Monica Spaulding, a Supercuts Artistic Director, tells the story of her early days in hair and how she found her calling.
I’ve always been drawn to hair and makeup—I’m the kind of person who wants to dress up for work. In high school I worked backstage for theater productions; onstage, you get all the claps, but backstage is an entirely different story. I loved it all. Both parts appeal to me—the hard work backstage and the beautiful final product.
As a young woman, Monica moved across the country to be near her sister, from California to Tennessee.
I'd just started cosmetology school in Tennessee when somebody said to me, “Have you heard of Dollywood?” That’s Dolly Parton’s theme park, not far from where I was living. “They’re doing a huge hair show there. Do you want to model onstage?” So I walked the runway at Dollywood, with my hair all texturized. I was like “This is it! This is what I want to do!” It was an adventure.
As Monica neared the end of cosmetology school, it was time to make some career decisions. Her sister called from downtown with a radical idea.
My sister was living in the Nashville area and she happened to see that a Supercuts in the city was hiring. I had been thinking about Supercuts before I ever went to cosmetology school. Supercuts salons have huge storefront windows, so whenever I’d walk by one I’d look in and think, everybody in there looks so happy. I already knew that the small town where I’d been living wasn’t really in my heart, so my sister was like “C’mon down!”
Supercuts hired Monica right away. It was clear from the start that she'd found the right fit.
I had the opportunity to grow from being a stylist on the floor, to managing a team. I was learning so much. Building a team is also a process of building yourself. You learn what’s important to you.
It was a high-volume salon. We were doing a hundred cuts a day. That's how I learned that it's not a character flaw to delegate. Everyone is good at something, so you figure that out and have them take charge of the task that’s related to their strength. It’s part of being a good manager, a part of creating a strong team and it's part of running a salon efficiently.
Monica’s tip for managers? People can be creative when they feel safe and respected.
I value honesty and fairness. It’s part of my character: I believe in creating an environment where everyone feels safe, because that’s when people have the opportunity to be truly creative. I believe in treating people the way I’d want to be treated if I were learning something for the first time. You know, in hair, it’s all about changing lives and building people up—that goes for your team as much as for your customers.
And a safe environment can be high-energy.
I'm very competitive. Very competitive. I was raised with four brothers! When I enter any kind of contest, it’s on. Our Nashville Supercuts franchisee also had stores in Chicago, and I knew that she really loved the Chicago market area. I took that as a challenge. “Guess what,” I said. “I’m going to out-sell your Chicago locations.” And we did!
Like Monica says: as you build your team, you also build yourself. During her time as a manager, Monica found her calling.
I didn’t know that I wanted to teach until I became a salon manager. Of course I’d learned the basics in school, but the Supercuts Technique was how I really learned to cut hair. We have a completely unique technique that we teach at Supercuts, and it works every time, on any person. The beauty of that was mind-blowing to me. When you teach someone to do the Supercuts Technique, it’s everlasting. I realized that I loved having this ability to show someone an amazing end result that they could create efficiently and with a really high degree of quality.
Monica spent some years abroad teaching internationally. She calls her time in Quebecois-speaking Canada one of her peak moments.
I taught a class in Canada where only one student spoke English—what do you do? Well, I learned that hair is a universal language. With only motions, I was able to teach the Supercuts technique in a language we all spoke. I’ll never forget that experience.
After years as a manager, Monica took a huge leap of faith.
Supercuts was looking for an Artistic Director—in the Midwest. My sister was a huge supporter. She said: “Do it! Try it! What have you got to lose?” So I packed up all my belongings, left all my friends and my entire customer base behind, and I moved to Wisconsin literally not knowing a soul. I had no idea what Midwestern winters were like.
The risk paid off. Now Monica has trained thousands of Supercuts stylists in her role as an Artistic Director.
The move, the job, the area turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to me. Midwesterners are the friendliest people out there. My whole life is here now—my husband, my kids, my home, my career.
Respected and Requested
Senior Artistic Director Monica Spaulding develops the Supercuts Artistic Director team, guiding new and seasoned Supercuts ADs. "She's one of the most requested Artistic Directors," affirm Supercuts reps. She's frequently included in cross-functional teams for her incisive perspective.
So, what does Monica think of her early days in the industry?
Looking back, joining Supercuts was the best decision I’ve ever made. To be able to build a career when I was so young, to have so many opportunities, whether I wanted to be behind the chair or become an Artistic Director, it was the right move for me. To be exceptional at what you do, you must believe in what you’re doing. I don’t care if you’re selling donuts, you’ve got to love the brand. And I do. People will tease me about how dedicated I am to Supercuts—That’s okay with me!
It’s a popular opinion where Supercuts is concerned.
There’s a level of loyalty at Supercuts that you just won’t find elsewhere. I can name twenty people who have been Artistic Directors at Supercuts for more than twenty years. Twenty years! You only do that if you really love where you work.
Supercuts is a place where artists build their craft, their communities, and their careers. Ready to learn more? Visit: https://jobs.supercuts.com/
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