions have the pleasure of helping people – you just have to have the genuine want to do it. You simply can’t fake this kind of stuff.

I’d want a career where I could form genuine relationships with people.

In order to help people and form a genuine relationship you need to see a person on a regular basis.  That being said you can’t make a profitable career talking to people or that sort of pushes the boundaries of a ‘genuine’ relationship.  For instance, you don’t have a relationship with your therapist since you pay them to listen to you talk.  See my point? Psychiatry or Counselling, not an option.

I’d want a career that gave me the opportunity to teach.

This goes right along with helping people and forming genuine relationships.  Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is a Teacher and although I have a very healthy amount of respect for the profession, the thought of facing a room full of young children that still need assistance pulling their pants up and down or a room full of teenagers that stare daggers at you simply because the hormonal winds have shifted, is for me downright terrifying.  I get enough of the hormonal winds at home thank you very much.  Being a Teacher is not an option.

 I’d want a career where the amount of effort I put in mattered.

This one might seem a little off but it’s very important to me.  I’m an effort person.  I want a career where my effort can get me results.  I don’t want to work alongside 15 other people who are doing the exact same job, all putting in different amounts of effort yet all earn the same wage.  It’s just not for me.  It’s actually occurring to me right now that there are fewer and fewer jobs out there that offer this option.  Interesting.  When did it become a negative thing to recognize hard work?

I’d want a career where I could create my own business IF I chose to do so.

I thought this point was coming from hindsight but I should know myself better.  I always wanted the option.  Knowing that if ever my circumstances didn’t provide an environment that I could grow and flourish in I could take things into my own hands.  This has heavily influenced how I run my business – there is never a ceiling for Stylists who choose to work with me – no end, no limit.  If they have the ambition to take their career in a certain direction or have the desire to do something different from our ‘norm’ you’ll find me behind them applauding and supporting.  People shouldn’t have to leave a job to excel at their career.

I’d want a career that allowed me to express my creativity.

Here’s where things get a little more selective.  A lot of people express their creativity in their hobbies, not in their everyday jobs.  This was important to me mostly because creative people are generally more emotional people.  Don’t shoot the messenger.  I need to let that creativity out on a daily basis and not just outside of work hours. Everyone that is creative has their medium.  Identify it and embrace it.  My medium is hair.  I can’t explain why or how my medium is hair, it just is.  Don’t ask me to sketch, paint on canvas, carve, sculpt, build, compose a symphony or any other creative thing.  Just let me be creative with hair.


The consistent thing in each of these points is that I have always wanted a career.  This is what it always boiled down to for me; the difference between having a career and working.  A Career is defined as ‘a chosen pursuit; a profession or occupation’, while work is defined as ‘a mental or physical activity as a means of earning income; employment’.  Can you see the difference? We all need to be gainfully employed but we are lucky if we can do that through our chosen pursuit. A Career.

If I weren’t a Career Hairstylist, what would I be? Simply put – I’d be unhappy.  There are so many other careers I could have chosen but for me they’d merely be working.  I’d be creatively stifled, working only for the end result, and not getting to live out the things above that are truely very important to me.

So at my current crossroad, without the physical ability to pursue my career do I wish I had chosen something different? Not for a second.  I still have a career where I am helping people, forming genuine relationships, teaching, where my effort matters, creating different opportunities for business and the outlet of expressing my creativity.  Do I miss working with hair? Like you’d miss the air you are breathing.  It’s simply part of who I am. But on my 3 million ft climb straight up this mountain I’ve discovered that creativity is best shared, best never taken for granted and most of all best appreciated through the hands of others.

In closing my advice for anyone who feels my words resonate with them; If life throws you a curve ball – just catch it with your other hand.  There is always another way to live happily. 😉


Thanks for listening,




Hairstylist Tiers – What’s the difference between a Stylist and a Master Stylist?

hairstylist tier

Though more frequently seen in larger salons, hairstylist tiers are an industry standard. So what do ‘Master Stylist’, ‘Stylist’ and ‘Advanced Stylist’ really mean? And why are hairstylist tiers even necessary?

One thing is certain – hairstylist tiers give you choice, but you need to understand what you are choosing! Selecting the right hairstylist can be intimidating. You look at the salon website, scan the portfolio, read the stylist bios……but other than that how do you really know who to choose?

One common misconception of hairstylist tiers is that they are based on years of experience.  This may even be true for a lot of salons but consider this; is a Stylist with 10 years experience equal in talent to another Stylist with 10 years experience? They’ve both probably been to some classes, worked with countless clients and developed their skill set.  So that should make them equal right? 10 years in the industry might sound pretty impressive, but not necessarily.  Years are simply a passage of time.  It doesn’t at all represent what has happened within those years.

I can’t speak for what happens in all salons.  I do caution you that its important to know what your prospective salon bases their hairstylist tier system on.  If it is based solely on years of experience you may be surprised to find out that of the two Stylists with 10 years of experience maybe only one has sought out continuing education twice a year, where the other 10 year veteran may have attended only a handful of classes.  You know the saying ‘Age is just a number’? Sometimes the same can be said of years of experience.  If the salon doesn’t have other requirements for stylists to achieve a certain ‘title’, then you really don’t know what you are getting.

Another thing you should know is that hairstylist tiers and titles are not universal!  An Advanced Stylist at one salon could mean an entirely different thing at another salon.  There are no rules for this type of thing.  Each salon chooses whichever titles they want.  I hate to refer to it as ‘picking a name from a hat’ but honestly, it really is that simple.  Unfortunately, this leaves you doing some research which is exactly why I’m writing this!

To me hairstylist tiers should represent a career path.  As with any job you don’t get a promotion based on being there the longest – you get it because you worked hard, met the job criteria and earned it.  Properly used, hairstylist tiers should function the exact same way.

At the Studio our hairstylist tiers are based on expertise and demand.  Expertise is measured technically with specific standards to meet at each tier before promotion, and demand is of course indicative of a consistent level of customer service being provided.

Here are the hairstylist tiers at the Studio and a little information on exactly what they mean:


Every hairstylist starts here and this tier is all about education! Your service may take a little longer since speed comes with practise.  Rest assured that Studio Apprentices are only able to book services they have completed the training module for so they are well prepared to look after you.  Another Stylist may be overseeing your service and stepping in periodically to teach and/or grade the final result as part of the learning process. For your patience and trust in us you will receive special pricing on Apprentice services.


At this tier you will find an eager, fresh and creative hairstylist with a complete and solid foundation of technical skills.  Stylists can offer you flexibility to book an appointment that will easily suit your schedule.

Advanced Stylist

With an Advanced Stylist you can enjoy the benefits of a stylist who has fine tuned their technical skills and holds a deeper understanding of more advanced colour and cutting theory.  These stylists still provide some flexibility in booking your appointment to suit your schedule and are beginning to create a demand for their services. Depending on the point in their career path an Advanced Stylist may work with a Colour Technician to help keep appointment availability as flexible as possible.

Master Stylist

At this tier you can experience a stylist who excels at their craft, are in high demand and have consistently performed the skills necessary to build a clientele. New clients are always welcome and although flexibility in booking appointments to suit your schedule may be limited, your Master Stylist is still as eager to suit your needs. Master Stylist may also work with a dedicated Colour Technician.


So which hairstylist tier is right for you?  Simply ask yourself this – which Stylist, after reading the above descriptions, would you be most comfortable trusting your hair to?  That is your answer!


I hope this has explained some of the mystery behind Hairstylist Tiers.  If you have any questions please comment below and I’d be happy to answer them the best I can!


Thanks for listening,




Hairstyling Apprenticeship Standards – A Grey Area?

hairstyling apprenticeshipI thought I had a handle on the requirements of both the apprentice and sponsor in the hairstyling apprenticeship process.  Recently I had my eyes opened to some inconsistencies which allow many people to fly under the radar and fast track the system.  I refrain from saying ‘cheat’ the system since most apprentices do so with the consent and approval of their sponsor and the ‘system’ itself.

The hairstyling apprenticeship, for as long as I can remember, required schooling and work hours.  Work hours are spent with a sponsoring stylist who is required to teach and sign off on all the essentials skills in the apprenticeship handbook.  I’ve been through the process as the apprentice and now as a sponsor.  Imagine my surprise while registering with my third apprentice discovering an entire ‘grey’ area I had not realized existed.

Hair styling is classified as a Compulsory Trade in Ontario which after the schooling and work hours mentioned above requires a final exam to become fully licensed.  Traditionally, this is 1500 full time school hours, 2000 salon working hours, totalling 3500 hours.  The new part time Apprentice school program of 480 hours requires an additional 3020 salon working hours for the same 3500 hour total.  Seems simple enough right?  As long as 3500 hours are completed, regardless of the schooling path they choose, the hairstyling apprenticeship is fulfilled and they are able to take their final exam to become fully licensed.  And here’s where it gets interesting.

When completing paperwork for a recent hairstyling apprenticeship I was informed that if I signed off all the ‘skills’ in the handbook the final exam could be taken ‘Whenever I felt as though the apprentice was ready.’  Pardon? Ready as in she has put in her 3500 hours, right? The clarification I asked for didn’t exactly sit well with me; ‘No – she doesn’t really have to complete all the hours – just send her with a letter that says how many she completed and that you feel she is ready to take her exam’.  Well really. Where’s the consistency in that?

Just to clarify – PLEASE correct me if I am wrong.  I would love to find out that this murky grey area I uncovered is but a bad dream and there is actually a concrete system to ensure every hairstyling apprenticeship requires exactly 35o0 hours to achieve full licensing.

Most of you that know me can clearly see I’m a black and white type of person.  At a fork in the road I will go left or right – I’m not into off roading down the middle, throwing caution to the wind to rip donuts in the mud. I realize not everyone is the same but here is what really bothers me about all this.  HOW is this fair to the apprentice and THE CLIENTS? Why should one apprentice work a gruelling 3500 hours when the next one doesn’t have to? Why should one sponsor make the decision that an apprentice has completed ‘enough’ hours when 3500 is the actual requirement? Why should a client have to question whether the newly licensed hairstylist you have an appointment with has in fact completed 3500 hours?

There are provinces where hair styling is not regulated at all.  You could go into a salon and book an appointment with a hair stylist who doesn’t have a license, which you may or may not be aware of.  In that situation you rely on the reputation of the salon you are going to, their education program and the quality of their work to know whether the stylist will serve you well.  Sadly, even though there are governing bodies for hairstyling apprenticeships in Ontario, I encourage you as a consumer to do your homework.  Make your stylist choice based on more then just whether they hold their license.  Learn about their work, inquire about their training and education, ask who their sponsoring stylist was.  After all – finding a great hair stylist is really about trust! Has your hair stylist earned your trust?

Thanks for listening,




So you want to be a Hair Stylist?

hair stylistI read an article recently filled with great advice for hair stylists and salon owners which inspired me to write my own thoughts down on what I feel should be shared with all potential stylists.   This information could dramatically change the thought process of why they should want to enter the industry and give them fundamental insight into whether being a hair stylist is really what they want. The bottom line is – IT’S NOT ABOUT THE HAIR. Surprised? I think most people signing up for hair school would disagree with that statement, but most of us who are earning our living as hair stylists know this as fact.

I’m sure any hair stylist you ask will tell you how much they love doing hair. Coloring, cutting, styling – it’s something we are passionate about. A way for us to express our artistry and create. Basically, as artists, hair is our medium. The feeling we get from creating something truly beautiful is what drives us to continue, to find the next medium and create. Anyone who follows their passion in life or is an artistic person will understand this feeling. It’s this feeling that most young hair stylists are chasing in their journey to turn their passion of hair styling into a career.  Now if you are reading this and are a paying client I’m sure you are waving your red flag.  Sound like I’m forgetting something? You are right – there is something enormous missing and this, for some hair stylists, is where is goes horribly wrong.

People!!! Our medium is person, not a piece of canvas, not an inanimate object. A PERSON with feelings, hopes and desires who actually OWNS, USES and WEARS our art everyday! What a privilege that is for us and something that needs to be taken seriously. So tell me again why you want to be a hair stylist – because you love to do hair, right? Try again. You should want to be a hair stylist because you love making PEOPLE love their hair.

Being a hair stylist is not about you – it’s about every person who sits in your chair. Every person who hands you their time, their trust, their hair, and amazingly allows you to touch a tiny piece of their heart. Now that’s an amazing privilege and responsibility to carry with you every day. It is through their eyes that you chase your artistic passion, to bring what they are dreaming of to life.

Not a people person? Stick to working with canvas.  Trust me though – you’ll be missing out on an amazingly rewarding profession.

So you want to be a hair stylist?

Thanks for listening,




What is a Hair Show?

hair show‘What is a Hair Show?’ I’ve heard this question countless time over the years from clients so I thought I’d take minute here to explain.  Please comment below to let me know your thoughts!

There is always some excitement from stylists and clients alike when news of a hair show rolls around.  I’ve come to understand that from a clients perspective this is the place stylists go to learn new techniques and to prepare for the new trends and styles we will be asked to create in the upcoming season.  For some stylists, it seems to be the place where we promote and market to our clients that we are furthering our education, and how we become more ‘skilled’ stylists just by attending.  I’m only one person and as many opinions as there are on what a hair show really is, I’ll give you mine for what is worth.

Hair Shows are the place where companies SELL themselves to hairstylists.  Whether they are selling a product, image or an idea these shows are filled with flashing lights, big screen tv’s, platform artists sporadically snipping hair between busting out the running man or a pirouette.  These events are called ‘shows’ for a reason and I have always been highly entertained.  There will always be the odd lecture on business, creating photo shoots, marketing, salon design, etc but what part of those lectures (and highly entertaining dance routines) am I able to bring back to the Studio and improve the day-to-day experience of a client? Not much really.

Don’t misunderstand – hair shows are instrumental to the industry by spotlighting new products, networking, providing opportunities to enter hair competitions, building awareness and a sense of community to our industry. They are a place that push stylists to dream big and inspire them to create like the artists they truly are.  I’m sure they provide much more for some stylists that I can’t even begin to comprehend and for those stylists where that holds true I’m immensely grateful that the industry provides the hair shows they do.

What I mean to express is that contrary to popular belief,  hair shows are rarely the place we can learn something to bring back TODAY and improve a clients experience.  Nor do they provide access to the smaller brands and suppliers who may have amazing products to offer, but simply cannot afford the price tag of having a booth at the hair show to get that product in front of stylists.  Classes of true technical education and unknown but wonderful products must be researched and found through hard work and persistence by the salon you frequent or by your hairstylist.  Hair shows are merely a tool, not an answer, in the quest for higher learning.

So, should you be disappointed if your stylist hasn’t attended the latest hair show?  Not really.  For a good look at upcoming trends and new products a good scroll through any industry inundated social media site can keep stylists abreast of what’s going on.  What I’d suggest you be more concerned with was the last time your stylist truly educated themselves.  When was the last time they attended a hands on class, pulled out a mannequin and practised something new to perfection? When was the last time they said to you ‘I’d love to try this new technique I just learned at a class!’? Those are the thing you really want to listen for.

Thanks for listening,




Hair Styling Tools for Curls!

Hair Styling Tools for Curls

The latest thing in the world of hair styling tools comes by many names – Curl Secret and Miracurl just to name a few. Basically the concept is a curling iron that does all the work for you, giving you a head full of beautiful curls without you having to know the technique behind curling, not to mention saving you from burning yourself.

Overall I think the concept behind these hair styling tools is great. Anything that will make doing your own hair easier is a wonderful thing. I know people that have used these irons with success and are quite happy with them but you won’t be finding them for sale at the Studio.

Please understand that this of course is just my opinion. As I said, I know people who are very happy with these hair styling tools and I also know fellow hairstylists that use them on clients and love them. I’ve had a lot of clients asking me my thoughts about these irons so here it goes.

Generally when you are curling your own hair you don’t spend a lot of time sectioning your hair cleanly. Most of us are a little haphazard when grabbing pieces of our own hair before we try to curl them. This is no big deal when using a curling wand (what I prefer to recommend) since you are in control of wrapping the hair and there is nothing clamping or holding it but you, just incase there are a few stray pieces that could snag. An automatic curling iron may be a little more territorial about who’s in control of your hair.

As a stylist when I curl your hair the ends of your hair spend the least amount of time on the iron since they are the most fragile part of your hair and the most susceptible to heat damage. The curling wand works great for you to mimic this technique when curling your hair at home to protect your ends. The automatic curlers treat the whole section of your hair the same heating the ends equally as it would the stronger, more resistant roots and mid lengths. Heat protectant sprays are of course helpful but even they have their limits.

I encourage you to do your own research on hair styling tools for creating curls and find what will work best for you and your hair. There’s a lot of ways out there to curl your hair – be sure the check all your options and of course keep in mind what will be the most ‘hair friendly’!

Thanks for listening,




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