One of my greatest pleasures is spending time with students in beauty schools. It’s not hard for me to remember being in school—the learning, lessons, insecurities and friendships. I owned a beauty school for many years and still relate to the challenges of engaging fifty-plus students at a time. This week, I spent a Monday morning at a nearby beauty school. The instructors are always welcoming, hoping you bring novelties from the salon side of the business.

 I urge you to visit a beauty school. It doesn’t matter if you feel you are a good teacher or not. I always advise nervous entry teachers to just love what they do, and everything will work out. Students, just like audiences, really want you to succeed and support their dreams. They are really on your side hoping you are authentic and enlighten them on tips for success. They turn away if you lack authenticity or use techniques like fear and ominous threats of the future to hold their attention. Just show how much you love what you do.

I suggest you do a demonstration, avoid giving the students a talk--they get talked to all day long. If you don’t have a model, work on a mannequin, or ask a student to volunteer for a hairstyle. As you demonstrate your techniques, you interject salon wisdom. I usually like to talk to them in stories and avoid the heavy lecture delivery. I also like to be vulnerable and share times when I messed up and why this happened. This really connects you with the learners because we are all human. I always ask students to ask me anything, anything at all. Once they warm up, the questions escalate, and you can really enlighten students on what to expect when licensed.

There is a special reason why I visit beauty schools. You see, while I was a student in school, Dwight Miller, in his prime of fame and artistry, came to visit my school. A short time after our meeting, Leo Passage, owner of Pivot Point International in Chicago, called to say, “Get you license and come to Chicago to work for us.” And, as they say, the rest is history.

I will forever remember that chance meeting. It forever changed my life. And, I will always pay it forward and visit schools.

Carlos Valenzuela

Carlos Valenzuela is a hairdresser/educator, ex-salon & school owner, author and corporate spokesperson with forty-five years of beauty experience. His focus today is raising wellness awareness and assisting salon professionals in developing a fulfilling career via his podcast “Tiny Steps for Salon Pros”  www.anchor.fm/carlos-valenzuela and at industry events, seminars and in-salon workshops.