We had the good fortune of connecting with Kortnee VanCleave and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kortnee, so let’s start with how you started?
I started off in college with the dreams of being a psychologist and found out very quickly that I am not one built for being behind a desk for hours on end writing reports. Although the psychology of humans is what often grasps my attention, I am a very social and creative person. Once I figured out I am not meant for college I then decided to enroll in beauty school and thats when it all started. The high energy, the freedom to create and the endless possibilities with no glass ceiling over my head is exactly the environment I needed in order to pave my own way. After beauty school I apprenticed for about 8 months and worked at a blow dry bar 2 years after. When I found out I was pregnant with my beautiful son I was blessed enough to stay at home with him for the first 2 years of his life only doing hair as a hobby, here and there, for friends and family. I then became a single mother of one and failure was not an option. I then decided to finally buckle down and turn my hobby into a full blown business and I hired a business coach. I figured instead of taking years to try and figure it out by myself I would seek wise counsel from people who have already put those years into practice and found all of the ways to make a business and home life work effectively and successfully. My first year without them I only brought in an income of $18,000 and had to survive off of food stamps and live in a super affordable, not so safe apartment. After finding the coaches and applying all I had learned from them I then doubled my income the following year, and doubled it again the year after that. I am now on track to double that income AGAIN this coming year and I learned a few very important lessons from that life/business altering decision. 1. Surround yourself with people who are in a similar mindset and can help coach you and get you to where you want to be in life. Paid or not. 2. YOU are your own limitations. I could have easily given up after seeing how much money I made in my first year, gotten discouraged when I saw how much work goes into building a website, and how much time it would take to consistently keep up a professional social media page just to attract clients in order to pay bills. 3. Success does NOT happen over night. It takes EFFORT. No one is going to make your dreams come true except for YOU, so patience, perseverance, and dedication is a must. YOU make it happen, not your salon owner. 4. Do not neglect your own well being. You will only be your best self if you take care of your physical and mental health. Don’t find the time to make this happen, but MAKE the time to take care of yourself. It is essential. 5. Opportunity is endless. We all have the divine ability to create our reality.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Being a hair stylist, my canvas is a little different than most. My art is not only to create a masterpiece out of something old or a mess, but to also empower and inspire women to feel and look their best. There is something so powerful in being confident in how you look because it overflows into how you carry yourself in your everyday life. I love my job because it’s more than just touching up highlights and roots. Its my creative outlet. Its someone trusting you with something that has such an impact on how they cary themselves. My love is that feeling when you turn the client around in the chair after the appointment is all said and done and they get the biggest smile on their face and tell you “Its better than they could have ever imagined!’. It’s the relationships built over the reoccurring 3 hour appointment and the little surprises I get to give and receive from my clientele family. It’s inspiring and being inspired in ways that really aren’t explainable. Being a hair stylist is truly something you have to experience rather than read about because, like the love for your own child, it can only be fully comprehended by having one of your own. Getting to the place I’m at today, professionally, wasn’t exactly the easiest road for me. I started my business off as a single Mom with the mindset of sink or swim, and had to juggle making sure my child was happy and well taken care of as well as 2 other jobs just to support building a hair business, that I knew would someday take off with a lot of patience and hard work, and being the best mom I could possibly be. Family is my number 1 priority so finding balance in that was a difficult task for sure, but I made it work and I couldn’t be more proud of the Mom and business owner that I am today.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My current life style wouldn’t be possible without my family. My Mother is my biggest cheerleader and most returning client. (; My Father and Grandpa are full of continuous business advice. My best friend (sister by choice) is one of my biggest fans and supporters. My business coach is none other than the fabulous Britt Seva. She is a social media and marketing strategist just for hair stylist and had done WONDERS not just in my business, but in my life as well. Books: Rachel Hollis- Girl Wash Your Face & Girl, Stop Apologizing. Brendan Burchard – High performance Habits And his organizing Planner. With out all of these fabulous people surrounding me, I would be in a completely different head space. So a HUGE shout out to them and an even bigger THANK YOU!!!! I love you ALL!

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Image Credits
Amber Jean Photography