Person of the Week
Stylist and Cosmetologist
Never be afraid to go to school. Being a stylist, I help people improve their self-esteem by helping them feel better on the the outside and then better on the inside. My best day …. when I give free cuts to kids going back to school.
1. What led you to the mission of being a stylist?
I like to make people feel better about themselves. Being a stylist helps people improve their self-esteem by helping them feel better on the outside and then better on the inside. I like to serve people.
In California I did twelve hundred hours barbering. I went to school for 1200 hours to get my license for barbering. That was in 1988. Then in 1991, I came back to St. Louis and did 1500 hours in cosmetology. I got my license in cosmetology and then went back in school to get my instructor’s license. That was another 600 hours.
My biggest mentor is my mother. She is the one who always let me know that I was blessed in things that I had. If you are given a blessing, you should give a blessing. She was always giving back to people. She always tithed. She was always the person in the neighborhood that people would come to for help and advice. I kind of looked up to her for that. I took that lesson with me throughout life. I just want to say, “Thank you”, to my mother. She started me on the road. She was the first African American to graduate from Flo Valley. (Florrisant Valley Community College, St. Louis, Missouri)
There is a news clipping of her. It is in the August 3-4, 1968, Globe Democrat Sunday Magazine article about Florissant Valley Community College graduate Gertrude Washington. She went on to get her bachelors and masters. She wasn’t afraid to go back to school and keep learning. She instilled that in me. I love to go to school and keep on learning about different things. I got that from her. Between education and a giving heart – I know I got that from my mother. I just wanted to thank my mother for that. (Lyndon Pulliam is in this picture with Gertrude Washington.)
(This article was in the St. Louis Globe Democrat Sunday Magazine, A Chance To Go To College, by Nell Gross, Pictures by Roy Cook, August 3-4, 1968, Volume 92, N0. 315, pp. 18 – 20. The article is on microfilm at the St. Louis Public Library Headquarters.)
2. What does this mission mean to you?
It allows me to help other people. It’s a noble profession and honest work. It allows me to pretty much set my own standard – let’s me go as far as I would like to go with what I want to do. You know with some jobs, since you work for other people, there are things you are not able to do. Since I work for myself, it’s on me to decide whether or not I want to help people out.
3. What was your best day as a stylist?
It’s always a good thing when you achieve your goals – like completing your school or passing the state boards. But I think my best day would have to be a day when I was doing something for other people – like Cuts for Kids. We go and give free cuts to the kids in the neighborhood. They are going back to school. We do it at my church every year. All kids that are school age come to the church and we have other stylists, barbers, and cosmetologists set up. The kids come in for cuts and styles. Usually we do about a hundred total kids – girls and boys. Sometimes we pair up with different schools. When I was at Vatterott we pared up with the cosmos (cosmetology) section and we gave haircuts and painted nails – anything that would help the students. Halfway through the school year during midterms, we would go to the schools and do more of a stress reliever to give facials, do their hair, makeup, and nails. We went to schools such as UMSL (University of Missouri, St. Louis) right before their midterm when college students are stressing out. It’s nice to get your hair done and your nails painted. We provide a service for them as well. This saves the students about fifteen to forty dollars per haircut and twenty or twenty-five for nails. We can afford them a luxury that they monetarily probably couldn’t afford at the time.
4. What was your worst day as a stylist?
I can’t remember a worst day! Not a really bad day. My worst day is not having customers. That’s a bad day. That’s a bad day if I don’t have any customers. There’s no money.
5. How did you survive your worst day?
I always think that tomorrow is going to be a better day. I’m optimistic about it. I know that this bad day is just one day. As a stylist, you’ll never go hungry because you will always have an art form, a trade that everybody wants and needs – if it is manicuring or pedicuring, haircut, facial, applying makeup, or you know – any service. Somebody will pay for this service – even if you have to do it at a reduced pay – you can always provide a service. For a new stylist coming into the business, I would tell them never be afraid to go to school. Keep on learning your craft. The more things to learn, the more marketable you’ll be. The more services you can provide, the better you can provide for yourself and your family.