An Interview with Cristy Tate: Knowing the Beauty Industry from Beginning to End

Rose Alarcon

Cristy Tate, a graduate from Kean University and Paul Mitchell Beauty School, discusses her journey from college student into the thriving and knowledgeable salon manager that she is today. What’s truly inspiring about Cristy’s career path is that, after beauty school, she didn’t immediately begin working in a salon, but instead tried out different roles within the beauty school circuit. Her commitment towards educating herself shows her sheer passion for her job and makes her a valuable asset within her field.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a hairstylist and makeup artist based out of New Jersey. I’m so proud to be working in the beauty industry because I enjoy a career which not only makes me happy but allows me to help others. In my downtime, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends. My family makes up a large part of my life and I’m so grateful to have such a great support system. Currently, I manage a salon full time and love what I do! In my spare time I like to (shockingly) do crafts, go out for drinks, and I love a good charcuterie board at any time of the day.

What made you get into doing what you do now?

I always had the desire to create things and also help people. Prior to becoming a hairstylist and makeup artist, I had graduated Kean University with a BA in English and ended up in social work. I felt extremely fulfilled, but only in part. In order to feel complete, I knew that I would need to do more. While I was in beauty school, I realized that creating something beautiful entailed so much more than just a haircut or style. Something beautiful resulted from the interactions I had with the women I was able to sit with. Boosting their day felt amazing and therefore boosted my own!

What differentiates you from others within your industry?

I think some of the major differences between myself and others is my resume. I have had quite a few different career paths that have eventually brought me where I am today. Originally, I was studying to be a teacher, but then decided that wouldn’t work, so I picked up a minor in marketing. I graduated with my minor and a BA in English. I moved to social work, started doing makeup on the side, and graduated Paul Mitchell within a year. After graduating, instead of going behind the chair, I used my prior skillset to work within the Admissions and Marketing Teams at the same beauty school I attended. For the next few years, I worked in beauty schools and really learned about the industry from conception to end. I have tried working in every possible position in order to be prepared for any difficulty. After working within the schools, I then ended up managing a salon and have been there ever since. My education and journey definitely separate me from the pack. However, it is my genuine concern for those around me and my passion for helping all types of people are what allows me to continue growing!

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

The next five years are going to be super exciting! I feel as though I’ll be growing tremendously in the next few years, both personally and professionally. I would like to work more in my industry, grow the podcast my best friend and I started, and see where life takes me without ever losing my vigor for achievement! The field of beauty offers a ton of advancement, so I would love to continue to improve, build a team of successful stylists, and work more in depth with companies that I love. At some point, I also see myself starting a family!

What challenges have you faced while building your business and brand?

I have faced a few challenges here and there, but for the most part I am truly blessed to have a strong intuition and (most of the time) a positive attitude. I would say my biggest challenge was just allowing myself to be me. My confidence was low. I always felt that I needed to have a certain job or be married by a certain time. I was never confident enough in my wants and desires (until I was a bit older) to do what I dreamed career wise. After accepting myself for who I am and proceeding forward with my career, I finally felt excited to go to work every day. I’m now free from any mental strain and I don’t struggle with questioning what I’m going to do for the rest of my life. From there, building your brand becomes something that you sincerely want to do every day. I enjoy working with people and meeting new clients. I also enjoy working with a team that has a common goal and a genuine interest in creating.

What have you learned from these challenges?

I have learned that there are three firm qualities that enable success: accepting yourself for who you are, embracing your career path and passion, and working hard. Once you get the momentum going, you can truly accomplish anything. I have also learned that if I don’t believe in myself, why would anyone else? It sounds mundane to say, I know, but it’s the truth. Once you believe in yourself, you can truly do anything you put your mind to. Trusting the process is also a major lesson that I’ve learned. Everything happens for a reason and it all comes full circle!

What advice would you give to others while on their journey?

The best advice I can give to someone on their journey is to, first and foremost, believe in yourself. There will be times when you may feel like quitting, but self-confidence will help you push through. The journey is a great experience, so try and stay optimistic and always try and see what the lesson is in whatever struggle you face. If you can learn a lesson and make sure to never repeat the same mistake, then every trouble will be for a reason and, ultimately, it will be valuable. Also, pay attention to making memories along the way! You never know how much a moment can mean until it’s gone!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Stay focused, save your money, and make sure you follow your passion. Life will throw curve balls and life generally does not go as planned but try to plan as much as possible regardless. People will disappoint you, but never change who you are. Stay kind and humble. Try not to fall in love too hard, don’t give too much away, and make sure that you stay true to yourself. Furthermore, be bold and don’t worry about what people have to say. Embrace who you are, genuinely, and never apologize for being yourself. Your gut never lies, so trust it. Invest in yourself. Be sure to take care of your body and have a skincare routine. Keep wearing the sunglasses (trust me I have no wrinkles around my eyes)! Don’t take life to seriously, you’ll miss all the fun! You need to love your family and try and meet people where they are. Lastly, enjoy every moment and never take anyone for granted. Including you.

What is your why?

I have a few “whys,” but I would have to say that the main “why” is sheer accomplishment. I’m not quite sure if it is due to my athletic background, or the pressure I put on myself to do better, but it drives me. I like the sense of accomplishing something, the feeling of ease and the sigh of relief. The preparation for something new also drives me. There is a magic in starting a project or growing an idea (as much as there is work), but the process is part of the accomplishment. I also feel that making my family proud and being in a position where I can provide for them is something that really motivates me. It’s not about money at the end of the day. It’s about freedom, fun, love, and passion. And if you’re fortunate enough to find all of those aspects, it’s going to be a good time!

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