Today I’ve chosen hair stylist Sherri Belanger for this week’s “Case of the Fridays“. Based out of LA, her clients have been known to commute from San Francisco and San Diego just to have their hair done by her. While she is very modest and prefers to retain client confidentiality & trust (sign of a great service provider), TV actresses that have starred in The Office, Glee, and several big name movies have gone to her to make them look good. (Here’s one of my favorite shots I’ve taken of her)
I specifically chose Sherri because of her always-progressing attitude towards work and her openness to helping others. As I’ve come to find, a lot of times well-established people aren’t always open to sharing their stories of success, and it’s refreshing to see someone that understands an abundance mentality and continues to help others grow. She has a blog where she shares pointers and how-to videos, and I think it’s incredibly resourceful for anyone looking to grow their skills in her industry.
Here’s a photo of us to give you a visual for the interview – I met her while she was getting her hair done. Decided to have a little fun and jump in the chair myself.
Hope you enjoy the interview – and if you know someone who might be interested in Sherri’s story – I’d love it if you shared it with them!
What is your name/age?
Sherri Belanger 29
What is your occupation?
Celebrity Hair Stylist
Where did you grow up?
How long have you been doing what you currently do?
Did you have a 9-5 job before that?
I’ve actually only had 1 – when I was 15, I did sales at a tanning salon. It wasn’t 9-5, it was an after school type thing. Full time hours, but I worked there while in beauty school too.
How did you become involved in the work that you currently do?
Since I was a child, I had a love & obsession with hair. For me it was never a question in my mind. As soon as I finished HS, went straight to cosmetology school. I had really bad hair when I was little, and I think that might have been what inspired me.
How much longer do you envision yourself working in the field that you’re in?
One day I feel like I may be a salon owner, however I’ll always be involved in hair care in some way.
What level of schooling have you completed?
I received my cosmetology license after HS. 1600 hours of schooling, it took me about a year and 2 months because I had a job as well.
What is it that you love about your work?
First and foremost I love people – I love getting to know them & making them feel good, helping them bring their inner most beauty out through their hair, helping them find their inner confidence through that, getting creative with styling, and the relationship you build with clients is amazing.
What is your least favorite thing about your work?
Our job can be very physically demanding. You can stand up to 10 hours a day, barely have any time for a break or to use the bathroom. It can take a lot out of you.
Is there anything you miss about life back home?
My family of course. I love the east coast and the kind of people. I moved here when I was 13 because my parents wanted to offer us more opportunity and get away from the snow. At the time is was most devastating, but in turn became the biggest blessing.
What are some of the advantages of your job compared with the regular corporate career?
I can make my own schedule, essentially it’s up to me how much money I want to make.
I can be creative in how I look (hair makeup) while on the job, if I want to take a month off to travel – I can.
If I wanna work 15 hrs/day 7 day/week I can.
It’s never the same thing everyday, and the people along the way can change your life - people open up about very personal things and share their life lessons…and through them I can learn as well.
What are some of the disadvantages compared with the regular corporate career?
Job security, we have to pay for our own medical benefits – there’s no guarantee that we’ll have future business.
Nothing is ever just going to come to you – you have to work really hard in order to sustain and achieve success. No sick days or 401K, work late nights/early mornings, Saturdays/weekends, sometimes an important client wants their hair done at 5 AM. The advantages totally outweight these though.
How different is the dating scene for you? Is it easier/harder to make time to be with your significant other?
It can be easier for sure – once you are successful and have the option for weekend getaways you definitely can. It doesn’t start that way, but it can snowball into that. You get to meet a lot of people that want to set you up, so it’s a total advantage really.
Do you tend to prefer to live paycheck to paycheck or with a savings plan accounted for?
I love saving money. I’ve always put away money and liked to have a savings account – we also have to pay taxes in one big chunk during the year so we have to have a lot saved up for that.
How do you imagine your retirement, or lifestyle past 60?
Not sure if I’ll still be ‘doing hair’, but hopefully at that time I’ll own a really successful kickass salon somewhere in San Diego. I’ll continue to have my hands in it. There will never be a moment that I wont be passionate about hair and beauty.
Do you see your career facilitating a lifestyle suitable for a family, or do you have the desire to have a family?
Yes. 100% Hair dressers make their own schedule. You can choose to work only 3 days/week – it’s a business that allows you to be completely in control of your life. It’s very likely to just work 4 hrs per day and make a substantial amount of money.
Truthfully, it starts out with a very humble beginning. A lot of hair stylists have to move back home and put in a lot of work investing in yourself and your skill. It’s kind of a slow, snowball effect and it takes time. I don’t know any stylists that were making 6 figures in their first few years. You can make it happen for sure, but you gotta work really hard. A lot of stylists first start out with a part time job in addition to styling.
What are your top priorities in the ‘big picture’?
Making an impact in someway – helping people in any way that I can. Making people feel good.
I love traveling and I want to have a family. Being healthy, happy, and just living each day to the fullest – doing things that make me feel good. Success is really just what you make of it. Money’s not everything, but I just want to make enough to live comfortably.
If you had any advice to someone just graduating college or thinking about switching careers, what would it be?
If you have something itching inside of you to possibly be a hairstylist and make it a career – but you have a fear that you wont make money or people will criticize your decision, I think you have to ask yourself what the worst case scenario could be. Not making money? Starting over? Not like it & find another job? Ask yourself if you can handle that…and if so – go for it. You can be super successful and make tons of money if you really want it. There was a time when I was younger when I thought I wouldn’t make much money doing hair, and that was my mindset of what success was at the time – and I almost didn’t pursue it.
If someone wanted to do your job, what is important to maintain a position?
You have to be willing to put the time in and work hard – not expect things to be given to you. Advanced training classes, hair shows, salons offer education, I started as an assistant – went to NYC to study at Bumble and Bumble about 8 times, the salon I started at required me to go to classes 2x a week and do photo shoots. Early on set the tone for what it’d be like later. Social media marketing. Doing excellent service. Keeping cutting edge. Doing the most beautiful hair ever. And put your heart into it. It’s not just about getting their hair done, but making them feel pampered and relaxed & that they’re getting their money’s worth.
Who inspires you?
Passionate, positive people, individuals that don’t give up and believe in themselves. Find the good in bad situations.
What do you think of authority?
Ha, I have a guilty conscience if I do bad things, but I definitely agree that some rules were meant to be broken.
What did you get into the most trouble for when you were young?
Probably talking too much in school. I think I talked a lot. I’d get grounded from the phone as a recurring punishment. Sometimes I’d eat my packed lunch during class. I loved to eat.
What did you want to be when you want to be when you grew up?
Dorothy from the wizard of oz – I loved her pigtails.
What are some of your favorite sounds?
The ocean. Sitting in a jungle. Bamboo hitting bamboo.
What’s your favorite curse word?
I probably drop F bombs a lot, is that bad? I don’t do it at work, but I kind of cuss a lot, haha.
If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be, and why?
A monkey. I just love monkeys so much.
What are some of your favorite smells?
I love the smell of the leaves in New England during the fall. The smell of Gardenias and lilacs – we used to have lilacs at my house growing up, so I love that.
If you were a character in a famous movie, who’s role would you play?
I’d be aerial in Little Mermaid, she had great hair.
If you could go back to any point in history for a month, what time period would you visit?
I’d love to visit when my parents were teens during the mid 70’s, rocking hippy hair and bell bottoms. I think it’d be incredible to live in that and experience that kind of era – a permanent party.
If you had to obtain $1m illegally, how would you do it?
Taking a Vegas casino by counting cards.
Which long lost childhood object would you most like to find?
When I moved from Mass – SD, my friends would write me letters. I’d have anything from 1-5 letters each day. For whatever reason my family moved a few times…and in the process my letters got lost. I found a lot of strength in those letters.
What age do people become “old”, what’s the secret to staying young?
I think you’re never old – it’s all in your mind. Your body might break but you don’t have to succomn to it…maintaining the young mindset is what it takes.
What’s your favorite quotation?
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those that mind don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.
If someone wanted to get in touch with you and ask you more about what it takes to get involved in your career, what would be the best way?
Sure! They can get in touch via my Facebook business page.
On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to get back to them?