Real Life Behind the Chair in the Eyes of a Self-Made Hairstylist

Written by: Susan Hang


If you ever find yourself kicked out of your own game, here’s a reminder that you can always bounce back!

You probably remember Megan Rafidi from my elaborate balayage experience, and we have her on the blog again to shed some light on real life behind the chair. We’re incessantly intrigued by women forging their way and Megan is one of those archetypes. Growing comp sales by 55% over last year is no easy feat, so it’s obvious Megan knows a thing or two about success. Today, she talks to us about how she became a self-made hairstylist and reveals her top tips for achieving a fulfilling, prosperous career.

Megan’s career originated on the traditional path: beauty school at The Aveda Institute to working up the stylist ladder at Aveda salons. She rose up the ranks to Senior Stylist when she realized she’d hit a ceiling. Any progression after that became politics against her skills; she also started to notice an increasing control over her creativity (blowdrying, cutting, and coloring ONE way). She essentially wasn’t allowed to be creative, and like most artists (yes, hairstylists are artists), it was those austere moments when she knew the salons were no longer fitting.

becoming a self-made hairstylistMegan already built up a strong client base and was confident in her skills, so she branched out on her own first by renting a booth, and then transitioning into her own studio. She says, “It was scary, but it’s one of those things that just has to work”. The path of self-employment wasn’t always though especially when you’re in an industry dictated by lightning fast trends… Clients eventually began asking for balayage with the emergence of ombre (I was one of those, but elsewhere). With a long career consumed in foils, Megan had no clue how to make it happen and she recalls telling one client specifically, “There’s no way I can do that”. In retrospect, Megan says embarrassingly, she can absolutely do it now. The real eye-opener came after Megan had her second child.

Something wasn’t right as she returned – her phone was no longer ringing.

That was her a-ha moment – she’d scroll through the Instagrams of people she admired (@lisaheartwalker) and realized, she wasn’t offering balayage. Her career then took a turn for the better. Here’s what she has to say about transfiguring a hindering business:

Stay hungry.

You can’t allow yourself to be limited when you’re an artist. That also means you can’t stay comfortable… Megan said,

“I got comfortable, and then I got broke too!”

She knew balayage was a service she needed to offer because everyone was asking for it! Once she made the connection, she basically became obsessed with it. She admits balayage was really hard at first and she loathed it because of that, but “you get what you put in”.

Be resourceful.self-made hairstylist - balayage

Keep educating yourself – again, knowledge doesn’t stop after school. Balayage was never taught in beauty school. It was an outdated technique, so Megan never learned it. However, she took advantage of her resources (the wonderful Internet) and joined Facebook forums and watched videos about the application process. That was how she learned the fundamentals: being self-taught. She’d research it in every way possible and reach out to other stylists online if she had a question, and from there, she developed her own style using basic balayage techniques.

Invest in yourself.

Once Megan got the hang of balayage, she began investing in classes. She noted specifically Siggers Hairdressers as a game changer. She also began taking advantage of social media, a place we all know top notch images are mandatory, so Megan invested in a ring light. These investments earned her features on Behind the Chair and Modern Salon as well as notable business growth.

You can be sure, she’ll continue to invest in herself. And you should too.


Don’t forget to follow Megan on Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, and her Blog.


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You Should Also Read:

Balayage Hair: Everything You Need to Know and More
Interview: Pat McGrath Says Contour The Right Way
Let Jacky O’Shaughnessy Be Your Guide to NYC Life and Success