I am blessed to live near one of the most incredible parks in our city…Manito! I freelance within the town. I come from an Air Force family whereby we moved about every four years, though I was fortunate to live in fun places like Colorado Texas, Oklahoma, Okinawa and England before we eventually settled in Spokane in 1994. I have a sister in Minneapolis and two brothers on the west side of Washington. Although I thought Spokane was incredibly ugly when I first moved here (in comparison to the picturesque countryside of England!), I grew to love the Pacific Northwest (PNW) and can’t imagine living anywhere else in the USA! The people, especially, are incredible!
I got married in April 2001 to Daniel Archer, and together, we have four kids who I have homeschooled since kindergarten: Zuri-17, Miles-15, Ellis-13 and Greyson-11. My husband is a professional video director and all of my kids are involved in the arts in some way (i.e. ballet, music, drama). I never thought I’d “do hair” as I always had intended to go on to college after high school. My mom was the first one in her family to graduate from college. Neither of my grandmothers finished high school so I too was hoping to carry on the accomplishment of a woman graduating from college. I didn’t want to incur huge college loan debt, however, so I pursued beauty school utilizing Pell Grants combined with minimal financing with the intention of putting myself through college with the cash. Funny thing was, I learned I loved the blend of technical skill, artistry and customer service that is used as a cosmetologist, and so I switched gears to a career in hair instead!
The field of hairdressing naturally lends itself to freelance work and during my first year of being licensed (1997) I did hair for a wedding, onsite. I have continued to offer my hairdressing services for onsite weddings and other special occasions as a freelancer while maintaining my employment at Jaazz Salon, though I did take about a two-year absence when I had my tiny ones so I would have the freedom to homeschool them. This year, I have opted to change my career path and am now only taking hair clients on a freelance schedule.
Whether working as a freelancer or that of an employee, I’m always professional and hospitable. I like systems…doing things in a similar way every time…greeting, guest experience, etc. I have learned early on from freelancing that it is easy to shortchange yourself and not charge enough. It’s ok to start with “newbie” pricing, BUT it is just as important to raise those prices annually 1-3%, especially if you have taken classes or done things to educate yourself further in business or improved upon your skills. Also, even with freelancing, don’t be afraid if you have the opportunity to teach someone else your craft and what you know, as it will only help you know it better.
As a hairdresser, I like the juxtaposition of the more classic or traditional hairstyles layered with an edge, such as a hard line or shapes with a softer color and find ideas and inspiration through visiting art galleries and perusing art books.
Sometimes the lack of consistent hairstyling opportunities can be feast or famine and this has been my biggest challenge to working in freelance, though the gained flexibility is a great attribute. In the past, freelancing has not been my main source of revenue, so it hasn’t been a large problem for me thus far; however, for someone starting out or hoping to only freelance as I now am doing, it is extremely important to figure out what you can really live on. A part-time gig may prove to be a necessity, though on a positive note, may also provide a great place to network!
I have successfully been a hairstylist for 20+ years, and while this alone is an accomplishment in itself, my biggest accomplishment in the field is being an integral part in the technical and customer service skills training of dozens of hairstylists over the years. Sonna Brado, the salon owner of Jaazz Salon, has a rigorous program that I have run under several roles, including as trainer facilitator, curriculum writer and organizer. My passion in the field remains strong, and while I continue to work in this industry, my goal is to be completely debt free in five years, including freedom from my mortgage. This may be a little unrealistic, but it’s a great goal to aim for! And, I hope at this career goal point to take on select hairdressing appointments going forward.
Making It Freelance
- Be consistent with every client every time. Create a system—from greeting to checkout—that includes specific checkpoints so you don’t forget what comes next.
- Be where your hands are—hairdresser lingo for being present and in the moment.
- It takes ten “no’s” before you get a “yes” so go collect those “no’s”. I heard this when was a Girl Scout selling cookies, and it really encouraged me to be ok with the “no’s” when I handed out my business cards or tried to sell retail.
- Your numbers are your report card—pay attention to every piece of data you can get your hands on and study it. Have someone teach you the significance of each number so that you can know when growth or changes happen in your business.
- Have an elevator speech ready about who you are and what you’re about and take every opportunity to practice it until it becomes smooth and natural.
- It’s great to have an idea and goals but embrace the twists and turns along the way. Your story doesn’t and shouldn’t look like anyone else’s.