While most stylists would consider a permanent chair at a prestigious salon in New York City the most coveted of covetable gigs in their industry, for Seattle-born and NYC/LA-based hairstylist Giulia Heiman, cutting her chops as a Senior Stylist at the Ted Gibson Salon on 5th Avenue was merely a stepping stone for a larger, even more unique career entirely of her own making.
(Photo Courtesy of Giulia Heiman)
Seeking the flexibility and independence that came with being her own boss, Heiman made a bold but calculated move in 2008 and left Gibson to go out on her own as a freelance stylist in New York City.
Drawing on an impressive combination of raw talent, hard work, business savvy, infectious optimism, and sheer force of will (not to mention a mane of curly hair so gorgeous it’d make any woman in her right mind beg for an appointment with the shear-slinging mini-mogul), Heiman slowly but steadily bolstered her client list with a combination of private, celebrity, and editorial clients to the point that she was regularly in danger of overbooking.
The career high was a pivotal moment that enabled Heiman to realize her ultimate dream of a bi-coastal existence and begin making her mark on the West Coast beauty scene. Now based primarily in Los Angeles, Heiman still flies back to NYC for 10 days every six weeks to give her East Coast clients their fix.
When she’s in La La, she devotes her time to her role as the resident Beauty Supply Expert for About.com, regular gigs styling for commercials, music videos, fashion editorial shoots and entertainment awards shows, and, last but not least, growing her recently launched and rapidly growing natural hair supplement company, BE Biotin. Tired yet?!
So, how does she do it? The self-made tress expert and beauty entrepreneur took a few minutes to sit down and share some of the career insights, entrepreneurial wisdom, and time-saving tips she’s picked up on her journey to her dream job. Check out our one-on-one with Heiman below.
Name: Giulia Heiman
PayScale: What do you do?
PayScale: What makes it your dream job?
Heiman: The best part about my job is the flexibility. The beauty industry has many facets, which allows you to evolve your career along the way. You can work in multiple cities, explore the fashion and entertainment world, develop products …the possibilities are endless!
PayScale: What’s an average day on the job look like for you?
Heiman: When I’m working in LA, I do on-set styling for various TV networks, which involves a lot of rushing at times, and a lot waiting around on others. When I’m not on set, you’ll find me working on my recently launched hair supplement line, BE Biotin, or at a coffee shop writing for my gig with About.com. I also fly to NYC once a month to see my East Coast clients.
PayScale: How did you end up here? What interesting or unexpected jobs have prepared you for this role?
Heiman: I started working in a hair salon in Seattle, folding towels when I was 13. I idolized the funny, charming, creative stylists who worked there, and quickly decided I felt at home in a hair salon. A few years later, I became a receptionist at the same salon, went to beauty school a few years after that, and the rest is history.
PayScale: What is unique about what you do?
Heiman: One of the best things about being a hair stylist is that it allows you to get to know so many different types of people. On a daily basis, you’re having intimate conversations with clients who are outside of your peer group. I’ve learned SO much from my clients throughout the years.
PayScale: Are there any challenges about your job that may surprise people?
Heiman: That it’s really hard! Working with the public, long hours on your feet, and dealing with people’s vanity can be challenging.
PayScale: What are the best words to describe how you work?
Heiman: Totally depends on the day! In LA, I’d say “with coffee” and “slightly disorganized.” But the second I land in NY, I switch over to “intensely focused” and “ready for action.”
PayScale: What’s your workspace setup like?
Heiman: A lot people say they have a hard time working from home, but I find I work better here. When I’m writing or working on my business, I get distracted and fidgety working out of a coffee shop or in a public space. At home, you’ll find me at my desk, listening to a podcast, and typing away.
PayScale: Tool/device you couldn’t live without?
Heiman: Equal tie between my shears and my laptop.
PayScale: What’s your best time-saving shortcut?
Heiman: I live by lists. My to-do app on my phone, Finish, saves my ass on a regular basis. If I don’t write things down, I have a much harder time accomplishing them.
PayScale: Did you go to college? If so, what school and what did you study?
Heiman: After high school, I attended the Gene Juarez Academy of Beauty before going on to completing an apprenticeship.
PayScale: How did school prepare you for what you’re doing now and how did it not?
Heiman: Honestly, beauty school doesn’t really teach you about doing hair. It teaches you how to not be afraid of it and how to not cut someone’s ear off, but you’ll gain most of your knowledge from your apprenticeship and working directly on the salon floor.
PayScale: What’s next on the horizon for you?
Heiman: BE Biotin is my current baby. I’ve been super lucky to achieve a lot my career goals when it comes to cutting and styling, but I’ve always dreamed of creating my own product company.
(Photo Courtesy of Giulia Heiman)
PayScale: What would you tell someone who wanted to follow the same path as you?
Heiman: Stick with it, and be flexible! Perfect your craft and always remember that there’s more to learn. And last but not least, when working with the public, don’t take things personally.
Read about how another hair stylist/entrepreneur got her start, in “How I Got My Dream Job: Roxie Hunt, Hair Stylist/DIY Hair Mogul.”
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