Today we’d like to introduce you to Sura xx.
Sura, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I moved to LA to work in the music industry. I did radio promotion for a while and realized I hated it. I wasn’t sure what I would do when I decided to leave the industry. The idea to go to beauty school came out of nowhere, or seemingly so. My decision would be validated much later and rather unexpectedly.
As a teenager, I lived in London with my family. My first job was at a hair salon on Upper Richmond Rd called Rene John’s. I was one of the shampoo girls on Saturdays. Ladies in the octogenarian set would come once a week to get their roller sets and tip me 10 pence (= quarter) per shampoo. I would get them their tea and sweep up. I don’t remember much more other than Rene John was def a lil fluid in his sexuality and loved to hit on me (I was way too young for it to be at all appropriate ;). I ended up quitting because she gave me a perm that resulted in my hair resembling “little orphan” Annie, rather than Madonna as requested.
When we moved back to the states, I got a job in the salon where my godmother got her hair done. Changes in Ithaca, NY. Lenny, the owner, would often suggest I try beauty school. I was so NOT interested. I would just laugh and say things like, “I would NEVER be a hairdresser!” Ha, jokes on me. Lenny died when he was 33 because of AIDS. I think about him almost daily.
I went to Culver City Beauty School. They have changed the name since, but it’s still there run by the same guy Tim. It was the least expensive I could find with the most flexible timetable. When I first arrived, I was pretty scared. I knew I wanted to do it, but I am the type of person that likes to be 3 steps ahead of everything and I knew nothing about this really. So, I felt like I had a severe handicap. Once I got into the swing of things, I felt like I was playing hooky. I couldn’t believe I was getting to play with hair, read magazines and chat all day. I felt like I had some big secret and that everyone would want to do it if they only knew.
Once I graduated, my idea was to work on set. I had ZERO desire to work in a salon. Well, that didn’t work out so well. After a few years, I decided if I was gonna do this I needed to get done. I quit my job, scaled down as much as possible. Lived in a renovated garage in Santa Monica, with my dog, on Marine & 5th ( a really, really nice garage;) but nonetheless a garage. It took a minute but I found a salon I liked and started out assisting. I worked 7 days a week for 2 years supplementing my minimum wage income working as a server at Rose Cafe on my days off.
For the last 4.5 years, I have been working in Brentwood at a private studio. I have just recently launched my Sura Says Healthy Hair Care. It’s a monthly subscription professionally curated hair care box. Designed for you by me.
I am excited about this and continue to do hair and love it.
I am so glad that I made the career switch when I did. The worst day at the salon is 100x’s better than a bad day in radio.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I definitely struggled with the choices and once decisions were made, I struggled with those as well. I was much older than most who go to beauty school. I had already gone to college, worked professionally and had a solid idea of what I thought my life would look like. Music was always going to be that. So, when it didn’t work out the way I thought it would, I was really confused and definitely disappointed.
The first salon I worked in was sort of a hell hole. I worked for one stylist and was paid $300 a week regardless of how many hours we worked. She would steal my tips and was a complete mess. I would sit in my car and cry for 15 -20 mins at the end of the day before I would even drive home. I worked there for 2 months. I realized that I needed to find a better salon and wanted a mentor. This is when I decided to consciously find the salon I wanted to work and grow in.
I wrote down the top 10 salons that I thought would be a good fit for me. Because of my age, and the way I presented, I got a lot of salons that wanted to put me straight on the floor. This wasn’t what I wanted so I searched until I found the right spot.
By the time I was finished with my assistant program at Byuti (pronounced beauty), my color mentor was diagnosed with brain cancer. She is fine now, but it was intense and fraught with lots of its own struggles. But I grew and cultivated a clientele, was promoted to Operations Manager and when we opened the second location I moved there and was the GM until I left.
Sura Says – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I have a small private studio in Brentwood in a Sola Salon. I love to do extensions, precision haircuts – bobs especially and balayage hair color.
I think one of the things I am most proud of is the Sura Says Healthy Hair Care Box I have just launched. Additionally, I really appreciate that I get to do what I love and am as autonomous as anyone can really be professional.
I think one of the things that set me apart is my no-nonsense chair side manner and my love for teaching my clients how to care for their hair and get their best hair day every day. Change your hair change your life is my tagline. I prefer to work with what my clients have rather than trying to make their hair do something it doesn’t naturally want to do.
What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is defined in a myriad of ways: financial, emotional, intellectually. I do think there are definitive parameters that help define success as a hairstylist. Being booked solid, booking out 2-4 weeks in advance and more.
I feel like I am really lucky and incredibly fortunate to have found something I never in a million years would have been able to guess would be “my thing.”
- Balayage starts at $180
- Haircuts are $106
- Brazilian Blowouts start at $250
- Extensions start at $300
- Address: 12121 Wilshire Blvd Ste 102 LA, CA 90025
- Website: www.suraxx.com
- Phone: 323-577-2171
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/surasays
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/surasays
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/Suraxx
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/sura-xx-los-angeles
- Other: www.surasays.com
Chuck Espinoza, AEvenson Photography, Sura xx