As a kid, you could always turn to a parent or a best friend when you had a problem or were feeling discouraged. They would pick you up, steer you toward a solution and help you get back on your path. As a professional, this type of support is as important as ever.
What is a mentor?
A professional mentor inspires you, stretches you, connects you, opens your mind and most importantly, doesn’t judge. They provide a safe space to learn, experiment and ask questions.
Why do you need a mentor?
If you’re new to the beauty business, or new to a certain aspect of the business, like salon ownership or stage work, a mentor is essential for providing you with guidance, a sounding board for your ideas and emotional stability when you’re freaking out. “It’s important to be inspired by people who are making smart decisions and understand how the industry works,” says salon owner and L’Anza Artistic Director Ammon Carver.
Do you need more than one mentor?
Very possibly, because like most people, mentors have differing areas of expertise. For example, you may find it useful to cultivate a business mentor, a social media mentor and/or an artistic mentor to help you with all facets of being a hair pro. Winn Claybaugh, motivational expert and dean of Paul Mitchell Schools calls this “the circle of influence.”
How do you find a mentor?
Many salons have mentorship programs in place, assigning more experienced stylists to guide younger team members. “When you’re interviewing, it’s important to ask who your mentor or coach will be,” says David Hodges, owner of Salon Disegno in Lawrenceville, GA.
"You want to know if this person is the owner, manager or an established stylist.
If it’s not the person interviewing you, ask to meet them. This has to be a good personality match."
If mentorship isn’t part of the salon structure, or if you feel you need or want something different, you will have to be a bit more proactive. Identify the person you would like to be mentored by—another stylist in the salon, an Instagram or platform artist, a business leader, for example. Contact them via email or text or DM, and ask if they have the time and interest in mentoring you. Have a clear plan in place—say a weekly phone chat or a monthly coffee meeting. Be flexible and start slowly. This relationship should never be a burden for either party.
What do you do for your mentor in return for mentoring?
This is a very important question because a mentor relationship should be mutually beneficial. Some mentors simply get satisfaction from helping someone. “I love to connect with my students and show them what they’re capable of doing,” says Carver. “I like to show them how they can become better stylists, and better human beings.” Someone else may value the point of view of a younger artist, or ask your assistance from time to time at a show or photo shoot. So be sure to start off every mentoring relationship with a clear vision of what your mentor would like from you in return for his or her guidance.
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