Stylists on the Go

An article written for in April 2010

It’s a typical day of work and hair stylist and makeup artist Rachel Peters is getting her things ready to make over a bride for her big day. Hair products: check. Makeup: check. Hot iron, pins, and brushes: check. Rolling cart to transport it all to the bride’s house: check. Peters is one of the many burgeoning cosmetologists, who have taken their talents mobile, choosing to work out of their clients’ homes rather than a conventional salon.  And it seems for both bride and stylist, the benefits of taking the show on the road definitely outweigh the drawbacks.

Peters didn’t always work on the go. Of the nearly nine years she’s been working as a cosmetologist, only the last two and half have been mobile. The Austin stylist, who entered into cosmetology school right out of high school, worked both commission and contractor-based stylist positions before starting her personal business, Lovely Day Hair and Makeup. After going back to school part-time to obtain her advertising degree from St. Edward’s University, Peters continued the full-time salon work. The slow progress, though, she says, finally pushed her to make a change.

“It was taking so long, and I was like ‘I have to get my degree’. So that’s when I quit, and started my own business.”

Now, her work predominantly includes styling brides for their wedding days. Because weddings are scheduled largely on weekends, Peters says she has the freedom to work a day job at a recruiting company to add to her income.

“Because my business is still growing…it helps pay the bills,” she says.

Working individually can have a few drawbacks in comparison to working in a salon. The responsibility for personally scheduling appointments and providing all of the products can be tedious at times. And mobile styling doesn’t allow much leeway for sick days – should they land on appointment days. Even then, Peters says mobile stylists have the benefit of getting to choose how little or how much they work – something that definitely allows for flexibility and helps the stylist and client create a personal connection.

“It’s nice to have that privacy and that quiet time…and it’s just less hassle,” Peters says of working out of her clients’ homes.

Often, the clients mirror the same sentiment. Millie Patel, a bride who opted to hire a mobile stylist for her bridal party to get ready for her 2008 Austin wedding, says she really appreciated the convenience of her stylist coming to her for the multiple events that were held for her traditional Hindu ceremony. She and her bridesmaids were able to relax and spend some time bonding before her nuptials in the privacy of their own hotel room – something that, she says, would have been hard to do rushing back and forth from a salon.

“It was more relaxed. We were all just being goofy in our room, and we didn’t have any restrictions. We could leave when we wanted and make as much noise as we wanted, so it was [a good experience].

The money’s not bad either. Because mobile stylists are their own bosses and essentially in charge of their individual success, they don’t have to worry about getting portions of their paychecks cut in commission and seeing another chunk automatically deducted for taxes. Plus, the experience and talent set the fees – not an arbitrary boss.

Some also appreciate the freedom to grow as an individual stylist because one can really let the creative juices flow without outside influences. Justin Samuel, a senior at The University of Texas at Austin, has been working as a part-time mobile stylist for years, and says the lone ranger tactic has definitely helped him develop his signature style. He says it’s a perk to the mobile profession that makes it more profitable than working as a conventional salon stylist.

“If you are an individualist, like myself, working as a sole entity helps you have a creative vision that is a signature of your own.  When working at a salon, there is constant competition all around you, not to mention your boss hounding you. Mobile styling has really helped me grow as a stylist.”


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