Leslie is a seasoned and accomplished stylist.

The looks she creates – the cut, color, styling for her clients – are some of my favorites. And, she has so much great advice and wisdom to share.

It is my pleasure to share a little bit of her story!

Leslie Armstrong

Hair Artist
Instagram : @lesgetogetha

Sunday Hair Cut + Colour Club

I have always loved the salon and barber shop culture. The environment it creates is so important for both beauty professionals and clients. It is a place to be inspired, motivated and make connections with people – it is not just a place to get your hair done.
The hair industry has undergone a major transformation over the last decade – especially with the emergence of salon suites. Over the years you have worked in a few salons – how important is it for you to be surrounded by other artists every day?

I love how our industry is changing, and more stylists are gaining the confidence to run their own business through chair rentals or suites. For myself, I have always loved working alongside other artists who inspire me, which is why I decided to continue working in a space where I feel creatively challenged and motivated.

I think it is human nature for people to underestimate what it takes to be successful in any profession. No matter what sector or industry. To become a hair professional takes skill, to be successful takes time and drive. It can be rewarding but like anything else, it doesn’t come easy or happen overnight.
What advice would you give to someone coming into the beauty industry?

Passion. You have to have passion to make it in this industry. To any newcomer who is passionate, to thrive as a stylist I would tell them:

  • Get a job at a salon before you start school. Get a feel of salon culture. You get a better idea of what a day in the life of a hairstylist actually feels like.
  • You have to do your time as an assistant before you become a stylist. It gives you the opportunity to shadow stylists (basically free education) and ask questions, watch different techniques – overall, it will give you more confidence to start taking your own clients one day.
  • Master the basics before honing in on niche techniques and styles.
  • Work. Work as much as you can. Mornings, afternoons, evenings, weekends. This will give you the opportunity to learn from your mentors and build relationships with clients.

Be kind to yourself. You’re going to make mistakes.

Instagram : @lesgetogetha
Although you specialize in blondes, balayage and custom colours, your skill range as a hair artist goes well beyond that. Do you think it is important for stylists to be diverse in their skill set?

It’s funny, when I first started 12 years ago, there weren’t a lot of artists that specialized only in balayage or only in cutting. As a hairstylist, you were basically required to do every kind of service. I personally think that every stylist should master the basics of cutting and hair colouring. This will make you an overall more balanced artist. Take as many classes as you can, learn as many techniques as you can.

Discover your craft, create your brand, and run with it.

2018 Wella TrendVision Spring/Summer
Instagram : @lesgetogetha
I know you have competed in hair competitions in the past, do you still get the opportunity to do editorial work?

Doing competition work was never something I thought I would get into.  I always admired artists who create editorial content. The creativity always blew me away.  It wasn’t until I joined Jet Black that I decided to compete. Hats off to all the competitors out there, because OMG it is SO stressful. 

Being a mom of two and working takes a lot of my time. I always want to challenge myself, but it’s important to put your family first. If the opportunity presents itself and I have the time for competition work, I would but right now my priorities have shifted.

Instagram : @lesgetogetha
I think personal style says so much about a person. I know some salons still have dress codes – but I think restrictions like that can be stifling for an artist. How would you describe your personal style? Do you think it is important for stylists to be able to express themselves in this way?

I would describe my style as classic, modern, and casual.  I tend to gravitate to more plain and earthy tones. My go to would be jeans and a t-shirt. I couldn’t imagine working in a space where uniforms were implemented. I think as a stylist, it is important to express yourself through fashion and personal style. 

Aside from inspiration photos clients bring in, where do you draw inspiration for your work?

My inspiration comes from so many different avenues – social media, runways, red carpets, online hair tutorials etc. I also love seeing other artists posting their work.  I often ask myself, ‘how was this look created’. It makes me rethink techniques, technical approaches, and colour formulation. As I said before, working closely with other stylists is also important. Sav and I are constantly bouncing ideas off each other and drawing inspiration from each other.

In 2018, you attended the Sassoon Academy flagship hairdressing academy. How was your London experience?

Going to Vidal Sassoon Academy in London was by far the most eye opening and inspirational moment in my career. Their academy in the heart of Westminster is so modern and elegant. A collection of classic Sassoon photos covered the hallways. The educators’ love for fashion was evident. The hairstylists enrolled in the program came from all over the world. 

I enrolled in the ABC Cut 5 Day course. It was a full week of learning the foundation of cutting, giving us the time to master lines, graduation, layering, and their combinations. By re-learning the foundation of cutting, it gave me a newfound understanding and confidence in the art of hair cutting. This is a course that every stylist should take a few times in their career if they can. 

Instagram : @lesgetogetha
In your profession, the relationship between client and hair stylist is very personal. It is not just about hair. You develop a bond – sense of trust. Sometimes you become a bit of a therapist. Does it ever get emotionally draining?

I’ve always enjoyed building relationships with clients and learning more about their story. I meet so many people from different walks of life, different experiences, different challenges and accomplishments.  It has never gotten to the point where I have found it emotionally draining. My bigger challenge is balancing motherhood with my business. I try to be my best at both, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. 

Social media is a double edge sword. It is a great way to share your work and get new clients. The downside is that you are always accessible. In the past when people needed to call the salon to book an appointment, now they can just DM on Instagram 24/7. Has it ever been challenging setting boundaries for clients?

I miss the days when someone else booked appointments for me! It made life just a little easier.  Social media has allowed me to build my brand and my business, and has connected me with so many amazing people. Having an online booking program in place has provided me with a little relief from constant email inquiries and DM messages. I have no problem with anyone wanting to reach out! I encourage it! Just give me a day or two to respond. ;)

Instagram : @sundayottawa
Your son has become a bit of a star at SUNDAY. He seems very comfortable at the salon. Do you think it is important for kids to enjoy a little self care too, outside of being at home with mom and dad?

My guy Charlie is such a little star. He loves getting pampered! I love including my kids in everything I do. I think it’s important to expose our children to many walks of life. As parents we can show our children different things and what we feel is important.  Ultimately, they will have to figure things out for themselves, but I think if you look good, you feel good, and that can give you confidence.

There is a DOVE commercial that implies that you can treat split ends with shampoo. It is my biggest pet peeve. There is a big difference between concealing split ends versus getting rid of them. What are some of the biggest misconceptions you find clients have about hair?

Clients can have unrealistic expectations and expect immediate results. Sometimes it can take time to achieve our goal! This is why the consultations are SO important. Before every appointment, I always ask what they’re looking for and what they’re not looking for. Those two simple questions can help me better understand the clients’ desires, and lead to more in depth, technical analysis.  It’s all about setting up expectations so clients know what they are in for.

Instagram : @lesgetogetha
Over the years, the industry has gotten better at openly discussing the emotional and mental pressures of the profession. However, I don’t see a lot of discussion about the physical hazards. My Mother had carpal tunnel syndrome but in this profession you can also develop tendinitis, neck, back, leg and foot problems. Are there a lot of industry resources available to help stylists deal with these issues?

I wouldn’t say there are too many specific resources for stylists to lean on when dealing with more physical problems. It’s important to do your research and understand the risks you are taking. You could say that about any profession. I think staying active and keeping your body in shape definitely helps- not just physically but mentally as well. I have always tried to include some type of physical activity in my life, whether it is yoga or weight training. Keeping a strong body can really help with injuries.

You have worked at salons that have been located in areas with a lot of great restaurants. I am always looking for new places to try. What are some of your favorite spots?

I love the area where the salon is located.  There are so many amazing places to go to! I recently went to Retro Gusto and had a great experience. It is such a cool after work hang out. It’s got such a chill vibe, almost like you are hanging out in your Nonna’s basement. I also love Casa Mexico, especially on Friday nights while their mariachi band preforms! 

Some hair stylists have artistic outlets or hobbies away from the chair. It’s kind of an escape but in a good way. Do you have anything you like to do?

Doing hair is my main creative outlet. It challenges me and pushes me stay on top of new techniques and styles. When I am not doing hair, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I love being outside, playing with my kids, cooking, staying active, and beating my husband in scrabble. ;)

Instagram : @lesgetogetha
Life can get a little crazy – what is your favorite way to destress?

Being a full-time working Mom makes it hard to get time for myself. I would say I get about two hours to myself after a full day.  By the time my kids get to bed, I just like to put my feet up and either watch a good show or read a book. 

Over the years everyone will encounter experiences that impact their life professionally and personally. Although it might change – what is your current life motto?

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Not every day is going to go as planned. Roll with it, and don’t be too hard on yourself.