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Be a Show Off: Why Creating a Portfolio is Important

BlogBeauty Student Advice | October 30, 2013

I encourage everyone to be a show off, and so should you. After all, when we create or accomplish something amazing, we want the world to see it & know that it was us! That doesn’t mean we expect praise, it just means we get acknowledgment, and potentially all the wonderful things that come with that acknowledgment.


More specifically, I would take this opportunity to reach out to any cosmetology student past, present, or future, to show off your creations, and that means create a portfolio. A portfolio is your “brag book”, your way of showing anyone and everyone what you’re skillfully able to create. Cosmetology is a trade, a skilled trade, and everyone knows that your clients equal your success. So why not show those clients, new and repeat what you’re capable of? Anyone who has ever had a salon service has had time to sit in the waiting area, and time while they are actually receiving their services. What a perfect chance you all have to suggest they page through your portfolio!

Your first thought might be, “that kind of sound s like a lot of work for not a lot of payoff”.  And to that I would say “how do you know?”  It is no secret that word of mouth is the oldest and BEST form of advertising.  Any client who gets to see that amazing haircut, color, makeup, up-do, manicure, etc. that you did can surprise you.  All you can do is plant the seed by showing it off!  Choosing a hairstylist is a hard thing to do, there are so many out there…where does one start?!  Having that portfolio is the best way to let a client know ‘hey, this is what I can do! This is what sets ME apart from everyone else!’  Someone who may be hesitant about your abilities before their first appointment with you will have a sense of excitement when they flip through those pages of your work and you get to reap all the benefits.  Perhaps the client sitting in your chair is only getting a haircut today, but after seeing the fabulous colors you’ve created; now they want you to work your magic on them!  You’ve just earned a repeat client, and a higher ticket the next time they come back.  Odds are, they’re also going to tell their friends, family, coworkers, etc. how excited they are to come back…which means now all those other people know how great and wonderful you are and maybe they will come see you themselves!  See what just happened there?  That is just one possibility of what having a portfolio can do for you….endless opportunities to build your business await.

Some of you seasoned cosmetologists may now be thinking “I already have enough clients; there’s no benefit for me to create a portfolio after all this time.”  Wrong!  Even if your books are so full you can’t possibly fit in anyone new (congrats are in order), your current clientele may have thought about trying something new that they’ve never mentioned to you…and a portfolio of your work may inspire them to bring it up.  Often times, stylist lose clientele because the client feels that after so long, they stylist falls into a pattern of the same service every time.  The stylist doesn’t even ask what they want done that day; they already assume the client is getting the same thing they have gotten for months…or years!  A client is  in your chair because he or she wants someone to listen to him/her, and then do the work.  And while that topic alone is a whole different post, it’s important to think about when considering creating a portfolio.  Why?  Because maybe you’ve gotten into a routine with the client in your chair, but chances are, your entire clientele are not all getting the same cut/color/style/etc.  So showing them what work you’ve done on other clients gives them the opportunity to say ‘I love what you did on him/her, can we maybe try something like that on me?’.  Guaranteed that client does not leave you for a different stylist, because now you’re aware that he/she is not always looking to do the same thing every time, even if that’s what he/she says when she sits in your chair every 6-8 weeks.  Having that portfolio creates an opportunity for them to speak up, and your loyal client is still your loyal client!   Is it all making sense now?  The most amazing part of our industry is that it is always changing, and always evolving, because it is based on trends…which come and go overnight!

So what should your portfolio have in it, exactly?  Maybe you’re still in school and haven’t had the chance to create many looks yet.  I am a firm believer than any portfolio, regardless of how long a cosmetologist has been in the industry, should have photos of your work, AND photos from a magazine/book/article/website/etc.  The professional ones, that our clients see and love and inspire them to book the appointment in the first place!  An assortment of both is ideal.  The most important thing here is to make sure that you are capable of creating any and all of the looks in your portfolio!  The last thing you want is someone to fall in love with a photo in your book, and have to tell them you can’t do it.   That may mean practice, practice, practice!  It does not mean skip the styles/cuts/colors/trends you’ve never tried or cannot do.  That is why we get mannequins in school, they’re our easiest clients, and never care what we do, right?

The last piece of evidence I have that should push you over the edge into the wonderful world of Portfolio making is this: prospective employers LOVE portfolios.  I can tell you from my own personal experience that it does not matter if it is your first or your fourth salon, wherever you may be searching, a potential employer will be so excited that you have a portfolio.  While interviews allow you to talk yourself up, showing them your work is what sets you apart & can really make the difference for you.  It also will let them know that while this is a crazy fun career field, you also take it seriously and that shows dedication! Are you ready to start creating??

General Rules of Portfolio Building:

  • Make it as large/small as you want but remember to always update it
  • If it becomes too large, start creating more than 1, and have ‘volumes’!
  • Divide it into categories such as: color (brunettes, reds, blondes), styles (wedding, blow-outs, braids), cuts (men’s/women’s). Create sub-categories as needed.
  • Protect the pages with page protectors!! Chemicals and hair get onto everything!
  • Make the pages interesting but keep them neat!
  • Variety is the spice of life! (and your portfolio)
  • Be sure you have any client’s permission to use photos of them before you put them in your portfolio
  • Creating your portfolio should be FUN, invite friends over to help, and ask for their input or feedback

Have you had success with creating a Porfolio?  Please share with us how it has made a difference in your career!

Lauryn Salzwedel

Written by Lauryn Salzwedel

A licensed cosmetologist for 5 years, and over 12 years in the industry. I love all things beauty, and could not have found a more amazing career field. I no longer work behind the chair, but am still just as passionate about Cosmetology! Working as a Career Planning Specialist gives me the opportunity to get anyone and everyone just as excited about Cosmetology as I am!

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