Madi Rasmussen Went All In On Her Hairdressing Career; Now She Teaches Others
Madi Rasmussen spends her work hours teaching new perspectives on hair color, innovative styles and how to succeed as a hairstylist. A former stylist herself, Rasmussen is a corporate level educator in the science of hairstyling for Redken Hair Care. After years of learning her trade, she enjoys elevating her industry, and she educates a wide audience of stylists across the country.
Find Your Grind spoke to the Phoenix-based Rasmussen about her passion for hairstyling, the values of teaching and how she transitioned from being behind a chair to teaching others about the career.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What does educating your fellow hairstylists entail?
My job is helping hairstylists learn, earn and live better. On behalf of the largest US professional salon brand, I teach classes in salons about hair color, styling and business.
How did the teaching component come into your life?
I realized product brands employed educators while attending my first hair trade show when I was 18, just two months into cosmetology school. I watched them on stage teaching hundreds of hairdressers, and I knew I wanted to be a part of giving back to the industry someday.
Where do you work the majority of the time?
I work mostly in the field. The state of Arizona is my territory, but I also work hair shows and conferences across the country.
What kind of training or experience helped you earn this position?
My first job out of school was at a local salon that valued further education. I went through a six-month training program before becoming a full-time stylist. After working behind the chair for three years, I became the in-house education director and began teaching our new hair stylists. I loved watching the stylists grow and soon wanted to broaden my horizons by applying to work with a global brand as well.
I invested and took every class I could with the brand to build my resume. I was hired and became an independent contractor with them (still working full-time behind the chair). I was teaching a few times a month and receiving a ton more training. After my first year, I was offered a corporate position as a full-time educator teaching in salons five days a week.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to achieve your corporate position?
I would say patience. One week working for a local business [translates to] one day with a large company. Not receiving a response within a few days does not mean no response is coming.
What advice would you give a high school student interested in your field?
You should learn your foundation and know it through and through. Success in our trade always comes down to principles, rules and logic. Once you’re fluent in those, you can answer any question that comes your way and teach the masses.
What was the most valuable class you’ve taken and why?
I went to a private Christian school and had to take religion classes. My sophomore year we had a student teacher for Global Religion Studies. We discussed and debated religions from all cultures and had a Muslim exchange student in attendance the whole time. He was eye-opening (and surrounded by 20 other kids of the same religion). I quickly learned every religion has the same goal regardless of name. That goal is to do good when and where you can and to be kind always.
What advice would you give your high school self?
Try! Try, try and try! Even if you know there’s a trade you want to do, and English literature, physics or math have nothing to do with it, try anyway. Life will throw a lot of things your way that may not “matter” at the time, but completing them is one more bullet point on your life resume. I did terrible in high school. I limited myself, because I “knew” what I wanted to do. I put all my eggs in one basket and I’m very lucky it worked out. Spread your eggs around! Excel in all aspects of your education because you never know when you might use the information that was freely given to you by someone who cares.
If you could go back in time, how would you have shifted your high school interests or focus?
I would’ve taken more math and science classes. I hated science in high school and even failed my freshman year. I had to take it twice. I didn’t realize when I chose to be a hairdresser I would be working with science and chemicals everyday. Now I teach the science of hair color to adults every day and can’t get enough! I find myself Googling and reading articles on science now, and wish I could go back and learn it all again from the beginning.
Who did you most look up to growing up?
My mother, Charla. My parents got divorced when I was four, and my mom had my sister and me about 99 percent of the time. She started a full-time job as a receptionist when I was two, and after 13 years worked her way up to competitors trying to poach her monthly. My childhood was a lot of missed parent-teacher conferences, no PTA meetings and a baby book with every slot blank. When I was 27, my mom apologized for the blank baby book and I couldn’t believe it. I said to her, “For all the minutes you weren’t filling out this stupid book, you were working your butt off and teaching me a work ethic worth more than any silly details in a baby book I’ll never look at.” I wouldn’t change a thing.
What does it mean to you to Find Your Grind?
It means to strive for more than the norm. If you want to be the best hairdresser or barber, then build your books and sell retail. Commit to a career and not a job. If that career leads you to working for a company, you should fight hard and give all you can. Speak up when you have an idea and share your wins.