Written by guest contributor Jamie Garland.
Who wouldn’t want to travel to their favorite cities and get paid? The life of a traveling stylist is amazing, but I’m here to tell you the good, the bad, and the fugly…
MAKING MY DREAM A REALITY (insert PAPER PLANES by M.I.A)
My journey to becoming a traveling stylist did not happen overnight. I was a hairstylist for five years in the Bay Area when I started going to LA to get my hair done. Tauni Dawson is my hair guru; she introduced me to the 901 Academy.
I took one class every month and jumped when I heard there was a job opening! I then decided to leave everything behind to take a job as an assistant. Many people thought this was a demotion, but it changed my career forever.
I packed my bags, cancelled all of my clients, kissed my future husband goodbye, drained my savings account, and bounced. I soon realized I couldn’t live off an assistant salary, so I started flying home to take clients on my days off. I guess this is when I technically started my life as a traveling stylist.
After about a year of traveling back and forth, I asked myself, “Where do I see myself settling down?”. The answer was home, in the Bay Area.
I’m so grateful for the relationships I made at 901. The decision to go back to the Bay Area was not an easy one. I had to keep my head up and work towards MY future as a stylist. With the support of my fiancé, loyal clients, and a lot of sleepless nights, I built a full client list.
I opened my own salon (B Society) but I still didn’t feel 100 percent fulfilled. I truly believe that if you want something you have to make it happen. Four years after leaving 901, I reached out to Nikki and Riawna (the co-owners of 901) and asked if they’d be open to me coming back as a traveling stylist. Thankfully they said YES and that’s when my dreams became a reality.
TRAVELING STYLIST MYTHS VS. REALITY
Don’t get me wrong; traveling for a career that you’re passionate about is pretty rad. Now with social media you get to see the dream, not the reality. Typically I jump off a plane, change in the bathroom, call an Uber, and head straight into the salon. After a 10 – 12 hour work day I go to my friend’s house and fall asleep. It’s work, eat, sleep, repeat, and on my last day I’m rushing out of the salon. Can’t miss my flight, I have clients booked the next day in another city. The exhaustion is real, but it’s so worth it and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
DON’T DO IT FOR THE MONEY
I started traveling for different reasons. I figured out my overhead. If I was going to lose money, I knew it wouldn’t be smart to travel. I’d have to break even to make it worth it. It’s about growing as a person, staying inspired and never getting complacent.
I like to surround myself with the best and at 901, every single stylist is passionate and some of the most talented in our industry!
Find a salon that fills your creative cup. I’m in it for the experience, and making money is a bonus!
The best part about traveling is being in a new city. I’ve always been drawn to LA. I love the inspiring energy and I get to work alongside artists that are responsible for the most talked-about hairstyles today. Every trip is exciting and different, not to mention I get to hang out with my best friends.
THE STRUGGLE IS REAL
I have a small clientele in LA. With the help of social media new clients are able to find me, but I’m not always busy. I have some days that aren’t as full as others, so I say yes any time I have an opening. Whether it’s helping another stylist who is out sick, or isn’t able to fit a client in, even if that means coming in early or staying late – I say yes. Whether you’re busy or slow, you still need to pay rent. But I love a challenge. You have to stay positive and hustle!
DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO KNOCK ON YOUR DOOR
JUST DO IT! I’m now traveling to a second salon two days a month and all it took was reaching out. A friend of mine connected me with Jessica and Priscilla, the girl bosses of SF Color Collective. We had a meeting, put a plan in place, and executed!
MAKE REAL LIFE CONNECTIONS
Now a days with social media you can tag, DM, comment, and just downright stalk people…We’ve all done it. You find yourself 32 weeks back, liking photos, and trying to take it back. Guess what? You can one-up the social game and go to an event or class by having a real life conversation! Call me old school, but this can make long-lasting relationships and possibly a future job opportunity!
FIND YOUR TRIBE
It’s important to find a salon that you vibe with! Once you find a spot, remember you are now part of the team. Make time for team meetings, classes, or helping out at events. Do the best you can to be a team player.
THINK LIKE A BO$$
– There is a lot of overhead to think about. Most of this can be a written off on taxes!
– Business License/liability insurance
– Supplying Color
– Uber or rental car
– Hotel / friends couch 😉
– Travel light, leave a kit at the salon.
– I carry on my shears (can you believe that’s legal?)
– Get an airline credit card! POINTS are your new best friend!
– Ship your color order instead of packing it! (find a local rep)
– Stay organized with your schedule.
– NEVER SAY NO.
IF YOU WANT TO BE A TRAVELING HAIRSTYLIST, HERE’S THE DEAL….
THERE’S A WHOLE WORLD OUT THERE WAITING FOR YOU. PACK YOUR BACKPACK, BLOWDRYER AND BOUNCE.