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.