Great Lengths has once again hosted Coffee Talk, featuring inspirational advice from Christina Reilly of Christina Reilly Hair Make-up & Beauty.
Glasgow-based Christina started hairdressing as a teenager, with a Saturday job in her local salon. Instantly, she knew she had found her calling and following an apprenticeship, built up a loyal salon clientele and started to experiment with clip-in hair pieces. Recognising a demand for the versatile, transformative effect of hair extensions, she signed up for training with Great Lengths and soon found herself inundated with requests for appointments, prompting her to pursue a freelancer career. Christina became the first freelance Great Lengths extensionist to reach Platinum, then Elite status and now works out of her own salon, where clients travel from all over the world to experience her expertise.
The informal Coffee talk chat was streamed live as part of a bi-monthly series of free webinars from Great Lengths, aimed at inspiring fellow stylists and salon owners with practical advice on how to grow their business. Passionate and knowledgeable, Christina shared her insight on building a thriving freelance career and how to maintain success. Her advice included the following:
Use social media
If you’re pursuing a freelance career, make use of social media as much as possible. Facebook was the biggest platform when I was starting out, so I used that to maximum capacity but now, we have Instagram and TikTok which are brilliant too. Word of mouth will help build your clientele but use social media to the best of your ability to really maximise your potential.
For me, one of the hardest things with going freelance was staying up to date with the latest trends and techniques. You don’t have others around you to inspire you and learn from. I made sure I was always improving by doing courses regularly – whether in-person or online – and using social media and magazines to stay on top of what’s new and on trend.
Work hard and make sacrifices
I still pinch myself that I achieved Great Lengths Elite status – and to be recognised for something I enjoy makes it ten times better! I’d advise anyone starting out in a freelance role to work hard and dedicate yourself to your craft. You’ll need to make sacrifices – at the beginning of my career, I worked all the time. I only took two weeks off when I had my daughter which was a huge sacrifice, but I had reached a level of business that I didn’t want to lose. I worked around the clock and accommodated everyone – for the first six months I did a lot of friends and family for free to build up my image library. The first two years is probably the hardest, but the rewards outweigh everything, and it does pay off after that. Give it 100%, stay focused, keep control, and write your dreams down. If I can do it, you can do it!
Keep pushing on
Whatever changes you are making in your career, it’s natural to worry that it might not work out. I think it’s human nature to second guess yourself – there are plenty of things that I have done that maybe haven’t been straightforward, but I just run with it. I’m the kind of person that never stands still. I’m quite ambitious and love pushing myself out of my comfort zone. The hairdressing industry is so fast moving that you must keep pushing on or you’ll get left behind.
Use consultations to your advantage
One of my biggest fears when I started out was that people wouldn’t understand why Great Lengths extensions cost more than other brands. Consultations helped play a massive part in this – they gave me time to explain the benefits and to let clients see the difference in the quality of the hair. Fortunately, they quickly understood that they get ten times the quality and the hair lasts twice as long – I always say if you buy cheap, you buy twice and most of my clients were happy to switch over because of this.