Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The cost of being a "wealthy" hairdresser

In my last post I wrote about how some people seem to have the notion that cosmetologists, hairdressers, barbers, whatever you want to call us, rake in the big bucks.  Don't get me wrong, there are some very famous, very rich hairdressers.  However, most of us aren't lucky enough to get a celebrity or two in our chair on a monthly basis.  And if you stick it out, there is definitely some money to be made in this industry.  But it takes time, and patience.  And with the face paced life we are conditioned to live, patience is not a virtue that most hair dressers are blessed with.  So sadly, many of the people that devoted a few years of their life to breaking into this industry let it end after a few short years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average income of a cosmetologist $22,770, or less than $11 an hour.
The average cost to attend 1 year of beauty school is $18,000.
The average career length of a cosmetologist is 5 years, which means that the education of a cosmetologist costs approximately $3,600 per year that they are practicing, which brings the average income down to less than $19,200.
For the rest of these estimations, I am going to use personal/ professional experience, and I have picked the brains of the girls that work for me to see how much they guess that they spend each year.
A good pair of shears costs around $200.  And trust me, that is an underestimation.  This cost can go through the roof.  But most hairdressers have at least 2 pairs.  Plus a pair of thinning shears, another $150.  All three of these shears need to be sharpened around four times per year, costing around $30 per pair.  That's $90 four times a year ($360 a year) just to maintain your shears so you can work.  Also, you need a good pair of clippers, about $150, a razor, around $40, and blades that need to be replaced after only a couple of uses, costing about $15 a case.  There are curling irons that cost around $50 apiece that get replaced every couple of years.  Brushes, combs, and clips that get replaced about once a year due to wear and tear, costing roughly $75 a year, and blow dryers that if you are lucky last a year, coating about $100.  Factoring those costs into the average career length, that takes the annual salary down to approximately $18,375.
I am lucky enough to work for a company that provides continuing education at no cost to its stylists, however, most of my other stylist friends try to go to at least one hair show a year to stay up to date on trends and techniques.  A cheap weekend for one of these shows would be around $500, and that's if you can share expenses with someone else.  Then you have licensing fees, around $100 a year.  Then you have our cost for our personal appearance.  At my job, hair, makeup, and wardrobe are a part of the dress code.  You show up without all of those done up, I send you home.  It. Is. Required.  No exceptions.  You don't want to walk in to a place your appearance into the hands of a girl that doesn't look like she knows how to take care of herself.  So let's aim LOW on this, between the cost of makeup, clothes that are constantly being ruined due to hair color, and a couple of pairs of GOOD shoes because of being on our feet all day, the average spent per year is probably around $1000 for personal appearance/ hygiene cost (don't tell my husband it can be done for this low, I don't want him getting ideas about my shopping budget).  These numbers bring the approximate average down to around $16,775.

There are a lot of other costs that I could factor in, but let's call it good there.  Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  Figured at 40 hours a week, which is considered full time, the average person working for minimum wage in America is making $15,080 a year.  That is only $1695 less than the average cosmetologist.  Not much difference in the scheme of things, huh?

Then why, you ask, does it cost so much to get your hair done?  Let me run some figures there too.  If it costs around $100 for you to get a haircut and color, your stylist is by no means taking all of that home with her.  The average stylist only brings home either a percentage of what she charges, around 50%, minus taxes, or you have to remove the cost of all of their product.  For a stylist that is self employed, when you break down their cost on a average color client, they are really only bringing home an average of 50% after all of their costs as well.

So like I said, the average stylist doesn't get rich.  Not in money anyways.  But I consider myself very rich in relationships, knowledge, and my heart is pretty full because of the career I chose.  Not very many people can consider themselves that lucky.  And I would take that kind of wealth over money any day.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Cosmetologists: What people think we do VS. What we ACTUALLY do

I live the high life.  I get to sit around, and primp, and read gossip magazines, and get my hair done at least once every two weeks.  Oh, and when I'm not busy, I get to go shopping!  When shopping gets boring, I can always just sit around outside smoking, and getting caught up on the local gossip. I take selfies any time I am having a good hair and makeup day, and I make sure that I flirt with every man that walks through the door of my salon.  In fact, I wear the lowest cut shirts possible to make sure he tips me really well!  I work bankers hours, when I actually work, because, after all, I am never really at the salon.  And when I am on yet another break, I will just sit around and wait for appointments to come in, because I really have nothing else to do.  You have to have the IQ of a gnat to do hair.  Lucky for me, it takes NO brains!  I make so much money that I don't know what to do with it all.  All of the amazing vacations I take are starting to get old, maybe I will just buy my own island.

Now, you want to know the truth?  That whole paragraph up above? It's a load of crap.  That may be what a majority of people seem to perceive as the truth, but I'm about to give you a rather large does of reality... I'm a hairdresser, but...  I'm a plumber.  The other day, I actually took apart the pipes under one of the shampoo bowls and pulled out a hair ball the size of a sewer rat.  And it stunk.  Welcome to my glamorous life.  Most days, I am a therapist, a chemist, an artist, and a sales woman.  I come in early, and stay late to squeeze people in that can't come in during my working hours, and on my busy days, some times my only break all day is to pee when a merciful client relives me in the middle of their blow out because they notice that my teeth are starting to float.  And speaking of floating... cruises, vacations, all of those trips?  Ya, I'm scared to go on them because a whole week out of the salon means a whole week without pay.  Paid vacations don't exist in this industry.

By the way, say you have someone in your chair who is wanting to go to a pale level 9 blonde from a level 6.  Natural from the scalp to about 3 inches out, and heavily hi lighted at the ends.  How do you formulate the end result?  And to top it off, you're out of 30 volume developer, so you're going to have to make it.  No brains, huh?  That's where the chemist and mathematician comes in.  We have to cut through the underlying pigment of the natural hair, prime the over processed ends, and make it all look even, for a pretty end result.  Hence, the artistry.

"I like this shirt", said no Hairdresser Ever!
And let's break down the men factor.  I don't want your man!  I have a man.  And one is all I can handle.  The last thing I want is another one.  Yes, I smile at him. Yes, I talk to him, and carry on a conversation.  THATS WHAT WE ARE TRAINED TO DO!!!! I don't want to spend half an hour in awkward silence, I'M A TALKER!!!  All I want, is to give him a good haircut, collect his money, and send him on his way until 4 weeks from now when he needs another haircut, repeat.  And as far as the low cut shirts, and dressing skanky?  Our wardrobe is limited.  I went to put on one of my favorite shirts today, only to have to change because unbeknownst to me, I was attacked by a color tube last time I wore it.  If I wouldn't incinerate while blow drying, if it were up to me I would wear turtle necks all the time!  Do you know how unpleasant it is to pull a clump of hair out from between your boobs and NOT know who it belongs to?  It's rather disturbing.  And we won't even talk about the whole hair in the bra issue, AND the belly button... Yuck!

So if it's that bad, why do we do it?  Because it's not that bad.  Because all of that stuff is worth it.  It is worth the long days, and the negative stereotypes to be able to do what I have a passion for.  It is worth knowing that you can turn someone's entire day around just by doing something you're good at.  People come to their hairdressers to feel better about themselves, and I am lucky enough to get to be a part of that.  I have seen people become engaged, get married, have babies.  I have watched kids grow into young adults, and graduate.  I have shared in great joys, and great losses.  I get to be a part of people's families, and their lives.  We give advice, and we receive it as well.  We get as much out of some of those visits as the client does.  Some of our clients enhance our lives as much as we do theirs.  They become extended family.  Our clients are more than clients, they are friends.  I have a little old lady that is like another grandmother to me.  I watched her bury her husband who suffered from Alzheimer's last year, she brings me treats for holidays, and helps me plan out dinner ideas for the week.  If I go more than two weeks without seeing her, I get sick to my stomach for fear that something happened to her and I didn't know.  I love her.  And I love spending time with her.  That 45 minutes every Saturday is as therapeutic for me as it is her.

My point: you have to take the good with the bad.  No career is perfect.  But while it isn't as glamorous as most may think, it is so worth it!  No career is perfect.  And you won't get rich in money at first doing it, it will fill your heart as soon as you start forming relationships with your clients.  And if you still don't believe me about the whole rolling in the money ordeal... Stay tuned.  I will be breaking that down for you very, very soon!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Mornings: Something's gotta give

To say that I am not a morning person is an understatement.  Mornings are the bane of my existence.  My bed and I are really good friends.  And I always have a hard time leaving her all alone for the day.

I had a revelation this morning.  Part of why I struggle so badly in the morning, is because upstairs,  there are 3 sleeping angels, that as soon as they wake up and combine forces, become very familiar with 3 very awake little devils.  We have Gavin, who is always in a near coma state in the morning and is rather difficult to wake up.  Breckyn, who always wants "5 more minutes" in bed, and will literally run from me while I'm trying to comb her hair.  And Ashlynne, who does pretty well in the morning, minus the occasional changing of clothes because she looks like she got dressed in the dark.

The Cossel clan, doing our best to get along!
While driving them to their morning destinations, school and daycare, I realized something.  There is so much negativity coming out of their "sweet" little mouths.  We have one child poking the other in the back seat, which provokes screaming from the toddler, which provokes mutterings under the breath from the 12 year old, which in turn causes the three year old to start calling names, which causes the nine year old to antagonize her even more, which causes me to raise my voice, which causes everyone to either pout or cry, provoking more mubblings... It's a vicious circle.

And I'm going to put an end to it... one way or another.

One of my vices is that I sometimes have a bit of a potty mouth.  Ashlynne is pretty good about trying to keep me in check with it, always pointing it out while I have my usual fits of road rage.  She came up with the fantastic idea of making a swear jar for our home, where I have to drop some silver change into the jar each time I have a slip up.  Ashlynne would raid the change out of it from time to time to take to the school vending machines.  I however, feel that this swear jar should not only have to serve one purpose.  In an effort to make our entire house a more positive environment, and to preserve my sanity, I am going to make the little boogers/angels drop a quarter in the jar each time they are mean to each other.  And rather than let them raid the jar for change, and reward them for negativity, the money in the jar will "disappear" into our savings account to go towards a bathroom remodel.  I get the feeling that either the jar will fill up rather quickly, or the attitudes will change rather quickly.  I haven't quite figured out which way the wind will blow on that yet!

But I do know something, either I will be sane, or a few dollars richer!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The impact of one word

Well, coming up on Ashlynne's 12th birthday I am doing that thing I do every year, reflecting.  Reflecting on how much I, as a mom and as a person, have changed since she made me a mommy.

Have you ever stopped and thought about the impact that learning one new word can have on your life? Most words come and go in our lives rather casually.  Most new words are learned without really giving it a second thought.  Or other words that can have a huge impact on our life, such as cancer, or heart disease, diabetes, are words that are so commonly spoken, that we can't pin point when it was that they were actually learned or first spoken to us.  But on January 14, 2003, I learned a new word that would change the course of my life forever: Ichthyosis.

Ashlynne was a matter of minutes old before her doctor figured out what was wrong with her at birth.  And after phone calls were made confirming it, I heard this word for the first time in my life.  I didn't know right then the impact it would have on the rest of my life.  Oh how I began to hate that word!  I couldn't force myself to say it some days.  The anger that would rise up in me when I had to explain her diagnosis to all of the people in my life who had never heard this word was immeasurable.  I was so ANGRY!  I HATED Ichthyosis and everything associated with it.  I hated the doctors appointments, and the physical therapy appointments, and the lotioning, and the long baths, and the fact that my baby was in pain every minute of every day!  I hated that I had to explain that no, she isn't burned, no, she doesn't have milk on her face, that's lotion, no, she isn't dirty, in fact she's had 2 baths today.  I hated that she didn't walk until she was 2 1/2.  I hated that I didn't feel like I could go out in public with her without people making comments.  I hated all the well intentioned advice I got about trying shea butter, or some other concoction of lotions someone's aunt's neighbor had once tried.  For a time, I even hated God.  Why would he let my innocent, perfect baby go through all of this hell?!  She didn't deserve this!

Then I got myself together.
And I got myself educated.
And I connected with other families, and with FIRST.

Life gave me a huge slap in the face the first time I heard that word that at first was my biggest nemesis.  From the second that word was spoken, my whole world was turned upside down.  But as I became more involved with other families, my world began to right itself.  I started to realize that I could draw off of the strength of some of these amazing mothers that had raised very successful kids that didn't feel sorry for themselves.  Some of them had it way worse than Ashlynne and I, so what right did I have sitting around crying over what could have been? I needed to change my perspective.  I needed to start being thankful that things weren't as bad as they could have been.  "Could have been" could have been much worse than it was!  When I stopped and really looked, I had a huge blessing on my hands.  All of those appointments, they gave me time with her where my attention wasn't divided.  All of those baths, those were play time, and one on one time.  And there was a protectiveness, and a bond there with my little girl that no one could touch.  She looked to me to apply that lotion, that made her feel better.  I got to carry her around longer, when other kids were running around and didn't want to be carried by mommy anymore.  And the physical therapy, most of that she just looked at as play time!  This was MY girl!  And you know what?  She was awesome!  Even as a baby, I could recognize that she was a fighter.  Her will was strong, her sense of humor intact, and I had never seen a more beautiful, perfect child.  I started to smile when I saw the skin flakes on the couch, rather than be embarrassed that someone else would find it dirty.  I wore those Aquaphor and Vaseline smears on my clothes like a badge of honor.  Honor.  I was HONORED to be her mommy.

My anger dissolved, and rather than resent Him, I began to thank God every day that he trusted me with this little blessing.  I have always believed that God only gives you what you can handle.  And he doesn't always give you what you want, but more importantly, what you need.  And I am most certain that God realized that I needed Ashlynne as much as she needed me.  She has kept me grounded.  When times in my life were crazy, such as going through a divorce, or other major changes, her Ichthyosis forced me to focus.  I didn't have the choice to slack off, I had too much to do.  Being Ashlynne's mommy carried me through some of the hardest times of my life.  And I can only hope, the I can carry her through the hard times that are sure to strike her some day as well.  Not only did I draw off of the strength of the other amazing families I met through FIRST, but I also began to draw off of her strength.  If I gave up, or fell short, so might she.  And that is something I wouldn't be ok with.  For just as I imagined before she was born and the word "Ichthyosis" changed my world, I knew she was destined for great things.  This was one thing that Ichthyosis didn't change for me.  My girl was going to be an amazing force in this world.

Ichthyosis changed my world, but change can be good.