Meghan Williams is an aspiring hairdresser. The high school junior has enrolled in a cosmetology program starting this fall. A friend of a friend of a friend, MODERN’s Maggie Mulhern was asked for some advice. Instead of a simple phone call, Mulhern decided to go BIG and invited her to stop by to see some real pros in action. Williams was told this was going to be a “fly on the wall” opportunity for her and that she could stay for about one hour to see what a big hair photo shoot was like.
The 16-year old arrived at the Water Street Studio in NYC ready to take it all in. She was polite and shy, but anyone could tell her interest in the pro salon world was more than an afterthought. She tuned in to everything going on, from braiding to dressing to make up to finishing the model.
Great Lengths Ambassadors, Danielle Keasling and Nanci Lee, and Ulta Beauty artist Anthony Negron, the hairdressers on set (who we call our “Stars Of The Day”) had been briefed about the petite young woman starring at them.
Before long, Williams was called in to action. Lee asked her to assist while coloring extensions before moving her over to help Negron create a full braid on Great Lengths extensions. When our nail artist called in sick, Williams volunteered to do the nails (“I do them all the time!” she said.) It came as no surprise that Williams jumped at the chance to help “on set” for the finished shot to hold the leaf blower. Keasling offered direction and helped her aim from below to get the hair to move up and out. Williams struggled with the leaf blower (it’s actually pretty heavy and a bit awkward) but within minutes Williams figured out how to direct it to get maximum lift, volume and shape.
Williams ended up staying most of the day, saying it was “magical” while simultaneously giving her insight in to an interesting aspect of the beauty industry. When asked what her greatest take-aways were from the session, Williams was most impressed by what goes in to creating a great photo. “My favorite takeaway from the photoshoot was learning how things are run. I've looked at pictures in magazines and always wondered what goes on behind the scenes. It was cool to see it happen right before my eyes.” Even more enlightening to Williams was watching (and helping) the artists. “It shows me how much hard work and dedication goes into a photo shoot.” When it comes to her experience with Keasling, Lee and Negron, Williams adds “They were absolutely amazing mentors. They were so kind and patient. Nanci taught me how to do this amazing volumized braid. It was exciting to learn it from a professional.”
While clearly Williams got a lot out of the experience, the hair team was rewarded as well. “Passing on knowledge and skills as a hairstylist to the next generation is a must as well as a joy,” Lee says. “I believe assistantships should be mandatory in our world. The bond and education a younger stylist can receive from working side by side with an experienced stylist is irreplaceable! Learning not only the details and craft of hairdressing, but also time management and basic people skills, is invaluable. To see our younger generation committed and excited about the beauty industry is one of the reasons I love being an educator.”
Keasling agrees, adding that mentoring is her passion. “A leader/mentor should empower others, serve with humility and give when they don't have to. I always try to be in the right mindset in a mentorship by channeling my energy to reflect what I needed in a mentor. My cup is always full with joy that I get when I see someone achieve his or her dream.”
Lee adds that even those who are already successful may still benefit from each other., “The mentoring doesn’t stop early in your career,” Lee says. “Working with Danielle has been a highlight of my career. She is a mentor in the fullest to everyone she meets.” Lee finishes with profound advice for every professional: “Surround yourself with stylists who are committed to our art form. Be with those that lift you up and give you a push. Live to elevate others and our industry!”
Now that she’s had a taste and a true “insider look” at the professional world, Meghan Williams is more excited than ever to become an official member of the professional beauty industry. She begins her journey this September.