We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela McCormick and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, how do you think about risk?
Risk sharpens your intelligence. Risk focusses you, motivates you, and makes you more alert. Because of risk’s precarious nature, you can’t afford not to be.
I have taken many risks in my life, both personally and professionally. I have traveled to other countries alone, learned how to ride a motorcycle, and befriended people that are wildly different from me. I have walked away three times from a settled and stable life to a new city, with no reputation, no connections, and no clientele. As a hairstylist in a commission only based industry, this is very risky. Especially, post 2008 when salons where going out of business and struggling to maintain their standard of luxury and preeminence.
However, because of these experiences, I have had the greatest amount of personal and professional growth. Living in different cities and working in various salons I have learned new techniques and new schools of thought. I learned to understand the nuances between style and taste between different demographics. Being in an extremely competitive industry, I took a risk and expanded my skill set by my learning photography and photo editing.“Am I wasting my time with this? Will this help me or is it taking time away from something else I should be focused on? Is it too late?” I continued on and since then photography has helped me tremendously.
Needless to say, it not all fun and games. Risk taking is stressful, uncomfortable, and sacrificial. It requires toughness and perseverance. As much as risk can propel you forward it can greatly set you back, but if you can navigate through the challenges that come with risk you can gain new skills, new shifts in perspective and greater insight.
Risk is Risk. And what “Risk is to you” doesn’t change what it actually is. I believe the benefit of risk lies in the journey, not the destination. What you learned and experienced, not what you achieved. That way, you will be grateful for your decision no matter what the outcome.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started my career 21 years ago, at 14, learning cosmetology at a trade school. When I was 17, I started working for a Russian woman who wore lopsided wigs and smoked a pack of cigarettes between each client. She owned a salon in a shopping plaza, off an exit of a highway and charged $10 a haircut. I worked for her for three years and the day I left that salon to work in Boston, she cried and blew me kisses as I backed out of the driveway.
From there I started my apprenticeship assisting a nationally acclaimed hairstylist who owned one the most prestigious salons in Boston. Here, not only did we learn about hair, but we delved into art, film, photography, and fashion. This knowledge and experience helped fuel the rest of my career.
Ready for a new challenge, I moved to New York City and began to build new clientele, while continuing to maintain a clientele in Boston. I had private clients in Miami and flew there monthly. During this time, I took on photography and started to create my own photoshoots working with designers and models. After After 7 extraordinary years in New York, I am now enjoying living and working in LA.
I have had and now have a very satisfying career, but it is not without its’ setbacks of course. Any hairstylist who has been in this industry as long as I have, will tell you of their battle wounds from working for manipulative owners, competitive and snarky hairstylists, useless managers, frustrated assistants, and front desk attendants who book new clients solely with stylists they are “friends with.” Pair this with illegal tax situations, employee misclassification, the general relinquishing of salon management responsibilities and hoisting them onto the backs of employees, all of which can be difficult to navigate and many of which I have experienced even in the most reputable of salons.
Working this way creates stress and a feeling of instability. However, the biggest mistake you can make is letting the nonsense rob you of your attention from where it really needs to be, which is with your work, your clients, your education and your personal growth. You can acknowledge the problems you are facing, and try to understand them, but you must be disciplined to mentally put it all aside. Especially, because there is always more to discover with hairstyling. Psychologically: How does this look make them feel? Sociologically: What does this look communicate to the clients’ social circle and community. Does it help them fit in or do they aim to stand out? Chemically: How the hair structure reacts to the products applied while coloring. Geometrically: The shape, angles and form of the haircut. All of this is very important.
I’m proud of all that I have learned and how much I have evolved as a hairstylist. It’s been rewarding to incorporate photography within my work and I am excited to start new projects. I’m honored to be able to satisfy the demands of a discerned clientele. I have met some of the most intelligent, fascinating, and inspiring people through my work, and it’s fulfilling to be able to create a look for them that makes them feel the most like themselves and gives them the confidence to live their life to the best of their ability.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If someone came to visit, I would take them to Cafe Gratitude and Sage, so they can experience how good vegan food can be. I would take them to The Row in DTLA, for Smorgasbord and shopping. For a night out I love Bar Flores in Echo Park. LA has an incredible Latin music scene and anywhere I could find Spaghetti Cumbia, El Santo Golpe , or La Mera Candelaria perform, I would take them there. I have yet to go to the Comedy Store or the LACMA, but I think those would be great places to go as well. Also, Malibu, El Matador, and Palos Verdes beaches are just too beautiful to miss.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Shout out I have to shout out my boyfriend John Coulter. As an artist himself, I can always count on his refined eye, and incredible taste whenever I need input. John is addicting to talk to, he is a fountain of knowledge and I can pick his brain about almost anything and be sure to be enlightened. In addition to that he is always so encouraging and supportive.
I shout out my mother Nancy who inspires me with her wisdom, compassion, and hard work, and my father “Fast Freddy” who showed me really what it means to walk on the wild side.