January 23, 2020

I just graduated cosmetology school. How long until I start making money?

That question still causes anxiety within the industry today. When you’re first starting out with life after cosmetology school, your books and your sales are going to be a little stalled. It takes time before the tires really start to spin. It’s true for all stylists even the most successful ones.  You can’t just walk out of school with a stack of Glengarry Leads. No, no, no, these things take a little while.

What young stylists don’t realize is that it takes time to build your books, to establish those perpetual and profitable relationships. No one comes out of school making six figures, and if they did then they’re probably involved with the mob…

Yes, YOU can make a lot of money in this industry, but it’s based solely on YOU. YOU are the main ingredient. If YOU put in the time and effort; YOU are going to succeed. I’m singling YOU out, can YOU tell?

At first, things can be discouraging. You’re not busy, you’re in a new salon, and you’re trying to learn the ropes. Your only clients are usually walk-ins and they’re your bread and butter, that’s where you show what you can do and who you are.  So, you give a cut, or a color and hopefully that client comes back within 6-8 weeks. But what do you do in between that time frame?

These are critical moments. Matt Rouse, AIDM Alumni, Director of Education, NAHA winner, BTC Avant-Garde Big Shot winner and current manager of Launch Salon, reflects on those times as a new stylist:

“Those in-between times were tough but momentous in my growth as a professional. Early on, at some point, I thought that I’d never get a full book.

I was grinding, working hard to gather and build up a clientele, and it just didn’t seem possible.

So, what did I do? When I wasn’t busy and when I had free time and when the towels were all folded, I would read and watch anything I could get my hands on.  I’d spend what limited money I had on outside sources of education.

Why? Because I was investing in myself, I was hungry for more information.  And if you keep doing that, if you use that downtime wisely, you will become a stronger and smarter stylist. There’s education everywhere; even in photoshoots. That’s a question I get asked a lot, ‘How I can be a part of photoshoots?’

Ask around, find out if there are any opportunities around your area and if so, offer help, offer coffee, whatever you do, figure out some way to be a part of it. The whole point is to get on set and learn from the people who know it best. They’ll not only teach you how to become an editorial stylist but how to be a better stylist in general.

If you get on a photoshoot, be a sponge. There’s no better place to learn than from actual professionals doing actual hands-on work. It will reflect in your work and in you, which will give you more clients, more money and hopefully more happiness.

It wasn’t until about two years in, after doing all of that work in my downtime, when I realized all those clients I accrued over the years and that cycle of 6-8 weeks began to overlap, and all of a sudden I was booked solid. My numbers began to increase. I was finally a full-time stylist.

The point is, I stuck it out. I was close to quitting. But I didn’t and it paid off in the end. It will pay off for you, too. Trust me and trust in yourself. Who else will?”

That Matt, so full of advice. The moral of the story is if you love what you’re doing and you believe in your talents and your drive, nothing will get in your way.  Be patient, keep grinding, and the work will show; your clientele will grow.

Ask any artist out there, whether it be writers, photographers, graphic designers, etc. your work, your work ethic, and your relationships will be a huge factor in determining your success. But it takes time.

Let that be your credo; it will make the transition from school to the real world much easier.  Things are going to work out, you’re going to be great and you’re going to be better conditioned if you just remember that it’s a distance race and not a sprint.

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6905 Mills Civic PKWY #120
West Des Moines, IA 50266


Monday: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
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