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Life and Work with Jennifer Tandarich

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jennifer Tandarich.

Jennifer, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After graduating college from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 2003, with a degree in Psychology and as a NCAA Division 1 Scholar Athlete, I knew that I had a passion for people, travel, teamwork, variety and helping others. I also knew that I had a passion for cutting, coloring and styling hair but I was unaware of where that would lead.

My story begins at a young age when I began braiding hair for the girls on my softball team. That continued through high school for the girls on my basketball, and volleyball teams as well. This then led to a growth in enthusiasm for styling once I got into college. My roommates and teammates at the time would ask me to cut or color their hair without any previous type of training.  Of course, I was up for the challenge. I would use kitchen scissors or paper scissors, clippers and any type of hair color, really. I didn’t have a clue as to what I was doing but I did have a vision and I did believe that the outcome would be at least flattering. Did I ever think that this would turn into something more than just fun? Not really. After all, I was still finishing up school to gain my degree and was on my way to becoming a “college graduate”.

Once college was over and my softball career had come to an end, I moved back to San Diego in search of the one thing that has become my destiny. What is that, you ask? Happiness. After venturing down avenues in waitressing, cocktail serving, retail management, salon management, real estate and logistics, I still felt as though a part of me was missing and I wanted to engage with people in a meaningful way. Do you remember this quote by John Lennon? “When I was 5 years old my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down “happy”. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Well, that is me; I resonate completely. All I want is to be happy and it just so happens that I was able to find my inner peace while working with people, helping others, traveling and expressing myself creatively within the beauty industry.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Not always. Yet, I believe life has its ups and downs and change is the only constant. We get to choose whether we would like to count our blessings or focus on what could be portrayed as a setback in any given situation. Every challenge has a purpose, as does each success. I feel that both sides of the spectrum give us an opportunity to grow and remaining positive has always been something I have strived for.

In 2007, I had the wonderful opportunity to begin my career in Cosmetology while working as a salon manager in Del Mar, CA. I enrolled in Cosmetology school at that time, too, and had completed just over 300 hours before realizing that school was no longer for me. After standing behind the front desk at the salon each day I noticed that I was learning more while watching the stylists on the floor than I actually was in class. With much appreciation, the owners of the salon offered me a position as an apprentice and asked if I would like to train with them while completing the 3200 hours necessary to gain my license under the San Diego Cosmetology Apprenticeship program. I accepted their invitation and did what I needed to make ends meet. After completing my hours, I worked at a couple different salons building my clientele, taking continued education classes in hair color, haircutting, hairstyling and extensions. During this time, I continued my travels back and forth to Hawai’i and took the opportunity to become a licensed professional in Cosmetology in Hawai’i as well.

Early on in my career, I was asked to work as a hairstylist for VH1. This job was gratifying as it allowed me to express myself and my art differently while opening my mind to the numerous possibilities within our industry. After a lot of hard work, training, building and consistency I was able to venture off on my own as a freelance hairstylist in 2015; however, that road was not always easy.

My biggest struggle came in 2013 when I was placed on disability. I could barely walk, sit, stand, or hold my scissors or a comb without them dropping, let alone use a fork or a knife to eat my food. These are just a few of the examples of the simplest things that had become an obstacle for me. It was a difficult time and a humbling experience to say the least. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my body when my arms and hands were going numb, nor did I realize the extent of my condition when there was pain radiating down my neck, across my upper back and through my shoulders. I remember lying in the back office at the salon in between clients thinking that the pain was only temporary and it would soon go away. Until one day, I woke up at 4am in the most excruciating pain. I called in sick that day and was physically unable to return to work for the following 3 months. During this time I was blessed with the unfaltering love and support of my family and had an amazing medical team that stood behind me. I was diagnosed with cervical radiculopathy, degenerative disc disease, disc osteophyte complex, and later in 2017 cervical spondylosis and cervical stenosis.

After healing through the experience in 2013, I went back to work part-time and shortly after switched salons so that I could make my own schedule and rest when needed. My doctors suggested that I switch professions, noting that the repetitive movement that is required to perform to the best of my ability would eventually take a toll on my body in years to come. They were right; however, I never could have imagined the amount of suffering that would result from being in chronic pain, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.

In 2017, the pain, numbness, and tingling came back and I did everything I could to avoid ending up on disability for a second time. After pursuing several routes to manage the pain (PT, facet joint shots and a second cervical epidural) I was unable to find any relief and chose to undergo surgery. On October 10, 2017, my neurosurgeon, Dr. Jeffery Alan Lee, preformed a 3 level (c4-c7) Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion. By the grace of God, I was back at modified work within 3 weeks post-op and was determined to be the perfect patient. By month 4, I was able to take off my hard collar, nearly completely, and had fused 100%.

My road to recovery has been a blessing in disguise. It has allowed me to find balance in my work and play and has helped me capitalize on my inner strength and faith as I continue to venture through everyday life. With a heart full of gratitude, I am now working with a team of inspirational women of which I have the utmost respect. Dee Bush has put together a talented team of artists who have proven to be experts in their craft at her prestigious salon, Browtique Spa. We are located in the quaint and quiet town of Rancho Santa Fe, CA and have a team of professionals who are able to take care of all your beauty needs.

If I could give any advice it would be to follow your heart and pursue your dreams. Do what makes you happy and never give up. Have patience. Keep your faith, and when you find your happiness, share that with others. Give back to others. Learn from others. Love others. Most importantly, love yourself.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with @HaircareByJenn – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
As a freelance hairstylist, I can travel to you or would love for you to come to me. I am licensed in both California and Hawai’i and offer a variety of services ranging from editorial hairstyling, wedding hairstyling, highlights, lowlights, all over color, root touch-ups, balayage, beach waves, curls, braids, keratin treatments, blow dry and style and men’s and women’s haircuts.

I have had the opportunity to work for TV and film cast and crew members, news anchors, models on location for magazine print work, photo shoots and fashion shows, musicians prior to their shows or music video as well as braid hair for combat sport athletes prior to their fights. It’s no secret that all of my clients are special to me. To see the smile on each one of their faces as they glance at themselves before they leave is the icing on the cake.

Giving back to our community is also important to me. Whether it’s cutting or styling hair for the men and women staying at The Ronald McDonald House San Diego, styling hair for the children of the Challenged Athletes Foundation, or cutting hair for the children at our local schools in order to donate to Locks of Love, you will find that my heart is always happy.

Who have you been inspired by?
I have been inspired by women who are honest, kind, caring, compassionate, considerate, healthy, happy, creative, adventurous, fun loving and who have found balance in their work and home life. These women inspire me because they allow me to see that my dreams have become reality.

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Jennnifer Tandarich

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. TERRI SCHNELL

    August 18, 2018 at 11:20 am

    I Need a drastic change in hairstyle, I’m 51 on disability for physical & mental health issues (depression anxiety, waiting for back surgery etc) I want something current, easy to maintain (arthritis in joints of fingers & wrists)I have fine hair just lots of it, & have little to no energy most days, dark blonde natural color. If I sent a Photo could you do an impromptu consultation & tell me as a professional, taking into account lifestyle, health, Oh LOL, I’m plus size since all the physical mobility issues, so I have a few chins. Would you? Could you do it just by a photo & email or face book or Skype?

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