Name: Aeleise Harris
Job title: Afro hair stylist
Time in current role: 6 years
Aeleise is a curly hair artist who specialises in dry curly cuts and creative colour. Visit her website here.
Why did you decide to go freelance?
I was an art major in college with no idea what I wanted to do once I graduated. During the fifth year of my six year college plan, the Aveda Institute opened in town and I jumped at the chance to live my teenage dream of working in the beauty industry.
As a part-time college student, full-time cosmetology student and part-time nail tech at a major department store, the first five weeks were so difficult I wanted to quit. I broke down to the institute director and she encouraged me to stay. Thankfully I did and in the 10 years since graduating I’ve been a salon coordinator, manager, owner, stylist assistant, makeup artist, editorial stylist, Curly Hair Artistry member, and DevaCurl Advanced Stylist who’s licensed in three states.
What are the key functions of your role?
Everything! But I take clients though a journey of debunking common natural (afro-textured) and curly hair care myths and teach them the proper techniques and products to cleanse, condition and style their hair. Then I give them a fabulous dry curly cut and maybe a custom hair colour.
Talk us through your typical working day
There is no typical day because I live in Atlanta but work in Chicago and Oakland along with pop ups in other cities. On a travel/work day I‘m up by 3:30am, on a plane by 5:30/6am, in the salon by 10am, then I work with six to eight clients. It’s rare for me to take a lunch break (or sit down). I aim to be out of the salon by 8pm, though when I’m traveling for work I try to take as many clients as I can in each three to four day stint.
On the days I’m not in the salon I start around 1pm and wrap up by around 8pm, doing social media promotions, running an online hair detox programme, approving appointments and answering emails.
Your favourite part of the job?
I love when a new client sees the beauty in her natural texture for the first time. So many women with textured hair have been told that their hair is ugly and wrong, so the ability to see joy is awesome.
…and the part you could do without?
All I’ll say is reading is fundamental when engaging the services of a specialist.
How would your clients describe you in three words?
Direct, funny and caring.
Plans for the future?
As I write this I’m almost six months pregnant so there are many aspects of my professional life that will need to change. The travel will slow down as I shift my focus to teaching online courses in hair care and business for professionals and consumers through with the #30DayHairDetox and The Beauty Startup.
Do you have any advice for other aspiring freelancers?
You’ll never be ready, have enough money saved or know how to do all the things. Do it anyway. You’ll figure it out. LLY