It wasn't long ago that I felt pretty lonely in my business as a wedding hairstylist. I knew other people worked in the wedding industry, and I knew there were other freelance hairstylists and makeup artists out there, but I never had any real connections. I watched from afar what hairstylists were doing, saw their success, and used their websites and accolades to measure my own worth. Not good people, not good.
Fast forward to now, and I am so surprised to tell you that networking has literally changed my business life. I walk into weddings and actually know other vendors, I have people who do what I do that are not my competition but colleagues, and I get a lot of my weddings based on referrals from other hairstylists and vendors. I love knowing others in the wedding industry, having people to rely on and bounce ideas off of, and reach out to when I need help. Above all, I have a beautiful community that I am part of!
The world of cosmetology can be so competitive, and especially when you are in a specific area. When I first started doing wedding hair I focused on what others were doing and trying to be one step ahead. I struggled with questions I had and I longed for someone else who understood my work. I found it hard to reach out to people locally because there was a fear stolen business ideas and a comparison mentality.
Finally, I woke up to two key facts:
I need people.
There are plenty of weddings to go around.
Once I started to make friends with other wedding vendors and hairstylists, I found I was more empowered and excited about my own work. I was inspired by them, not threatened. It challenged me to grow and to learn and to be the best version of myself I could be. I realized that we all have different personalities and gifts to bring to the table, and they all have value. I found out that I could ask questions and get help, and I also found stylists who were genuine and kind, and the type of people I wanted to collaborate with.
Photo from a styled shoot I was a part of. Grace V. Photography
The truth is, there were over 2,000,000 marriages in 2016 according to the CDC. That's a lot! There are enough brides to go around, and I will be the most successful in my business if I focus on being the best hairstylist I can be to each and every bride I book. I want to serve the brides I have well, and not compare myself with others and stay in an isolated place.
My hope for you is that you too will be able to find a network of support in your own community, and when you do that you see your business grow! I was afraid at first to put myself out there, but I quickly found out that people are people! We all have fears and insecurities, and I needed to be myself. So don't be afraid! Find local networking events for small business owners, for creative entrepreneurs, for wedding professionals. Collaborate with styled shoots. Do charity events. Meet other vendors, get to know their work, and refer them to brides. You will serve your brides better, and yourself, when you have more resources and connections at your finger tips. If there is one piece of advice I'd give to any hairstylist, it would be to spend time networking and make it a priority. You won't look back!