At 17-years-old Janine Whitman fell in love with hair and hasn’t looked back since. In the 13 years since she picked up her first set of shears, Whitman has styled models on the runways of New York Fashion Week and become a Kérastase brand ambassador. You may think she’s already accomplished so much—but Whitman says she’s just getting started.
In high school, Whitman took an immediate liking to math and science courses and quickly loaded up her schedule full of advanced physics, chemistry, and calculus courses. As she neared her senior year, her workload began to take its toll, and Whitman looked forward to enrolling in the cosmetology class her school only offered to seniors. The 17-year-old expected to take an easy course that would equip her with a lifetime of everyday skills, little did she know she was about to find her true passion.
Whitman says that while her parents were always supportive of her decision to become a hairstylist, many people tried to discourage her. Whitman remembers teachers and even her friend's parents insisting that she was ruining her life by pursuing a career in beauty as opposed to math and science. Despite their pleas, Whitman ended up finding a lifelong career that fulfilled her in ways her 17-year-old self would have never imagined.
“It ended up being exactly what I was looking for—I get to be an artist and a people person and a mentor. It’s just the coolest industry ever.”
While Whitman loves the artistry, math, and science of hairstyling, but one of the greatest joys of her career is educating others. A few years ago, Kérastase was on the hunt for new brand ambassadors and educators. The general manager of the Alex Emilio salon Whitman worked at in Royal Oak, MI, had once worked closely with the brand and thought she would make a great fit.
At the urging of her manager, Whitman filmed a YouTube video of a braided updo and sent it to Kérastase. Just 30 minutes later, Kérastse reached out to Whitman and asked her to come on board as a brand ambassador and educator.
“I would say my specialty is really helping to grow people. I love being an educator and a mentor. My specialty is unlocking people’s gifts and helping them believe in themselves,” she says.
Whitman says being an educator is more critical now than ever before because the average client is more educated than ever before.
“As we became more elevated, so did clients. And now they know exactly what they’re looking for with all of the social media and how to videos. We really have an educated client...And everything that we do is about creating this amazing experience for the people that sit in our chair.”
Through education, Whitman hopes to help change some of the ways we view hair, hair stylists, and the beauty industry.
“I would just like to see the hair industry continue to evolve and continue to empower people who want to make changes in other people’s lives. We’re one of the list industries that you have physical touch with the human body. You can really affect change in someone and not just doing a great haircut or creating a new style, but really taking the emotional intelligence part of our job and really encouraging that.”
While her love of math and science is what first attracted Whitman to styling hair, it’s her love of people that has kept her going all of these years.
“Hair is amazing, and it’s a beautiful art and learning the science behind it is fun, but if you’re thinking about doing hair I always tell people that if they’re not really, truly a lover of people, this is the wrong industry for them,” she says.
If you’re looking for some fantastic hair advice from a world class stylist, Whitman has some advice for you too.
“The key to healthy hair is really treating yourself right. You get healthy hair by having a healthy body. I also really believe that taking the time to find the right hairdresser who will prescribe the right products is everything,” she says.
If you’re looking for a stylist, who will give you a killer haircut and color and educate you about what’s best for your hair, look no further than Janine Whitman.
Follow Janine Whitman on Instagram @janine_whitman_hair. Book an appointment with her at Alex Emilio in Royal Oak, MI, by calling 248-414-7600.