Laura Polko didn’t come from celebrity parents and she didn’t grow up in LA. Ten years ago she was attending an Aveda Institute in Ohio. Now she works with celebs like Kim Kardashian, Chrissy Tiegan, Justin Timberlake and Ashley Benson.
This week, she did an interview with People where she outlined the steps that got her from Columbus to Calabasas:
Know what your dream is, and what you have to give up to get it
Lauren says, “I always knew I wanted to do hair through high school, and I kind of gave up caring about really anything else in school. But it was tough for my parents. I’m the oldest of three and my mom and dad both had [multiple] degrees, so they didn’t understand the concept of skipping college. My mom went around and got her hair cut in all different places, and the young girls in different salons told her the same thing, like, “Yeah my parents made me go to college, I failed out the first year and so I ended up doing what I wanted to do.” And she was like, “Oh my God.'”
The trick here, is that it’s very easy to confuse someone else’s dream with your own. You have to be ruthless about what you actually enjoy and drill down from impractically broad ideas like ‘being a writer’ and ‘working in fashion’. A good indicator is what you find yourself able to work the hardest at — that’s what you’re most motivated about.
Listen closely to your gut when you feel ‘stuck’
“I ended up going to Aveda. But I lived on Ohio State’s campus with a bunch of friends, so I just stuck around and bartended and took my time deciding what exactly what I was gonna do. I worked in a salon in Columbus for about a year and a half and I did really really well; looking back on it, it’s really hard to build a clientele really fast and I did a great job doing it. But I kinda felt like, “Is this it? Is 19 gonna look the same as 30?'”
Get out of Ohio
“I sold all my stuff, found a place in N.Y.C. on Craigslist, and opened up Allure and applied to all of the salons in their salon and spa directory. I ended up getting a job at Ted Gibson, and worked there for about a year and a half…”
Sacrifice security for opening the right doors
“I was working as the hairstylist for Alloy and Saks catalogs for years, and I kept missing opportunities … Then my photographer friend Miko came to me and was like, “I’m gonna shoot this girl tomorrow, and I want you to do her hair.” So I quit my job and we shot Ashley Benson.”
Be aware that progress isn’t instant
It took years of risks and insecurity to feel like she “made it” but Lauren remembers that every few years, you’re taking big steps towards what you want, and it adds up: “Doing Kim [Kardashian’s hair] is always something that everyone wants to do. So when that happened, and then I got a call to do it again the next day, I was like S–t, this is awesome. You sit back, you reevaluate and you’re like, These are all the things I’m grateful for, these are all the things I accomplished. Look at where I was a year ago, two years ago — what is the route that I want to move onto now? I found myself doing more actresses and I’m like, “Okay, rad. This is a great route. This is a perfectly acceptable, amazing route that I’m so stoked to be on.”