Being a Fashion Designer & Cosmetologist at Once

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Hello Guidance Counselor,
I am a freshman in high school and I want to be a cosmetologist and fashion designer. My friends and family have seen my sketches and designs, as well as my work with hair, and they encourage me to do both. I have the skills but I would like to improve upon them. I have made up my mind that I want to be both a cosmetologist and a fashion designer. Any career tips?


Thanks for writing, Naee! It's great to encounter someone who is so young with such a good grasp on her passions. Both ideas are creative careers in which persistence, hard work and lots of practice will help you be successful. So if you are intent on doing both, make a plan to achieve your goals.

First of all, which would you like to accomplish first? I recommend cosmetology school first, as it is a relatively short program (most are about a year long) that accepts students still in high school or just after they have graduated. There are no prerequisite requirements for cosmetology courses and you can easily enroll at a community college or private beauty school. Once you have completed your studies and passed the licensing exam, you can develop a good income stream to support yourself through fashion design school.

A two- or four-year program for fashion design demands that you spend lots of time designing, sketching and sewing pieces for your classes. A flexible job like doing hair allows you time to go to class and finish projects. Working behind the chair, you have a sounding board for your fashions: your clients! By wearing your pieces to work, you can garner feedback, sell pieces and take custom orders. Also, you get to know people of every shape and size to be your fit or runway models.

Although I love my blended career, it has taken me more time to be successful in both my writing and hairstyling than it might have taken if I just pursued one aspect at a time. Consider the following points when planning your education and career:

  1. Your education budget. Do you have the funds to put yourself through two courses of study? What kinds of grants and scholarships are available to you?
  2. Your timeline. How soon will you complete school? Is there room to take a semester off and travel for inspiration? Will you work in between courses?
  3. Your future home. Think about where you need to live in order to be the most successful stylist and fashion designer you can be. If that is New York City, it would be smart to apply to a cosmetology program in the state of New York so that you don’t have to finish additional hours or take another State Board exam when you move away from home.

In the meantime, put together vision boards of your goals, featuring designers or stylists who inspire you, pieces you love or styles you want to recreate, and ideas about your future. When you are finished with these collages, you will be able to focus on what really inspires you to succeed.

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