Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Vondracek .
Hi Sarah, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
At the age of 7 I knew I wanted to be a hairdresser when I grew up. I grew up going to the salon weekly for my grandma’s hair appointments, and I always loved being in a salon environment. I saw and experienced firsthand at a young age how something as simple as a haircut or color could completely boost someone’s self-esteem and confidence. I knew when I was old enough that I wanted to be able to do that for people, so that’s why I became a hairdresser; immediately after Graduating high school, I enrolled in cosmetology school and started in the fall of 2009. While in cosmetology school, I quickly discovered that I had dreamed of not only servicing clients behind the chair in a salon but also wanting to travel the world as a traveling stylist and style hair at New York Fashion Week. And worked with major beauty brands in the industry at the time; social media wasn’t what it is right now; opportunities I wanted for myself didn’t exist if you didn’t live in a big city. So after graduating from cosmetology school and receiving my license, I hit the ground running to make my dreams a reality. I took every class I could get my hands on to elevate my skill set for braids and styles. I would attend every hair show or industry event I could get myself to so I could network with the brands I hoped to work for one day. I assisted and took classes from stylists I looked up to, worked for free to grow my portfolio, and never said no to any opportunity, big or small, that came my way. I consistently did all those things for years before I saw any results or reward, but I didn’t give up, and that is the #1 thing I think it takes to achieve success. Consistency, a plan, belief in yourself and dreams, and never quitting made my dreams a reality. 3 years after receiving my cosmetology license, I became an educator for Sexy Hair. The opportunity with them changed my life and helped me reach my fullest potential as a stylist. Because of my role through Sexy Hair, I was given opportunities to make my dreams a reality through contests and events sponsored by the brand that I could participate in if chosen. Doing hair for New York Fashion Week was a definite goal I had for myself, and through a photoshoot, I submitted to the company, I earned the amazing honor of being chosen as a team member to style hair for The Blonds NYFW show.
The Blonds have dressed the who’s who of Hollywood, including Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Gwen Stefani, Paris Hilton, and Nicki Minaj, to name a few. To do hair for their runway show is still a career highlight for me and why I believe the impossible is possible! From there, I grew and developed even more with Sexy Hair and was encouraged by the brand to showcase my work on social media platforms. I worked consistently on Instagram, showcasing my work and networking on a larger scale and audience. I became a micro-influencer, and as my audience grew, so did paid endorsements, opportunities, collaborations, and my home base clientele. My passion and genuine love for what I do has connected me to the most amazing people (most of which I consider family), and I’ve been able to travel and work in the most amazing places that, at one time, I could only dream about. And I feel very blessed that I’ve been able to be inspired by others in the industry but also inspire others to dream big and chase the things that make us the happiest when the pandemic hits. I was at a peak in my career and had to adapt to a new life many of us had. From there, new dreams and goals started to emerge. Since travel and my old life of being a traveling stylist was out of the question for a while, I wanted to create my beauty oasis in the town I grew up in. So Beauty Marked Salon Suite was born because of my time as an educator and influencer. I have been exposed to the most amazing beautiful salons and concepts throughout the US. And I longed to service my clients, teach classes, and create content in a high-end, luxury, bright, modern environment in Franklin County, and that didn’t exist for me, so I created my salon, and that’s how Beauty Marked. Salon Suite came to be!
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. But if everything were easy, everyone would have what they want. The struggle is always the test to see how bad you want something. For me, the struggle at first was finding the perfect location. I went between several locations, and my biggest fear was getting over my head. And I was overthinking everything in the beginning. If the location was too small, there was the fear of growing too quickly, and if the location was too big, I was scared that it would compromise my vision too much to fund initial overhead expenses. So I needed to find something between the two, which was hard in my area. But I was patient, stayed true to my vision and gut feelings, and it happened. The other major struggle has been finding my voice. I’ve had to learn and understand quickly that I need always to protect my vision at all costs. Before having my salon, I’ve always struggled with putting up with things I was not ok with to spare someone’s feelings or to keep peace at the expense of my peace and feelings, and I’ve learned that’s not ok in any situation but especially when it’s your dream. But I will say having your money, name, and reputation on the line and investing so much time and energy in your business instilled a different kind of courage I never knew I had inside. It’s given me the courage to have uncomfortable conversations with others. And I’m no longer scared to voice my concerns, express how I feel, or let someone go if my vision is becoming compromised in someone else’s hands. If you are an introverted business owner like me, you know, lol, but because of my struggle, I’ve learned to find my voice and use it for the better. Every day, in any entrepreneurial ship, if you are doing it right, there will be a struggle in some way, shape, or form. There is no growth if there is no struggle, and if you are not growing, you are not taking steps to hit your goal. So the struggles I always look at not in a bad way but as a stepping stone and opportunity to go through it, to learn, adapt, grow, and do better, so one day and are fully prepared and ready to receive the things you have been praying and working for!
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I wear so many hats within the beauty industry. I’m a salon owner, a hair stylist, a beauty influencer, a content creator, and an educator. All the things, lol
I am known for and specialize in braids, up styles (special occasion hair/weddings), and hair extensions. My biggest reason for doing hair is that through my passion and love for hair, I get to help make my clients look and feel their best and boost their confidence by doing what I love. And also, by being an educator and salon owner, I can help mentor and inspire others as I have been. It’s the circle of life at its finest. I would be nothing without the selfless help and compassion from others towards me to help me on my journey when I needed guidance the most. And I want to do the same for others and always continue to share the same compassion and help I showed. I figure that the best mark I can leave in this world after I’m gone is to share my knowledge, mistakes, or just easier ways of doing things with others so I can make their journey a little bit easier than mine. With hopes, the compassion and help continue to be shared for years after.
I’m most proud of not giving up when things have become difficult. I’ve had so many career highlights, accomplished many dreams and goals for myself, and had opportunities I never thought I would have. But those are not the things I’m most proud of when I look back. The struggle and sometimes extremely dark places I had to pull my mind out of made me proud. Because I made it past some tough times and used my passion for doing better when the odds were not in my favor, I found solutions. When I think back to all the times I could have quit or felt like I should quit or felt defeated, and instead of stopping, I used it to work harder, and it makes me so proud to now see and know what all I would have missed out on if I would have taken the easier, shorter path. So in a way, my perseverance continues to guide and inspire me.
My willingness to continue to learn and be a student myself sets me apart from others. I’m honestly not the best at anything, but I am always striving to do better and be better every single day. For myself, my clients, and the stylists I’m lucky enough to share my knowledge with. Education is what keeps me inspired and creative. I’ll be honest if I don’t know something or a new technique. I don’t know, but I promise to take classes and try to learn them. The trends in our industry are constantly changing and evolving, and to me, the best part about being a hairdresser is that we get the creative freedom to change and develop our skill sets too constantly!!
What changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I see our industry in the next 5 years, service providers coming together to raise the bar on our business practices to elevate the standard in how beauty service professionals are treated and looked at. Through my hairdressing journey, people have looked at my profession as just a hobby and not the 6 figure earning potential and career that comes from having a cosmetology license. Our industry has been looked down on for quite some time because our industry standards of practice have accepted it. We tend to undercharge our worth, give discounts, and have no policies to protect our time. The list goes on and on when clients do a show or cancel last minute. And I’ve seen since I created better boundaries and policies surrounding my career that the level of clients that respects my time, art, and career now matches my standards. But it’s tough to have all clients accept my terms and conditions to book with me when most salons and stylists in my area are not doing the same. But it’s a change I’m committed to, and I will fight and advocate because services providers deserve more for the amount of strain we add to our bodies and the amount of money and time we spend on perfecting our crafts to provide our clients the best of the best. At the very minimum, we deserve to come to work and get paid. But if a client no shows or cancels last minute, our chair is mostly empty for that service, and our time and service fee for the last-minute cancellation or no-show is not compensated, but We are all slowly starting to catch on. And I feel it’s only a matter of time before the entire industry does and creates industry standards like cancellation policies, booking policies, charging our worth, etc., which I feel is a big shift in our industry.
Another change I would love to see, and I think it will happen, is that beauty schools will also change their curriculum. I feel schools should ensure that everyone completes school with a basic understanding of how to service every ethnicity and not just the primary race in the school’s area. In the next 5-10 years, my hope and the direction I see with inclusion is that every stylist graduating from cosmetology school will never have to turn a client away because they are unfamiliar with a specific ethnicity’s hair type.
Regarding trends I’m seeing, the texture will make a big comeback, perms (but in a more naturally healthy way), and styles from the ’40s and ’50s will re-emerge more modernly. And short to mid-length women’s cuts with lots of movement and natural volume will be on trend, and more natural colors will be popular. Still, the twist will be unexpected tones like ash and gold will be mixed to create a little more edge to natural colors and tones.
- Instagram: beautymarkedbysarah and beautymarkedsalonsuite
- Facebook: beautymarkedsalonsuite
Amanda Buckthorpe Elegant Illusions Photography