Since graduating Bellus Academy in 2009, Erik’s career has evolved from hairdresser to educator and back again. After 10 years in the business, he shares his perspective on the business of beauty and how returning to Wella felt “like coming home again.”
What are you doing today and how has your career evolved since graduating beauty school?
I’m a Signature Studio Artist at Wella Studios. I facilitate the advanced curriculum courses, teach four courses on color and help stylists cultivate business development skills.
My passion is education, but I’m glad I’ve experienced other aspects of hairstyling as well. I started out working behind the desk at Bellus Academy before teaching in the Bellus classroom. Next, I was recruited to work with Wella as a field education business manager. After relocating to Los Angeles, I worked for a high-end salon in Beverly Hills. But education has always been in my heart. I say that it took me going away to appreciate the culture at Wella. When I returned to my role as educator, it felt like coming home.
How have mentors shaped your path?
I’ve had the pleasure of learning from so many great artists, but I wouldn’t call them mentors. I’ve always tried to listen, absorb and learn from a core group of influencers. These people serve as generous sounding boards, but I’ve always followed my own instincts. Growing and improving has been a process of trial and error.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love teaching and encouraging new hairstylists; helping them improve both their technical craft and their business savvy. While hairstylists know they need to get a solid background in coloring essentials, dimensions, creative color and color correction, they are not always as aware of the need to think about pricing and strategies for building revenue.
What is the biggest challenge in your work?
There are many aspects that contribute to success and they all need to be done at once. It can be stressful yet energizing to multi-task and figure out how to get it all done.
Speaking of multi-tasking, how has technology impacted hairdressing?
Social media has revolutionized our business – especially how we build a clientele. For example, today it’s possible for a hairstylist to become the go-to stylist based off an Instagram account. Social media has shifted the ways people choose a hairstylist. So today, hairstylists need to know their craft, but they also need to be content creators and constantly developing new posts. It’s not going away, so hairstylists must embrace social media.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give a young hairstylist entering the career?
First, I’d tell them to find someone they respect and can learn from in the “real world.” Second, I would let them know that what you get out of this career is in direct proportion to what you put in. And third, I would encourage them to be patient and view every situation as a learning opportunity.
Where can we find you when you’re not in the classroom or behind the chair?
I am a big fan of fitness and musical theatre – so most likely at the gym or the playhouse!
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