For some people, finding an enjoyable and viable trade means a life of independence.
Janine Plunkett works as a beautician in Sebastiano Hair Studio in Southside Mall. She has been cutting, coloring and styling hair in New York for more than 20 years.
A native of Long Island, Plunkett received her license in cosmetology in high school.
“It was great,” Plunkett said. “I was cutting all of the football players’ hair. I loved it.”
After high school Plunkett set out to build a reputation as a hair stylist in Merrick. She worked hard and attained many of the status items her Long Island friends and neighbors had acquired.
And then Plunkett went through a difficult divorce.
“I moved up here in 2007,” Plunkett said. “I didn’t have much, but I had my license. I knew I would be okay.”
In the past six years, Plunkett has built a reputation as an honest, innovative and precise stylist. She manages Sebastiano Hair Studio and often has a full day of appointments booked.
Jessica Pidgeon is a faithful customer.
“She always does my hair,” Pidgeon said. “She always gives me the style I want, even if I don’t know exactly what I want when I come in. I am always changing my hair.”
For those who want to keep a fresh and modern look, Plunkett suggests changing hairstyles in the spring and in the fall.
“It is nice to lighten up for the summer, and then let the sun do the rest,” Plunkett said. “I like to do a darker touch up in the fall. It keeps it fresh.”
As a committed stylist, Plunkett said she continues to update her education with online classes, seminars and literature. There are often new products, colors and hair style trends that a savvy beautician needs to know.
“It is like clothes, sometimes retro looks come back into style with a modern twist,” Plunkett said. “And the technology changes — a few years ago the FDA changed the allowable chemical content of the coloring agents. You need to know these things when they happen.”
Colors and styles may come and go, some stay for a while and others fade as soon as they are unveiled.
“One thing I will not do is ugly,” Plunkett said. “I don’t care who you are, if you come in here and want me to do something that will look horrible on you, I won’t do it.”
Plunkett said the economics of hair dressing is different than many other occupations. People have a certain amount of vanity and are willing to pay for a good hair style, especially for a special occasion such as a wedding or prom.
Part of the service Plunkett feels she provides is the self-confidence her clients attain when they look in the mirror and feel good. Sometimes it takes a long time for that confidence to be realized.
“Just last month I did a beautiful upsweep for a young lady who was going to the prom,” Plunkett said. “She was so nervous. I talked to her for hours. I took my time doing her hair. She needed to know she looked fabulous.”
Plunkett said her job is enjoyable and her clients have become friends. She has a book of hairstyles featuring her clients both in a hard copy in the salon and on Facebook.
“I could have one of those stylist books with models with perfect hair, but I prefer to have a book of my clients and the styles I have given them,” Plunkett said. “That is real.”