On August 22, our Vancouver Campus was very fortunate and excited to host well-known local stylist, Katie Rose, for a guest speaking/demo presentation! She spoke about what drove her to the industry, her experience going to beauty school, her favorite part about the business, her projections as to where she sees the industry in the next five to 10 years, and what are students can do to stand out and remain great industry leaders. A highlight for students was hearing exactly how Katie Rose has marketed herself online using numerous social media platforms. And not to mention being amazed by her wicked/signature pin-curl demo!
Prior to Katie visiting the Academy, she took time to answer questions that any aspiring beauty professional should read. Not to mention a reminder/refresher to those long-term industry leaders who have yet to bring themselves online (Facebook, blogs and Twitter). Katie more than inspired, she educated on how one owns their success and left Academy students with courage to reach even further for a successful career in beauty!
What drove you to the hair industry and what was your experience like going to beauty school?
K: I stumbled across the hair industry accidentally in my late twenties, having spent the last decade dabbling in a variety of creative endeavors such as musical theatre, writing, fashion, singing, and songwriting. While being a jack-of-all-trades can have its perks, I feared that while I was GOOD at a lot of things, there wasn't one thing I was truly GREAT at (although my mother would tell you otherwise). I started at my first salon as a receptionist. At the time, I thought it was pretty much the coolest job ever. I wore whatever I wanted, I got my hair done for free, and there was even a tattoo studio in the back. My role soon evolved and I went from answering the phones to assisting, managing and apprenticing. The perfect career was right under my nose. All I'd ever wanted (besides to be famous and win an Oscar) was to make money having fun and being creative.
By the time I attended Beauty School, I'd assisted and apprenticed in a salon in Victoria and was fortunate to have already found a job apprenticing at Rain Salon. My past experience, as well as my position in an education-driven salon, definitely gave me an advantage over my classmates. For this reason, I was even more driven to come out top of my class (I ended up winning Student of the Year. Yay me!) I also wanted to make sure that I got my money's worth so I asked my instructors to be extra hard on me, to push me, and to 'make me cry'. They didn't end up pushing me as much as I'd liked though, and they certainly never made me cry! Although school gave me a fantastic foundation, I found that so much of the learning process takes place in the salon. You have to work hard in school, and then you have to work just as hard in the salon. It definitely doesn't get easy after school. Sorry guys.
How many years in the industry?
K: I've been in the industry for four years and cutting full-time behind a chair for one.
What is your favorite part about a career in beauty?
K: I love connecting with different people every day. I'm sometimes asked if there are clients I really don't like, or can't connect with, and for the most part the answer is no. The vast majority of people that sit in my chair are great. I like to think I manifest my clientele to an extent, so I'm gonna take some credit for their awesomeness! I also love that I'm in an industry that in general is liberal, forward-thinking and accepting. Creating a safe and warm environment that allows individuals to be who they are, without fear of judgment is a huge priority for me.
Where do you see the industry in the next 3, 5, 10 years?
K: I think the state of the planet and our increasing focus on the environment will play the largest part in how the future will shape the industry. Soon there will be immense pressure on salons to be completely 'green'. I also feel like we are becoming an over-saturated industry. Great new hair schools are popping up all the time, and in turn more and more people are training to be hairstylists. In the States, with the recent economic situation, many people are turning to hair as a second career that will give them some financial assurance. Is this a bad thing for us, in the industry? I don't think so. I just think that our industry will become increasingly competitive. It's up to us to make sure that we stay on top. We can do this is part by taking advantage of the promotional avenues available to us, like social media.
What do you know about EvelineCharles Academy and its points of difference?
K: I don't know a lot about EvelineCharles, but from what I've researched online you seem to really have a commitment to fully equipping your students for the big, bad world. I really like the fact that you also offer business courses. These types of extra skills are crucial to surviving in this competitive industry. I also love how active EC Academy is online and with social media. What a great example to set for your students!
What can our students do to ensure they stand out and remain great industry leaders?
K: At the beginning of your career, say yes to everything. Take every opportunity that's put in front of you and learn from it. Network with your peers. Build your portfolio. Be open to constructive criticism. Don't be afraid to try new things. Tell people your ideas. Don't make excuses. If you work at a salon that doesn't focus on photo shoots, plan your own. Never think you know it all because there will always be something new to learn. Above all, stay humble. Be happy. Be kind. As much as people respect your talent and your skill, it's YOU they come to see. It's YOU they want to work with on their next photo shoot. This is how you will build a strong network of beauty industry peers and a faithful and large clientele. And this is how you will make a name for yourself.
What was it about social media that brought your energy into marketing yourself online as so?
K: I am lucky enough to have a husband who is the Creative Director of his own Design Agency. In the eight years we've been together he's really driven home the importance of having a strong brand. When you're a hairstylist, YOU ARE YOUR BRAND. As technology advances, the avenues in which to market yourself for free are growing. It's almost foolish to not take advantage of the opportunity to market yourself without it having to cost you anything. Online, you can reach a limitless amount of people in one minute so the potential to grow your clientele is amazing. I've also found that on Twitter especially, there aren't many other hairstylists networking the way I am, so I feel like I almost have the monopoly right now. It's like finding a part of water with loads of fish but none of the other fishing boats have caught on yet! (Sorry for that reference.... my husband's a huge Deadliest Catch fan. Guess it's rubbed off a bit.)
What is your favourite aspect of connecting with industry peers online?
K: My friend Astra said it best:
"Twitter: 'cause nowhere else is it completely normal to wish happy birthday to the pet husky of a record company owner you've never met."
You can connect so quickly with such a large quantity of creative people. It's like mingling at a big party full of people you don't know. Except it's not strange to just go up to someone and start chatting. And you don't need a couple glasses of wine to make it easier! When you start to build relationships with your industry peers you realize how many interesting projects they're involved with. Before you know it, they're asking you to be part of them, or referring you to someone else who needs someone with your skills. Just make sure that it's not one sided. You need to engage, refer and approach your peers, and not just wait for them to come to you!
Who/what are your favorite 'followers' online? Locally and internationally? Why?
K: I don't follow many people internationally. I want to make sure that my feed is full of real people that I actually have a chance of engaging with. Sure Russell Brand might make milk come out of my nose, But he's probably not gonna send Katy in for a haircut anytime soon.
My favourite local followers:
@VancityAmy is positive, funny, adorable and really knows her social media. She's a social media maven, a loyal client and my biggest fan! If you want to know how to engage on Twitter and have proper Twitter etiquette, she's the one to follow!
@Jenny Ruthis one of the most talented MUAs I know. She's amazingly professional to work with and her work constantly inspires me. She constantly keeps her online fans and followers up to date with everything she's working on. I know that if we're working on something together, she'll be tweeting about it, tagging me and posting photos as it happens.
@CarolaBun is a beautiful, young, entrepreneur who has achieved incredible success at a young age designing the most beautiful pearl jewelry. I love pearls, and I love her brand's aesthetic as well as her ability to hustle online. I'd love to work with her one day.
What is your goal when connecting with/on social media?
K: Freemium is a business model that works by offering basic web services, or a basic downloadable digital product, for free, while charging a premium for advanced or special features (Thanks Wiki.) For example, I offer my blog to people for free. It's entertaining, it's insightful, and it connects potential clients to the human side of me. (Isn't that why we're all obsessed with Reality TV? We love a look inside.) If they come into the salon, it stops being free, and they then receive services at a cost. Freemium has created the Thank-you Economy. When I put myself out there, when I show my clients that I really care, they want to use my services even when they don't necessarily need them. This is their way of thanking me for treating them to the best customer service from the get-go. And when they invest in me, they invest in what I have to offer.
So my goal is simple; Listen. Engage. Support. By reaching out and making connections, I begin to form relationships. The rest will just fall into place. I've had followers on Twitter whose hair I haven't even done yet; refer me to other followers or friends who are looking for a hairstylist. They didn't refer me because they think I'm the best stylist around. They refer me because they think I'm friendly, genuine, entertaining and they like me. And we want to support and refer people we like, right?
What have you learned about the beauty industry via marketing oneself online (portfolio etc.)?
K: I've learned that if you really want to make an impact in the industry, you need to be consistent. If you make a name for yourself on Twitter and then go quiet for a couple of weeks, people will notice, and you might even lose followers. If you don't blog consistently for a time, you'll have noticeably fewer views than when you were blogging regularly. As Victor, the owner of Rain Salon says over and over again, "The best time to promote yourself is when you're busy!" And he's right. I'm guilty myself of getting too busy and making excuses for not blogging or Tweeting enough. But there are no excuses! (Now I just need to ensure that I practice what I preach...)
What is a good example in relation to the beauty industry and its evolution, to stay on top of trends- fashion bloggers, Yelp reviews etc.
K: As much as I love trawling the internet for inspiration, nothing beats a beautiful fashion magazine (they smell amazing too)! I find it quite difficult to find really amazing hair images online. There aren't a lot of great sites dedicated to hair either, but you can find a lot of cool hair looks on fashion blogs. I think the most important thing for us is to stay on top of what's going in our industry by checking out other stylists' Facebook pages, hair product websites, Youtube, Yelp, various salon websites, and good ol' Google. I Google 'celebrity hair' or 'hair trends' and can get lost for an hour just clicking on links and reading what I find. This is a great way to find inspiration if you want to write a blog but aren't sure what you want to say. Some of the blogs I like to visit are:
What do our students need to know about the impact/opportunity of online social media to get themselves ready to stay in the industry and make money in the industry?
K: The beauty of today's marketing field is that we are all on equal footing. I don't need an advertising budget. I don't need nepotism. Gems such as Twitter, Facebook, Wordpress and Craigslist enable me to build my business around sweat equity. All it costs is hard work, and the more I care, the harder I work. The busiest stylist isn't necessarily the one giving the best haircuts, but he/she most definitely cares the most! Building your business starts now. You have the ability to create free content, and as a result create a business and a brand. Engaging human beings and caring about them is at your fingertips. If you don't do it, another stylist will. So put aside your excuses, and work hard. If you want to be the best, you'll take what's being handed to you and run with it!