© St. Petersburg Times, published October 23, 2002
Carmella Santomaso, 26, cosmetologist, owner of Hair Grabbers in St. Petersburg
How did you get started in this business?
I took cosmetology when I was a sophomore at Dixie Hollins High School. I always wanted to do hair, ever since I was a little kid. My mom used to babysit for other kids, and I used to do all the little girls' hair.
The original owner of Hair Grabbers, Mildred Stone, hired me as a shampoo assistant. I started out at the bottom, sweeping hair and shampooing.
I started here when I was almost 17. I worked every Saturday and other days off from school.
You take it (cosmetology) as an elective, so by the time you graduate, you have your 1,200 hours and then you go to state board and take your test. So by the time you graduate, you have your (state) cosmetology license.
Yeah, you have to do continuing education and renew it every other year. We have to get 16 hours of continuing education to renew.
I think some people may have the mistaken idea that a cosmetologist just cuts and styles hair.
We do waxing for eyebrows and facial hair. We cut and color hair, do highlights and perms. When you are a cosmetologist, you can also do nails.
Usually about 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. We open at 9 a.m.
I like meeting different people. You learn a lot about people and about life, and you're never coming in doing the same thing every day.
Oily hair or dandruff.
First, I ask if they shampoo their hair all the time and see what kind of shampoo they're using. You can recommend shampoo for oily hair, but a lot of times, it's just caused by excess washing. Overwashing can strip all the oils out, so your hair works extra hard to create the oils. You really should just wash your hair every other day.
Lots of people come in and ask for cornrows. There are people out there who can do those, but I can't. It's hard to get those little braids in there. I can't do hair extensions either, but I'd like to learn.
Lots of layers and color. The two-toned look, like blond on dark hair or red and blond, is also popular.
Sometimes you might cut your hand or fingers, but that doesn't happen very often. We do have to be careful with some of the chemicals that we use. You wouldn't want to get them in your eye or anything.
Lots of layers. I like layering. It adds more style to hair; you can do more with it. I also enjoy texturizing. Texturizing is when you go in after the haircut is all done and you take little pieces out of it. It adds more volume.
Well, I used to make more before I bought the shop. I make good money. You can make a good living doing this. Everybody is different, but you can make a really good, fun living doing hair.
What can a good hair stylist make? Most of the work is commission, so if you don't work, you don't get paid. The more customers you bring in, the higher your pay scale. You could bring in $500 to $600 in a good week, depending on the shop.
I guess I'm in it. I really do enjoy it. If I didn't do hair, I would probably do something with little kids. My mom had a day care at home when my sister and I were younger.
Yes, we hear lots of stuff. But it's a good feeling to know that people can open up to you and that they trust you. Not everyone has someone at home they can talk to.