The New Freelancer

I used to describe myself as a freelancer, even when signed with an agency or running a business, but what does this mean? And has the meaning changed over time?

Not so long ago being a freelance hairstylist meant working really hard on weekends making brides even more beautiful to pay for the joy of working for free on an editorial through the week. And all of this while paying an agency to find you work.


Then, a freelancer was someone who no longer wanted to be an employee, but preferred to work for themselves (almost) by renting a chair in a salon. An established salon owner might pay all the bills and take all the risk, allowing the freelancer to play by their own rules.


Now, a freelancer might be described as a hairdresser who has built their skills and clientele inside a salon and decided to be their own boss at home. . .or is it?


I would like to think that being a freelancer means being FREE, free from bricks and mortar, from a lease, from staff, overheads, a break even point, and possibly (with scissors and comb in hand) free from responsibility... but that could not be further from the truth. In order to survive a freelancer must be a "yes" person: saying "yes" to everything and then sweating about how to make it happen. And with the money coming at irregular intervals a freelancer must know their value and charge accordingly.


I am a creative. I crave variety, flexibility, and autonomy. I need some white space and a little white noise, but I also need an income. I love to work furiously, in bursts, towards a goal, and then rest and reflect. But how is this possible when one has reality and a disapproving industry tapping them on the shoulder?


Freelancers are often frowned upon and treated without respect. While it is true that not all freelancers are honest, tax-paying contributors to society, most are. And mostly, other hairdressers that weighed down by responsibility, long hours, and financial strain are quick to judge.


But freelancers are not now one thing or another, they are all kinds of hairdressers who deliver love, smiles, artistry, self-respect, pride, and fabulous hair experiences to a myriad of clients with a variety of expectations. The glue that unites all hairdressers is the desire to please and to please others means behaving with professional integrity and pleasing yourself in whatever setting works for you.