Pamela Jacek-Shapiro understands the Beauty Business. She’s been a professional Makeup Artist. She’s worked in hair salons and behind the scenes at Fashion Shows and photo shoots. So now the graduate from Canada’s #1 Hair and Makeup School is operating as a self-employed Hair Stylist based out of Downtown Vancouver’s Workshop Salon, she appreciates that she’s hit the career jackpot.
“Renting a chair as a hair stylist is like living the dream,” she smiles. “I have my own business. I have flexibility. My hours can be long, but that’s because I want to really cater to my clients. I can work late or on my days off. I’m available for my clients when they need me. It’s very satisfying to be out on my own making it work.
“The owner at Workshop, Franco Federico, is a friend of mine. He’s very education-focused. So am I. I came here when the salon opened in June, and it’s been awesome.”
It’s not surprising to hear the petite stylist enthuse about being her own boss. Pamela has explored multiple avenues in the hair and makeup businesses, and listening to her describing her adventures, she’s enjoyed every step on the way. Pamela understands all the options out there. Now she’s chosen the one that’s perfect for her.
“Growing up in Saskatoon, I really wanted to go to Makeup School,” she recalls. “One time I was at a MAC counter in and I asked the girl, where do you think I should go? She said that I should call Blanche Macdonald in Vancouver. I’d never even been to Vancouver, but I signed up, packed up and moved out.
“It was fun! I built my portfolio up with a lot of photographers, including shoots for Vancouver Lifestyles Magazine and a big ad campaign for Metropolis at Metrotown Mall. I eventually got the job with MAC back in Saskatoon, which is what I really wanted. I was there for about four years. I enjoyed working at MAC, it was a great experience, but I didn’t want to work there forever. I don’t love routine. That’s why I started thinking about doing hair. I was visiting a friend in Vancouver when I opened a newspaper and saw that Blanche Macdonald was opening a Hair School. Perfect! It was a no-brainer.”
Pamela made the journey from Saskatchewan to the BC Coast for the second time and restarted her education.
“I was always interested in my own hair – how I could cut or style or colour it. Hair School was an awesome experience. It was hard work too. I was learning new things every day. It was challenging. I was raring to go when it came to colour classes. I think that was an extension of everything I loved about makeup. It’s all colour, right? And I was able to do hair at Fashion Shows, including Agent Provocateur and the Blanche Macdonald Fashion Design Graduate Show while I was still a student.”
By the time she graduated, Pamela had the confidence and ability to go straight onto the salon floor. Which was exactly what she did, taking her first full time position at the Hennessy Salon in Oakridge, before moving and building her clientele at a salon at Kaboom Hair Company in Coal Harbour. When the opportunity came to rent a chair and join the team at Workshop, Pamela took a leap of faith and went for it. She hasn’t looked back since.
“I don’t like routine. That’s why I love doing hair. Every hour is a new experience. Sometimes it’s easy breezy. Sometimes it’s more of a challenge. Sometimes you have to really think about what you’re doing. That’s what I really like about hair. And I still love doing colour. I specialise in blondes and have a really strong blonde clientele.
“I think the most important thing is to provide good customer service and do a great job. I try to go the extra mile for every client and have him or her leave feeling special and happy. I like to take my time. I don’t want anyone to feel rushed. I have nice long consultations with clients, especially when I’m getting to know them. I want to make sure they’re getting what they want. I like making people feel good about themselves. I love it when people leave with a spring in their step. Sometimes people just come out and say it – ‘Thank god I came in today! I feel so much better!’”
As Pamela developed her clientele, she also made sure that her skills continued to grow too. Hair is more than a job for her. It’s also a passion. Which is why she’s still always eager to learn.
“It’s the norm for stylists to continue their hair education through their careers. I’ve taken styling classes with the Kevin Murphy educators, cutting classes with Toni&Guy, and colour classes with Wella and L’Oreal. I went to Los Angeles this past fall and did an advanced cutting class with Vidal Sassoon. Going to LA for this course was something I wanted to do for a long time. I was able to learn from amazing instructors about geometric cuts, and now I can think outside the box, and maybe put similar effects on more traditional haircuts with my clients. I still get excited learning something new.”
Pamela’s future is, quite literally, in her own hands. Her enthusiasm for the career and life she’s created for herself is infectious. She’s proved it’s possible to do what you love every day. And get paid for the pleasure.
“If you want to get into hair do your research and get a good education. Make an action plan of where you want to go with your career. Make as many contacts as you can and use them. Keep up with the trends. And stay focussed and inspired!”