March 2012

Steve Sleeper

Beauty Insider| by Steve Sleeper


Getting Your Foot Beyond the Door

How to Get Started and Excel in Your Cosmetology Career

Everyone wants to know the secret formula to successfully launching their career once they receive their cosmetology license.

After all my years experience in the industry, believe me, there is no secret and no exact formula. There is, however, some great advice from some successful beauty professionals.

"If I had one piece of advice to give someone just starting out, it would be to find a great mentor and work as an assistant," advises renowned hairstylist and NAHA winner, Faatemah Ampey.

"Not only should you learn how to perfect your cutting and coloring techniques, but being an assistant allows you to learn the art of dealing with clients from someone who has done it. Finding out what they truly want and making them feel special will make a world of difference in your career."

Even with your license and degree from a cosmetology school, there is still so much to learn. In fact, the best stylists are always taking classes and working with others to learn new techniques, mastering their knowledge of the latest products, and networking to grow their client base.

Spend time with your school's advisor to help find a job after school, but most importantly, find a mentor that you can work with as an assistant. This is more than just your foot in the door at a salon, it's a learning experience. And if you make the right connections with the right teacher, your career can be launched leading only to success.

"I started out assisting, which introduced me to the RUSK Creative Team," agreed Amy Ho, master stylist for RUSK. "I had never even considered being a part of a major hair team - in part because I didn't know they existed. My mentor taught me so much about cutting and coloring, but they also helped make introductions, which put my career on a much more exciting and profitable path."

To help start your career, here are points you might consider:

Those that want to get ahead, usually do. PBA, along with other industry groups and events, are here to support your development, but the first step is making the effort to connect with people, share where you want to go in your career, and ask for help.

Steve Sleeper is the Executive Director of the Professional Beauty Association | National Cosmetology Association (PBA | NCA), a non-profit membership organization made up of beauty professionals, salons and spas, distributors, and manufacturers dedicated to improving their careers, individual businesses and the industry as a whole. For information, visit or call 1-800-468-2274.