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Cosmetology and Career Changing: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

Beauty Career | May 28, 2014

So you are stuck at your job and you think you might want to become a stylist. You aren’t the first person to do this!

As a Career Planning Specialist, I meet a lot of professionals who are torn between taking the chances and making the necessary life changes to become a stylist or staying in a job they are growing tired of by the day.   As you may already know, the first step to becoming a stylist is to join a cosmetology school that is certified by your state’s Board of Licensure and then obtain a cosmetology license.

Of course, this means sacrifice. Education takes time, money, and guts!

Here are the stories of 3 successful stylists. They came from different backgrounds and have had different career paths. What they all have in common is they chose to abandon their steady jobs and pursue a career in something they love: cosmetology!


Joshua at a charity wedding fair he held called Craft My Wedding, in Somerville, MA.

Joshua Pitts is a stylist at Kent Newton in the trendy South End neighborhood of Boston. He is also an IC Consultant for Nioxin, divisions of Proctor & Gamble, Salon Professional.

Joshua used to work in high end sales, including luxury real estate and cars.

He wasn’t happy. “I was just taking a pay check.” He asked himself – of his friends, who was the happiest, and who had the greatest quality of life? The answer – stylists! It was then that he began his education at Empire, which led him to his current career. Josh is quite happy and using his career to promote his nonprofit work.

How has his past experience helped him? Sales skills – listen to your client and give them what they want. A huge part of this is looking the part. The client wants a stylist who looks fashion-forward and put together. “As stylists, we have to mirror the image of what we want the clients and the salon to look like. If you look like a slob, the clients you get will be slobs.”

Joshua’s advice for soul searching and finances: “Just wanting to do hair is not enough. You have to want to change lives and be willing to change your own life. I would suggest to anyone switching careers to buckle down, budget lean, and prepare to do without… it’s hard work but completely possible!”


Tim with his daughter

When I met Tim Kelly three years ago, he was a full time single dad and owned a sign company. His then-two year old daughter was the reason he began at Empire Beauty School in 2011.

“I wanted to find a career that was recession-proof and I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about how during the current recession salons were the one industry that had acutely grown and had the biggest success rate for new businesses opening and remaining open. I always had an interest in doing hair and finally worked up the nerve to do it.”

“You have to know in any career change you will take a financial hit at the beginning but that in the end it will be worth it.” Tim is now a stylist at the popular Blondie Salon and Spa in Waltham, MA, where he began right after graduating Empire. He and his “princess” are now doing great! He is grateful for his education and told me he is living his dream!

Tim’s tip for single parents: “You need to make sure you have everything lined up for child care and a support system before you start school.”


I’ll never forget meeting Alexis D’Agostino, now a stylist at Dellaria Salon, Natick, MA one of Massachusetts’s most well known salons. As a wife and mother, she had a lot on her plate when she decided to switch career paths.

“I have wanted to be a hair stylist since I was three years old, playing with dolls. My father and grandmother were stylists. However, my dad didn’t want me to go to cosmetology school. I ended up working full-time and going to college after high school.”

Alexis with her family

Eventually, Alexis settled into a monotonous job as an administrative assistant at a political consulting firm in Boston. She found this job to be boring but stuck it out because it paid well. Then tragedy struck.

“In March of 2010, my dad suddenly passed away, leaving me to reevaluate my direction in life. With the support and encouragement of my husband and children, I left my safe, secure, well-paying job and enrolled in Empire Beauty School in Boston. The day I sat in the office across from Emily, I was twisted up in knots agonizing over whether or not I was doing the right thing. By the time orientation rolled around, I was ready to turn tail and run. But the moment I opened my kit and held my first pair of shears for the first time, it was like a warm comfort poured over my being. I knew that this was what I was meant to do.”

Alexis told me she learned a lot at school! Not just about styling but about how to compete in the beauty biz. “The instructors and staff at Empire took a timid, bookish, Indiana girl and turned her into a confident, fierce, highly motivated woman.”

Alexis’ final words: “(Working at a salon is) one of the few things in life that I can confidently say, without a doubt, I am really good at! I am definitely not one to be overly confident or full of myself, but the proof is in the final product. I have grown so much in this business and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. I truly love what I do!”

If you are reading this and think you too have what it takes to become a stylist, then get ready for an amazing, life changing ride!

Emily Peters

Written by Emily Peters

Emily Peters has been a Career Planning Specialist at Empire Beauty School's Downtown Boston and Malden, MA campuses since 2007. She is passionate about helping students and stylists get ahead in the beauty field and has acted as the school liaison to the Boston community throughout her time at Empire. This includes city events, festivals, local hair shows and fashion shows. On top of her participation with numerous charities, she assists students in getting involved and giving back to these worthy causes. Emily is also the Boston campuses social media coordinator and uses this to help her students and the school gain recognition through posting photos and events.

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