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My Journey to Becoming a Senior hairdresser and Trainer

THE PAST, THE PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE - Story of IHB Trainer Joseph Kevin Raj

IHB Certification award Joseph
Joseph Getting His Graduation Certificate from Nayana Karunaratne

As a teen, when every profession/ task excites you, it makes you feel that this is what you want to become or do as you grow up. I too had a lot of things to become as I grew up. Ranging from doctor to pilot, or teacher, or maybe an actor. But what was not part of the list was a Hairdresser. The reason maybe because I was unaware of it or I really didn't think people who cut hair qualifies as a profession.

So how did this happen? How and what made me get into this industry? Where did this sudden passion for hair and beauty develop?

The journey is beautiful and nothing less than a roller coaster ride. But I guess when you read it, you are going to relate to it. Maybe the parents' objection, self-doubt and fear of things going wrong, or the excitement of holding the tools or seeing that priceless expression on client's face after her makeover.

Whatever it is, it is surely worth it. Read along to witness a regular guy's journey - of being a hairdresser - the past, the present and the future. It may just be like your story.

Read on to find out.


THE PAST

Nineteen year old, the phase where you are still figuring out which career path to pursue, when my friend who was a hairstylist asked me to volunteer as a demo model at a Hair & Beauty Academy for students who were learning hairdressing and would practice their learning on me.

I agreed, sitting there on the chair, and letting a hairdresser aspirant color my hair, give it a cut, changed something in me. It made me awe the hairdresser. How his hand had the power to change how I look and feel about myself. Isn't that a powerful tool, I wondered! That is when I decided I wanted to be a hairdresser.


Back in 2013, When Joseph Visited Sri Lanka

But the beginnings are not always easy, one has to face a lot of discouragement, I heard a lot of comments like this is not a traditional 9 to 5 job,

Also, to be very frank, initially though I was all excited, curious and passionate about this, there was always a question of “how will I do it”, “is it really for me”. And adding to this self doubt is the opinion of family & friends, that can always make you rethink your decision.

But trust me what helped me was connecting with the right people, grabbing the right opportunities that came and trusting the process. All this with faith and hope can get you to achieve anything you desire for.

And so I took that leap of faith, paid the advance amount and enrolled myself for the Hairdressing course. But I din't have money to pay for the next installment so I practiced and assisted in a salon side by side, and paid my remaining fee. The experience was fun as it kept me closer to my passion. The setting of the salon, the vibe, spending most of the time there, just added more fuel to my passion.

Seeing different people get their makeover, meeting new clients walk-in everyday, the difference in their smile when they enter and when they leave after the service. It was all beautiful.

Initially, what helped me was my inclination towards art. I started with my research about the same. The more I explored, the more I wanted to read and know about it. I spoke to my friend from the same industry, and tried to get the real insight of the industry. And most importantly, I trusted my inner voice and the expert opinion rather than what people who had no idea about the industry said to me. Joining a course gave me the required platform for formal learning, and then interning with a good salon was how my practicing & working phase started off. This gave me clarity & a path to follow, it built my confidence that kept me going.


THE PRESENT

Now, when I look at my past, I feel it was all meant to be, how every opportunity, chance got me closer to what I’ today.

And now, how is my present? How's it going? To answer this in one sentence - Nothing less than what I imagined.

To be really frank, I couldn’t have asked for anything better. Having completed 12 years in this industry. I've gained a lot of experience, not just about the craft, but also about dealing with people, learning new skills regularly, embodying different cultures, etc. My work takes me to a lot of different cities & countries, I get to meet new people on a regular basis. And with my dedication & hard work I've been able to gradually move up the ladder in the professional front. The career opportunities I received were immense – from an intern now to a senior hairstylist, It's been an experience.


Joseph with Joakimg Roos IHB Education
Joseph at IHB Training with Joakim Roos

But there are few challenges as well Obviously with every profession comes its own cons. The cons, if seen in a positive way, is just a learning opportunity. For example, there are times when clients show pictures of celebrities & models and demand to transform their hair exactly like that. It gets tough to explain to them that there are a lot of different factors and reasons why that is not a possible demand to be satisfied. But with time & experience, I’ve got the hang of dealing with such customers. I patiently make them understand the difference and suggest the best option for them. ALso, the Industry is quite dynamic with regular fads & trends that come and go. This keeps me on the edge and following the continuous learning approach, to stay up to date.

My work timings are regular as I work in the salon, the earning is good - best in the Industry, with tips making that everyday extra flow of money. Everyday is a learning experience. I keep updating myself with all the latest trends & happenings in the industry. And to top it all, when I (work on my client (service)) or give a makeover to my client - be it a haircut, or hair color or hair treatments, the smile and the confidence seen on their face & overall behaviour is just priceless. And that just adds the feeling of contentment and satisfaction to me. This makes me strive for excellence every single time. And this is the motivation for me to look forward to my work every single morning. It feels like I have that magic wand to make people look & feel good about themselves. I've made their special occasion for the day (be it birthday or interview or a party) even more special. And what can be more beautiful and satisfying than this. Don't you think so?


THE FUTURE

But what next? After 12 years of delivering service, “Am i bored? Do I want to quit?” Aren't these natural questions that come to mind after dedicating your time to something particular for such long years.

Read on as I share my feelings about the future of the Hairdressing Industry and my thoughts on my future decisions. How will it all be? To answer this in one sentence - The best is yet to come.

Do you know your hair defines 70 percent of your look? Now imagine what the future holds for the hairdressers. Self-care and looking your best is the topmost focus point in today's time and this is only going to increase in the coming future. And this means that a good hairdresser & beautician is what everyone is looking for. Someone who can work their magic on people and can just transform them (and their life).

Though hairdressing is a dynamic industry where every now and then you have new things coming up, there's always scope for continuous change which calls for regular makeovers and changes to cater to. And this is what's the most exciting thing right? You are always on your toes, always working on new trends and techniques on your clients, leading you to learn & grow as well. And these fast-changing trends are not limited to just cut & color but much more.

There will be fierce & intense competition in the market, but as we all know, if you are best at what you do, it doesn't matter if there are 10 or 100 people in the market providing the same service, as service can never be replicated. And so you are the superpower that builds brand loyalty and gets your client coming back to you. Therefore, customer satisfaction is the key.

Down the line, my plan is to open my own salon and a hairdressing academy. And I think I’m quite close to achieving this dream of mine. With this there is also the opportunity to travel the world, attend seminars & conferences, meet new people from the industry, etc.

I’m quite excited for what the future holds for me. Are you?

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