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What year did you graduate and from what campus?

I graduated from the Federal Way campus in 2009.

Why did you choose a career in cosmetology and why GJA?

I chose cosmetology for a few reasons. First, after having my first child, going back to work after maternity leave felt so hard. I knew then that I had to work for myself. Instead of being an assistant, I imagined having one of my own. Also, I remembered back in college how much I enjoyed the getting ready part with my girlfriends. Pretty much more than the actual going out part. Finally, it seemed a nice way to get into the beauty industry without moving to a big city. I feel like I’m a medium city girl. Grew up on the farm in Indiana with dreams of the big city… but in my heart, Tacoma is perfect. I chose Gene Juarez because of the convenience of the three day schedule. I wanted to be home part time with my son who was two when I started.

What are you currently doing now and what other industry related experience do you have other than your current position?

I am at Embellish Multispace Salon in Downtown Tacoma. It’s the first and only salon I’ve worked at. I have a steady loyal clientele of maybe 300-400. In January, I became part owner which puts a whole new perspective on my work life. My partners and I know if we are to survive a world becoming increasingly over saturated with generic nail and hair salons, we must elevate our craft to rise to the top. I have Gene Juarez to thank for giving me the foundations of excellence in customer experience.

How did your training with GJA prepare you for the industry and the work you are currently doing?

My training with Gene Juarez prepared me to properly interact with the clients. It taught me impeccable chair side manner and it taught me excellent foundations and rules…which I’ve adapted and broken. It’s fun developing your own style/signature of hairdressing.

What do you enjoy the most about your current position? What is your typical day like?

I love creating the prettiest version of each client. I love giving them the exact hair that makes them feel their prettiest self. It took me about 2 years to get fully booked on a consistent basis. My typical day often begins with a partners’ meeting. We are currently looking for a new location, starting a capital funding campaign and making a multitude of decisions (i.e. what product lines to carry, personnel concerns) After my meeting, I take guests. I usually see anywhere from 4 to 8 clients a day. I am still a relatively slow hairdresser. I am a perfectionist and do whatever it takes to achieve the results I want. However, I am getting too busy to work in that manner without help. Next step, hire an assistant!

What is your fondest memory of GJA?

The first day. I loved meeting all my fellow students…enjoying all the first impressions made and making them. And opening all the kits! I still use the same Sedu Revolution TGR 4000 blow dryer. I think it’s pretty much the best blow dryer in the world.

What advice do you have for current students starting out in the program, and those getting ready to graduate?

Don’t miss school. Don’t beat yourself up if a skill doesn’t come naturally. I still drop my elbow which causes the basic outline to be longer on the left. Be careful about poor habits…they say “Practice makes permanent”. For those getting ready to graduate…write a great letter, polish yourself and your resume up and go talk to three salons. You’ll know which is the one. Even if it’s just by a little bit.

What advice do you have for people that are interested in going to cosmetology school?

It’s not easy. Don’t assume it’s easy. This is a hard industry in many ways. It’s intensely competitive, emotionally intense and physically challenging. It’s also rewarding in that it’s ever evolving, deeply connective and creatively satisfying.

Anything else that you’d like to add to your story as a Featured Graduate?

For some, it can take years in this industry to develop a refined eye and the confidence needed to succeed. I believe there really is something to the 10,000 hour rule. Something shifts inside your being and you see things from an expert point of view. You trust your skill in new ways. Practicing outside of the normal day to day routine helps in pushing an artist to grow. Creative fires are stoked when you consistently step out of comfort zones. Boundaries get pushed, enlarging the foundation of skills. Seek out those opportunities, trust your instincts and infuse others around you with the energy of elevating our industry. Practice your craft everyday and then be ready for the breakthrough however big or small that might be.