17 Apr Networking Helps Everybody
INTRODUCING HEIDI AKPAETEE
Heidi Akpaette is a hairstylist for weddings and bridal styling, her passion for ten years. She started her business, 139 Hair by Heidi, to provide onsite wedding hairstyling to brides, and she hasn’t looked back! Networking is key to her success, as it is for all of us. In the last few years, she has been able to grow to offer talented makeup artistry and an intimate team of stylists. She is passionate about serving brides and honored to be with them on their wedding days. She also started the Up Do Collective, an online collective of stylists of all levels who want support with their creativity, learning, and collaboration. I asked her to write about her philosophy on networking for The Stylist Lounge. Without further ado, here’s Heidi. Blog, and the Up Do Collective.
It wasn’t long ago that I felt pretty lonely in my business as a wedding hairstylist. I knew that other hairstylists specialized in the wedding industry, and I knew there were other freelance hairstylists and makeup artists out there, but I never had any real connections. I watched from afar what hairstylists were doing, saw their success, and used their websites and accolades to measure my own worth. Not good, people, not good.
Fast forward to now, and I am so surprised to tell you that networking has literally changed my business life. I walk into weddings and actually know other vendors. I know people who do what I do and are not my competition but colleagues, and I get a lot of my weddings based on referrals from other hairstylists and vendors. I love knowing others in the wedding industry, having people rely on and bounce ideas off, and reaching out to me when I need help. Above all, I am part of a beautiful community!
The world of cosmetology can be so competitive, especially when you are in a specific area. When I first started doing wedding hair, I focused on what others were doing and tried to be one step ahead. I struggled with unanswered questions, and I longed for someone else who understood my work. I found it hard to reach out to people locally because there was a fear of stolen business ideas and a comparison mentality.
Finally, I woke up to two key facts:
I need people.
There are plenty of weddings to go around.
Once I started to make friends with other wedding vendors and hairstylists, I found I was more empowered and excited about my own work. I was inspired by them, not threatened. It challenged me to grow and to learn, and be the best version of myself I could be. I realized that we all have different personalities and gifts to bring to the table, and they all have value. I found out that I could ask questions and get help. I also found stylists who were genuine and kind and the type of people I wanted to collaborate with.
The truth is, there were over 2,000,000 marriages in 2016, according to the CDC. That’s a lot! There are enough brides to go around, and I will be the most successful in my business if I focus on being the best hairstylist I can be to every bride I book. I want to serve the brides I have well and not waste my time comparing myself with others and staying in an isolated place.
My hope for you is that you, too, will be able to find a network of support in your own community, and when you do that, you will see your business grow! I was afraid at first to put myself out there, but I quickly found out that people are people! We all have fears and insecurities. I needed to be myself. So don’t be afraid! Find local networking events for small business owners, creative entrepreneurs, or wedding professionals. Collaborate with styled shoots. Do charity events. Meet other vendors, get to know their work, and refer them to brides. You will serve your brides better and yourself when you have more resources and connections at your fingertips. If there is one piece of advice I’d give to any hairstylist, it would be to spend time networking and to make it a priority.
I know many of us can experience anxiety or nerves when we walk into a crowded room and don’t know a soul. It can certainly be intimidating, especially when you feel like the rookie. It is helpful to remember that we all start here. We are all new at one point, and it takes time to build relationships and get to know people. Keep in mind that everyone is there for the same reason, and they want to meet you, too! Take a deep breath, muster up your confidence, and start saying hello. Reina Pomeroy, a life and business success coach, suggests coming up with a “rockstar statement” that says who you are and what you do concisely, so when you are meeting new people, it is clear what you care about. They have something to remember you by. (You can find out how to make your own rockstar statement in her blog post here: http://www.reinaandco.com/phrase/.
Once you start breaking out of your comfort zone, you will find it easier to network, and you will start to reap the benefits for your business while being able to invest in others as well. It is a beautiful way to find community, build your business, and grow in many ways.
I wish you all the best as you journey ahead!!
Beauty Pro Tip
Check this video out, Successful Networking – the ultimate guide.
Beauty Professional Inspiration
More recently, I have turned my passion for wedding hair into teaching others how to do the same. I know many other freelance hairstylists and makeup artists desire to use their creativity outside of the salon, so I created a space to make this happen. The Updo Collective is a place for stylists to grow, learn and support one another in the bridal business, and I am so excited to build this community up and inspire others to make their dream job happen. Come check us out at www.theupdocollective.com or on Instagram @theupdocollective.