Hair Extension Master Artist Kaliopi Matheakis (pictured above) has been creating art her whole life. The daughter of Greek parents who had emigrated to New York, her parents moved the family back to Greece when she was eight years old. Growing up, she continued to design, craft and sculpt, until her natural enthusiasms brought her to the study of cosmetology in Europe.
After a bad cut (it was too short!) from a co-worker, Matheakis became very interested in hair extensions and the possibilities that came with them. Eventually, she opened a salon in Greece that was so successful, she made the decision to bring her extension mastery back to New York.
Today, she is the owner‐operator of both a salon, PR Hair Extensions , and the developer and distributor of a line of handcrafted, quality hair extensions, Kalia Hair Extensions. She also operates a private suite, PR Hair Extensions Luxury Suite, for one-on-one services and offers private instruction in the art and application of extensions.
Photo: A beautiful finished look by Master Extensionist Kaliopi Matheakis.
Becoming a Hair Extension Specialist: Dos and Don'ts
Don't work with poor quality extensions.
"When I was starting over in New York, the inferior quality of hair extensions that were available was discouraging and heart wrenching," says Matheakis. "Do NOT use mediocre quality even when practicing. No matter how talented you are you cannot make up for inferior quality extensions through application techniques. The old adage 'you get what you pay for' is true in the quality of hair extensions."
When she couldn't find products that met her standards, Matheakis said she learned that using less than the best can cost you your reputation. "To gain and maintain a reputation as a hair extension specialist, don’t compromise on price and quality."
Her recommendation is that extensions should be the highest quality 100% human hair with detailed, precision application.
"People want hair extensions that make them look exquisite, so don’t aim for anything less than what the client wants and expects," says Matheakis. "Don’t risk your career or license, always provide your clients the best products."
Don't learn hair extensions from someone who is not a qualified specialist.
"I have encountered so many excellent hairstylists who do not know how to properly apply hair extensions. There are hairstylists who advertise and apply hair extensions every day, yet they really are not experienced in the craft. You can’t learn a professional craft from a teacher who is not a professional."
Photo: The consultation process. Kaliopi Matheakis talks through the service and desired end-result with her client.
Do run the numbers and understand the costs of offering extension services.
When crunching the numbers Matheakis says this is what to consider:
- There is a cost involved in supplying quality hair extensions to the client.
- A proper hair extension application is time consuming; this is a contributing factor to the price.
- The average customer visits a hair styling salon seven to eight times a year and when satisfied becomes a regular lifetime client.
- The average hair extension client visits for special occasions and visits three to four times a year. The majority of individuals seeking hair extensions are doing so because of a temporary situation. i.e., Repairing damage from a bad haircut, longer hair for a particular look, and damage from illness and disease.
"This is not to minimize the trend of hair extensions for fashion looks and those who want them as part of their everyday style," says Matheakis. "Those clients do exist and when you gain a reputation as a master professional in hair extension applications, you will gain a following. Regular satisfied clients will willingly recommend your services to family, friends, business associates and neighbors when it is evident that you are passionate about the craft."
Photo: Kaliopi Matheakis incorporates the newly-installed extensions.
Matheakis cautions that in her experience, the higher cost of hair extensions does not reflect a higher profit. "It reflects the prices of the products and the extra time you will spend with a hair extension client," she explains. "A hair extension specialist can earn more than a hairstylist when it becomes their primary career. When juggled as an additional service by a hair stylist it may actually cut revenues.
"The typical hair stylist may be able to service three clients in the time it takes for one hair extension application," she adds. "These are numbers that need to be considered when deciding to add hair extensions to the menu of a busy salon."
"Proper Hair extension application requires detail, precision and technique. Hair extension application is a complicated service dealing directly with the skin of the head and the most sensitive part of the hair, the roots. Incorrect hair extension applications damage the scalp, and hair creating bald spots caused by the weight of the hair extension when not properly applied."--Hair Extension Artist Kaliopi Matheakis
Do take professional training.
Mathakis encourages all stylists who are looking to jump into hair extension applications to take a step back and ask these questions:
- Am I being offered this crash course certificate because they care about me as a professional?
- Do they care about my clients receiving a healthy, professional hair extension application?
- Do they care that I may put my license and business at risk?
"If you are ready to pursue a new career, know that it won’t come easy," says Matheakis. "It will take time, dedication, passion and determination." Begin by searching for and enrolling in a professional beginner course where you will learn the basics. Continue with more detailed courses to learn, explore and practice technique.
Even after earning the first beginners certificate, she recommends:
- Practice nonstop for at least 1 year.
- Practice 3 days a week for 4‐5 hours a day for the first 6 months on a mannequin.
- The next 6 months, continue 3 days a week practicing on a person. Ask for family members or friends to join and support you in this new journey of yours by being your hair models. DO NOT PRACTICE ON CLIENTS.
"During this practice year you will have the chance to familiarize yourself with hair quality and learn the differences. You will evaluate your work, noting such things as how long it lasts, your timing, when to do maintenance, removals, and reinstallations. Get feedback from others on the quality of application and hair. Use feedback to make improvements in technique, and application."
And if you find you have the patience to practice for one year and you still have that passion to be a hair extension specialist, Matheakis says that tells her something. "To me, that is a sign that you have found a calling in a career as a Hair Extension Specialist."
Connect with Kaliopi Matheakis at any of her locations or by calling 347‐858‐ 6891 to learn about her group or private courses in Hair Extension Techniques and Application.
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