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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Hey, Hairstylist: Cosmetologist Nicole Cruz shares the triumphs and struggles of her job

Tobey Schimdt

Nicole Cruz, hairstylist of over three years, works with a client of hers Wednesday, Nov. 23 at Ella6 Salon. The Ella6 Studio is a full-service Paul Mitchell-focused salon that was founded in 2013.

Hair stylist Nicole Cruz currently holds a position at Ella6 Salon, one of Tucson’s top rated salons, according to its Yelp rating and reviews. The little salon, located at 5460 E. Speedway Blvd., attracts a vast clientele for Cruz to style, cut and blow dry. Cruz spoke to the Daily Wildcat to share her ups and downs of working as a cosmetologist.

DW: What inspired you to become a hairstylist?

NC: I would say I kind of inspired myself in a way. There was never really anyone I looked up to. I actually hated getting my haircut as a kid, but always loved to cut my own Barbie’s hair and style those weird mannequin heads we had as a kid. My mom would always be finding hair piles on the floor starting about age seven.

Have you always been interested in hair? Did you have a passion for hairstyling while growing up?

I think it started in first grade—the class had to choose what we wanted to be for ‘career day’ and we got to dress up and bring items for our occupation. I was so upset when someone else got the beautician spot, and I was stuck with ‘writer.’ I knew from that day on I wanted to become a cosmetologist.

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Later in life I was always experimenting with my friends’ color and makeup. Lots of accidents and late nights in my bathroom—orange hair, chopped layers and interesting styles. I ended up finishing high school a year early and immediately knew what I wanted to do and enrolled in beauty school when I was 17 years old.

What education and training did you attend to prepare you for this creative profession? Do you still attend training classes to keep up on the latest trends?

I went to Regency Beauty Institute in 2010 and completed the required 1,600 hours of schooling. Every few months, Paul Mitchell comes in to our salon and provides us with classes on the latest styles and color lines. We even attend hair shows around Arizona and Las Vegas.

There always seems to be something to learn from these professional educators, whether it be a simple technique of how you hold the shears a different way or using an actual paintbrush instead of the normal everyday applicator brush for a color.

There’s always a trick it seems like we haven’t found out about yet to make our jobs more enjoyable and fresh.

How do you run through consultations with clients? 

If they want something new, I usually ask for a picture. That way, I can visually see what they are wanting and make sure we are on the same page. I point out every aspect to make sure they like everything about the picture like the tone [color] and the hair the length [bangs, layers, etc]. Then once they tell me exactly what they want, I repeat it back just to reiterate what was just said. I try to be as thorough as possible.

Have you ever had a client dissatisfied with your work? 

Unfortunately, we all have to start somewhere, which means we do have to learn from our mistakes.

My first salon job right out of school I was taking clients right away with very little direction. I did have a customer I would never forget. I did everything I could to make her happy and the most important thing is to keep your cool, don’t let them see you’re freaking out inside. But I knew it just wasn’t right—the tone of her hair was all wrong and I knew it could be fixed, but just didn’t know how to achieve that at the time. My manager ended up fixing it and I watched him every step of the way and it never happened again.

How do you mentally handle dissatisfied costumers? Does it ever make you question your profession or talent?

The customer is always right, so if someone is not happy, it is usually a communication issue and can be solved by you staying calm and fixing whatever they need.

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Mentally, it can stressful and can make you very anxious. In the beginning, it definitely happened more often and it can really get to you, but then you just have to remember that you can’t please everyone and I think about all the people that do love you and that you do satisfy.

You just have to try your best and if you’re making more people happy than not, then you’re doing OK.

What is your favorite part about being a hairstylist? 

My favorite part is my interaction with my clients—you really end up creating bonds and memories. You get to see them on their wedding days and watch their babies grow up and start giving them their first haircuts. It’s the little things that make special moments.

Then there is also the bad times they need to get through and you can actually help and make a difference in their day. It’s an all-around great feeling making people feel better about themselves and giving them confidence. I also enjoy big hair altercations, so when someone comes in and wants to cut off 15 inches and go platinum blonde, I’m all for it. I’m in it for the makeover.

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