Allison Pierce: Hair by Allison
Allison Pierce has been my friend for a while now. When I was jobless and running out of money, she helped me find employment. When she moved to a different city, she did everything she could to make sure her coworkers were supported. Even when her path was unclear, and she was working hard to achieve her own goals, she never stopped giving her heart to those around her. Her passion and empathy make it easy to connect with her, and connecting with Allison brings inspiration, joy, and motivation.
Dylan: Hey Allison! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today! Just to give Allison a little bit of introduction, she is a hair stylist at Hair by Allison Pierce in Beaumont, TX. I’ve known Allison for a long time. We did some community theatre together, and she’s actually the reason that I ever started working at Starbucks in the first place. [laughs] So Allison, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your journey to where you’re at today.
Allison: So getting into hair in general was like a happy accident. So, I was working at Starbucks. I was working there just because I did not want to do what I had gone to school for. I had gone to school for youth ministry, actually. Then I was like at this crossroad, where I was like, “You know. I don’t want to be a youth pastor. But that’s all I have a degree for.” So I just started working at Starbucks. I just kind of waited to figure out what I wanted to do. I had this memory of being a kid and going to MasterCuts in the mall one time, and looking at someone’s license on the wall. So, I thought, “You know… people always need their hair cut.” And at the time my big dream was to study photography in Chicago. I wanted to take pictures for National Geographic. I was like, “I’ll go to hair school and get a trade, and I’ll work my way through art school.”
I signed up for hair school. And a good thing and a bad thing happened all at the same time. I picked the cheapest hair school in town because it was just what I was going to do to get through, right? And I fell in love on the first day. And it was a terrible situation. It was this weird juxtaposition of finding something that I didn’t know that I loved, and that there was a spark inside of me, and the heartbreak of realizing that this [hair school] isn’t what it’s supposed to look like. So I ended up moving away to go to a different school. Now I’m doing a bunch of things with hair. So that’s the shortest version of the longest story. [laughs]
“Everyone is already beautiful; they just can’t see it for themselves.”
Dylan: I think it’s a great story! You’re totally right, sometimes you’re sitting there and you’re like “Man, I have no… NO idea what I’m supposed to be doing.” And then something just [snaps] sparks and you’re like, “Wait! That’s it!” So your spark hit… what keeps you passionate about what you do?
Allison: Roughly four days a week I’m behind the chair with clients, and then I do contract work where I go into salons and work with stylists, teaching them as well. Everyone is already beautiful; they just can’t see it for themselves. Sometimes they’re in my chair for 30 minutes, sometimes 3, 4, even 8 hours. There’s this moment where they’re in the chair, and I get to turn them around and they see themselves for the first time. And the way that they look at themselves, I genuinely get emotional about it still after all this time. We all know the sculpture of David right? Somebody asked [the sculptor] how did he know how to carve David out of the stone? And he said, “He was always inside of it. I just had to figure out what to take away.” And that is so true to hair, as well. It’s a small thing that can make a giant impact. My goal is that it can help people carry their head a little bit higher, and maybe pass that on the people around them. That kind of ripple effect.
Dylan: I think that’s beautiful. You also try to educate your clients. I’ve been to so many hair stylists over the years, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a single one try to tell me anything about my hair. Actually, the only time someone’s ever talked to me, they tried to talk me out of a pixie cut. And I was like, “You don’t understand. I know my face. Just cut all the hair off.”
Allison: I’m having like a physical reaction to this.
Dylan: Clearly there are many stylists out there who don’t really care. So what makes you so passionate about helping people learn about what they’re doing?
Allison: There’s 17 ways I can answer that question.
If you’re coming to me for the first time, there’s a reason. And that’s because you weren’t satisfied with somewhere else. I live in a small town. There are 10 cosmetology programs in a 25 mile radius- the majority of them are high school programs. So rough estimate, about 70% of stylists are getting their education in high school. Then after they graduate, they don’t continue their education. I’ve heard so many people tell me the same thing about pixie cuts that you just said. It’s because the stylist doesn’t know how to do a pixie cut. It has nothing to do with you not being able to pull it off. It’s because they don’t know how to do it.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t know something. But in this society, we have put a shame on admitting that. You can’t learn something if you won’t humble yourself down to a position to admit that you don’t know. I’ll be the first in the room to say, “I’m sorry. I probably should have learned this by now. But I just don’t know. Can you explain this to me like I’m 5?”
Just last week for example, my client was talking, and I literally raised my hand mid-conversation, gave him my disclaimer, and said, “You just said something that leads me to believe that Robin Hood was a real person?” He is the kindest man, but his first reaction was judgement. And I was like, “No. I’m not going to take that judgement. I gave a disclaimer.”
Dylan: So, obviously, your relationship with hair has changed a lot over the years. Where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Allison: Oooh boy. What a great question. I don’t stop. Literally, I was on a movie set for the first time last weekend- which was a great experience. Next weekend, I’m actually going to sit to become (hopefully, cross my fingers) a board certified hair colorist. There’s actually only 2,500 of those in America. Out of, I don’t know- 18 million licensed hair stylists in the U.S.? So that’s my current goal.
Dylan: You’re going to do well. [Yes- Allison is now a board certified hair colorist!]
Allison: So three years… More of the same. More education. More relationships. I’m like really fulfilled, but not in a way that I want to stop. Everything just feels like I’m hitting my groove. I don’t want to lose sight of why we’re doing this. The last two weeks, I think every client that’s been in my chair- we’ve cried. Knowing that there are people who are coming to me on their worst days, and they know it’s safe because I’ll cry with them.
There’s a community here- just around the corner. Someone stole their athletic booster money. One of the moms who is my client was telling me the story. She starts telling me how these kids in this 2A School District don’t have enough money for athletic pads. For the whole team to have them, it’s $100, Dylan. First off, who steals kids’ money? The kids have no shoes to run track in, no uniforms, just no money… They go to call all these big oil companies around here and you know what they say? They’re too small of a school that the company wouldn’t get enough publicity. Doesn’t that make you want to throw up?
Dylan: That’s insane.
Allison: So, I told her, I’m going to buy those kids their pads. Because- what’s $100 for me? I’m so grateful that I can say that. I can’t buy the whole team shoes, but I can buy them knee pads, elbow pads.
As long as I keep building these relationships… I’m blown away that I get to do this, and it’s “just hair”. It’s all so much more than just hair. And I’m just like.. this is all a happy accident. That’s what I keep coming back to. I just decided to follow a whim because I wanted to go to art school in Chicago.
Dylan: What 3 pieces of advice would you give to people who are afraid to chase their dream?
Allison: It’s so much harder than 10, 15 years ago. I want to tell those people that I hear you, I see you. The gig economy is real. And I’m so sorry that it’s messed up for you. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And in fact, I think that means that it is more important than ever to hold fast to what makes you a human.
I love Old Testament Stories. A lot of people know the story of the parting of the Red Sea. I think we’ve lost sight of why that story is important. What it comes down to is that the Jewish people, the slaves- their value was measured in how much they were producing. They were human-doings. We are human-beings. Not human-doings. I think as a generation, we’re so burnt out. We haven’t had a chance to stop. To figure out. I think that’s why a lot of us don’t know what our dreams are. Find space in your life to stop. Have a day where all the work is finished- even if it’s not. You’re gonna feel guilty. Because we’re so programmed to only work, only produce. But eventually, you’ll clear your system, and your creativity will start to rise.
The second piece of advice is don’t be afraid when it doesn’t make sense to anyone else. Cause it will sound crazy to anyone else but you. It just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there. It’s gonna hurt that people don’t get it. As long as you get it, that’s what matters.
The third thing is, and this is the thing I hold onto the most, Step 2–10 are not always revealed to you. Sometimes it’s just Step 1. I think a lot of us get frozen in action because we’re like, “I need all my 17 bullet points out.” Sometimes, you just have to figure out what Step 1 is, and just do Step 1. You’ll never know what’s going to reveal itself to you.
“It is more important than ever to hold fast to what makes you a human.”
Dylan: One last question before I let you go- What is your spirit animal?
Allison: Dang it! I knew you were going to ask me. Is it like a nickname? Where you can’t give yourself one? Someone needs to pick it for me?
Dylan: Well- if you want to get technical about it… But what animal represents you the best?
Allison: I’m gonna pick my own dog. Stevie Nicks Pierce. My brother-in-law said one time that Stevie was his favorite dog because “She has no idea what’s going on, but she’s always down to party.” That’s me.
Dylan: I love it. Very unique. I haven’t had anyone name anyone specific yet, so that’s excellent.
[Dylan & Allison laughing]
Dylan: So you can find more information on Hair By Allison at piercebeauty.com or on Facebook at Hair By Allison Pierce. Thank you again Allison! It was great talking to you.
Allison: Thanks girl!
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