Having nothing but full confidence that you all know how to spend St. Patrick’s Day here in America, I’d like to veer away from such an obvious topic this month. While cheap stale green beer is a tired and widely known topic, under the radar fly assistants in salons. A perhaps common misconception is that stylists laissez-fairly hand their clients off to their assistants because they don’t care or don’t feel like completing them themselves.

Henceforth, we will discuss who they are, what they do, and why.

Salon assistants are either in the process of completing or have completed cosmetology school. It may be assumed that a cosmetology school student graduates ready to be a stylist but that is far from the case. Cosmetology school teaches us the fundamentals and prepares us for licensure. Leaving the tricks of the trade to be learned on the job. Assisting is how we learn. 

Owner Lauren Donald left me with one profound statement upon my asking her what an assistant is to her and why they are so important, “Assistants represent the future of our industry.” By assisting stylists well versed in the profession, by working under them, is how we train to become stylists. The tricks of the trade are passed down like folklore from stylist to assistant. Assisting is a coming of age position in a way, eventually we take what we learn from the stylists we’ve worked under, make it our own and pass it down to our future assistants. While in cosmetology school we learned safety procedures and difference between on and off base curls, it is while we are assisting that we begin to perfect working under pressure, how to consult and speak with clients. It is where we get all of our hands on training in real time and circumstance. Assistants, however, are not only their to learn. They are an integral part of the salon itself. 

“An assistant is one of the most important positions in a salon,” said Jacqueline Senft, manager of the assistants at Bond Street. “They are the oil that maintains and keeps the entire machine running smoothly. With a strong and cohesive team of assistants, you have the power to bring more money to the salon and more time to provide services to the clients.” She went on to describe how the relationship between assistants and stylists in a working salon comparable to an assembly line.  Assistants have the admirable duties of keeping the salon clean and the laundry caught up but are also like the stylists’ second set of hands.

For example, after stylist consultation, the beginning of a haircutting service often entails a shampoo from an assistant who then towel dries, combs and preps the client for the stylist to save time. From there, they may go on to set up another stylist for a color service so that the stylist may begin right away after consulting with their client rather than then having to round up everything they need. Oftentimes, the assistant will blow dry a client for the stylist so that they may start or finish another. Every minute counts in a busy salon and the more time that is saved, the more clients may be seen. In the end, this is good for all involved in the scenario. 

So, know that if your stylist has their assistant involved in part of your salon experience, you are not being thrown to the wolves! Rather, you are being put in the hands of someone your stylist has directly trained themselves and trusts with their own clients.

Every stylist started as one!

Laura Powers, 2020. Author retains ownership, reuse or reprint by permission only.

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