An interview with celebrity hairstylist Harper, who provides tips on how to become a celebrity hairstylist. Learn how she broke into the entertainment industry as well as her tips on preparing yourself before servicing celebrities.
You might ask yourself on how to become a celebrity hairstylist. Perhaps you've had several years of experience in servicing your client's hair, or you're going through the beginning stages on becoming a hairstylist. Whatever the case maybe, pursuing that avenue can be a challenging, but highly rewarding experience. In such a great position, you're providing hair services to some of the most popular and highest paid people in the world. You're around a compelling and highly energetic atmosphere where TV shows and giant projects are being brought to life by creative heads and extraordinary talent.
Gaining Ground to Become a Celebrity Hairstylist
You might be in the same position as many other hairstylists who want to know how to become a celebrity hairstylist. You might ask yourself, where do I start? How do I even find these wonderful people who grace the TV screens and magazines? Others who don the role of a celebrity hairstylist, how did they manage to make it to servicing hair of people who made it and grace the presence of stardom?
For some it might have been at the right place at the right time. Others worked hard and managed to make it happen. And then there are some hairstylists that networked and had the golden connections. And if you're celebrity hairstylist Harper, you were given the opportunity through that golden connection that found you attractive from the beginning. Though it's good to do what's necessary to achieve your dreams, it's great when someone who conducts multi-million dollar projects, has wonderful connections, and sees your potential, to help give you the opportunity to not only prove your mantle, but to help your career as a hairstylist really come alive.
Harper, who walked the path of becoming a hairstylist like everyone else in that field, had the opportunity of a lifetime in her earlier years, and ran with it since. She has providing her hair services to the likes of Zooey Deschanel, Jenny McCarthy, and Sofia Vergara, while also contributing to the likes of editorial magazines like Modern Salon, Ebony, and Marie Claire. She has an impressive resume, and a proven track record of delivering extraordinary service to her clients. And she decided to talk with Heavenly Essence to share her experience, and her advice on how to become a celebrity hairstylist.
Harper's Story on Becoming a Celebrity Hairstylist
Sheldon Alexander: How did you manage to jump into the bandwagon of servicing celebrities?
Harper: How I started was in the studio and meeting up with a team that worked for my grandmother's hair salon. Also, my mother was a model, a wonderful one at that, and I looked up to her. She always had beautiful hairstyles that complimented her looks. My grandmother Eva Blanc, who had been doing hair for several years, also was a major influence to me. When I started as a hairstylist, I was given a project. My grandmother didn't want to always do the hair of ethnic people in the studio, and so I was given the task of helping her. I would do the weekends and evenings of ethnic clients whenever my grandmother couldn't do everyone. It was a wonderful experience for me at the time, where many professional hairstylists hadn't started in the industry doing ethnic hair. Eventually, I met a connection of my grandmother, and he invited me to go on a trip overseas for an exciting project. I was given a ticket to go to Poland, Europe to utilize everything that I learned in my early years. When I arrived, I was taken to a place in the mountain area of Poland. There I was styling hair of the people in preparation of a TV show. There I met Renata, one of my first big clients I worked with. There were several models that I worked on, and so my first time there I worked several hours. Days later, I was introduced to an Italian studio that I worked with. This studio also had a country magazine. In fact, the first type of celebrities I serviced was country. Christy Turlington was another celebrity I got the opportunity to work with there. So that's how I got started. But it didn't stop there. While in Poland, Europe I met with executives in Vogue, GQ, and other high profile magazines. This gave me the opportunity to establish wonderful connections, which then led to most of my work being red carpet events; photo shoots for magazines, TV commercials, among others.
SA: If a professional hairstylist wants to become a celebrity hairstylist, what is the first thing they must be aware of when preparing to pursue that avenue?
Harper: The first thing would be to be reliable and show up on time when you are helping clients that have celebrities on set. You must be good when calculating your time, and knowing your call time. You being late slows down productivity of their project, and decreases likelihood that they will hire you for future projects.
SA: In a fierce competitive market where many other hairstylists are looking to do the same thing, what can a hairstylist do to stand out?
Harper: Being someone that's willing to teach, like speaking in front of a class, sharing your skills and crafts, motivating students and other professionals will really help you stand out. You have to have great energy and a great heart, be willing to share your valuable knowledge, and talk with everyone you can that you can possibly help. It's what can help you grow. In the hair business, it's all about the people. Being who you are, and the person that you are is how you will stand out. Be truthful, love people, and don't be afraid. Live, laugh, have a great sense of humor, and treat everyone with great care. You should be very determined, and treat people with kindness. Keep talking and you'll have people help you out of nowhere.
SA: What is the most important skill or set of skills a hairstylist must master to be successful as a celebrity hairstylist?
Harper: First thing that you must have is communication skills. How you speak with the people you're trying to work with is very important. You also need interpretation skills. In fact, interpretation is the biggest skill you need when working with celebrities, models, and directors. Whoever is giving you direction on the set, you must be good at interpreting what they want you to do. Remember that directors and producers don't understand hairstyling terms, and so interpretation on what they're saying and their terms is important. A creative eye is another great skill. For example, having a different part on two hairstyles you've done on two models. Remember that you're dealing with facial structure and so you must have a hairstyle that compliments the face.
SA: When building your portfolio to match the quality of what celebrities would look for, who would be the best people to connect with and offer your hair services to? Example, would it be executives of Fortune 500 companies?
Harper: Hairstylists can do test shoots with a photographer, and a model. If a hairstylist is starting off, they should start with a photographer, a model, and demonstrate their hairstyling abilities. They may start as a freelancer, or try to get signed with a agency. Agencies now will ask you to submit your portfolio online for them to review prior to you coming into their studio for an interview. If the quality of your hairstyle photos shows, the celebrities may want to book you. Who you should approach you can research online, try and create relationships with other professionals in the entertainment industry, and see if they have connections. You can even approach the magazines directly to try and build relationships with the right people in the magazine. Build a relationship with a photographer, who could possibly have solid connections. Depending on what direction you want to go in the entertainment industry, you may want to go directly to the producers of TV shows and magazines. It's best to build relationships and work with the publications locally.
SA: What resources can hairstylists access to gather information on the market of entertainment, to understand trends, and how the business aspect of entertainment works?
Harper: If a celebrity says something in an article or video, it creates something in your mind. Even what a celebrity is wearing can create an image in your mind. So be creative. As far as trends, years ago when I first started I looked into Fallspring Runway magazines. But now with the Internet, it's much easier. You can access TMZ, look into online critics and hosts that talk about the red carpet and celebrities. It's so easy now; you can follow information on social media, and access shows on TV. The advanced technology has made information much more accessible. But bare this in mind. A celebrity always wants to be current. When you go in you want to know what a celebrity is wearing, what event they're going to, look into runway trends like Spring Fall, and get a understanding where things are going. You should look into hair trends, like different types of Bob cuts, and then you can be creative and have ideas on what type of hairstyle you can create for celebrities.
More Hairstylist Jumpstarting Advice from Harper
Harper shared her advice on how to become a celebrity hairstylist, giving you the information needed to start the road to becoming one yourself, and living your dream. But in addition, she decided to add some more advice that even those working on becoming a hairstylist should be aware of, as you must know how to provide proper hair services to clients based on knowing who your client is and their needs.
Harper: Having hair done on set the right way involves having the right hair products, while also being able to promote volume for hair. You should have good hairstyling tools. I'm organic savvy. I like hair products that help promote movement of the hair. I don't want hair to be stiff or stuck. This is a business where you research the image of the celebrity, and how you can create and maintain their image, from how they've always looked and to how they are feeling. People need to have a good business sense as a hairdresser. I started with a few hair products, hairstyling tools, and marketing materials starting off. But as my business grew, I invested more into equipment. Learn to manage your finances. Watch your overhead, and make sure you don't take on too much clientele. If you're still in cosmetology school or hairstyling school you should start developing your clientele before graduating. You should go on a commission base before renting a booth if you don't have the clientele. Lastly, be prepared to put in a lot of hours.