Working her scissors at salons since she was a teenager, these days New York City hair stylist Jasmine Burnside can be found helming the chair at the Whittemore House Salon in the West Village, as well as freelancing on sets and shoots. We caught up with Jasmine to hear about what sparked her lust for hair, what tools of the trade are her ultimate secret weapons, and meeting her hair idol.
How long have you been working as a professional hair stylist?
I’ve been working as a professional hair stylist for about five years.
What sparked your passion for doing hair?
I’ve been passionate about doing hair since I was a teenager. I’ve been in and out of salons working as an assistant since I was 14, so I’ve always been involved in it and around it, and then developed a stronger passion for it as I’ve grown as a hair stylist.
When and how did you know this is what you wanted to pursue full-time as a career?
I decided I wanted to be a hair stylist as my career once I had already applied to college and had to make a major life decision. I always knew in the back of my mind that I really enjoy doing hair, but was asking myself if I could really make a career out of it, a living out of this – will I still be as passionate about it if it were my fulltime job? Once I had to make those major life decisions, it was more about what couldn’t I give up. So, I decided to go for it right out of high school. I think that the passion not only stayed, but has actually grown. That level of passion also changes and goes through different phases – when you’re in cosmetology school, it’s a different kind of passion, a different kind of drive. So I still have great passion for it, but it’s always changing.
What’s the most fulfilling part of being a hair stylist?
I have a really hard time picking out my favorite parts, so I’ll give you a couple: If I’m at the salon and I’m taking care of my clients, it’s about seeing the look on their face when I make even a little change, and they’re suddenly wowed, like they weren’t even aware that their hair was capable of this. A little change can make such a huge difference! Also, creating a new look is so rewarding, that I’m eager to see where it takes me.
When you were just starting out, what was the most challenging part of making a name for yourself and building your clientele? What helped in overcoming that?
The most challenging part is being self-critical. The hair scene is very competitive in New York, since you’re around so much talent, so you really have to focus on not worrying so much about what others think and what you’re creating, and to just be confident in yourself. That has probably been the biggest challenge. What helps me overcome this is of course to keep practicing, but to also practice confidence. Just doing the same thing over and over again, taking classes, putting yourself out there – all of that has been a big help. I make an effort to keep trying hard and never give up.
What’s one of the proudest or most memorable moments in your career so far?
I’m proud of myself even when it comes to smaller goals that I meet, but one of my biggest moments has probably been assisting Guido Palau. He’s one of my biggest hair idols. He’s the Global Director for Redken, and he does a lot of editorial hair work. I had the opportunity to assist him for a Vogue photoshoot. I didn’t think it’d happen as quickly as it did, which just goes to show that when you put yourself out there, or even just head up to New York, it makes all those opportunities more of a real possibility. Seeing him in person and being influenced by him was probably my proudest moment so far. A lot of it is ultimately about putting yourself at the right spot. For example, I work at the Whittemore House salon – when I applied there I knew that the two owners worked closely with Guido, and because I knew that, I knew there was a chance I would possibly be able to get that opportunity. I thank the salon so much, because I would not have been able to do so without their guidance and support.
What is your ultimate professional dream?
I have a couple of professional dreams, but right now I’m trying to think in increments. I always have a five year plan, and five year goals, but I try to set smaller goals along the way and meet them. So right now I really just want to focus on growing myself and seeing how I can do hair and be passionate about what I do, but also work more for myself. As much as i love working at the salon and taking consistent clients and as much as I always want to be doing that a few days a week, I also want to get with an agency and go that route, see what that brings me, to allow myself to be my own boss and have a little more control.
What is your all time favorite hair product or tool? Something you can’t live without.
My all-time favorite tools include my Mason-Pearson brush, because I can not only use it on myself, but if I’m ever on a shoot or working with a client, you can use it to do almost anything: you can create waves with it, you can make hair super-smooth straight hair with it, or really anything else. So, always go for a solid brush you can rely on. As far as products, right now I’m really loving the Ouai Wave Spray – it’s from Jen Atkin’s line, and I love it because it’s a mixture of a salt spray for nice waves, but with good hold so you can use it as hairspray.
What’s something you do in the mornings to help prepare you for your day?
Coffee! Coffee always helps me in the morning, and I can not do a thing without it. I make myself breakfast, I watch Vice News, and get ready for my day. Nothing is set in stone, so the rest tends to change.
What’s one tip you’d give someone who’s just starting out their career as a hair stylist?
The biggest piece of advice I’d give someone who’s just starting out as a hair stylist would be to not stand in your own way, and to not give up. If you’re truly passionate about something and you see yourself somewhere, you need to really go for it, because if you settle, you’re never going to meet your goals.
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