Emily Hudspeth's journey into the world of beauty has been a lifelong stroll with some interesting twists and turns. Coming from a long line of women in the beauty industry, 3 aunts and 3 cousins are stylists,  Emily grew up in a beauty shop in central Louisiana. Emily is also addicted to education and learning everything she possibly can. While studying Public Relations and Business  at Louisiana State University, Emily worked at an Aveda Salon in the mall. Immediately after graduating, she enrolled at Aveda Institute to study cosmetology. With cosmetology license in hand, Emily ran to the West Coast to work as an apprentice in a Santa Monica salon with some of the best stylists in Los Angeles and became an official stylist herself. From there Emily started working as a freelance artist, doing hair and makeup for special events and commercial film and print advertising. The foundation of great education provided a solid base for building a successful freelance career. Right now, Emily has created a program to help others who are working to build a profitable career as a freelance artist. View Emily's videos on YouTube or visit her site, EmilyHudspeth.com, to get in touch.

Submitted by Elizabeth on 08/21/2012 - 16:02

It seems like everyone has a horror story (or 10!) about a salon experience gone terribly wrong. Most of these situations that I hear about seem to come from a breakdown in communication. I feel compelled to share my insight, since I have been both behind the chair and in it.

As a stylist, it is your job to lead the conversation and make sure that 100% understand what the client is trying to tell you. That is a tough job because sometimes the client isn't sure what they are trying to tell you or even what they really want. How do you strip down what they are saying and really get it?  Start by asking questions. You may want to ask the same question in a different way a few times to make sure they are giving you a consistent answer. That confirms they understand what you are asking, and you understand what they are saying.


You will be surprised what they think an inch is, when you ask them to hold up their fingers to show you. Show them where the end result of the length would be. If taking off 2 inches will have the end result sit at their collar bone, show them where that is. If they actually wanted it above the shoulders, that would be more length. Save yourself from doing the haircut twice or having them be upset that you can't put the hair back on once it's been cut off.

If this is the first time that you are meeting the client and have never touched their hair before, sit down with them to have a thorough consultation before going to the shampoo bowl. Find out if the texture that you are seeing is the natural texture. Just because it is board straight when they come in, doesn't mean that it is the hair's natural state.  If it has been flat ironed, find out if they do that every day or once a week.

I like to cover some very specific topics to insure the experience is a success for both myself and the client. Do not get up to go to the shampoo bowl unless you are 100% on the same page. Here are a few questions to ask the client during your consultation:

  1. What do you like about your hair at the moment? For example, do you like the length? The natural texture?
  2. What do you dislike about your hair at the moment? What challenges are you having with styling it?
  3. Are you looking to try something new? For example, would you like to add a fringe? Would you like for your stylist to educate you on a new way to style your hair?
  4. Talk about your maintenance schedule. How often will you return to the salon for cut and color? What is your daily routine? How much time or money do you plan to invest in your daily look.


The consultation doesn't end before you start the cut. When the cut is complete, educate your client on what she will need - products, tools and how to use them - to recreate this look at home. Recommend how many weeks later the client should return to maintain the cut and color. Walk your client to the front desk to help her checkout and schedule the follow up appointment based on the maintenance plan that you discussed. You want to make sure it is easy and that she does not have to struggle to fit into your busy schedule.Once you have asked these questions, repeat back to the client what you have heard them say. When you are both in agreement, then you can go to the shampoo bowl. Now your client can relax because she is confident that you took the time to listen and understand her needs.

This process will get easier and become a fluid part of your routine.  You could be booked solid, retain your clients and attract new ones because you take the time to understand their needs. It wouldn't be so bad to be booked out for months in advance, would it?