You have a really interesting story about how you actually got into updo’s. Will you tell us about it?
I came to the USA back in 2006 from Romania, with a small suitcase, a 1.5 years old daughter, $300 in my pocket… thinking I will with stay for 5 years, take my citizenship and go back home. The reason I came to the States was to make sure that my daughter has the opportunity to build a life in this country in the future. 5 years later I felt home here and never left.
I got in the beauty industry as a plan B when I decided to come in USA. I wasn’t sure if any of my education would be recognized here, so I took my license in beauty in Ro before I came to the states, trying to make sure I will be able to get a job when I get here. To my surprise my license was not recognized so I had to go through Beauty College once again in CA.
The first college I applied to was a Paul Mitchell school and sadly my application was denied. I never found out why. That was really discouraging and kind of pushed me back from trying again.
A few weeks later I applied to a different school called Elite Academy, and I was blessed to have the interview with a person who was very understanding and willing to help me get through the process of enrolling with my poor English.
I was working full time as a property manager, and couldn’t quit my job cause it was paying my bills, so I had to attend afternoon classes. I was having my daughter with me in the office 8am-4pm, working and taking care of her in the same time, and I was going to school from 4pm to 11:30pm every day, except Sundays when I was doing hair in a few senior houses.
Those were tough times but I was determined to take my license and eventually to build my clientele and make a living out of hair.
Graduated from Elite Academy in 2009 and rented a part time chair in a salon few weeks after. Since I wasn’t in the salon full time, I wasn’t able to build my clientele and my dream of making a living out of hair was kind of falling apart. I wasn’t able to quit my other job cause it was paying my bills, and that was preventing me from being in the salon full time and building my clientele. I continued to work full time as a manager and part-time stylist until 2014. I pretty much had 3 jobs from 2006 to 2014, no vacations, and no days off.
In August of 2014 an old client of mine told me she wants me to do her hair for her wedding. I tried to talk her out of it, since I was a cut and color specialist and knew nothing about upstyling. She asked me for a simple curly updo, we did a trial, she loved it and she booked me for her wedding.
On the day of the wedding she decided she wanted to go with a different style. I tried, but the style didn’t come out nicely and we decided to take that down and give her the curly updo that she first chose. Unfortunately back then I wasn’t familiar with any techniques, products, or tools and because I used a very strong hold hairspray, her hair turned powdery white once I started to brush it. To make the story short, we had to put her with her head down in the hotel room bathtub and wash her hair, we ruined her makeup and she was almost 2h late for her wedding. It was a complete disaster.
Went home and canceled all my appointments for the next 2 weeks and I seriously thought of quitting doing hair. I wasn’t making too much money out of it and after that failure I really thought I’m not in the right industry and I’m not good enough to make it.
As I am not a quitter, a week later I felt the impulse to practice upstyling and try to get better on that. I decided to give it one more try before I quit. Bought a mannequin doll, started to watch YouTube tutorials, trying to recreate simple styles. That’s how I learned how to do my first Dutch, French and Fishtail Braid. A week later I realized that every time I was trying to recreate a style, my own ideas were flowing, so I stopped watching YouTube tutorials and started creating my own styles. At the end of October of 2014 I opened an IG account and started to post pics with the styles I was creating on my mannequin doll. As I was playing with hair on a daily basis now, I became passionate about upstyling and I was hoping I will attract more bridal clientele in my chair through IG. A month later, Modern Salon posted one of my styles on their page and suddenly started to gain more followers and get inquiries about bridal appointments.
On December of 2014, I got my first request to teach a bridal class from a salon owner.You can imagine my shock when I received that email. I wasn’t a bridal stylist, nor an educator, and English was my second language. After several attempts on trying to get me teach that class, I accepted the challenge and agreed on education the salon owner team. I was expecting 7-10 people and I had 47 people showing up at the class. That was on January of 2015- my first bridal workshop. Soon as I posted about that workshop on my page, I got several requests from salon all over United States to travel and teach upstyling.
That’s pretty much how my journey in the bridal industry started – with one failure and the decision of not letting that falsities decide my destiny or push me away from my dreams.
2 years later I’m counting my blessings and living my dream of making a living out of hair. I went from 3 jobs to working weekends only, servicing bridal parties, teaching upstyling classes, performing in big hair shows, winning my first Updo Award from Behind the Chair, getting my work published in all the big magazines in the hair industry, and having my calendar booked few months in advance.
It wasn’t an easy road, and I didn’t make it where I’m at today, overnight. It was sacrifice, a lot of compromises, it was a lot of work, perseverance and the decision of keeping going, no matter what.
Where is your favorite place to go to find inspiration?
My small studio and my mannequin dolls. 🙂
I spend at least 2h every day in my studio creating /trying new styles on my mannequins.
You attended beauty school twice! What was going through your mind when you realized your license from Romania didn’t transfer to the US?
Oh boy, I wasn’t happy. My English was terrible, I had a small child and a full time job that was paying my bills, so going to school full time one more time wasn’t an option for me. But I was determined to take my license and I didn’t let any of that to stop me. I enrolled for the afternoon program, and I kept my full time job as a property manager. I was working 8 to 4 in the office renting apartments, while I was having /raising my daughter in that office, and I would go to school every day from 4 until 11:30, except Sundays when I was working in a senior house. I had no weekends or vacation for 8 years.
What is your doughnut of choice?
3 products you can’t live without…
KMS – medium hold hairspray from Goldwell
Pink Pewter – dry shampoo
Brazilian Blowout Shine and Frizz spray
Have you ever had an experience that made you question whether or not you wanted to be a hairdresser?
Yes! My first bridal experience that I have mentioned earlier. 😅
What was the last text you sent to your mom/dad?
It was her birthday few days ago : “Happy birthday to the one who loved me first, to my best friend, to the one I’m so blessed to call Mom. I love you, Mom! 💗”
Up-do’s have seen a huge revival in the last few years, why do you think this is?
I think the bridal industry in the past was very limited due to lack of quality education and information.
I think social media changed the game in the hair industry completely in the last couple of years. We have easy access to all kinds of information, and the market is saturated with independent educators now which gives the stylist a large platform to choose from.
Favorite city you have traveled to for work?
I traveled all over United States in the last 2 years. Miami is my favorite by far 😊💗
Words to live by…
Never give up until you try one more time!
Your mind is your only limit!
What is the most common question you get?
How did I make it where I’m at so fast? lol
I knew I was a Hair Nerd when…
I was a child and I loved styling everyone’s hair in my family. Cuts, perms, color…
Want to stalk Laura?
FB: Lala’s Updos