Beauty Business Still Booming in Ugly Economy

Ted Gibson Salons are everywhere these days, because according to industry experts, the beauty business is booming.

Research done through reported that there were over 400,000 beauty salons in the United States in 2005, and Americans spent over $23 billion a year on haircuts alone.

"This career is in demand," says Ted Gibson, celebrity stylist to stars such as Angelina Jolie and Anne Hathaway. "My New York salon is seeing numbers that we have not had since 2008. The beauty business is one of the last to feel the effects [of the economy] and the first to come back around."

Regardless of the tough economic times, there are still many Americans who consider beauty treatments -- such as highlights, manicures and facials -- absolute necessities. People would obviously prefer to cut costs somewhere else. Men get manicures these days, young teenagers get their hair professionally colored and middle-aged mommies get facials and waxing to fight off the signs of aging.

"Beauty treatments make people feel good in so many ways," Gibson says. "It's about more than just a haircut."

The evolution of beauty schools

There are more salons than ever before, so there are more jobs in the beauty industry than ever before. Also, notes Ted, "age in beauty school doesn't matter so much anymore." When he began his beauty school training, he was 22 -- which used to be thought of as a "late arrival," since many people chose beauty school as a vocational option instead of college.

Another major factor driving this industry is the Internet. With the amount of access that computers provide, people can now do their beauty school training online, allowing them to work during the day and attend school at night or on the weekends. This is good news because beauty school today can cost $8,000 to $25,000.

"I chose to go to barber school" Gibson says, "because I could learn the same thing there that I could in cosmetology school. The barber school that I attended in Killeen, Texas, offered a night school, so I was able to kept my full-time day job and still get my 1,500 credit hours completed within a year."

Cutting edge training for hairdressers

Beauty Salon Many modern-day beauty schools offer rigorous technical training, and many are turning out beauty professionals, such as Gibson, who go on to make serious money. "My own parents thought that I would play football and they thought being a hairdresser was a bad profession because you had to stand on your feet all day, and that it kind of had a bad rap as careers go."

Beauty schools today are no joke. They require both monetary and time commitments. "People are expecting more from today's beauty school experience, too" Gibson says. "They want it to be superior because that is what the industry shows and what the business portrays."

To paint an accurate picture of his training: Barber school included 1,500 hours, and in order to get his teaching certificate, Ted had to put in another 1,000 hours. Upon graduation from barber school, he apprenticed at a salon in Austin, Texas, for over a year to learn the entrepreneurial side of the beauty industry before building his own list of clients, which took another three years. After that, Gibson moved to Minneapolis to work for Aveda, but had to spend three months, and another 300 hours of training in Georgia first, switching his barber license to a cosmetology license so that he could be a teacher at the Aveda Training Institute.

The lure of the beauty business

"I drew and painted a lot as a kid," says Gibson, "so I always liked creative things; but I also played a lot of sports, so I think that is why I entered the beauty business late."

Initially, Ted liked the idea of being a hairdresser because he had a friend who had great success in the business and he wanted a similar lifestyle. Ted thought of the industry as a lucrative means to an end. "I had a friend that was very successful, and I wanted all the things he had -- like a fancy car and nice clothes, and the Rolex watch. What I didn't realize is that I would fall in love with the business of making people feel good on a daily basis."

Not only does Gibson get to exercise his creativity everyday, but also he can see the immediate effects of his work, and that gives him instant gratification. As he notes, "I get to change lives every day."

Advice from ted

Gibson's tipping point came in 2004 when he was flown to London to do Angelina Jolie's hair for her Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan photo shoots. That gig alone took Ted Gibson's name to a new level and opened the door to even more opportunities. "That is when I realized that I had reached the level that I wanted."

Ted admits that not everyone who graduates from beauty school is going to get to work on Angelina's hair, but it is something to aspire to.

He recently tweeted his advice for others who are striving for success: "Don't let anyone tell you that you cannot achieve your dreams because those are the same people you are waving at as you pass them by."

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