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Meet Trailblazer Jessica Gentle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessica Gentle.

Jessica, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I feel like I was born with shears and a comb in my hands! My mother has been a hairstylist all my life so growing up in a “beauty shop” seemed to give me a natural born talent. I have so many great memories of helping at the salon at a very early age. Yet, all I wanted to do was know how it felt to cut real hair with real shears. No more of this Barbie hair with my pink and white plastic scissors. One day, after my mom cleaned up her workstation and we left the room, I snuck back in. On the counter, which stood about eye level to me, I saw those real shears I was probably five years old at the time hence still rocking the pigtails. Well, let’s just say pigtail… Yep! Chopped one off! I had to feel the real shears on the real hair! I turned around and walked back out like nothing happened. I honestly don’t remember her reaction but I do know I had a sweet “deep bang” after that. I was always my mom’s hair model for new haircuts she needed to learn which meant I was learning as well. She knew it was my calling when my Barbies would have asymmetrical haircuts and they looked good!

After high school, I attended cosmetology school where I learned the state board techniques along with training from the salon at which my mom worked. This variety of training helped me to learn how to combine many techniques to create my own style of HAIR ART. I worked at Kenneth’s Design Group for five years after graduating from nationwide beauty academy in 1999. Always wanting more when it came to my surroundings, I ended up moving to San Diego California and in two thousand four. I found a quaint little salon in Kearny Mesa. I worked there for a couple years and built enough clientele to become my own business which is when Jestylz was created! Once I overheard, my co-worker Cathy McKinney talking about her salon that she was designing I knew I belonged there.

I worked at Salon 56 for ten years with Cathy who I now consider a sister. Salon 56 became my family, therefore, it was devastating when we had to close our doors in July 2017. Yet, they say everything happens for a reason and that’s how I am sitting here today giving this interview in which I am so honored! I’ve made my way to the Salon Republic in Delmar, thanks to my dear husband’s addiction the craigslist! Never would I have thought to check there for a salon. I chose SR because they provide education, products, and tools for a stylist’s daily use. Not to mention the ocean view from our studio! I am blessed to have such a loyal following. I know every stylist says they have the best clients but mine could most likely challenge that! When you have clients mentioning you in there, thanks at Thanksgiving dinner and inviting you to the family reunion, you really feel you’ve accomplished your purpose in life. I make people happy and beautiful every day and it brings me joy to do so!

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?
The closing of Salon 56 after 10 years was definitely a surprise and difficult time for me. Working with my friends and family throughout the last ten years was such a privilege. Relocating to a different area was nice but somewhat of a struggle to have clients follow and also to find the right fit. My mother always said struggle makes you stronger. I try to stay optimistic throughout any complication in life. Just keep your head up and focus on your end goal. Keep learning and sharing that knowledge with your peers. Meeting other successful women in your industry is important to support one another.

We’d love to hear more about Jestylz Salon.
I have always said I don’t specialize in one thing, I do it all. If you ask my coworkers, they would say I specialize in blondes. If you ask my clients, they will probably say I specialize in everything. My everyday goal is to make my guests happy and beautiful. I listen and repeat my version back to them, we look at pictures of themselves at their favorite time of “hair life” and pictures of what they don’t like. My main concern is the integrity of the hair. If what they want is going to leave them with terribly over processed and porous hair I will explain how to do it in sessions to keep the hair on their head. I have been called a “hair healer” once or twice which I LOVE! I want to keep the guest coming back, so I think of our future together. After a while, they understand that it’s still their head but my hair!

I believe looking the part is important, so I mostly wear black or gray with presentable hair and makeup. A clean and tidy studio is always present with stocked water, sparkling soda, coffee, tea and on occasion wine and champagne.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
If you have the chance right out of beauty school find a stylist you look up to and ask if you can mentor or assist them in their salon before you go behind the chair on your own. This way, you learn a lot of time management which is very important if you want to be successful. Now, there’s social media where you can find a variety of classes to take which is very convenient. Keep learning and educating yourself! You are an investment!! Take classes from every brand, not just ones u currently know or use. Stay open and step outside the box! Be happy, be social, smile and say hi! You never know who may pass by and with your head down and tail tucked they’ll not have the privilege to meet you and experience your talent.

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