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Posted By:cosmopnay81 on: 3/6/2008 1:37:47 AM

Author: Thread: Wait for an assisting job to pop up or work at a mall salon?
Posts: 2

Wait for an assisting job to pop up or work at a mall salon?
Posted: Thursday, March 06, 2008 1:37:47 AM
I've been licensed since June 2006. I wanted to assist first instead of going behind the chair right away since the school I went to didn't teach me much. It took me 6 months to find an assisting job in a high end salon. So I worked as an assistant for about 5 months and I quit because I just couldn't stand the salon I was at. Now here's the problem. All the nice salons I apply at want someone who has clientele which I don't have. I know there are chain salons out there that hire stylist with or without clietele but I want to be in a nice,high end salon. It seems the only way to go back to a high end salon with my experience is to start all over again and become an assistant. I read a lot of advice on the boards about working in a chain salon and how most clients don't follow their stylist to a high end salon and I could totally see that. I've been looking for assisting jobs in my area and there's not much at all. I feel like I'm wasting my time. I don't know if I should just wait around for an assisting job or work at a mall salon. I'm getting so discouraged.  

Posts: 198
Bronze Member

Posted: Thursday, March 06, 2008 8:05:05 AM

Think about the long term. If you want to work in a nice place years down the road, you have to play the game their way. If you work at a mall or a walk-in place there is practically no chance that you will build a clientelle that will follow you. Clients who go to those places will pretty much always go to them. You already know that.

They like the convenience and the price, and that is why they go there. Even if you are amazing as a stylist and people love you, only a handfull will follow you to a different salon. And that's if you are lucky! I know this for sure because I have been there.

I was in your exact situation at one time, only worse! I had put in two years of assisting for somebody who didn't have the clients to build me, but was very busy herself. She taught me so much!  I do not regret working there. But I left in frustration only to find that nobody would hire me as a stylist even though I knew a lot because I had never been officialy "on the floor". 

I did not want to assist agian under any circumstances, so I went and worked at Great Cuts, and then a mall chain and then a little shop with three chairs. I bounced around like this for almost three years.  It was a huge waste of time!

If I had just bit the bullet and taken another assisting job I would have flew right through the assisting program and been on the floor in a place I really wanted to work in no time. I might have shampooed and swept and attended classes for six months to a year. Max. Maybe less if I had given myself an opportunity to get in there and prove myself.

It would have been much better than trying so hard to make it work at places that had no promise for the vision I had for my career!  Instead of spending an additonal year doing a job that might not have been my favorite thing to do but working someplace cool, I spent three years torturing myself in shops that I never really wanted to work in. Just so I could have the job title I wanted right away.  

The only way to get a job in this business is to get dressed nicely, in a way that shows individuality, and go out with your resume to do some hand shaking.

They have to meet you to keep you in mind.

Head out at the times that salons are usually slower, like a Tuesday or Wednesday morning between 9 and 11. It's more likely that you will meet with them then. Walk in to the salons that you want to work for and ask to speak with the manager or owner directly. Introduce yourself to them and tell them how much you would love an opportunity to work for them if something opens up. If they like you enough they might even make a position for you!

Be friendly and casual in your approach. Don't expect an interview on the spot, but be prepared for it. Just let them meet you and make a good impression. If they give you the time for conversation flatter them and schmooze a little if youre good at it. :)

I hate to say it, but most high end salon owners are ego maniacs! Flattery about their success goes a long way.

Simply leaving your resume at the desk will probably not result in much. Salon owners are busy people and it's likely that they won't even read it. I have even seen jealous types of stylists and assistants throw away resumes left at the desk before the owner even gets to see them! 

The face to face meeting is the hook in getting a job. I have worked for people who are desperate for help and never post a classified. You probably won't find a job in the paper or even on the internet. I don't know why, but this buisiness seems to be stuck in the 1940's when it comes to recruitment!

Good luck with your search.

Posts: 2

Posted: Thursday, March 06, 2008 12:48:40 PM
Thank you SO much Popgyrl for giving me such wonderful advice. I've needed the advice since none of my friends or family understand me. Most of my friends and family think that I should just work at a mall salon or a chain salon. Something I don't want to do. They don't seem to understand there is a BIG difference between a high end salon and something like Regis. I have been applying at high end salons dressed like a trendy yet proffesional stylist with my resume. I've been to so many salons. I do go to salons that don't advertise that they are hiring since that is how I got my first assisting job. So for now I'm just waiting or going to as many salons that seem to have assistants. I'm just SO tired of family or friends asking if I found a job yet. No matter how much I explain they don't seem to get it.  Once again thanks for the advice. I'm glad you wrote your expierences.

Posts: 81

Posted: Thursday, March 06, 2008 9:49:51 PM
you know working in a mall salon isn't a bad thing. I used to work in a high end salon and moved to JCPenneys and it was the best decision I could have made. The JCPenneys salon that I work in at the mall has only a $3-$5 difference from the services of the high end salon. There are malls with high end prices, mall doesn't automatically mean cheap. I charge up to $41 just for a haircut, leaving wet. The high end salon expected me to get clients myself and JCPenney's actually feeds me clients and I've gained an amazing clientel for having only worked there a year! Last week I did a mom and daughter and they walked out paying $500....just for the 2 of them, and it took me 2 hours total.

Posts: 198
Bronze Member

Posted: Friday, March 07, 2008 8:00:15 AM

You're welcome Cosmo! I was in your shoes at one point, and I remember the feeling. Sometimes its hard to think about long term goals when you are not having the best time day to day.

There is nothing wrong with working at a mall salon, lots of people like it for all sorts of reasons. It's convenient, the hours are usually flexible because they are open a million hours a week. The benefits are usually good, too.

Its great if youre a nightowl! When I worked at a mall my shift was 3-10 :)  I had the perfect hours for my twenty year old partying self!

Unfortunately, it was also the most aweful job I have ever had for many other reasons. None of the reasons had anything to do with location. My mall experience wasn't at a cheap place either. It was at a local chain that grew from two exclusive high end locations and expanded into the malls.  

There is something to be said for a ready made clientele too. The only thing about those clients though is that they go there for the conveinence and the hours more than anything else. From what I have seen from other stylists who work at a mall salon they can be fully booked and making money, but when they leave they have to start over almost completely. Clients will follow you to a mall from a smaller salon, but the cleintele you build there will usually stay at the mall if you move.

It might be a good deal for some people, but it dosen't make a good stepping stone for somebody who is trying to build clientele to go and work in a different environment.

So there is nothing wrong with it, and I'm sorry if I made that impression. I know there are a lot of people who work for Regis, Lord's and Lady's and JC Penney and love it. Its so hard to find a salon that fits your style, needs and personality in this buisiness that I congratulate anybody who is happy right where they are!

But if its not what you want to do than why take a job you aren't psyched about at such an early point in your career? When you are starting out with nothing you are completely fresh. This is the time to take risks and really go for it! Do exactly what you want to do. Take nothing that feels like less.  

If a job dosen't work out it doesnt matter, beacuse you don't have a clientele to worry about.  You can just go work somewhere else. Many new stylists bounce around for a few years before they find the right fit. It's frustrating, but every experience will teach you something about yourself. When you find the right place and everything clicks its magic!