Gene Juarez Academy
What year did you graduate and from what campus?
I graduated from North Campus in 2003
Why did you choose a career in cosmetology and why GJA?
I was always interested in hair and makeup. It started at the dance studio when I was really young. I had a single mom who was very busy and couldn’t be at the dance studio as much as the other moms. I taught myself how to do my hair and makeup for performances, competitions, and pictures at the age of 8. Before I knew it, I was helping other girls apply their false eyelashes, and doing my friend’s hair for formal dances in high school. I always enjoyed it, and it came somewhat naturally. I went for it and it stuck. I wanted out of the small town, and into the big city! GJA seemed like the best education around. I loved the professionalism, reputation and curriculum that the school had to offer.
What are you currently doing and what other industry related experience do you have other than your current position?
I own a salon, Tart Beauty Studio, and work behind the chair cutting and coloring hair full time. I am also a private contract hair painting educator. These classes are usually once a quarter.
How did your training with GJA prepare you for the industry and the work you are currently doing?
When I went to school I was on my own, in a new city, 18 years old, and broke! Going to school Tuesday through Saturday 9-5 was a quick introduction to the ‘real world’. I grew up fast, I had to learn how to deal with traffic, manage my money and part time job, pack my lunch, all while learning new skills and maintaining a professional image and lifestyle. Of course I was taught the foundations of cosmetology, however, I mostly learned how to be an adult and a future professional.
What do you enjoy the most about your current position? What is your typical day like?
What I enjoy most about doing hair is not even the reason I got into it. It’s the relationships I have with my clients, they are my second family. I’ve seen so many of them go through monumental life moments, and they have seen the same with me. I can’t imagine life any other way. A typical day in the salon for me looks like a 12-8 schedule. I have lots of color clients, especially hair painting. I double book pretty often so while a color is processing I am usually doing a men’s cut. Currently my clientele is pretty full, however every now and then I have a new client, which is always a blast!
What is your fondest memory of GJA?
Oh man I have so many. I made some great friends in school, that today I still see and hear from. I remember having mannequin competitions, wet sets and updos. The hot color trend was Christina Aguliera and Kelly Clarkson for the sorority girls. Also remember the sweetest little old ladies, having fun with the instructors, and the massive line to clock out at the end of the day.
What advice do you have for current students starting out in the program, and those getting ready to graduate?
Whether you go on to specialize, enter a training program, or even just work for yourself. The real learning happens behind the chair. I have been at it for 14 years now, and I am still learning, everyday! Be honest with yourself about your work. Be nice to yourself, your co-workers, and your clients, and success will come.
What advice do you have for people that are interested in going to cosmetology school?
Not all people who go to cosmetology school end up making it a career. That is why I think it would be best for anyone to work at a salon as a manager or receptionist first- give it at least 6 months. So much of this job happens behind the scenes, its not just ‘doing hair’. If you have all the information and if you’re still interested, go for it!