An Interview with Hairstylist, Sandra Kliciute

When you find a hairstylist that you like, it’s a wonderful feeling. When you discover that hairstylist is also an infinitely kind and interesting person with a very positive outlook and welcoming demeanor; it’s pure joy! I genuinely look forward to my monthly visits to the salon, because since I began seeing Sandra at Milios Hair Studio, I’ve always left feeling better in my heart and of course, my hair looks incredible!

Sandra kindly humored me when I asked if I could interview her for the blog. Unsurprisingly, she generously agreed. I know you’ll enjoy her insights and photos of her versatile work! Also, if you are local to Chicago (or even if you’re not), I highly recommend her for cuts, colors, styling, etc. She helped transition me back to a richer, darker brown from blonde highlights seamlessly and I’m extremely happy with it!

This is right after I went to a beautiful richer brown, courtesy of Sandra!

What inspired you to become a hair stylist?

Confidence and Self-Expression/Design and Community. I had always gravitated towards art and design from an early age and had my heart set on becoming an architect or an interior designer from the time I saw my first city skyscraper. I fell in love by how it made me feel just admiring it, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like designing. I had always enjoyed art and math at an early age and felt being an architect or an interior designer was a good fit. At the age of 15, I started assisting in a salon with 20+ stylists and 20+ women in the nail/spa department. As you can imagine, it was an efficient madhouse. I started to really enjoy my time working, that caring for stylists/guests and their needs became my priority rather than a choice in my customer service. On my slower days, I would find myself observing the stylists behind the chair, who raised me into the stylist I am today. They always had fun while doing it and never looked or felt like the “work day” guests would often tell me about, and the thought put into haircuts and color felt so creative and fun to me. Formulating color, placement or choosing angles within haircuts felt like calculations that needed solutions, and with those solutions you can really bring a lot of confidence and individuality to someone while expressing a walking art form.

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What is your favorite service to perform and why?

Color&Cut&Style. This service is the foundation for good hair days no matter what you decide to do with it until the next appointment (festivals, weddings, vacations), which is such an important role. I become very invested in consistently thinking, “Oh, how we can transform someone to their next hair goal?”. I’ve never been a fan of salons who departmentalize because the services complement one another and if there’s any miscommunication or lack of sharing the same vision, the hair will not look unified. I’ve seen many situations where color will be placed to compliment a type of cut, and if the stylist with the scissors doesn’t see the same vision and cuts the hair however she sees it, the color or cut won’t appear how it was intended to and can be very disappointing for the guest. I love all the collaboration I’ve been seeing on social media between stylists, and think this is a great way to show of your best traits. What makes the hair look its best is the communication between those stylists.

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You have an excellent “chair side” manner. How important is it for a stylist to engage with their customer?

Thank you so much!! I think communication is extremely important between a stylist and the guest; gossiping isn’t. When you have someone in your chair whether it’s 10 minutes or 5 hours, it’s an opportunity to understand their lifestyle, personality and concerns (hair and/or life related) Listening is KEY. I’ve learned not to make any personal comments until I see someone is asking for one. Many times people will come up with their own solutions while talking through a situation or I can help them relate by sharing a similar story, without names mentioned of course, so they can understand they’re not alone when many times we may feel like it. I’ve also learned to NEVER be judgmental and to keep everything POSITIVE; we all react differently to situations and come from extremely different backgrounds and values (though I’ve discovered we all have a lot more in common than most think). I feel blessed to get to have many great conversations/discussions with my guests and have them feeling comfortable enough to share their life with me, when I know they don’t have to. This trait itself doesn’t necessarily make me a better hairstylist, but a more personable one. I’ve seen many great stylists that do great hair, and don’t converse beyond the hair consultation. I think the most important thing is recognizing how the guest chooses to relax while they receive their service; some enjoy flipping through a magazine or listening to music and if they want to share something with you, keep it positive and non judgmental.

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What are three hair products you couldn’t live without and why?

Tough question since I have so many, beyond shampoo and conditioner of course, leave-in conditioner, hairspray, and dry-shampoo. These are MY essentials that I don’t travel without. everyone’s varies by their hair concerns. I’m consistently trying out new versions of these products by different companies.
  1. Leave-in conditioner/hair oil. My favorites have been It’s A 10, Brazilian Blow Out, Redken One United, Biosilk, Moroccan Oil, and so many more. I choose mine based on how much hydration my hair is lacking at the moment. If I’m traveling somewhere humid, I bring something lighter so my hair doesn’t become too greasy or if I know I’ll be swimming in chlorine or the air is dry, I’d use something extremely moisturizing. These products are great whether you decide to air dry or blow dry your hair because it protects from heat and adds lots of shine.
  2. Hairspray is a necessity to me because my hair is resistant to curl or volume, having naturally straight fine hair. Hairspray allows me to mold my hair to whatever wave or curl I’m feeling that day and gives it grip to increase my volume. My favorite everyday hairsprays are from Redken. They have a wide variety of hairsprays with numbers identifying their strengths from 05 (Wind Blown) to 32 (Triple Take). They all smell fantastic and I choose them based on how much control I’m looking for.
  3. Dry-Shampoo is my new essential. I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with dry shampoos because of their deception of making the hair feel washed clean again. Having fine hair, product build up shows quickly and many dry shampoos would matte my hair color or feel extremely gross when I’d run my fingers through it. Recently while I was in New York City training, I discovered TIGI’s OH BEE HIVE! and it has changed my life. I apply a little on my clean hair before it becomes dirty so it can absorb the oils through out the day. It also acts as a root lifter so your hair looks naturally thicker.

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What do you say to someone looking to make a drastic change to their hair?

I ask them what caused them to make this decision. It’s important for me to examine the person’s current emotional state and to make sure this is what they actually need and want. I call this break-up hair; whether you’ve recently broken off a relationship, friendship or a job, you’re most likely looking for a milestone to mark a beginning of another journey. Changing your hair is the easiest and quickest thing you can do to enhance your confidence, but it could also be damaging if its something unlike your personality and style and you soon realize you don’t feel like yourself. In the consultation, it is so important to discuss the different paths you can take towards a goal and if it’s the right one, the consequence can be that they later decide they don’t like it or want to change directions, and they need to consider the maintenance and cost. It’s also important they sleep on the decision before the official appointment to ensure this is exactly what they want; just like you wouldn’t want to have plastic surgery without having put some thought into it.

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Are there any celebrity hairstylists that you look up to?

Celebrity stylists are great spotlight, but most of the time I find my inspiration from the everyday hair stylists, technical directors, photographers, artists and fashion brands sharing their work on Instagram. I think every celebrity stylist has a different style and a specific type of clientele to match it. The first celebrity stylist to come to my head are Anh Co Tran and Jen Atkin. I love Anh Co Tran’s lived-in cuts, they’re great for every age and have very soft, trendy, and easy to style results. Though keep in mind a lot of his clients wear extensions not only for length, but thickness. Jen Atkin is probably one of the most influential celebrity stylists having styled many fashion shows, red carpets and all the Kardashians throughout the years. I love following her on social media because I love her business philosophy and she has major girl power hustle vibes. I’m a huge believer of collaboration over competition and she shows how she applies that concept everywhere she goes.

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What’s the craziest cut, color or style someone’s asked you to do?

Haha, I don’t think any cut or style is crazy as long as it suits their style. I constantly am doing haircuts that I personally wouldn’t have right now, because I know that isn’t my style at the moment. My job is to understand someones vision, advising them about it, and being  able to implement it. Many times those crazy ideas are the spark of something amazing, possibly even a trend.    

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What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a hairstylist?

It doesn’t really matter where you begin or whatever beauty school you choose. It’s what you do with the information given and what you put in, you will get out. In my opinion, beauty schools are designed to teach you the fundamentals to be a stylist and to pass you through the same state board exam that everyone has taken in the past 30+ years. No matter the price of the education, most hairstyling fundamentals are exactly the same and teach you why you do what you do which is so important in order to be able to express the visual you have in mind without damaging the hair or skin. Cosmetology school DOES NOT DETERMINE YOUR SUCCESS; YOU DO. Learn to invest time and money into your profession. If you respect your work, so will your clients. Ask questions, start discussions, and learn to fail. Without accepting your failures, you will not learn and progress. Instead, investigate where you’re making your mistake and why, then fix it, and try again. Don’t stop this process until your vision becomes reality, and when the mistakes disappear see how you can improve or tweak your best work. It’s important to consistently have a new goal because your clients  do.

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Where can people find more information about you and your services?

If anyone wishes to contact me they can Follow and DM me on Instagram sandrakliciute_hair or email me skliciute17@gmail.com. If they wish to make a color appointment, contact me first, so I can consult you what to say when you call to schedule an appointment; this way we have an appropriate amount of time. I work at Milios Hair Studio located in Lakeview Chicago, near the Belmont “L” stop. Milios Hair Studio ‘s number is 773-549-1461.

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