Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why do I specialize in hair extensions?

Why am I not a more rounded hairdresser that does more services?

First of all, it's just good business. Who would not want to be booked with the most high end expensive service there is? I do not think many people are turning down this business when it comes knocking on their door. Or are they? I've heard of hairdressers saying that it is just too hard or tedious. To each their own, and that's okay. But don't suggest I not do only hair extensions after I already do. I would suggest anyone who can get the clients, go for it. It's good business.

And perhaps this might seem weird, but I never set out to do hair extensions exclusively. It chose me. I built a web site 17 years ago, long before every single business had their own web site. I studied web design in school and I wanted OUT of hair. I was not passionate about a job that did not pay well. I was quiet and not good at self promotion and talking to people I don't know. I was married to a musician and I hated being stuck at home. I figured web design would allow me to get to work from anywhere and I would be able to join my rock star on the road. I was not choosing love over career. I actually only went to beauty school because I was a drop out and lived in foster homes. My caseworker suggested I learn a trade before I turned 18. At 18, its see you later, when you live in a foster home, on your own, ready or not. I was only 16 years old when I started beauty school doing hair. It seemed easy enough. So I continued with community college part time thinking I would eventually leave this business, become a writer, artist, anything but a hairdresser. Web design. I realized no one wanted to pay me for that either, so I grew my own website. If you build it, they will come, but you you have to promote it too. I didn't even do hair extensions at the time and had no intension of doing them. The calls were mostly people asking me if I did hair extensions. So I had to learn them. My web site built my business. The calls just kept coming, eventually squeezing out almost all non hair extension services. I am down to two people that I do not do hair extensions on.

I am an indipendent woman who pays my own bills. I'm not in this job for "fun." I used to be so envious of the other assistants and hairdressers when I was young. They could afford to not make money because they were married or lived at home. So many times I've heard hairdressers say they are not motovated by money beause they love what they do. I was a single mom, in Los Angeles, working as an assistant in Beverly Hills. I chose to be serious, not frivolous. I was willing to put in my time for the big picture in the long run. For me, it was only about the money. It had to be. Because Giuseppe Franco was hard, a bit mean, and many times, inappropriate. I still didn't make much but I knew I was being set up to. The training was spectacular, not meant for the faint of heart and most people he hired didn't make it past three months because the expectation were too high. However, being forced into perfection was what I loved. I love being competitive, being impressive, and making people happy. Maybe I do like hair more than I admit.

It's not that I don't know other services and can't do them. I've been doing hair for 30 years and hair extensions exclusively for the last 12. I get it, for a beginner, it is an insane thing to expect to be able to do right off the bat. Stylist need a strong color and design background before they will even begin to understand how to incorporate extra hair. You need an eye for color and you should be a master stylist with design before you take it to the next level and suppose you can handle super long thick hair with matching issues to deal with.

I am a licenced cosmetologist in two states. I can do a pedicure if I want. Clients want pedicures. Yes, I was the girl in beauty school that the other girls did not like so I was booked with pedicures more than everyone else. Do you think I would turn down a hair extension client over a pedicure booked at noon that day? No, I'd rather touch feet. Sorry, can't do your hair. No, I do not even have that on my service menu.

I can cut men's hair too. I worked at a Hair Crafters and Dimensions salon that they have in the Fred Meyers in my day. $5.00 to $11.00 haircuts. That is straight up an insult to any hairdressers time and effort. No compassion here. The answer is "no" on that. Men's haircuts, I prefer to never do, except Walter, because it's been over 15 years and he respects my time. I don't want to not do men at all, only because it's illigal to discriminate though. I will book a men's haircut, for $250.00. Bitch all you want and go down the street for $10. bucks. I won't cry. I make my one regular men's haircut book only at 9 or 10 am.

There is no reason why I would want to do any other service at all that can't pay what hair extensions do. This girl here (me) supports a salon of 4 and a household of 5 as well and some of my mothers ongoing bills. I can not afford to do less than what I do anyway. There is no one taking care of me, so this girl has to work hard to take care of my keep.

What about color services? My hair extension clients still need color. Am I missing out on doing fun color on people?

I admire the hairdressers who love doing hair so much that they are super passionate about it. They want to create all kinds of fantastic looks to showcase their talents. By all means, don't give that up. I know people need color and so do most of my hair extension clients. I have a young stylist in my shop who is more than happy to have all my color work. I used to teach color for L'Oreal. A job I never even applied for. They stole me from Lanza, who I educated for before that. I know my color and color correction. I've spent my time doing plenty of color and teaching it. I could be booked a month out with color if I wanted to, but why? I can double book them with my assistant and other stylist all day, keep them busy, and still bring in income from it.

Isn't it hard on my body do such a long, tedious service all day, every day?

Yes, it is hard work. I don't get to see as many finished styles in a day. It's usually a day for a full set. On occasion, I've done two sets per day. But I work with two assistants. They remove and color all morning, plus prepare my hair for me. I help with the hair preparation. But guess what, I wanted to get to this point. It's not as hard when it's a team effort. My clients know it's a long service. I stay late many hours after my assistants have gone home. But they also come in early, open, and start on my client. Most of my clients are routine, every three months and they trust my girls to do prep work and color well. I have big expectation of them and they shine through. Over the years, you just build the stamina for the the work. I've done over a thousand sets of hair extensions, at least. But this job? Is isn't about me. It's about my clients need for me. I have to do it. I like to service people and make them happy and be able to provide jobs and care for my family.

The last thing I need is to be misunderstood, prejudged, and put down, when all I was trying to do was be good and learn more so that I can be worth more, specifically, in doing hair extensions exclusively.

The benifits to my clients because I do only hair extensions.

First and foremost, I paid my dues and I have a tremendous color and design background. Any exclusive hair extensions artist I believe would need this for success.

For my clients, they are spending a huge amount of money for this service. Do they want the girl who does them every once in while, or me, who knows the in and outs of almost every top name brand of hair extensions. I've seen all the issues. I've learned the causes and the preventions. I know when I can push the envelope and when I can't. I know the difference in quality, origin, and processing methods. I've spent a month in an Italian hair extension factory in Sicily. I know fusion, micro links, tapes, weaves, braids, pieces, and I also know factory trade secrets.

Guess what. If they know about me, they are choosing me. I did not get here by accident. My talent trapped me here. I would rather just paint at the beach all day to be honest. So again, there is no reason not to do what I do.

I was an educator too, for L'Oreal. One of the things I thought was important was to inspire students with a can do attitude. Whether or not they would actually achieve their dreams, we still support that desire to go as far to the moon as possible. The last thing any stylists needs is someone, especially an educator, telling them to limit themselves. That is just a disheartening and discouraging thing. Let people choose what is best for their own self. Maybe you don't want to do only hair extensions because it's long and tedious for you, but that doesn't mean it will be the same for others.

A trait that not too many people like in me is my rebellous spirit to not allow others to limit me. I'm grateful I have that. I'm sometimes harsh and the truth can hurt but I play real, so maybe its not nice, and that is more honest, I think. There are plenty of times when I had to face some harsh reality, shut my mouth, and learn. It can hurt but it's for the best.

I will bit off any thumb that someone tries to hold me under. I'm sorry I didn't let it go, but if we care, we share. Sometimes it doesn't matter but sometimes it may help to know. No student wants to feel pushed down. Let them, encourage them to be as busy as they can get with hair extensions.

Its the only thing that keeps me doing hair as I wanted to quit because it was boring me, doing the same thing every six weeks on every client, cut and color. How artistic is that? It just grows out and you have to start over, over and over and over again. Not a particularely interesting or challenging job really. Now, I get to help people. People that get hair extensions are so grateful and impressed, and have such a bigger need for you than cut and color clients. Mostly, I make people look and feel normal when they couldn't get that before. It's life changing. My clients recognize my talent. I'm not a designer bag. I am the designer. I don't see this as a problem.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Why is Great Lengths Hair Extensions the industry standard?

My resistance to Great Lengths training.

I've learned alot over the years about hair extensions. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've used most of the brand names and even invented my own method. But still, so many people keep asking me if I do "Great Lengths" brand name hair extensions. Well, I didn't, but what I do is a very nice strand by strand fusion method too, which I felt was just as good, or better. I've converted many women away from Great Lengths into doing it my way. They were impressed. But still, sometimes a potential new client would not care to explore the options I have available. But why? I'm the artist. They would rather anyone do it, just because it's great lengths, opposed to a more experienced person with hair extensions. I've done well over a thousands sets. It was mind boggling. I took enough classes. My sets were all successful with a loyal following. Why did I need to learn another application that was just about the same as 100 other brands out there?

For 30 years I have been doing hair. My first lesson with extensions and hair pieces was in beauty school when I was just a teenager. This older women who was another student from California would talk about the days when she did Tina Turners wigs. Her hair was thinning and I was the only one she let work on her hair piece.

As an assistant for Giuseppe Franco of Beverly Hills in the early 90's, I was the only one the extension artist allow to assist them.

I never even set out to do hair extensions. I only worked as a hairdresser just to get through college, but I built a website and next thing you know, I'm doing hair extensions full time. My life is going okay, but still, there was this lingering, nagging thing biting at my ankles. I did not like being snubbed by these brand name snobs who cared more about telling people the name and cost of something than how nice it actually was.

Many of my competitors used Hair Dreams or Great Lengths. So I got certified in Hair Dreams to compete. Still, my California area was still using Great Length. Many of the stylists I watched used Great Lengths. I have a need to learn. The class was so expensive, almost $3000.00. I put it off. I took more training in Italy by a company that looked like it had a more advanced Cold Fusion method. Well, it actually does, but no one cares here, about some obscure brand known mostly in Sicily. Either way, I knew, and I was happy with that training. I was kicking ass without Great Lengths.

Finally, Giving into Great Lengths

I have some crazy need to compete and be the best at everything. This one thing held me back I felt, not from being the best, but from having more people understand and believe it. While other hairdressers may not appreciate my competitive nature, it is not about them. I'm here to please clients and do it in the most impressive way I can so I can win them over. It's just good business. So, I was falling short.

So I decided to bite the bullet, pulled my first line of credit for my business, ever, just to afford to make it to the class. I did not want to be left in the dust by anyone. I was going to take the class.

Preparing for the Great Lengths hair extension class.

I already sat through the Hair Dreams class, which was a worthwhile class as well. I knew it would be hard to just shut my mouth. I was going there to learn, not to challenge them. I planned to have an open mind and learn their way. This was not my stage. A long time ago, that was the best lesson in hair I ever had, which was to forget whatever I thought I knew and soak up what was being taught in that particular class and any class. I would try to keep my know-it-all opinions to myself.

In my public speaking class and when I did color education for L'Oreal Pressionnel, they called the people that challenge you in class "hecklers." I had to not be that person and respect the instructors. My goal was to learn and be open minded.

Taking the Great Lengths Hair Extensions class AT LAST

It was as I expected. I tried to shut my mouth, not even talk about me, but they asked, and I can't lie on the spot. I don't know why I was so nervous. We all had to share who we were and if we knew anything at all about hair extensions. Sure enough, it was on. Three days on a row, I had to sit with this group. Very interesting group indeed I must say, but sure enough. . . Here I come in, talking my big game because I own a hair extensions salon. First thing I hear. "I never heard of an all hair extension salon."

Hmmm, for an educator, they know NOONE who does hair extensions only? Yes, keep it coming, question and challenge what I say.

There was another Beverly Hills veteren in class, a Beverly Hills assistant, a New York, Sally Hershburger assistant, this fantastic black woman with the biggest hair I've seen who had done Janet Jackson's hair. There was a beautiful red head named Crystal who owned the room when she walked in with just her red hair color. This other great kid who asked a lot of questions. I edmired her because she was inquisitive and envied her because I was biting my tongue so as not to be. There was a tall blond and another guy too. No one there was really that experienced except the black girl. She was cool and chatted with me.

The instructors were cool. A vivacious blond who liked to really reitterate and drive the lessons home deep and the Hollywood chic with red and green hair, dressed in all black. I tried to hang on every word but I could not help falling asleep. Her voice just went on and on. So much information, my brain was overwhelmed and wanted to conk out. I always got in trouble in school for that too.

It definitely happened that I had to fight to keep my mouth shut. I had tons of inner opinions but I knew this was not my stage. I must try hard to be respectful. I took notes, even just to tell myself to shut up when I wanted to chime in. Then finally, I said "TRICHOTILLAMANIA!" (When people pull their hair out.) No one could pronounce it and if she hadn't lingered on the subject so long I wouldn't have said it out loud. It's an important issue to know about in reguards to needing hair extensions.

By the way, they mysterious lightening agent that you can lick with your finger that is such a secret with Great Lengths is a common textile engineering prodect used in many factories that lightens natural fabric safely. It's H2O2. Hydrogen peroxide. But I knew that its trade secret stuff in the industry. Us dumb hairdressers are not suppose to know stuff like that. I was good. I kept my opinion to myself.

The technical, hands on part of class.

This is where I became impressed with Great Lengths. Why is it the industry standard? It's the most popular. It's just another fusion brand. Okay, yes, with good quality product. However, no hair extension class I have ever taken had forced me to be so perfect. I thought I was so slick and I developed my perfection on my own in my own way for my hair extensions before. No one ever taught it to me. I just figured it out--over the years. Maybe a bit by seeing Great Lengths bonds online somewhere. I developed my bonds to be just as tiny. SO, here is Great Lengths, pushing this incredible perfection in my work. I thought I was so good. They picked on me, made me better. They got into my every hand movement, every angle of my body while doing the work. They got on me about 1 mm or less difference in the way I was trimming pieces of hair. They wanted exact measurments of piece sizes, an absolute way of softening the bond as you attach to the hair. They reparted my mannequin head by three hairs. They checked my part size of my individual pieces and made sure to catch one or two hairs that were not as they decided was a perfect 1/4 inch size. There was a specific and best way to soften and fold, and then re soften and finish. I was set to gain her acceptence of my work. Yeah, she said it was good, or even better, kept saying it was really good work.

It's not the hair only. What is important to me about Great Lengths was the seriousness of perfection. That is not how most people do hair extensions. I follow everyone I can and look at their work. When they show off what their bond looks like, it's usually too tight and sticks out. Great Lengths pushes even tension and has nice tiny bonds.

I also wondered about their customization. How creative can you get with pretipped pieces? They found a way, but it's hard work, but it was as I expected. Alternating and cutting and adding together. They can make it work, with work though. That's okay. Always pass on the savings.

I made it through all three days. I'm official now. No more will I ever have to say to a client "It's not Great Lengths, but it is very similar." Now I can tell them that if they want Great Lengths, I can do Great Lengths.

Will I convert my clients to Great Lengths?

Probably, if they insist, or if I can't create something that requires something I can find with Great Lengths. I am secure now in my own method; knowing that it is just as good as Great Lengths.

I will market Great Lengths hair extensions to new clients. I hope it can build my reputation to be stronger. I will no longer have people who pass me over because I don't do them. I have big plans to utilize the support they offer and build a bigger business in hair extensions.