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Interview with Cosmetologist, Rebecca Fletcher

Rebecca Fletcher is a cosmetologist at Beck's Hair Salon in Brattleboro, Vermont. With over 25 years of experience as a hair stylist, Ms. Fletcher has developed a large clientele. She services as many as 15 clients a day and, at times, is scheduled as far as three weeks out. Career Colleges interviewed Ms. Fletcher to discuss her professional background and her day-to-day experiences as a cosmetologist and hair stylist.

Q. What is your typical workday like?

Cosmetology

A. I like to show up about half an hour before my first appointment. This gives me time to check my schedule and see who is getting chemical services, in order to have the products ready for when my clients come in. I make sure the salon is set up, turn on the coffee pot, turn on the music and have everything ready to go.

During the day, I'm mostly cutting hair and doing chemical processing, making people look beautiful. My appointments are often back-to-back, so my work tends to be fast-paced, and I'm on my feet all day. It takes an hour and a half to two hours for a chemical process and half an hour for haircuts, so on a day when I'm just cutting hair, I see a lot of people!

Q. Do you build in time for breaks?

A. Some stylists don't take breaks, but I do. I'm fresher and a better stylist if I give myself short breaks throughout the day. I don't like running late, and I'm particular about staying punctual, so I build my breaks into my schedule.

Q. Your job requires you to interact with people constantly. How do you handle days when you're in a bad mood?

A. There's a saying we had at my previous salon: "Leave it at the door." In other words, if a stylist is having a bad day, theyr are tired or having problems with the kids at home, they can't bring their problems to work with you. I live by that. Clients don't want to hear about my problems -- they want to be taken care of.

Q. What is the most challenging part of your job?

A. It can be tricky when someone comes in who wants something new, but doesn't have any idea what they want. During the consultation, I have to find out what they like and don't like, and feel confident that I can give them what they want. I also have to strike a balance between giving clients what they ask for and suggesting new ideas. Looking at books for examples can help if they don't understand the lingo when we're talking about styles - dimension, shape, and that sort of thing.


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Q. How do you deal with troublesome clients?

A. I rarely have difficult clients! When I do, honesty is the key to working it out. If someone doesn't like what I've done, I ask them to tell me what didn't work. On occasion, when someone has been repeatedly unhappy, I've told them that I obviously can't give them what they want, and recommend another stylist. But the response is always, "Oh, it's not you!" Usually those people are just unhappy with their hair -- they hate the wave or straightness, not what I did. I think, generally, that it works to troubleshoot problems together, and I think of it as a positive thing. I also always welcome my clients to come back at the end of the day if they're not happy with the style or have any challenges.

Q. What is one thing you like least about this career?

A. The thing that can tire me the most is living on a schedule, with cuts every half hour. Everyone is busy, and time is important, so I work hard to stay on schedule and be punctual. That's the most draining part of the job, and the only part that can be stressful for me.

Q. What do you like most about being a cosmetologist?

A. I love to make people beautiful. And I love my clients. I enjoy being social with them, and being creative in my work.

Q. Do you find your own clients? If so, how?

A. At this point, I have a following -- a clientele that has developed over the years. But for new cosmetologists or stylists, it's all about advertising. A business card is really important. I always carry cards with me, and especially when I was just getting started, I would hand out my cards to friends and new acquaintances and encourage them to come see me. Then there are little rules, like always schedule the next appointment while the client is still there. It helps build consistency and develops your client base.

Q. How did you find your first job?

A. I came here from Maine to go to school at Whitman's Academy of Hair Design. When I finished, I went back to work in a salon in the little town I grew up in. That job didn't give me the excitement and creativity that I needed, though, so I scheduled a couple of interviews at salons in Brattleboro. I was at Whitman's salon, getting a haircut from a friend so that I would look beautiful for my interviews. The owner, who was my former teacher, overheard that I was looking for a job, came over to me and said, "Hey, why don't you come work for me?" So I did.

Q. How did you deal with nerves when you first start working on real people?

A. At the beginning, you're always really nervous, although for me, it was more excitement than anything. I generally felt comfortable and confident because of the education I had. I felt that I could do it, and always knew that I could ask senior employees for advice. That's important -- being able to get help when they need it. I was always comfortable asking questions and finding the answers.

Q. What self -marketing tips do you have for cosmetologists?

A. Always have business cards. When meeting someone new, give them a card. Give those cards to friends and ask them to hand them out too. Another thing: cosmetologists should look beautiful all the time. I was told by my teacher in school that clients should never come in looking better than their stylist. Cosmetologists are providing a service, and the clients want to see the stylist as an example.

Q. Do you advise cosmetologists to choose a specialty right away?

A. I think that partly depends on whether one wants to work for a large or small salon. In larger salons, it's more common to specialize -- sometimes clients may get color processing from one stylist, a cut from another, and a style from even another! Even if a cosmetologist want to work in a smaller salon, it's a good idea to choose a specialty early, because they get established in what you do. It's hard to go from hair to nails to waxing, for example, and to be considered an expert in all of those.

Q. What advice would you give to entry level cosmetologists just getting started? What do you wish you knew now?

A. My advice would be to be punctual, always come to work ready to go, and when someone walks in, be ready and willing to give them a haircut, and not grumble about wanting a cigarette break! For at least the first three months after I started working, anytime a senior stylist needed help, I would jump in. I always kept busy, always introduced myself as a new stylist, and just tried to get my name out there. Stylists should make sure they advertise who are.

As for what I wish I knew now, I've never done hair extensions, and that would be neat to look into. I wish I knew even more about color, but I try to keep myself educated. At this salon, we get education classes about once a month, and also do a New York hair show, where we sit in classes in coloring and cutting. That always makes cosmtologists realize how much they know, and boosts their confidence. If you can learn one new little trick or technique or idea, it's been a good day.

Q. What is your favorite cosmetic product? Do you have the opportunity to work with the product?

A. My favorite product is Paul Mitchell Super Sculpt Glaze and Fast Drying Sculpting Spray. They also make a dry wax I like to use -- it to gives the hair texture. I use these products on my clients all the time, and on myself, too.

Please note: Unless explicitly stated otherwise, any job outlook predictions, career/educational advice, and salary information found on this page are based solely on the opinion of the interviewee and not that of CareerColleges.com or any other organization.