Busting the myths about women Hairstylists in India
Updated: Jul 29
The beauty industry and its place for woman hairstylists.
What is it like to be a women Hairdresser/ stylist in the Beauty business?
We would have heard a lot of statements said about a hairstylist, & especially women hairstylists. From lack of trust in them in the beauty industry to little or no growth opportunities. We have heard all these kinds of humor. But are these statements true? Is this how the beauty industry functions (especially for women)?
We have Nayana Karunaratne to bust these myths for us.
A little about Nayana Karunaratne.
Lecturer / Training & Development Professional / Professional Hairstylist / Beautician / Soft Skills Trainer / Company Director / Entrepreneur
is primarily known in Sri Lanka and the Asian region for her immense contributions to the hair and beauty industry. Operating a vastly successful salon chain across Sri Lanka & India, running a Hair & Beauty Academy, and operating Personality Development Academy are some of her entrepreneurial ventures.
In addition, she is a Director & a Board Member of many Global Hair & Beauty Associations.
Her years of experience in the Beauty Industry stand at four decades. The journey is nothing less than a roller coaster, with its sweet share of highs & lows, & of course, filled with learning & growth.
Nayana Karunaratne here busts all the common myths we've heard in the hairdressing Industry, relating & giving examples of her own experiences.
Here we are talking about one such inspiring journey of Mrs. Karunaratne. She has broken all the myths by being in action & doing the work, thus proving & setting an example herself.
Let's read on to find the truth.
As a women hairstylist,
1. It's not for women (not their cup of tea).
It's always said that women can't do this, can't do that. There are a set of things that is assumed that women can never be good at. In the beauty industry, things like - they aren't creative or can't handle the busy hours, are unable to catch up with the fast-paced changing environment, etc., are some common things associated with women. A career as a hairstylist calls for irregular timings, working at weekends, long hours of standing, dealing with different kinds of people, etc. Women are well aware of this and can manage it well.
Nayana says the kind of environment hairdressing provides like flexibility, choice, safety, growth, etc. All these make it even more suitable for women. I was always curious about the beauty industry. Always been passionate about meeting & interacting with different people. Being a woman, I educated myself well enough about everything related to beauty & Hairdressing. While I learned, I also implemented those. I came up with my ideas when the clients asked for something different. I provided suggestions when they asked my opinions, etc. I managed the long hours, interacted with the clients, and learned new things. I never gave up on any of these or found it difficult. Therefore, its always been my cup of tea; if not, I made sure to make it my cup of tea.
2. Women do not get enough opportunities.
Well, there are no opportunities served on the plate. But there is no lack of opportunities either. It's your intention to grab them. The chances are well placed there, not just for men but anyone who wants to take advantage of it. Remember, opportunities come with dedication, hard work, being the best version of yourself, and upgrading yourself regularly.
Nayana says I did all of these. I gave in my 110 percent at work, to my job, and to my clients. It was visible in my work. And this is what got me the opportunities to grow & move ahead in my workplace & career too. While I looked for opportunities, I also enjoyed my work. I made it a point to be active at work & enjoy the process too. Whenever I found any new opportunities, I prepared myself for them and upgraded my skills that matched the opportunities.
3. Clients don't trust women hairstylists.
For clients, there is no or very, very little concept of whether my hairstylist is a girl or a boy. The main thing that concerns them is who can work magic on their hair & get them to feel even better about themselves after their salon session. For them, a smart, well-dressed, pleasant stylist who knows their work well is what concerns them. They are oblivious to gender.
Nayana says the clients choose their work rather than gender. I had had clients come to me based on the work they saw of mine on other clients or the WOM they heard through their friends or family members. So here the work speaks for your client base, for their want to come back to you. I have always paid attention to the need of my clients & gave them excellent service. I don t remember to have been avoided or said no by my clients to serve them because I was a girl. Infact, as we have evolved, women are preferred & trusted more on their creativity & comfort level. Clients also appreciate good communication skills, service with genuine care, and attention to detail, which women have. Infact, being a woman is more of a bonus, as we are more organized, punctual, and committed.
4. For a woman, there is no career after marriage.
Marriage is just another phase in your personal life. And has no direct relation to your work-life. It's all about how you manage. What & how do you accept that. Yes, after marriage, you have the additional responsibility of managing family, kids, etc., but that has no connection with what you do at the workplace.
Nayana says getting your job done is what matters. But that also has to do with how organized I am & how I manage my time. I didn't let that affect my work. My 10-8 at the salon was my routine, which I didn't play around with or take lightly. At that time, I was at work, doing my job with the same enthusiasm & dedication as I did previously. Infact with opportunities like freelancing, roles like salon owner, lecturer, etc., it becomes very suitable for married women. They can work part-time, be self-employed, and manage their career and home.
Since Day 1, I have been committed to my work. I had my 1st baby and was on maternity leave. Every day as per my routine, by 8.30 am, everything was complete. The household task, baby care, everything. And after that, I sat on my rocking chair idly with nothing to do, all bored. About 2 months later, after completing my routine task, while I sat down bored, I realized that I cant sit at home. This is not me; I can't be at home. I realized I had to work; it's my passion. So I worked through it; even today, after all the responsibilities are done, I still continue to work; it's for my love & happiness.
Nayana advises the women to remove the guilt factor from their minds, the guilt of not being a full-time parent or giving time at home. It's not true. With good time management, one can manage the work and family & pay attention to the kid too.
5. There is no growth. Women are not given higher roles.
It may be rare to see women in high roles, but if you are worth it, who wouldn't want to appoint you at higher levels in the work profile. I mean, everyone wants to grow & employees' good work never goes unnoticed. If you add value to work, you are bound to be given higher roles at the workplace.
Nayana says, my journey speaks for itself. From being a student to a hairstylist to being a faculty teacher to running my own salon & academy. This is an example of my rise on the ladder of hierarchy and growth in the profession. My growth journey in the profession as a Hairstylist is an example of the opportunities present there.
For Nayana, she says, my boss threw in more work at me, looking at my work & commitment. He gave me opportunities at the top positions.
Not favor me but foster me. I was sent to the destination wedding and given the salon keys as I arrived on time. Gave me to manage money as I was responsible. So the higher roles automatically come your way once you prove you are capable of them. He knew I would give no excuse and do my job well, So my seniors gave me more responsibilities.
If you are good at your work and desire to move ahead, you can easily move to higher roles irrespective of whether you are a woman or a man. But I also acknowledge that, at times, growth is confined to men only. Still, it's up to us women not to give up easily and learn to manage progress and growth in our careers and personal lives.
6. Hairdressing is not a respectable career.
Infact everybody is on the lookout for the perfect hairstylist. The best hairstylist is not easy to find, and once found, trust me, we are grateful for them. Gone are the days when family & relatives thought this as washing & cutting hair task. But its more to this. Everyone is conscious about their hair, which can make or break any look.
With the increase in looking your best all the time, Hairdressing is more than just hair washing & cutting. It's also trendy haircuts, new hairstyles, hair care, hair treatment options, etc.
Nayana says it was a shock to mom, but she supported me. Also, the lady under whom I studied was among the top in her field, so it added confidence to me & my family. I've always been respected at my home & workspace for my work. Nayana also admits that hairdressers were not considered very highly during her time, but it's not the same anymore. Women like Nalini & Yasmin, Blossom Kochar, etc., have paved the way for hairdressers & especially women hairdressers. Infact, with an increase in fashion & trends, we are always on the toe with the client's demands. It takes a lot to become a hairdresser, and the job of cutting hair is not as easy as it looks. Infact, they look up to us to give them a transformational makeover.
7. It is hard to get a job in Hairdressing.
If you have knowledge of your work and do it well, then there is no difficulty in getting a job. Infact the market is always looking for new people to join in, hunting for new talents.
Nayana says yes, there are a few pre-requisite to getting a job. Just as any other job requires formal education. So does Hairdressing. A formal course on Hairdressing is a must-have to begin your career. Also, practical experience and internships are a bonus. As your years of experience keeps increasing, so does your job opportunities in Hairdressing. Infact, with less supply of hairstylists & hairdressers & high demand in the market. Hairstylist job is the current hot cake in the market & getting jobs are easier.
8. Hairdressing is very hard to learn.
Just as you learn for any other profession, it's the same you do for Hairdressing. There are concepts to be understood, techniques to be learned, and a lot of practice. You must also keep updating yourself from time to time. There is nothing that you can't learn if you wish to. Therefore with dedication & the right attitude, it's not that difficult to learn.
Nayana says, I found the right mentors in the beginning & made my base strong. I started with formal training & dint stop there. Infact I attended various workshops, courses, etc., to learn more & keep myself updated. If I found anything challenging, I made sure to ask my questions & look up to a senior to get the solution. It is not tough at all if you wish to learn.
But remember, learning is not complex, but commitment is. And it has to be developed. One has to stand for 12 hours, provide customer service, and continuously update the skills. All this requires hard commitment. But it's a lovely & fulfilling feeling, better than a 9-5 job. Therefore, one must have love for it, passion & creativity.
9. Career choices are limited as a hairdresser.
There is a continuous job role in the hairdressing industry. As we become more conscious about how we look & to be presentable all the time. It has opened innumerable career choices as a hairdresser.
One can choose from a list from salon stylists to salon owners to freelancing & lecturer. For shoots & ads, marriages & functions - there's a need for a hairstylist. For the need for new salons in town, there is a need for salon owners. For training & bringing new talent to the industry, there's a need for the academy lecturer faculties. For salons that need their hairstylists & hairdresser, there is an opportunity.
Nayana says now is the right time to join the hairdressing industry; there is a huge demand & the industry is only growing. From stylists to the owner to academy lecturers, options are endless.
You can become a color artist or work at a color company. With a marketing degree, you could also work for beauty skincare if you have the knowledge. Always look at the bigger picture. And you have a better salary based on performance & commitment.
Yes, it's never been easy for women, but has that stopped us from moving ahead? No, never.
Infact, Nayana thinks that our society has developed & there are no restrictions.
Infact, It's the woman taking the backseat & lack of self-confidence. A bit of laziness & guilt: The household work burden that gets them to give up, the mother's responsibility to be with her child throughout the day, or a bit of laziness. These are the reasons that affect their own growth in their career.
Especially the Beauty Industry, where women rule the market as a customer. So why stay back for career opportunities. Be smart is a privilege for women.
As Nayana says, with dedication and giving your 100percent at work, there is nothing that can stop one from moving ahead. And looking at this fast-changing world, where the number of opportunities is increasing, then why stay behind. Come on, let's grab them all.