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Next up to the Stage !

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

My journey into education started slow. My first year, I did a series of Paul Mitchell educator trainings that were designed to help us with presentation skills and learn Fashion Collections that were created by the artistic directors. These training sessions were intense and took a lot of time to study and prepare.

It was fun to learn new ways of doing things and also perfect my craft, which I could see the change when I worked behind the chair. My first classes were classes based on men's grooming and I went to about 4 salons that first year, and it was great being part of entire networks of stylist and barbers.

At first, I didn't realize it, but it became clear that there wasn't a lot of education on men's hair cutting and styling. I was one of the few trained certified barbers that was a Paul Mitchell educator and the only one in the Boston area. There were hairdressers who were good at doing men's haircuts, but not actual barbering. And the general sentiment was either they loved it, hated it, or oversimplified the male hair cutting service in the salon.

The outline for the Paul Mitchell men's grooming class was vague and the expectations were pretty low. They mainly wanted a general haircut and styling with Mitch products, but barbering and very close haircuts were quickly becoming popular in these environments. Every shop I went in I would hear

"Barbering is making a comeback, show us how to do those close fades"

To me and the barbers I started cutting hair with, barbering had never stopped rending. It was becoming clear that a lot of salons had been closed off, willingly, to what was happening down the street at the local barbershop, but the internet was now showing people things they hadn't thought of looking for.

My first year of being an educator I did roughly three classes, and in the next year that jumped to doing between six and twelve classes on an average per week plus my full time hours behind the chair in the salon. Needless to say, I was starting to be ridiculously busy. I closed the salon in Lancaster due to not being able to spend time there, plus the expenses weren't adding up.

I had found a new passion in the industry of hair and beauty, which was sharing what I had learned and helping hairdressers and barbers become better at the craft.

I first began to attend hair shows my first year after graduating from hair school, and I was immediately struck by the showmanship, the fashion and the excitement of the show floor. The education was always overwhelming with a lot of different voices, and I started to appreciate leaving the show with one piece of information that could help me behind the chair and in my business. I never dreamed of being one of the people presenting on stage, but that opportunity started to become a realization for me.

The first time I was on the main stage at a show was a total surprise. I was asked to assist at a hair show in Concord, New Hampshire and to bring my things to help out wherever possible. I was excited to be a part of a major production and to use all of my skills in hair to be a part of the team. The night before I felt a little scratchy in the throat, so I took some medicine just in case I was coming down with something. When I woke up in the morning, I was feeling terrible, but I knew that calling out sick for the show would definitely tank any future opportunity. So I doused myself with cold meds, packed up my car and headed up to New Hampshire. I didn't know what to expect or what my role was going to be, I just headed in with an open mind and excitement to be there.

When I arrived, everything was already in full swing and a lot of models her done the day before in prep. It was all hands on deck and everyone had a task. My task was filling in doing little things for people, and I was as by the lead stylist of the show to help her with her stage presentation. The cold was really kicking my ass, and I was holding on as best as possible when all of a sudden the lead artistic director said

"Get yourself ready, we have decided to do a male  cutting segment and you are going to present. We have a model coming for you"

My heart skipped a beat and I didn't have a chance to get nervous or even feel it because I was already jittery from the caffeine and cold medicine. The next thing I knew, I was on stage doing a haircut on a model while my stage partners did theirs.

The time went fast, and a thirty-minute segment seemed like a quick ten minutes. If anyone came up to me and asked me to repeat what I said, I wouldn't have remembered, mainly due to the excitement and cold meds.

Everyone said I did a good job and the recognition was exhilarating, and the buzz stayed with me through the rest of the day, right into my drive home. It was at that moment the idea to be a main stage presenter became realized, and something I started to pursue.

Over the next year I treated ever class or presentation I was doing like rehearsal of main stage work, my train of thought was If I stay ready, I won't have to get ready. My work ethic and quality also became more defined as I went to trainings held by Paul Mitchell as a pre-requisite to be able to teach the latest materials. I went to every training from long hair to color, and it showed in my work and class performance.

My third year as an educator I began to get recognition for class count, best in show, and receiving awards and accolades. I was always happy to be there and doing my part wherever I was at. Every so often without notice, I would be thrust onto the main stage at one of our major shows, I stayed ready for this, and it started to be what I expected. I would be called in to support or work backstage in prep, just to be told

"Hey, we have an extra model, do you want to go on stage in the next segment ? It's a great opportunity!"

I would be elated at first and after this continued happening a few times it became more frustrating than anything. I would sit with the support team during model call and see all the wonderful hair possibilities, thinking I would not be on stage. Just to find out the next day they wanted me on stage and then having to search out or have a model chosen for me with the most difficult head of hair, that needed to be done in a fifteen to twenty minute segment. I later realized that saved the company money by not paying for a model for me and also not paying me the rate of a Main Stage artist.

This went on for seven years or so. Around my eighth year as an educator I was asked to do some shows as a Main Stage artist and that's when I saw the change in pay and procedure and realized what had happened, I wasn't mad about it at all, just something I learned. At the time of me writing this entry, I have been an educator with John Paul Mitchell Systems for fourteen years, and Andis Clippers for six years.

I also have affiliations with a smoothing company and a scissor company, which by the end of 2023 will most likely dissolve once I launch my own brands. But I'll get into that on another post.

Being an educator for JPMS took me all around North America and some parts of Europe. I am totally grateful for the level of expertise and knowledge that was shared to me and through me. Education as it stands today is rapidly changing with social media ambassadors which save the brands a lot of money. But like most things it will probably come back around to where it started, large shows with performances and show hair that makes you say

"Wow, I never thought of doing that with hair!"

It was in 2017 when I started to notice that my time away from the salon hurt my clientele. And by being on the road, "doing education" three to four days a week and in the salon three days, a large bulk of my income was coming from education. And if that dried up , like it would during the pandemic of 2020, I would have to start from the ground up.

In 2018, I had some show dates in Canada and got to know the National VP of sales for Canada, Randy. We were in Toronto for a Cosmoprof sales representative conference and I shared with him my ideas of moving to either Colorado or the West Coast and starting anew. He got very excited about this and with huge grin he said

"If you're going to the west coast, why don't you come to the west coast of Canada ? It's beautiful there, and I'm opening a franchise of barbershops, you can be my right hand, manager and trainer. I don't know anything about running a barbershop, I'm a sales guy, you would be very valuable ".

Later he scheduled some classes in Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island. It was a beautiful place and the people were nice. Everyone seemed excited to get barbering education. It was a very warm welcome. We

walked round the city of Victoria and saw the sites and I told Randy that I would consider his offer.

That year with education and shows I visited and worked in Maryland, France, Las Vegas, Colorado, South Carolina , Nashville, and went to the grand opening of Randy's Tommy Gun barbershop in Nanaimo, British Colombia on Black Friday.

Randy asked me to help out with cutting some hair and greeting customers. I had never seen a shop so busy on its opening day. There were lines of people. It was insane.

He told me several times that we were going to would take over the whole island. I would be in Victoria training and managing three locations and occasionally helping out in Nanaimo. He told me what my expected salary would be and how he would help with my transition there.

By the end of my trip there, I had made the decision.

I'm moving to Canada. 🇨🇦

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