We LOVED chatting to Sherri Belanger, owner of Belle Sirene Salon in La Jolla, California.
She’s a well-established celebrity hairstylist who’s looked after the manes of ‘it girls’ in Hollywood, and is one of San Diego’s most highly regarded and in demand hairdressers.
You can check out Sherri’s amazing work on Instagram at @Sherri_Bellesirenesalon and @Bellesirenesalon. If you’re in La Jolla and surrounds, make sure to check out www.bellesirenesalon.comto find out how to make a booking.
She had some pearls of wisdom to share about her journey in the industry, a must read for anyone wanting to take their hair career game to the next level… read on!
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us, Sherri!
Tell us, what inspired you to become a hairdresser and then pursue it as your career?
As a kid, I had terrible hair. Super thick, kinky, frizzy and very unmanageable. I always wanted to know how I could tame it. The first visit to the hair salon where they blew out my hair straight was a game changer for me and I couldn't wait to graduate high school to start cosmetology school.
How did you first begin your career and get into the industry? Tell us about your journey in the hair world.
I attended a local beauty school and started planning where I wanted to work before I even graduated and got my license. I researched the type of salon I would want to work within and set up interviews to become an assistant once I finished school. I think some salon owners weren't interested because I hadn't graduated yet but some liked my drive so I ended up getting an assistant job at a top salon in my area.
At what point did you realise / decide that you wanted to make the leap from hairdresser and celebrity stylist to salon owner as well? How did you make your dream become a reality?
I always dreamed of working with celebrity clients and working on movie sets and such. I think we all glamourize that world and to work within it would be huge success. To get into that side of the hairdressing industry I moved to Los Angeles to fine tune my skill and over time, celebrities would get referred to me by friends and before I knew it, I had many high-profile clients booking months in advance for hair appointments with me.
When it came to opening my own salon though. I knew it wasn't something I should do until I was ready to surrender to the process. It's a 24/7 job in addition to my job as a hairstylist in the salon and I don't take it lightly. I knew the moment I felt ready to give up myself to my business and become more of a mentor and leader than a hairstylist that I was ready to take the leap.
What is the best part about your job?
Owning a salon enables me to build even more relationships with clients and my staff. It's like a bigger version of just being a hairdresser with more opportunity to impact those around you. With that comes a ton more pressure but I'm driven by it. Mentoring up and coming stylists is incredible and seeing smiling faces of our clients within my business is so rewarding. Our job is to help people feel beautiful and confident and having success in that is everything to me.
What’s been your career highlight in hairdressing?
One of the most special moments of my career as a hairstylist was being asked to style my client, actress Becca Tobin for her wedding in Jackson Hole Wyoming. She took care of my entire trip and even invited me to her beautiful, intimate wedding.
It was such an honor she trusted me to beautify her on such a special day. My husband was able to come along with so we even got to make a mini vacation out of the trip. All very awesome.
You are a go-to hair girl for celebrities and 'it girls' in Hollywood.
You manage to fit this in, along with managing the salon and looking after clients. Do you have time for your own hair?!
Ask any hairdresser when they have time to do their own hair and they'll laugh! I keep my hair quite low maintenance because time is so limited but every so often we will sneak into the salon when it's closed and sneak some highlights into my hair! Sometimes my celebrity clients have to come in before or after the salon is open to fit in their hair too. I guess it's all a juggling act really.
What parts of your job do you find the most challenging?
I guess back to the above question, finding the time to do it all! I also try to be available to all of my staff any time they need advice or any sort of support, so just balancing time it the trickiest. I typically wake up before sunrise to get the most time out of the day.
What is the best piece of advice you have received during your career journey in hair?
Don't focus on the money. If you become so focused on every dollar, you are not giving your all to the service, to your customer, and you may even make irrational decisions.
When building your business - you need to focus on your skill and the customer experience. If that is your priority above anything else before you know it the money flows in greater than you could've imagined. You need to invest in your client relationships for true success.
What’s the greatest thing you’ve learned during your career?
Don't sweat the small stuff. Pick and choose your battles. Your time is so valuable and it shouldn't be wasted being anxious and stressed out all the time.
How do you think you’ve evolved as a hairdresser over the years? What would you tell your younger self now?
I definitely see the importance in ongoing education as our industry is constantly evolving. I'd tell my younger self to never get comfortable in any situation and always keep striving to learn and grow, even when you feel like you've "made it".
How do you think that social media has impacted the world of hairdressing? Do you feel like it’s helped you and your salon?
It's helped our world tremendously! it's a free marketing tool where we get to showcase our work in real time. We get a ton of business through Instagram, there’s no doubt about that. There are some downfalls though, when it comes to people filtering / editing hair photos and not telling the whole back story to "after" photos.
Instagram makes it seem like a breeze to do some near impossible hair transformations, so in ways it sets unrealistic expectations. It's become a hairdresser’s job to properly explain this to their customers though, and fully educate them on the process.
What’s the most common hair request from your clients at Belle Sirene?
My clients love a sun kissed blonde look with beachy waves.
What is the most common hair struggle that your clients come to you in the salon with?
How to prolong dirty hair days in which I answer: DRY SHAMPOO... game changer.
What do you think is the biggest mistake clients are making with their hair / haircare routine?
Not investing in the proper shampoo, conditioner, and styling products their trusted stylist recommends. Why spend hundreds of dollars on your hair and then go buy something random from Target?! Your stylist can prescribe you the exact products that should keep your hair and scalp healthy while prolonging your color.
Tell us, what is your number 1 hair hack?
Dry shampoo again. Saves me on my extra busy mornings from washing and styling my hair.
What about your go-to drug store / supermarket hair products for girls on a budget?
I know it's not the answer people want, but I really don't know of any since I get all my stuff through my own salon. if I had to purchase product from the supermarket though I'd buy a hairspray or setting gel. For any sort of treatment products, I'd stick to salon brands.
Which hair trend are you loving right now?
I absolutely love a blunt bob or ‘lob’ (long bob).
Which hair trend do you wish would disappear, never to return?!
chunky zebra stripe highlights can RIP forever.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to up their hair game and improve the health and look of their locks?
Find an amazing hairdresser! They can help you achieve all your hair goals.
What is your favourite product from the Hello Hair range?
The Hydrating Shampoo & Conditioner Duo for Blondes is amazing!
It makes your hair feel so good and definitely brightens my blonde.
You are expecting a baby this year – congratulations! So many exciting changes are happening in your life! What is next for Belle SIrene, and for you personally in 2018 and beyond?!
Yes, big life change with the baby on the way! I'm so addicted to Belle Sirène and my clients that becoming a mom will just be another new role to throw into the mix.
I've been at full capacity with stylists at my salon for quite some time now so I'm always visiting the idea of expanding and evolving. I'm hoping to get myself back in front of the camera more to share all my tips and tricks with hair and business. I've been so focused on building the salon this side has taken a backseat but I'm ready to evolve myself again moving forward.