Dear Stereotypical Hairdresser,
Yes, you. I know your type. You assisted under that really prolific hairdresser in New York, or Paris. Or was it the years you spent at Vidal Sassoon? Sorbie, was it? Oh, you are from the old school… Back in your day, when you had to assist, things were tough. You had to really earn your keep. You’d better be on your game. Oh and you probably didn’t get paid much either. That prolific hairdresser probably treated you like a doormat. What else? Did you learn from the school of hard knocks? Did the fact that you were treated like a piece of poo help you learn better, or faster? Did being talked down to in front of the client help you to work more effeciently? Did dreading going to work make you more passionate? Are you passing this mentality and ethic down to your own assistant?
Im going to challenge you to look up companies such as Google, you may have heard of them. Consider how they choose to make a happy, healthy, work environment for their employees and the fact that this, inevitably, results in better performance. This is not rocket science (not that we expected you to know anything about that). As crazy as it seems, you making your assistant nervous, or look like an ass because they are nervous, may not ultimately benefit you. You might actually get better performance if you are nice, and not acting like some entitled jerk. You see, no one doubts that you deserve to be where your are at. We all know that it takes hard work. We are all working on similar dreams, probably harder than you are. Why don’t you try to make a positive work environment for the person you could possibly be mentoring. Because the reality is, if they hate you, you are not their mentors. You are a paycheck. You are employment, only until someone who is actually inspiring comes along. I have heard many hairdressers complain about assistants wanting money, and how you do not always get paid, and how YOU didn’t always get paid, blah blah blah. If you, in all your hair wisdom and majesty, can actually transfer your passion to someone else, and actually inspire, you will have no complaints for jobs with no budget. And honestly, if you cant inspire or pass anything on, you are probably on your way out anyway.
The harsh reality that you may have to face is that you yourself have lost that passion and inspiration. If your assistant is giving you bad work, it is more than likely your own fault. We hairdressers proclaim ourselves as artists, not slave drivers. Artists inspire, they do not dictate. If you want real performance, treat your assistant the way you wish you had been treated back in your World War II era assisting days. Educate them with a smile rather than using them as a pedestal to stand on in order to make yourself look more significant. Don’t be so insecure. Elevate your assistant and you elevate yourself. You have the opportunity to break the cycle.
No doubt there are those out there who do it right. Those who really appreciate their assistants. These are the people who will never have to look for an assistant. There will be a line of eager young hairdressers waiting to learn from them as long as they have a comb in their hand. This is the kind of hairdresser who takes pride in seeing their assistants succeed and move on. In my opinion, this is the only kind of hairdresser worth working for.