Frustrations of a Growing Stylist in Kansas City- Anonymous

The State of Salon and Spa Education in the Kansas City: Hint: It just might stink!

Today I’d like to discuss the current state of education for the Salon and Spa professionals of Kansas City. I’d like to inform, inspire, share my personal experiences and basically light a fire in our cold stylist souls to embrace change. By doing so I hope to wake us up, and have us take a clear honest and blunt look at the educational reality we face as a Salon and Spa Professional community on a daily basis. We deserve something better, different and industry professional driven only.

Distributor Based Education

I’d like to first point out the salon and spa education in Kansas City is overwhelmingly distributer based and sales driven. Distributors hire “educators” and offer “classes” about specific topics peppered with a basic sales pitch for the product at hand, all under the guise of being purely educational. Very rarely do we find educators whose sole and only purpose is to enlighten and elevate our skill levels as salon and spa professionals. Our main source of “education” is in fact a session with a sales rep that incorporates a constant barrage of sales tactics.

While yes, it is imperative that we, as salon and spa professionals, know how to use the products and tools we use and know how to use them well. Is that the only form of education we should receive? PK as we call it is obviously important, but when did PK become almost the only thing educators do?

As an associate I remember sitting in a “class” for a styling product line for the third time, same product line, same “educator” and same presentation. I had the realization that the continuing education I had been promised when I applied for the position and was described to me by the owner was not going to be happening any time soon. Or at all! I found myself frustrated and went online to search for the type of education I desire. Education with no distributor attached and no product to promote or to sell. I found none. While there are some who come close, almost all have been sponsored by some distributor with products to recommend to you for profit. When does the selling stop and the true education begin? Will it ever?

Fake It Till Ya Make IT

So, what happens when our fellow stylists and we are haphazardly bumbling through our distributor based and basic beauty school knowledge to try and make it in this industry? This phrase has haunted me in my first year out of school. Here we have it folks. THE biggest mistake any salon or spa professional could ever make.  “Fake it till ya make it” is what happens. It was said to me at the first salon I ever worked for on an almost daily basis, by almost every stylist. The most alarming part of the stylists at the salon constantly repeating this phrase was that this particular salon is considered arguably the best salon in the Kansas City area. All I could think about when a stylist said “fake it till ya make it” was; you have a job at one of the most prestigious salons in Kansas City with a competitive associates program, high powered clientele and a full book and you STILL feel like you have to fake it! I will never fake my skills or knowledge. The rest of you shouldn’t have to either.


PK, sales and ultimately distributer based only education can and often does result in newbie stylists, such as myself, and sometimes not so newbies reeling in how we will ever move past the bare minimal basics we haphazardly learned in cosmo school. We struggle on our own, looking through online searches, YouTube videos and trial and error on actual clients to better ourselves. Unfortunately, a lot stylists and spa professionals have a poor understanding of the in depth reasons why and how we do the things our profession requires of us.  Where do we go in a sea of distributor based local education to better ourselves? What do we do when the quality education we want, dream of and ultimately require to be successful in this industry does not exist?

Do distributors face the blame alone?

Is it really only up to distributors to educate us? Have we as salon and spa professionals become complacent in what is available to us? Have salon and spa owners who say they provide “in salon education” for their stylists and associates gotten a tad bit lazy? Would those that run and are tasked with providing education to stylists rather sit back, dial up a distributor, request an “educator” and call it the “in salon education” they promised their employees? In my short year of experience the answer is a resounding YES! Are you really a better stylist because you now have an in depth knowledge of how this particular distributors mousse really works? I think not! Ask for more. We deserve so much more.

So what can be done?

I’d first like to put a spin on the basic business term supply and demand. In our current state distributors dictate what we, salon and spa professionals, learn. Thus, the end goal being selling us on something disguised as education. The distributors dictate what quality and type of education is supplied. If we as salon and spa professionals start to demand educational quality beyond PK, distributor and sales based education and do that in droves there will be no choice than to meet that demand.

What exactly are we demanding again?

Demand some non-distributor based, hands on quality education and true educators whose sole purpose is to elevate the skill levels of professionals in the salons who hire them. Is there such an educational format in existence? If so please sign me up!

Hold your salon owners and educational directors accountable for the in-salon education they promised. If you feel the education you are receiving is subpar, unhelpful and does not improve your skill level, bring it up. Communicate your concerns, wants and needs as a salon and spa professional.  Make it clear you were told you would receive in salon education and you expect to get it.

Most importantly, demand of yourself and your fellow stylists that you stop “faking it till you make it”. Yes, it is important to behave in a way that keeps your clients confident in making them feel beautiful.  Faking skills however, isn’t the best practice. We may fear looking uneducated and inexperienced but guess what if you don’t understand something and have never done it before, that’s what you are, me included. And that’s okay. How are we supposed to fill the holes in our education if we will not admit to the holes and work towards creating an environment where they can be filled?

If we as a whole, as a salon and spa community of Kansas City, demand a change, request actual hands on skills only based education, hold our salon owners accountable for the in salon education they promised, and FINALLY stop “faking it till ya make it” the state of our education will improve. Will you Salon and Spa pros of Kansas City take that challenge?

Susan Wos