Recently, I interviewed Harry Wood, hair stylist, author and trainer. Harry is a leading stylist and educator at Van Michael Salons in Atlanta, Georgia. He’s also the founder of SixFigureHairDresser.com.
Corina Santoro: Harry, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today! Tell us, how did you get started in this industry?
Harry Wood: I experimented in different jobs and eventually, while working for AT&T, I realized I didn’t want to be in corporate America. I didn’t like that someone else could tell me how much money I could make. I wanted to be in a career that’s performance based. A career where I could create my own destiny based on how hard I work. I wanted to be in control – of when I worked and how much I made. I had some friends who were hairdressers. They were fun and wore rock star clothes. I was attracted to it.
CS: So what did you do? How did you make the transition?
HW: I took a job working the night shift in the factory at AT&T so that I could go to beauty school during the day.
CS: Wow! That’s commitment. Where did you go to school?
HW: A little place called Beauty College of Georgia.
CS: So what happened next?
HW: I got my license and started working. I’m also a triathlete. So I worked as a hairdresser and traveled competing in triathlons. It was a great time in my life. But when I became a father I knew I’d have to stop the competitive travel schedule. I still loved athletics so I decided to get a coaching license as a USAT coach from the Olympic Training Center. Over time, I’ve taken those coaching skills and turned them into performance coaching for hairdressers.
CS: That’s incredible. So what do you do now?
HS: I’m a Performance Coach at Van Michael Salons. I’ve been there for 24 years. I also work behind the chair 4 days a week. When I’m not at the salon, I travel around the country to inspire and motivate people in our industry. Through my coaching business, SixFigureHairdresser.com, I work with stylists and teach them to raise their standards and their incomes to six figures. My passion is to help people elevate their respect in what we do and how they deliver service behind the chair. Hairdressers are licensed, just like doctors or lawyers or psychologists and yet we don’t honor our license the way they do. We don’t hold ourselves accountable to a higher level of service. I coach people to elevate our standards, our services and our incomes.
CS: That’s a powerful mission and one that could really impact this industry. You’ve seen and done a lot. With all of that insight, what do you see as the greatest strength of the Beauty & Wellness Industry?
HW: The ability to impact peoples’ lives in a positive way. We make people feel good about themselves. They come into our salons and leave transformed. We have the ability to change the way a person feels and looks about themselves and I love that.
CS: Now for the flip side. What do you see as the greatest weakness of this industry?
HW: Lack of accountability. Too few are accountable for holding a professional standard that will continue to build and gain respect for our industry.
CS: Okay, Harry. With 24 years under your belt, if you could tell today’s students one thing, what would it be?
HW: Just one thing? That’s hard. Show up, be the first one to volunteer and have a great attitude. Always be learning. Never stop educating yourself to take yourself to the next level. This next generation of hairdressers, they need to graduate knowing they are the ones responsible for taking this industry to the next level. We need a commitment from them to push for higher standards. A commitment to their career. A commitment to mastery.
CS: That’s more than one, but I’ll take it. Let’s look to the future for a moment. If you could identify one trend that will effect this industry in the net 3-5 years, what do you think it will be?
HW: I see a huge trend in bridging the medical and beauty communities. As hairdressers, we have the ability to work with cancer patients and help them continue to feel beautiful while undergoing treatment.We need to educate ourselves so we know how to take care of clients with cancer. By aligning ourselves with physicians, we can help people continue to feel good during this time. Whether it’s working in a hospital or clinic, doing wigs for cancer patients, or teaching our clients how to style wigs, we can do so much to help people feel beautiful while going through cancer treatment.
CS: And what a need there is for that service. One final question, Harry. Would you say that this industry has changed your life? And if so, how?
HW: Oh my gosh, this industry is everything to my life. Working behind the chair, I get to share every day with people I have relationships with. I get to learn from people who are talented and amazing and incredibly smart. People will share so much with you if you learn to listen and ask the right questions. Being able to spend time with and learn from all the people I come into contact with – it’s all about the relationships I have with people – this industry is incredible.
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