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Interview: Ashtone Dixon Discusses Being A Master Cosmetologist And The Importance Of Being A Student Of The Game

"Everything I do, I don't care what it is, I take it seriously," says Ashtone Dixon, a Master Cosmetologist located in Little Rock, Arkansas. Ashtone's creativity paired with her grit and determination makes her a force to be reckoned with. In this interview, Ashtone discusses how vital it is to commit oneself to being a student of the game, something she believes will allow anyone—no matter the role—to be successful. "There are higher levels of licensing that I want to get as a stylist, that doesn't mean I know everything. I'm continuously learning," she says. Growth is inevitable and being open to new information will take you a long way!

Ashtone Dixon is a Master Cosmetologist located in Little Rock, Arkansas. When speaking about what inspired her path as a stylist she says, “My inspiration comes from fantasy and being able to recreate something—an optical illusion—maybe even bring about something that’s not normally there or add small details that makes all the difference.” Ashtone’s creativity paired with her grit and determination makes her a force to be reckoned with.

“Everything I do, I don’t care what it is, I take it seriously,” she exclaims. In the early stages of her career, way before social media marketing, Ashtone made sure to add flyers and other means of marketing to her budget as a college student and says, “I had to get out there to the people.” She did just that and despite the frustrations of the pandemic in 2020, she is persevering and has learned the value of patience.

Ashtone discusses how vital it is to commit oneself to being a student of the game, something she believes will allow anyone—no matter the role—to be successful. “There are higher levels of licensing that I want to get as a stylist, that doesn’t mean I know everything. I’m continuously learning,” she says. Growth is inevitable and being open to new information will take you a long way!

Share a little bit about who you are!

My name is Ashtone Dixon. I was born and raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. Attended the University of Central Arkansas where I received a Bachelor of Science in Communication and Business Management. Then went and attended Paul Mitchell Cosmetology School and received my license. I love live music, I love people—a lot of people would consider me an extrovert, but I consider myself actually pretty reserved. And yeah, I have a small dog. I am the oldest of two and I have a sister who is my best friend.

What inspired your path into the beauty industry?

My inspiration comes from fantasy and being able to recreate something—an optical illusion—maybe even bring about something that’s not normally there or add small details that makes all the difference. I didn’t always see myself being in this industry. It’s just been a journey that I’ve been able to research more on. It comes very natural for me as well and it’s fun for me. So, being able to play onto that, make the money, and live the lifestyle that I want to is very rewarding and I never feel like it’s work.

What do you enjoy most about the work that you do?

I enjoy meeting people! I love meeting my clients. I don’t think I’ve ever really had very many bad days as a stylist thus far, but even the days where I’m still kind of down I’m able to really—and I don’t want to consider it pushing through, but everything changes once I step behind that chair and I don’t even want to consider turning it on because it’s just something that comes to me and I know it’s all part of the industry and the customer service. I’m able to quickly turn on that charm that I believe I bring to all of my clients and help them through whatever they may be going through if it’s a physical change, mental, emotional—no matter what it is. I’m able to block that out for those few hours so I can service them and help them through whatever we may be doing that day.

Tell us more about your business and the services that you provide.

I am Ashtone the Master Cosmetologist; that’s what I would like to refer to myself as right now. I specialize in natural hair and extensions. I also provide nail and makeup services for my clients—not sure about how long that’ll last—always hair and makeup, but not sure about nails. It’s an avenue I’m looking at for the moment because it is a passion of mine and I’ve done it on my own for so long that I wanted to open that venture up with my clients. That’s what I do! I specialize in creating natural and neutral looks for my clients no matter what the service may be.

It’s been amazing to see your growth from your shop location, upgrades, and the array of services that you provide. The growth is evident! What has your evolution taught you as a business owner?

Well first off, I want to thank you so much for the compliment that you’re providing me! Wow, this evolution has provided me with patience. I don’t think I had ever really been taught patience from a perspective of looking at where and how I grew up and things. Patience wasn’t one of the first life lessons that were discussed or talked about.

I’m not sure if you’re really into zodiac signs, but I’m a Sagittarius. I’m not really into it that much but I look into it a little bit more because it helps me to understand myself, not necessarily other people. Being a business owner and my growth and everything that I’ve done has helped me to tap into the risk-taking side of me, the intuitive side of me, the side of me that just wants to keep going and be a little bit fearless.

Right now, unfortunately you know and I’m okay to say it—this pandemic has affected me personally beyond my business because I’m a social person—it’s things that I want to do. I had plans and just different things, but the Lord always has his way and things can always happen, but it’s just really allowed me to take risks while developing the patience I was discussing earlier.

I think that’s the biggest thing it’s taught me: patience. But when I say patience, I don’t mean waiting for everything. It’s taught me okay, Ashtone…if you want to get it, plan it out and go ahead and get it, but don’t think that everything is going to take off as quickly as you think it might. I tried selling a product for a moment and it did not take off as quickly as I thought it would. Since I had taken other risks as a business owner I just kind of was like okay, I’ll figure out another time or how to re-market this—it just allows me to plan differently, but I wasn’t in a frenzy. A few years ago, before all of this had happened, I would have been in a frenzy like, why isn’t this selling? But now I’m just like hey, it’s just a part of what happens.

You’re in an industry that’s in demand, and shifts based on trends. How do you stay hip to new trends from hair, nails, and makeup?

I like how you used the word hip—it shows our age! [laughing] What’s crazy is I said this to a client the other day. I said, I’m scared that I won’t stay up to date. I look at those who are older than me like the stylist, who’s the owner of three salons including the the salon that I’m with, and she will kindly admit to not knowing different things. And so, I mean—I’m not afraid to admit it—I love reality tv! I am a Kardashian, Love & Hip-Hop, Basketball Wives (all wives and all cities) and I’m looking at it because if you think about it, you have to know who’s making the rules or you won’t understand where they’re coming from. So, I don’t watch those shows for the drama, or I don’t follow certain people for the drama, you know because that’s the kind of world we live in, but it’s because I want to see what’s going on. I want to see why everybody’s wearing slick ponytails right now. I want to see why all the sudden everybody’s doing this, everybody’s doing that.

When it comes to the physical aspects of the world—of pop-culture—I feel like that’s necessary. You can’t just be in your own world. You have to be out there. When your favorite reality Instagram model tags somebody, go click on their hairstylist’s page! It literally takes three minutes to go to their page and follow everyone that they’re tagging. Not that they’re following, but that they’re tagging in their pictures, you know.

That’s kind of how I stay up to date. Luckily, I still have some youthfulness in me so I’m around younger people, older people, people my age—everybody’s mixing lifestyles and different things like that. I’m kind of in the know for the most part and I’m able to even break it down to regions of the United States—what people are doing in different areas. But yeah, social media and again, I love reality TV. I don’t mind admitting that [laughing].

When starting out, how did you go about building a clientele and establishing relationships?

Everything I do, I don’t care what it is, I take it seriously. When I had my first two clients—clients that I will see today—that allowed me that opportunity, I knew that I couldn’t let up from that. So, with every client that I had I made sure that at least, at least my interaction with them as a person and the overall customer service was great.

I went from my parent’s bathroom to one of my mom’s office suites when she opened her business to a dorm. When I went to Batesville my first two years of college, I did a lot of what we would consider “old school marketing” because my clientele moved when I moved. I was still living life. I was still doing the college thing and doing my thing, so I went from high school to first two years of college in Batesville to the last three to four years of college at UCA. I had to find those people.

When I was in Batesville, I did paper marketing, just basic stuff. But that was easy because it was only a few Black people in the city and I was doing all the high school girl’s hair. So, that was easy but when I went to UCA though, that was different because I wasn’t following the people at UCA. I had to make a name for myself. So, outside of making a name for myself as Ashtone the person, the whoever I may be to you, I had to do that as a stylist as well. I was spending money going to the local print shop and making flyers. I was a vendor at the beginning of the year, and did vendor events and things like that. I was making sure that I was budgeting for things like that because I had to get out there to the people. Again, I have no problem meeting people. Now, I may go back in my little hole for a little bit, but when I come back out it’s nothing. I don’t want to keep saying I can put it on because it’s not an act for me, but it’s easy for me to turn it on and be who I truly am. So, that’s what I did! I lived fearlessly. It was hard just adjusting to the area because I didn’t know how the UCA girls were or how the culture was—that’s any college, not just UCA. I just got out there. I had mini flyers, little 4×4 flyers, I had cards, I had 12×18. The people in the student center were like girl we know who you are. I did all of that because I wanted people to know who I was, and what else could I have done? There was literally nothing else that I could have done.

What advice do you have for individuals seeking long-term careers in the beauty industry?

I think that they really need to have a good understanding of the beauty industry. Because when we say that, we think behind the chair. I realistically think I’m only going to be behind the chair for another ten to fifteen years, which that’ll give me about twenty years under my belt by that time. That’s mid-thirties, I’m not even forty by then. And so, from then where am I going to go? It’s not just behind the chair.

I met a stylist recently who was a female barber and she’s been a barber for like ten years and I’m not trying to be funny—hasn’t done half of the stuff that I’ve done. So, they really need to stay updated with the industry. They need to see it from an aerial view, and not just where they are now. I’m not saying to move. I’m saying to understand what else is out there. When I’m done having my fun from behind the chair I’m going to my degree and I’m calling Pantene, I’m calling Shea Moisture, I’m calling Bronner Bros. and saying hey, let me be your Communication—whatever the title may be—hey I can do this, let me do this, I have this experience and I know exactly how a hair show works. I know what a hair store looks like off 12th street, you get what I’m saying? So, things like that.

They need to stay up to date. They need to stay driven. They need to continue their education. Don’t think you know everything because you don’t know everything. You may have mastered—I would say I for the most part mastered the silk press, but guess what? Next Sunday I’m going to a silk press class because there’s always room for more. If you can understand that you are a student of the game—this is any career—if you are a student of the game, whatever your game may be, you will always succeed. We will never know everything. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in it, even if you’re labeled an expert. There are higher levels of licensing that I want to get as a stylist, that doesn’t mean I know everything. I’m continuously learning. So, if they just sit back and be a student of the game, continuously learn, and try to stay on top of things, then they can always get to it.

Stay connected with Ashtone via instagram.

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