7 Things I wish I would have known stepping into the Beauty Industy

Hindsight is 20/20, and we all have the opportunity to learn from others mistakes. While I wouldn’t trade my journey for the world, I am a firm believer that sometimes we go through things that are bigger than us. Some of our experiences in life are not for us, but it is for us to help someone else.


When I graduated from cosmetology school in 2004, I thought I had arrived.  As a student, I had won 8 NCA (National Cosmetology Association) Hair Competitions. Six of my awards were 1st place in Fantasy and Evening hair styling. The other two were:  a 3rd place award in the Cut and Color Competition, and an overall Master Stylist Award. I thought my certificates and awards were going to take me places. I was one of the busiest students on the clinic floor. I had clients that came in regularly to the school who requested me. One of my regular clients at the beauty school was Ms. Headley. She is the mother of Tony Award winning singer Heather Headley. I assumed along with Ms.Headley, all of those clients were going to follow me from the school to my first salons. I truly thought I was going to immediately come out of school in a great position to make money.  Little did I know, I was wrong! When you graduate from cosmetology school, it’s like a student going back to graduate school. This is when the real schooling starts.


I  believe most cosmetology schools only prepare you for the basics in order for you to pass your state board exam. Some schools will go the extra mile and teach you advance coloring, advance cutting, business, marketing, people skills, and additional professional developement. The truth is, they are not required to. If a student selects a school that does go a little bit beyond the basics, I applaud that school. I can personally say 13 years ago, I thought my beauty school experience was absolutely awful. I felt like I was on a plantation working, and could not wait to leave. The more hair stylists I meet, and looking back, Masters of Cosmetology in Ft.Wayne, IN was a great school for me. They didn’t teach me everything, but they taught me more than most of my peers in the industry. Here are 7 things I wish I would have known post graduation from cosmetology school:


  • Always remain a student. Lean NOT to your own understanding. Remain teachable, coachable, and willing to learn so you can grow.

  • Be an assistant FIRST to a senior stylist for at least a year. I was an assistant to one of the best colorist in Ft. Wayne (Kent Stevens, The Forum Salon and Day Spa) I am grateful for this foundation. I wish I wouldn’t have gotten frustrated after 7 month and left to be a booth rental stylist. I gave up a consistent pay check, the ability to work in an environment with 22 stylist, Free Paul Mitchell training classes, and some really great tips from clients, just shampooing, watching, and learning. Thankfully he still loves me and I can call him for anything.

                  imageKent and I
  • After you assist get some experience as a commission stylist. I went from being a booth rental stylist, back to being a commission stylist, back to booth rental, and back to commission one more time before I went booth rent full time. Not every ones journey will be the same. Some people may be able to maintain their booth rent, BUT it was so much easier as a commission stylist until I built a consistent clientele. Again, free education, consistent pay check, and free marketing materials, and automatic client leads from the salons I worked for.

  •  Booth Rent wisely! Cheaper is not always better. Booth rent from a quality salon. It is a reflection of you, and what you will attract. This is why it is important to be sure you have a steady clientele before going that route. Also remember, you are a brand within a brand. Even though you are  paying the cost to be your own boss of your area, you will have rules, regulations and be held accountability for how you operate in your space.


        Sharing my niche….Hair Cutting
  • Find your niche! You can not and absolutely will not be able to “specialize” in everything. Everyone SHOULD specialize in healthy hair if we call ourselves licensed professionals, but what is that one thing that you do well? Evaluate yourself, find it, and cultivate that.

  • Invest in continuing education constantly! Put money aside monthly so you can take a class to better your skills at least 4 times a year. imageimage

    Myself with Kachelle Kelly at the Dream, Pray, Hustle Tour and with Najah Aziz at my 4th Short Hair Boot Camp
  • Value your license. Keep it renewed. Don’t let it expire. After all you went to school,took the practical and written tests to obtain it. The reality is, there are people that are not licensed that have the skill to do what you do. The Beauty Industry is a popular and saturated market.  You will have to continue to create and refresh to make yourself worth coming to as a professional.

I am looking forward to sharing more soon! Stay tuned! Share, like, comment! 


All Love ❤️✌?️

Ebony N. Stroder

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  • Keisha

    I love it. I really wish that they would make it a federal law that you do an apprenticeship, assistant program of some sort before receiving your license. I took the apprentice route and it was priceless. I am now building a commission base Salon. Thank you for putting this out there.

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