Improving your chances of having a long, successful career depends not only on how healthy you keep your body, but also on how wisely you plan your business moves. As any successful hairdresser will tell you, continuing education is key to career satisfaction as well as to sustaining a good income. 


Sam Villa has conducted a lot of education. As artistic director for Redken 5th Avenue and founding partner of the Sam Villa line of tools, Villa has won awards for his approach to teaching stylists. There’s so much education out there—how do you know which classes to take? Here, Villa shares his insight to help hairdressers make smart decisions and get the training that will help you to have a healthy, happy career.


  1. Use social media to research artists. Watch a few platform presentations on YouTube, check out artists on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Instagram, see what they’re posting on Pinterest. If you feel motivated by an artist’s approach or philosophy, go see that artist in person.
  2. Zero in on one skill at a time. If you want to upgrade your cutting or styling skills, attend hands-on workshops or take online courses that address that topic. Then practice, practice, practice.
  3. Involve the team. If you’re a salon owner, education helps you establish a consistent culture so that your team promotes the same values and speaks the same language. Bring in a guest artist to do an in-salon class. If you’re a team member, when you return from an educational experience, teach the other staffers what you learned. Villa recommends that salons send the entire team for one event a year and rotate team members for other shows and classes.
  4. Take notes and photos. Documenting your experience will help you to understand and accept the methods you’re learning. Later, your notes will help you to review the instruction and customize it to service your own clients.
  5. Use the show app, and plan ahead. At major shows, navigating the show floor can be a challenge. That’s what show apps are for! Planning your days before you attend will help you to schedule classroom time efficiently and cover all of the brands you want to check out. But stay open to spontaneously stopping to see an educator who may be drawing a large crowd or offering something that interests you.

“It’s a different world out there now,” Villa observes. “Clients are looking for more value in a service; value is knowledge, and that comes from good education. Often we get back to the salon with a great sense of enthusiasm, wanting to apply what we’ve learned immediately on the first client. We start, but then we decide it takes too long and go back to doing what we’ve always done.”


On your first day or two back, Villa suggests getting a commitment from your clients to try the new method at their next appointment, not their current visit. Then as you cut and style the client, think about what you would do differently based on the information you picked up at the educational event. Just by reviewing the lesson in your mind like that, you will have “rehearsed” enough to start applying what you learned within a few days.


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