By Emily Gresbrink
Emily Kaufman is a different kind of artist.
“No day is ever the same,” she said. “I have a lot of fun doing what I do.”
Kaufman, 20, works at Saxy Salon as a hairstylist and finds that creating something unique and beautiful comes not only from a paintbrush or pencil, but also from a bit of pomade and a pair of scissors.
The roots of a career
Kaufman’s love for locks began late in her high school career. She said that throughout high school she planned to become a dental hygienist. But after graduating from North high school in 2009, her career goals switched from dentistry to hairstyling after seeing the success of her cousin in cosmetology school.
“I saw my cousin going through school (the Salon Professional Academy in Eau Claire) and…I decided it looked really fun,” Kaufman said. “I’ve always wanted to follow in her footprints.”
Kaufman graduated from SPA in just 11 months, finishing first in her graduating class of six students. The United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that in order to graduate from cosmetology school and earn state licensure, a student must complete courses and a designated amount of hands-on training. Each state has specific requirements regarding the number of training hours and examinations.
For the state of Wisconsin, a student must take hands-on and written exam following more than 1,500 hours of training and classes. The process, Kaufman said, takes anywhere from 10 months to a year and a half.
Soon after graduation, she started working at a salon in Eau Claire. When that position did not work out as planned, she looked around the city for another position.
Salon manager Alisha Rosenbrook described when Kaufman first came to Saxy.
“Before Emily (Kaufman) started here, she used to actually get her hair cut here and she was always really fun,” she said. “We…needed someone and I thought of her and that she’d be a good fit.”
Kaufman says she then was contacted by Saxy regarding a job.
“They (the salon) called me and that was it,” she said.
The buzz on the job
Kaufman’s typical day at Saxy involves a blend of routine maintenance tasks as well as hairstyling, cutting techniques and other procedures, such as waxing. She is learning how to color and do “foils,” a highlighting/lowlighting process using strips of foil wrapped around the hair.
Eau Claire resident Stuart Hagen is a Saxy customer, but has his hair cut by Kaufman for the first time in April 2011.
“She did a good job,” he said. “I’ll come back to see her. She’s very talented.”
Kaufman said that the other stylists help her out a lot as she learns the ways of Saxy.
“They’re teaching me their ways because I haven’t been doing hair too long,” she said. “I can always learn more.”
Stylist Laura King remembers that Kaufman made a good first impression when starting out and that she has become more comfortable with customers.
“She’s shy, but she warmed up really fast,” King said. “She’s doing really well.”
Rosenbrook said Kaufman’s eager attitude to learn more is what will keep her a successful stylist as she learns and heads into the future.
“Things are always changing in a place like this,” Rosenbrook said. “You need to keep progressing.”
A lasting hold
While Kaufman has been working at Saxy for only a few months, her impact on the salon is already noticeable.
“She’s just willing…and wanting to learn,” Rosenbrook said. “She wants to know why and how to do it, or if there’s something new she wants to know about it.”
King added that Kaufman shows potential for a bright future.
“She has a couple clients and she’ll probably build that up pretty fast,” she said. “She loves it and is still here. I think she’s going to be pretty good.”
Becoming a hairstylist—an artist for the hair—is something Kaufman would tell anyone considering it to go for.
“I definitely love how much I’ve learned so far,” she said. “It’s really a fun job to have and you won’t regret it. I wouldn’t go back to school for anything else at all.”