I had the honor of meeting Jessica in San Francisco last month, she came to Edo Salon from San Diego to attend our first ever Colorprint Workshop. We connected as fellow stylists, artists and mothers of daughters, and she shared a bit of her story with me……She co-owns her San Diego salon with her husband who is also a stylist and shares with her a deep faith and partnership, and 4 beautiful daughters under the age of 7.
She is an educator of a very creative, organic hair painting technique that has put her on a path which has changed the course of her career and helped her to understand the importance of sharing skills, giving back, thinking outside the box, and expressing healing and love through hair.
Jessica’s journey to educating, and her experience of both business owner and mother as well as her pursuit of a creative life, really inspired me. Naturally, I had to know more. How does she do it all? How does she manage? Maybe through hearing and sharing her story, we can catch a little bit of her grace. Like through Osmosis, you know what I mean?
I asked her if she would let me interview her for HTHG, and somehow, amidst building out salon #2 and getting ready to open, mothering her children, and taking all of her own and her husbands clients while he made a trip out of town, she found the time to thoughtfully share more with us about how she does it, why she does it, and how it isn’t easy but it is worth it.
Through just a very short time and little correspondence, it was easy to see that Jessica Anderson is an extraordinarily committed person, both professionally and personally. This quality in her sheds massive light on an important aspect of achieving dreams and success, in general. A commitment to self, partner, service, family, faith, art, whatever is important to you. It is the commitment part that counts.
What is your full name, where are you from, where do you live now?
My name is Jessica Anderson. I am originally from Arizona but we moved our family to San Diego three years ago. If we would have stayed in Arizona we would have all melted away. The ocean is where we always had dreamed we would raise our family.
How long have you been doing hair?
I can’t really remember a time that I didn’t do hair. Throughout my childhood, hair was a big part of who I was. I remember it being important to me. I shaved my head when I was 14 years old on a dare from my brothers and that following year of growing out my hair and blistering my own scalp with bleach every month was really the year I knew I would be a hairstylist for the rest of my life. Professionally, I have been doing hair for 15 years. My husband and I fell madly in love in beauty school and we have been inseparable since. We own two hair salons in San Diego and owned one in Arizona for seven years until we decided to move in here to San Diego. Our third location will be opening in San Diego in a few weeks. When we decided to move our kids to the ocean from Arizona we kept our clients in Phoenix, AZ and my husband and I both still travel back to service our clients of 15 years every 5 weeks.
What are your specialties?
I hate to limit myself by listing off my specialties. I love it all. I love razor cuts as much as I love blunt bobs, heavy bangs and waist long hair. I love conditioning treatments and glosses as much as I love hairpainting. But I will say, I have been foil free now for 3 years and obviously hairpainting is a huge part of my career. I hairpaint everyone. So, if you threatened to cut off my hand for me to tell you my specialty, it would be hairpainting. But I would only tell you that because losing a hand would limit my time behind a chair.:)
What is your mantra for doing hair? (less is more, make it big, etc?)
Doing hair is everything except doing hair. If you can’t deeply and truly love strangers who sit in your chair, then you will never fully experience what the heart of the beauty industry really is about. If you learn to express that love to your client, past their hair and past the money, (without being creepy) then you are doing what you are called to be doing and you are making a big impact on your clients lives.
Tell us about your jump from stylist to educator.
When I first started to hairpaint, some of my friends were wanting to learn the technique, at the time, this method was very new in the US and had not gone mainstream yet. I posted my first casual class on Instagram and 8 people showed up. That buzz on social media created a spiral effect of interest and the emails starting rolling in. I began teaching a few private classes at salons and thanks to the art of hashtagging, I fell into educating. I felt like I did not chose to be an educator, it chose me. Through the process of painting, I invented the idea of using real paint brushes as an essential tool in my technique. That is when Salvage Supply Co. really took off.
Soon after that, we started to see the paintbrush idea spread all over social media. Our business grew so fast that we needed help, so I hired on another educator, Michelle McGuire who is arguably one of my favorite souls on this earth and she paints hair like a mother. Together, we have taught hairpainting to hundreds of stylists and educators who have flown to the west coast from all over the country for our classes, some of whom are now hairpaint educators themselves.
Soon after the growth of our classes, we opened our online shop and became distributors of the bleach that we paint with from Paris, France. We sell bleach to hair stylists all over the country. I would say the thing that takes up the most time with being an educator, besides teaching, is keeping up on social media and the emails (which can be challenging when you are a stylist, salon owner, mother, etc.) I am really picky so I like to do all of our online marketing myself.
What inspired you to teach? Why do you teach the particular things that you do?
What initially inspired me to teach, was the hairpainting market at the time. Three years ago, people were doing balayage but very few were hairpainting. The classes out there were super pricey $750-3000 per class and the educators were not openly sharing their biggest secrets via social media. You had to pay high dollar to get any answers. Their lips were sealed. I was determined to master this technique and share it with the market of stylists who couldn’t afford such an expensive class. I was the first educator on social media to really come under market in class pricing but I felt that the industry was headed that way anyways so I took advantage and decided to share my knowledge for an affordable price to the average stylist but a price that was worth my time. I spent countless hours dissecting this method of painting hair and it dramatically transformed my career into an art and changed the way that I visualized hair color forever and I wanted to share that with stylists.
What do you find the most effective way to teach other stylists? hands on? Demo, both? theory? discussion? etc.
I find that just getting straight into demo and hands on is the best method for my class. Theory and discussion is good for some types of classes, but for hairpainting, you can sit for hours and try to visually figure it out but until you take the hands on portion of this class, you are wasting time. There is so much technical information to take in and as visual artists, we don’t truly learn until someone is critiquing and supporting us. If you asked any of my students, they would tell you that the hands on portion of my class is everything. I am a strict teacher, I believe in giving people their investments worth. Even if they are giving me push back and not receiving the information gracefully, it is my responsibility to make sure they walk away with the basic knowledge they need to start their hairpainting journey.
What do you love about educating?
In general, I don’t love educating. I love people. I love seeing people start to feel what I felt the first time I hairpainted. I love meeting stylists all over the country whom I never would have met before and staying connected with them through social media. I love this technique to my core because I believe it is right for the client financially and it also feeds the creative soul of a hairstylist. When you believe 100% in what you are teaching then it will connect with the students. But as for educating in general, “eh”. I just love teaching this particular technique because it has so deeply affected my career and it gets everyone excited about their artistry again.
You are a mother, how do you juggle motherhood and career? any tips or tricks? share your secret?
I have several points to this question that I want to make. I am a mother of 4 beautiful daughters all under 7 years old. Being a mother is harder than I ever imagined it would be. Owning 2 salons, maintaining a clientele in another city, re-building a second clientele in the city I live, traveling, teaching, distributing bleach, maintaining great friendships, nourishing a marriage and being a good mother is even harder. The drama of daughters… Oh the drama can be unbearable at times and I can assure you that you don’t want to be a fly on the wall in my house during one of my dark mommy meltdowns. It’s reality tv material (so I’ve been told).
My first answer is, my husband and I have a true partnership. With six of us living in a 960 square ft bungalow, we team up. (yes, you read that right 960 sq ft, and the only thing I have to say about it is, “small homes grow tight families”) Where I slack at life, he picks up. Where he is weak, I am strong. But some days we lose, we are both weak, we both suck, we are straight up defeated and those are the moments we are reminded that the more we lean on our faith and reach outward, the healthier we are as a couple …and that is how we handle shit.
Being a working mother is important to me and I am intentional about how our girls view our family life. It’s not for everyone, but for me it’s a big deal. My deepest hope for my daughters is to find the thing inside of them that sets them on fire, be good at it, share it, and find a way to bless other people with it. And if it means them one day juggling work and a family of their own, then they will know first hand that it IS possible by how much they were loved by a working mother. They will know that I worked my ass off because God gave me a natural talent, a passion, and a heart to serve people,( including them) and I used it for a bigger purpose other than paying the bills. I am so sure that one day they will grow up and look back and have complaints and judgments of their “working mother” but I know one thing, these girls won’t question their worth or their purpose because it is my priority to teach them that.
Where do you see our industry headed?
Social media in our industry is a blessing and a curse. For me, I wouldn’t be an educator without social media, it is my only marketing outlet. I wouldn’t have the talented stylists that are working in our salons if it weren’t for social media. We definitely wouldn’t be opening a second salon in just over one year after the last salon opening. The internet is a powerful tool for our industry and a great place to network and connect. Unfortunately, I feel like it is our only tool and we are slaves to it. It consumes our time, photo filters distort the reality and rawness of our portfolios. The realness of being a hairstylist is close to non-existent, masked by all of the perfect photos. The pressure to keep up and post our work can be exhausting. Sometimes I wish that we could just go back to being behind a chair and just be present with real people, not followers. Future hairstylists will have no clue what that even means.
What are you most excited about, hair and life wise?
A vacation. We have not had a vacation in 8 years. There is always something stopping us. Another pregnancy, a new salon, another hairpainting class, car problems, money, real life, the list goes on. The jokes between my husband and I about never coming back from vacation and just peacing out and flipping everyone the middle finger and sleeping in and not caring about anyone, is pretty hilarious.
It’s a conversation that only we think is funny. Us two are the only ones who truly know the extent of stress we have taken on. There are darker moments of our lives that even our friends and family don’t know about. Stuff you just get through to make you stronger and more knowledgeable about being self employed but in the meantime, takes a toll on your stress levels. We realize it’s totally crazy we haven’t taken a vacation. And if we don’t get one in the next 3 months we will cut a bitch. I mean it.
Jessica, thank you so much, from all of us here at How-To Hair Girl. Your story is an inspiration to us, and we have massive gratitude to you for taking the time to enlighten us with it.
We hope, from the bottom of our hearts, that your get your fucking vacation before you cut a bitch, because god knows you deserve one!
Best, love, HTHG.