By J Ladner (@itsmrjladner)
As stylists, we need to put the time into our craft so that we may ultimately build career credibility and longevity. Being a beauty professional can be a wild ride, full of ups and downs, but even the failures are an integral part of the process. Here are my five tips on how you can best attain your long-term career goals.
 Embrace failure. Those who embrace their failures are the ones who eventually become exceptional. We build our craft not always from precision accuracy, but by creating discoveries that, in time, will become stunning work. Just keep experimenting! Success isn’t built overnight.
 Get a mentor and listen. You need to listen before you “do.” Take classes with an instructor who moves your soul. And when assisting a stylist at a salon, show up only expecting to gain knowledge and do the work that no one else wants to do—this teaches you the ins and outs of a salon, how to engage with clients, and helps you to build experience in the most critical steps of guest service. These skills are mandatory for success! A closed mouth never gets fed, so speak up and always be aware that you are learning and trust the process.
 Know who you are. A good mentor will help you to eventually find your voice and truly know what kind of artist you will be and where you want to go in your career. Don’t just replicate others’ work—create your own so that clients need to keep coming back to you.
 Adapt and evolve. Get out of your own way. When a challenge arises, don’t dwell in the pitfalls of it—work to create a solution and potentially shift your initial vision in a new direction. The more education you have under your belt, the easier this is to accomplish.
 Give back and share what you know. I pride myself on understanding that the stylists who came before me have paved the way, and it’s our role as stylists who are the next in line to inspire the upcoming generation. This starts with empowering your salon colleagues and industry peers. Help new stylists build their own credibility and gain confidence. Share your victories, but also allow your protégés to make discoveries and find their voices. Also, remember: Leave your ego at the door (you’re not that cool, and neither am I). If you let your ego get in the way of helping others, you will lose career credibility and longevity. Be nice and share your truths. You got this! It’s a beautiful industry. Enjoy your journey.