About the Author – Lisa Houser

Being born in raised in NY, I developed a love for being artistic and wanted to seek out cosmetology. After receiving my cosmetology education and license, I began working in one of the top salons in Long Island. I started out in the industry doing nails and found that I loved using my artistic abilities while serving people. Throughout my 31 year career, I have continued my love for being artistic through continuing my education, recently attended Aquage Master Academy and trained to become a Scruples hair care educator. I specialize in hair coloring techniques, especially the challenge of color correction. I am certified in hair extensions. My goal is to create a friendly, inviting, and relaxing environment in which my clientele can relax and enjoy. I also love to help my community, fundraising for local schools as well as the American Cancer Society while serving on the silent auction and recognition committee. I serve on the Cascadia Tech Center Cosmetology Advisory Board as well as The Hazel Dell Salmon Creek Business Association.

I had the opportunity to meet and spend time talking to the students at a local hair academy.

As I stand in front of the group, I can see excitement, nervousness, complete panic and a few uninterested because they clearly already know everything there is to know about the hair industry and I am about to waste an hour of their time lecturing them when they could be on their phones. I can’t help but laugh to myself at how evident this is to anyone with experience in the industry. I decided to write about all the questions I know this class had but were afraid to ask, or just simply do not know they need to ask.


I am about to finish my hours, now what?

  • Start studying for you exam
  • Schedule your tests. Don’t wait to long or you will forget.
  • Shadow at salons. Interview owners and staff. Visit corporate, independent, booth rental, commission and employee salons. Examine their culture, expectations and pay scale. Each one of these have their pros and cons, so it is important to do your homework. Do not be lead astray by the décor or promises of making hundreds of dollars your first day. Ask about education, who pays for it. Who pays for back bar, taxes, marketing? What does the rent include?

I have my license now, I am so done with education. Right?

  • Technically you are done with the state and the text book, but there is so much more to learn. If you think you know all there is to hair, make up, nails, boy do you have a lot more to learn. Most schools will teach you how to pass your state boards and the basics. There is so much more to learn, never stop learning. Join hair groups on social media, follow your favorite artists, go to classes, shows and ask salons if you can sit in at any of their education.
  • Find a salon or stylist to intern or apprentice under. There is no better way to learn and get experience then to jump into a salon and get your hands on some heads. Now know that stylists are not just going to hand over their clients to you or even trust you to style them, but in time they just might. You will probably start out folding towels, sweeping, tearing foils and just watching. Know this is all important steps to learn and gain valuable information. Listen carefully, to what each client says, how they say it, what the stylists hears and what they say to each guest. Watch how they carry themselves, their professionalism.

I have an interview, what do I say what do I wear?

  • First, know that before you even apply, check that social media. Most owners will search your social media as soon as you show interest in a salon. Make sure it is clean and professional. Consider having a separate one from personal life, even though they will check that one too if it’s public. They want to see if you fit the image and culture of the salon before they even speak to you.
  • Look the part, be a product of the product. Make sure you are dressed to impress. Do your homework on the salon and see how the dress code is. Do not show up with a messy bun and no makeup and flip flops.
  • Arrive early. In business on time is late. When you arrive, smile and introduce yourself. Have your resume in hand and have a great hand shake.
  • The owner/ manager will know you are nervous, it’s ok. Just be honest and yourself, let them know of areas you need to work on. It will come out eventually. Be confident and proud of your accomplishments.


I am working in a salon, show me the money!

  • Hold on young Jedi and learn patience. This is the true test of your desire to make it big in the industry. Know that the salon is probably not going to just start filling your books with out testing the waters and see your ability. Most employee type salons are going to have a training period. If you can find a salon with an apprentice program you hit the jackpot. They will take the time to invest in you and teach you how they operate, service standards, their product lines, fine tune your skills and time. They will offer services at a discount and help guide you until they feel you are ready to take on clients alone. Be a team player, always pitch in during slow times, it will always pay off. Salon guest and coworkers are watching and they will remember it.
  • Building books and reputation takes time. Get out there and market yourself and the salon you are at. Go to networking events and put that dang social media to work for you. Ask family and friends to give you a try and spread the word. Post pictures.
  • Making money takes time. If you go the employee route, you will have steady paycheck which is great. Hitting the commission level may take some time. Know that some people will be hesitant to see someone new and they certainly do not want to spend $75 for a haircut when you have no experience. If you are brave and jump into rental all responsibility to grow is on you. Remember there is a difference between gross sales and what is left at the end after paying rent, supplies and bills, don’t forget taxes too. Again, what you charge is important, it is not likely to go from charging $10 at school for a cut and jumping to $75. If your services are not in demand, then your prices need to be.

There is a great big world out there and millions of people with Hair. This industry is amazing and filled with the best, most creative, caring people. Never be afraid to ask for help and never stop learning. You must continue to learn if you want to continue to earn. Set goals and dream big and always be a Hair Nerd.