How I Became a Professional Stylist

Professional Stylist

Atlanta GeorgiaI started playing with hair at a young age. My mother had a collection of wigs that she used for when she went out on her Aveda selling spree in our hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. My mother didn’t bother doing up her hair because she said it took too much time. And she used to work in a salon, so she would style her wigs. She had four wigs. There was a black one, a blonde one, a brunette and a red one. And they each had names. She felt that giving them names let her embody the character of the wig. The black one was called Amy; the blonde one was Lindsay; the brunette was Jessica, and the red one was Sophia. It was fun to watch because she did really change when she wore the different wigs. It might have been the fact that she enjoyed acting when she was younger. She starred in several school plays, and she wanted to be an actress. But, she had me instead. I sometimes felt bad because I felt like I was the reason she had to stop pursuing her dreams. I told her this once and she told me to never think that way. She gets to live her dream through the characters she embodies on a daily basis, but one thing that doesn’t change is how much I mean to her. I really have the best Mom.

Best-hair-dryer-with-comb-attachmentShe started teaching me tricks on teasing hair, blow-drying hair and how to use a comb properly. So, she bought me a wig of my own to practice on because she didn’t want me ruining hers. But, what she didn’t know when she left the house was that I would put the wigs on and try to embody the characters she had created. I would put on her pearls and dance around the house to music from Hairspray (our favorite musical). Amy was my favorite wig because it was the big, beehive hair you saw in the 1960s. One day when she went out, I put on a dress of hers, a pair of red high-heels, the hair, the pearl necklace and earrings, and I tried my hand at makeup. I put the blonde wig on this time because I wanted to look like Marilyn Monroe. I even drew the little freckle above my lip to look more like her. I danced around to “I Wanna Be Loved By You.” My mom walked right back into the house about 20 minutes after she had left to find me dressed as Marilyn. And to my surprise she didn’t mind that I was dressed as a girl. She didn’t slap me, hit me or anything. She smiled and told me that I have never looked prettier. She dropped her purse, started the record over and started dancing and lipsyncing with me. That is my fondest memory of my mother. She never once made me feel like an outsider and always accepted me for whatever foolish act I was endeavoring in at the time. She was my rock.

StylistMy mother was my inspiration to get a job as a professional stylist. I moved away when I was 18 years old and moved in with my Aunt in Hollywood, Florida. And that’s where she helped me get a job at Allure Hair Salon. She knew the owner and that was my first step to becoming a stylist. I learned everything I know at Allure, and I moved on to starting my own hair salon back in Atlanta after four years with Allure. I moved back in with my Mom because I wanted to help her the way she helped me. About three years later, my mother would pass from breast cancer. And I decided to sell the salon and move. I didn’t want to be in Atlanta anymore. I didn’t want to be on the East Coast anymore. So, I packed up and moved to California. I worked in a high end salon in Beverly Hills, and I met my life and business partner there. We started our own hair salon on Rodeo Drive. It has been 15 years since we opened the salon and I couldn’t be happier. I only wish my mother could be here to see how happy and successful I am. I like to think she knows. But, I miss her wise words. And most of all, I miss dancing with her.

Passion for Drawing & Construction

Construction

My mother is an English teacher at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville. And my sisters and I were sent there because my parents both graduated from that school. So, it had become a family tradition that we study in the same schools as they did, but college was our choice. Not that we got a choice in whether or not we wanted to attend, but we got to pick the college we wanted to attend. I was the youngest of four children. And the last one still in high school. My eldest sister, Johanna, moved to Australia after graduating with her Bachelor’s in Marine Biology; my second eldest sister, Elsa, became a painter and is now traveling through Europe; my older sister, Vanessa, is in New York studying at Parson’s; and I’m the undecided one still in high school. I had no idea what I wanted to study. I had never been able to answer the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” question. And honestly, I just feel like I might need a break from school.

I have always been Daddy’s little girl. I heard my Mom telling my grandmother that my Dad is the reason I’m undecided about my future. See, all my sisters followed in my mother’s footsteps. They were all organized, had clear motivations and drives, meanwhile, I was watching Ed, Edd & Eddy on Cartoon Network. The only thing I really liked to do was draw. I drew landscapes, buildings, Anime, and eyes. I have a fondness for drawing eyes. Why? I’m not entirely sure. I think it has to do with my desire to capture the depth in eyes. I like to be able to capture a moment of sadness, joy, anger or angst that shows up in a person’s eyes. I get my drawing talents from my father. He showed me how to draw at a young age and I’ve taken to it. My father is in the construction business and he works for Albertelli Construction as an architect. I’m not entirely sure that being an architect is for me, but I do like drawing. Although, I’m not sure I want to pursue a career with something that I enjoy doing as a hobby. I’m afraid the passion will deteriorate, and then I won’t even have my artistry.

I’ve spoken to my sister Elsa, but she is hardly available. Plus, our talents are different. She started drawing murals and I only draw sporadically. Elsa is a painter and an accomplished artist. And I’m like the ugly duckling, except I’m not sure that I’m going to grow into a more accomplished person. My Mom is pushing me to pursue a career in art because she thinks that’s where I’ll strive. But, I think graphics would be a better way to channel my passion into something that won’t tarnish my passion for drawing. Thinking about it, it makes total sense to pursue a career in graphics because I have the eye for detail. I am a capable artist. I’m quite savvy with a computer.

After speaking to my Mom and Dad about graphic designing, and they think I should take some online courses and see how I like them. I start my first set of classes on Saturday because they don’t want me to let my high school studies falter in the wake of my new burning desire. I hope it sticks because I’m not sure what else I could do. I could become an interior designer, but unless people want walls covered with One Direction posters I’m not sure I’d be very good at it. So, keep your fingers crossed for me! I would hate to be a disappoint in a family that has found success in everything they have pursued. Maybe I’m meant to stumble, but I refuse to be the black sheep who just does not fit in.

Support Our Troops

Support Our Troops

PS2When I was younger, I lost my father in the Iraq war. My mother never remarried. Instead, we moved in with my grandparents. I was ten years old when all this happened. I never went to the funeral because my family didn’t think it was right for a child to go to a funeral. My grandparents in particular didn’t want me there because they didn’t want me to see my father get buried. And to be honest, I don’t remember what they told me nor do I remember crying. It’s sort of just blacked out. But, I still had a picture of him in my room and I got to keep his medal right by the PlayStation 2 he had promised to teach me how to play. I didn’t touch the thing until a year later. I played Need for Speed. And I tried to play the game because I had never liked cars. I just wanted to play because I was missing my Dad that day. I played a timed trial, and I saw my father. Well, not my father per se. But, it was like a ghost of his best-timed game. He finished the race in 57 seconds. My first attempt was 2:30. It became my goal to catch up to my Dad.

Lamborghini-Ferruccio-Concept-1I would come home from school every day, finish my homework because if I didn’t my Mom would sit and watch me until I was done, and then I’d sit and play. It was like sitting with my Dad and he was teaching me how to play the game. He was teaching me how to catch up to him. I must have tried over a hundred times to get close to him, but the closest I ever got was 1:20. I was still 23 seconds over. I played and played, and then I gave up because I couldn’t do it. I put the PlayStation away and I didn’t pick it up for another week. I brought it back out and gave it one more try. And I did it. I finally caught up to him. I sped past him. The Lamborghini ghost was behind me now and my Ferrari was almost at the finish line. But, I stopped. I let him pass me. I didn’t want my time to best his because then I would never see that ghost again. And I customdesignwanted to keep a part of my father alive. Even though it was just a machine that had saved his best time, it was still a moment I had been able to share with my father. And if I ever missed him again, I wanted to be able to visit that place once more.

When I turned 18, I decided to follow in my father’s footsteps. It was a good way to help me through college, and I wanted to learn more about the type of person my father was by putting myself in his shoes. My family made t-shirts to send me off with the help of MakeaTeeOnline.com. They made shirts that said “Support Our Troops.” I cried a lot that day because I wasn’t going to see them for a year.

Bringing Your Dad to School

Dads

It was “Bring Your Dad to School Day” at my middle school, Upper Darby High School, and I was so excited for everyone to meet my Dad. He was a real estate agent in Beverly Hills. He worked with a lot of big clients and got to meet quite a few celebrities. I once got to meet my hero at the time, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. I had asked my Dad to bring him to school, but he told me he couldn’t do that because Mr. Johnson was out of town. I remember being disappointed about that because I wanted to show up Tommy Kingfield’s Dad who was the chief fireman in Beverly Hills. He brought a Dalmatian to school.

Nevertheless, my Dad blew everyone away with what he said about his work. He showed them pictures of the houses he had sold to celebrities. And then in the middle of his show and tell, he got a phone call. He was all smiles and told the person on the phone to park in the back and come to room 112. All the kids whispered amongst each other and tried to figure out who might be coming. My Dad winked at me and then a silhouette covered the glass on the door. We waited anxiously for the door to prop open. The door handle clicked and the door started to open. And in walked The Rock! My Dad introduced him to the class and then he asked me to step up to meet my hero.

I got out of my seat, headed toward The Rock and I shook his hand. His hand was bigger than both my hands stacked on top of each other. I only came up to his belly button because he was so tall! He then told the class about how my Dad had helped him find the perfect home for his family. And he told me that I had the best Dad in the world and I replied, “I know.” We then all took a class photo with The Rock and he signed a few autographs and gave us WWE merchandise. And just as he was about to leave, he told us he had one more surprise. The door opened and other wrestlers walked in! Triple H, The Hardy Boyz, Brock Lesnar and Kane. I kid you not, everyone’s mouths fell to the floor. We were all in awe of the wrestlers because they were our heroes! They stuck around and took pictures with everyone, signed autographs and gave out more merchandise. When the teacher asked who wanted to be a real estate agent like my Dad, everyone raised their hands.

16 years since then, I have followed in my father’s footsteps, somewhat. I decided to become a real estate agent at first, but then I realized I didn’t love it. I then tried my hand at modeling and I found that it wasn’t for me either, so I went back into being a real estate agent. But, this time, I decided I was going to find investors to build communities. I found investors and we decided on hiring Acamas Civil Engineering to handle our planning and development in Florida. After selling out all the homes, we decided to invest once more and build a 55+ community that once again sold out. From there, we moved onto building several more communities and today we have developed and sold over 10 communities.

Let’s Talk About Cancer Charities

Cancer Charities

Healthy T CellI was thirteen years old when my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 pancreatic cancer. I remember we were all in the hospital with her when she was diagnosed at Northwest Hospital & Medical Center. My Dad got a severe look from my mother to keep it together and my brother, Gael, just broke down. I stood there silently. My Dad hugged my brother, and I told my Mom that I would stay home from school this year to take care of her. She sternly retorted “No.” But, I told her that I had a plan. I had been working on this plan for a while because I could tell she wasn’t doing well. I told her that I would stay home, get home schooled by a tutor and do my classwork online. That way I could stay home and take care of her. And she yelled, “No.” So, my angst-driven, teenage-self retorted, “Well, then just make it quick!” Right after, I remember a loud snap hitting my ear drum before a ringing took over, my cheek burned hot, one of my molars came loose and my head snapped to my right. I turned to my left slowly with my hand on my now pulsating cheek, tears welling up in my eyes and watched as my father went from puffing angrily to his face drooping. His eyes spilled tears, his puffing became murmured howls and his arms pulled me in close. He breathed heavily on my head, and I sobbed onto his checkered button down. My Mom could only watch on with tears in her eyes as her family wept together.

Vista View ChaletI didn’t get to stay home and watch over my Mom. My parents decided it would be best if both my brother and I were out of the house. We went both worked during the day over the summer. My Mom decided against the chemotherapy because she didn’t want to be suffering. I think she knew that there was no going back with the cancer she had. Instead, we took our family holiday one last time. We drove to Lake Wenatchee and stayed in the Vista View Chalet cabin for 3 weeks. My Mom was the one with the most energy. She fought hard to make us all smile and laugh again. I’ll always remember that about her. She never let anything get her down. She wanted to make sure that our last days with her were the best time we’d ever spent together. She passed away four months later.

Because of my Mom, my Dad opened up a foundation for cancer research. We had shirts made for the organization through Charitees. That was probably the hardest year of my life. But, I’ll always cherish the time we had at the cabin. That was my Mom. She was full of life, full of spunk and I am so glad to have known her. And most of all, I hope to one day be half the person she ever was.

Leaving Your Mark

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48042159_sI had just graduated from college when I got promoted to marketing manager at the marketing firm I worked for in Miami. I graduated with my marketing bachelor’s from the University of Miami. I worked through my college years to pay part of the tuition while my parents paid for the other half. They didn’t want me to take out loans because they didn’t want me to be in debt. Plus, my Dad always said that the financial aid program was a scam anyways.

I had been with the marketing company for about two years before they promoted me from marketing assistant. It felt good to get recognition for the effort that I had put in. It was an especially proud moment for me because I was a full-time student and a full-time employee. About a year later, I got word of a new position that was opening up in Atlanta, Georgia. I interviewed for the position, and I got the job. I was happy, but sad at the same time. I was going to be a state away from my family and friends. And I was going to have start anew in a whole new world. But, I was ready for the challenge!

I contacted a bunch of movers, but the only ones that really stuck out were Top Notch Movers. They gave me the best quote, and the guy I spoke to, Mike, was genuinely nice and made me feel like I was more than just a customer. I packed my own things because I found out I could save a little money that way. It was fun to rummage through my possessions. I found old yearbooks, my blanky from when I was five years old and my Spider-Man action figures.

49478985_sI said my goodbyes, and I headed up to meet the movers in Atlanta. They were there before I was and they had already unloaded the truck. Once I opened the doors to my apartment, it was no time before they had brought all the boxes in and helped me unpack. I phoned my parents to let them know I was safe and sound, and I set to making my apartment homier.

The next day, I began my first day of work and everyone was very welcoming. They actually brought out a cake at lunch because it was my birthday and they had got word from the Miami office about my birthday. I think I’m going to love working here.