Like a lot of stylists, Julie Spruill started cosmetology school young. She knew what mattered to her: freedom, self-expression, and being true to herself. And she thought she knew the kind of salon where she could get that—but you can’t always judge a book by its cover. In this spotlight, Julie Spruill tells the story of a young stylist finding the space that aligns with her values … and finding herself along the way.
I started cosmetology school two months after I graduated high school. I was never a star student in high school, but I love learning and being in the classroom when it’s something that interests me, and at cosmetology school, I was always interested, always excited.
Cosmetology school opened up parts of Julie’s personality she wasn’t even aware of.
I guess my classmates saw something I didn’t, because they voted me “most likely to become a teacher” at our school’s personality awards.
And she was working at the same time.
I got a position as a shampoo assistant at a high-end, departmentalized salon while I was still in class. I was so young—about eighteen years old—and I thought that was the environment I needed if I was going to be successful in this industry. Higher cost of services means more money in my pocket, right?
Julie had worked hard in cosmetology school and she was set to graduate a month early. The owner of her salon pulled her aside to say they’d like to promote her to the head stylist’s assistant—with one catch.
Before they’d promote me, I’d have to come in for my haircut and makeover. What?! I’d have to wear my hair, makeup and clothes the exact way they wanted, every day.
Little did the salon owner know that Julie had already been having doubts.
The more I saw the colorist work, the more I recognized that I didn’t want to restrict myself to one type of service. The fact that the owner wanted to restrict my personal self-expression? Icing on the cake. I’m all for a consistent, professional appearance, but you can achieve that while showing your own style.
The choice was clear: Julie had to work in a place where she could be herself. But where was that?
I came into class after a shift and I said to my good friend, I don’t think this place is going to align with my goals. My friend was a stylist in training with Supercuts. She said, “Come to Supercuts! It’s great!” So I applied—and the day I graduated cosmetology school was my first day at Supercuts.
Things took off from there.
My high school friends were still in college and I was flying all over the country for conventions and educational seminars! I remember our Supercuts Chicago Educational Convention. I’d only been with Supercuts for a little over a year. I gave away my drink tickets opening night—because I hadn’t even turned twenty one yet!
It was my first time traveling alone and I was definitely having a bit of imposter syndrome. I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone and start making connections, and I did. Everyone was so kind to me. I knew I’d found my forever home with Supercuts.
Julie found something else at Supercuts: a mentor who saw what she could become.
My boss, my franchisee at Supercuts, Jack Sand, invested so much in me. I didn’t even know the kinds of opportunities that were available before Jack showed me.
Remember how Julie’s classmates spotted her talent for teaching? Jack noticed it, too.
I didn’t know that I wanted to teach. Jack saw that potential in me. When he asked me to be his educator, I had no idea what that meant. But I’m always open to learning! After my first week of training, I was hooked. Every class I taught brought new challenges and new ways for me to grow.
Julie had found her calling.
Being able to lead, coach and develop talent is such a passion for me. I love getting to go back into the barber and cosmetology schools, getting to share my story. I love on-boarding new stylists and building their confidence. I love having one-on-one training sessions and in-salon education days. Seeing new and seasoned stylists have light bulbs go off—that’s the most amazing feeling. If you do an incredible service, you get to personally affect one person, and that’s wonderful, but teaching someone how to give that incredible service … that’s endless!
Now an experienced professional, Julie has had a dream come true:
I work full time at my Supercuts franchise group as their education coordinator and a salon manager. We’ve just relocated to a bigger space with a private training studio, so I can focus on my passion for education and talent development. I’ve had such great experiences already—I can only imagine what the future holds!
So what would Julie say to a young stylist considering Supercuts as a career path? No surprise: Julie believes you’ve got to find a place where you can be your FULL self.
You have to find the right fit for you. I think we all have room to grow and better ourselves personally and professionally, and if you can’t be your true self, that growth is harder to break through to. At Supercuts, I found an atmosphere where I get to be myself behind the chair.
I joke that I want everyone to choose Supercuts because it’s been so amazing for me. If a young stylist is interested in a work-life balance, continuing education, awesome benefits, access to countless career paths, a family atmosphere where you can be as creative as you can imagine, then Supercuts is definitely worth looking into!
Hey, by the way … remember how Julie thought she had to work at a high-end salon to make bank? Her only regret about her early days at Supercuts: she was earning TOO much!
At Supercuts you get instant walk-in clients, so I was making so much money right away, when I was just nineteen. I was so young that I just bought anything I wanted. Looking back, one piece of advice I’d give to myself would be: invest and save!
Supercuts is a place where your growth is valued and your individuality is recognized. Ready to learn more? https://jobs.supercuts.com/
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.