August 2008
A Q&A session with Lorraine R., a hairstylist, who works at various beauty salons between Florida and Jamaica. Lorraine has worked as a hairstylist for over 5 years.

Q: What is your job title? Where are you employed?

A: In my field, I’m called many things, but I think of myself as a hairstylist. Many customers also refer to what I do as hair dressing. However, I am a hair stylist because I do mostly cutting and styling of hair rather than the other chemical processes.

I now work for myself and operate from my salon in Jamaica and by appointments in Florida.

Q: How long have you been a hair stylist?

A: All my life. I have always loved styling hair, but actually got into the field professionally five years ago. I was lucky in that my younger sister was training to become a hairdresser. She was employed by her teacher to work in her establishment because she was good at it. When her boss decided to change careers, we discussed the possibility of me buying her business and quitting my job which I didn’t like much. The rest as they say is history.

Q: What type of training did you have to become a hair stylist?

A: At first I did a number of cutting courses with my sister as my teacher since that was my area of interest. My sister, who would be doing most of the chemical processes, however, had certification from the HEART School of Cosmetology based in Jamaica.

Since then I have attended workshops in the USA and Jamaica offered by some of the top names in the industry. If I was more involved in other aspects of hair care such as chemical straightening and coloring I would have attended a beauty school in North America. That is definitely on my agenda as the business grows.

Q: What do you like best about your job?

A: I love the interaction with people. I also love seeing the look of satisfaction on someone’s face when I’ve finished styling their hair. It is also nice to get to know your customers to share in their accomplishments and even to offer a listening ear when required to do so.

Nothing brings me as much pleasure as seeing the look of satisfaction on a bride’s face after I have done her hair and makeup. I think this is the part of my job that I look forward to the most and really love.

Being able to offer my services in two countries is a big plus for me. When I travel to Florida it is primarily to do braiding, which I am also trained to do.

Q: Describe your typical day on the job.

A: My days are varied, so I couldn’t call any a typical day. However, most days at work start at 8 a.m. and generally go until 7 p.m. Of course, this often changes depending on what appointments I have for the day. When I have a bridal party to do, which includes not just hair but makeup, my day starts from 6 or 6:30 a.m.

During the holiday season, I sometimes work into the wee hours of the morning, especially if there are clients requesting braids and weaves.

Q: What career were you in before becoming a hairdresser? Do you feel that it helped prepare you for becoming a hair stylist?

A: Before this, I worked as a secretary and I know that it helped me prepare for a career in hairstyling in a two main ways. I had to deal with people a lot, so it developed my customer service skills tremendously.

Also, because I run the business, I am better able to understand some of the demands of management and organization. If I had to start from scratch, the learning curve would have been much steeper.

Q: What traits do you feel are necessary to be successful as a hairstylist?

A: Some traits that any good hairstylist needs are: professional, friendly, pleasant, patient, and caring. Hair styling or any other career in hairdressing demands that the person has a social, extroverted personally as they will need to chat up clients and make people feel welcomed.

Q: Would you recommend this career to someone else?

A: Most definitely, if it is something that they are interested in. It does take lots of patience sometimes as some customers are hard to please. Others will demand a style or process that really will not work on their type of hair.

For most new persons coming into the industry, they need to realize that it is quite competitive and takes lots of hard work to succeed. Generally, they will have to work their way up to the top if they are fresh out of beauty school. This means sweeping the floor and washing customers’ hair.

Q: What is your next career move, if any?

A: I love what I do and wouldn’t think of getting into any other field. To enhance my skills and offer the latest techniques and styles to my customers, I attend as many workshops and presentations in hair cutting and styling as I possible can. Some of the sessions are held in Jamaica and others are in various cities in the USA.

Because I plan on expanding my business across borders, I am planning on getting vocational qualifications in the USA and Canada so as to better expand my reach.

If a career as a hair stylist interests you, take a look at our list of cosmetology schools to find a program near you.