5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T LEARN IN BEAUTY SCHOOL
I spent last weekend in New York, teaching several classes at the IBS show, including two classes on Tuesday, the designated “Student” day. This was my first time at IBS New York and I wasn’t prepared for the number of buses brought in from surrounding states, filled with students who were eager to experience a few perks of being licensed. Having students in my classes was a great reminder why I teach what I do, and their energy was infectious. It immediately rocketed me back to when I was in school, when everything was possible and nothing would stand in my way.
As many of those buses emptied into the convention center, the students streamed onto the show floor, often squealing with excitement over the latest and greatest products on offer from every brand. Products are exciting. New techniques and shiny things will always elicit the biggest reaction from techs because it is what speaks to us as artists. We like getting out of bed every day in order to do what we love, and products and newness and the constant stream of things to try and buy keeps us plugged into our jobs. 5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T LEARN IN BEAUTY SCHOOL
However, one of the biggest reasons why most salons fail in the first two years is that almost no one comes out of beauty school ready to run their business. And I don’t just mean salon owners. I’m talking about individual nail technicians not sure where to begin when it comes to beginning their careers.
My nail technology program was ahead of the game, but the more time I spend in this industry, the more I see a vicious cycle forming. Just as law school doesn’t necessarily prepare you to become a practicing attorney, cosmetology and/or nail technology schooling doesn’t prepare you for the day to day operational requirements of making this a career. Unfortunately, as nail techs, we have a tendency to focus on the new and bright and shiny and not on the fact-based, practical, and business-focused.
Without further ado, here are the five things beauty school doesn’t teach you:
Beauty trade schools prepare you to sit and pass the exam. That’s it. Schools make money by attracting more students. Students find high passing rates and even higher job placement rates attractive. It is in the school’s best interest to give you the best possible chance on your state board exam, so that is what you are taught. You’re lucky if you get more info beyond that, so if you’re in beauty trade school now, or you graduated 25 years ago, seek out every educational opportunity possible. Trade shows have lots of free and economical classes that will enrich your career far after that new glitter is gone. Research your options and find the classes taught by instructors who have demonstrated the highest industry value.
Now that we’ve come to terms with the fact that you’re going to be taught the curriculum and nothing additional, it is up to you to educate yourself using tried and trusted experts. Once you make your way into the workforce, you’re going to have to make lots of decisions about where to work and who to work for. The amount of misinformation in the industry is built upon lots of layers of “they said” and “that’s how it has always been.” It can be frustrating, but there is an undercurrent of change on the horizon. I highly recommend This Ugly Beauty Business for well-researched, factual information that can help you navigate the waters of the newly-employed.
Commission-only compensation is generally not legal and asking for 50% or more of every service is just not logical. Tina Alberino has written the literal book on this as well, and you’d be wise to read her info on compensation structuring (and everything else, if we’re being honest.) My first job out of school was working in a full-service salon that paid me 40% of every service I did. But when I didn’t have clients? Too bad, sit there and make nothing. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and I wish I had found out sooner. Needless to say, I spent less than two weeks in that position because I realized that something wasn’t adding up, and I was right. The owner was compensating me below the prevailing wage, and it was not legal.
Even if you are working for someone else in a salon setting, you will still want to ensure your personal marketing efforts are effective. If you’re trying to become an educator or get on the radar of your favorite brand, you’ll need to harness the power of networking. Whether it is face to face networking at industry events, or through the internet tubes like social media and your website, beauty school doesn’t do much to help you figure out how to market yourself. There’s posts here, here, and here, on this topic, along with many other great articles on networking in the trade magazines. Being able to interface with people and build your own profile is a skill most students leave beauty school without ever even thinking about. Don’t let it happen to you.
You Can’t Eat Glitter
When you leave school you think you need to be able to perform all services and be all things to all people. You’ll likely invest in products that don’t fit into your professional life, or won’t work for your clientele. You’ll spend on things that you’ll only end up using on yourself, and the return on that investment is negligible at best. Instead of prioritizing product, focus on the welfare of your business and building the skills you need to last in this industry long enough to see the next trend evolve. In the beauty industry, you’ll have to learn the role of accountant, marketer, customer service specialist, quality assurance agent, receptionist, and a myriad of other roles just to run your business effectively. Most of us don’t have a deep bench of experience to draw from to flex those muscles, so while it isn’t sexy, business training is essential.
What else have you noticed missing from your beauty school education? Any tips for recent grads? Let us know in the comments. 5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T LEARN IN BEAUTY SCHOOL