“It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” Jean-Luc Godard
I first met Ash on Instagram, a place I have met so many incredibly passionate and beautiful humans that last few years. But my first face to face experience with her was during a summer vacation on the East Coast visiting family, and again at the Butterfly Circus in Los Angeles. I knew the second I saw Ash, she was something special. Just a few years out of school, Ash is an old soul who feels immensely, and in a business that is all about the feels, Ash is creating a business and life centered around passion and authenticity. I am honored to share a little slice of all that is Ash Fortis.
N: What does passion look & feel like to you?
A: Passion is something that drives you through the trenches. It’s unwavering, it feels like butterflies, fear, trust, and what I relate to as a hair high.
N: Why did you become a hairdresser or educator?
A: I have always been fascinated by hair. And not just one area of hair. I loved the idea of exploring hair and being on the cutting edge of hair trends. After completing the honors program in Cosmetology I went onto an intensive apprenticeship in one of the most amazing hair salons. I learned so much there about both personal and professional growth. I went onto a smaller salon due to several reasons. After 6 months I was let go of from the salon due to changing my hair color from a bold red into a bold blue to purple to pink color melt. I was looking to have more fun with my hair, attract more clients to my chair wanting those looks and it was before vivids had really taken off. I was angry about being let go over hair color and worse how they really felt about it. It crushed me how it was handled, she knew I supported my family on my income alone, I listened as she told me that she didn’t want that type of clientele and basically that the trends were not going to last, that she didn’t want to deal with the headaches of when a client would want them removed. I knew with out another word spoken I would have never agree to work for someone who felt that way because she just insulted me my passion, and my visions for what I wanted to create hair to be. I firmly believed in what I was doing and that I had to find away to have complete freedom.
I found a hair family at G Patton Salon provided me that and my business thrived as an independent hair stylist. More importantly it’s allowed me to balance my family, my health, education and other passions I want to absorb from life. I can’t imagine another way. I am excited to say I am starting a new journey as a business owner with my own suite salon XO Hair Studio in April.
I pursued being an educator about 2 years into my career but until about 4 years ago but almost no doors were open. I get it what could I have to offer with a short resume? They never took the chance to see the potential in me. And the ones that were were not companies I wanted to be apart of. Over the next several years I engulfed myself with researching things I could do and practicing by going back to my hair school to educate or salons in my area that were interested in my techniques and it has grown. My first workshop was $50 and 45 people came and it grows little by little each time I educated. I am still navigating it but my passion fuels each path I take and I trust the journey I am on.
N: What is the biggest challenge you have had and how did you overcome it?
A: I have had a hard time with personal insecurities and wanting to please everyone. I am a very passionate person and I don’t want to dilute or change that which I hold myself responsible to, and what I ultimately look for in others I surround myself with. I look more and more every day to find that circle of people who share in empowering each other.
N: What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
A: That if you change your perspective you can change your life. Things are not always as they seem. Changing my perspective gave me the ability to take control and accountability over my thoughts. It has made me a better person, a forgiving person, it’s humbled me. And I have a lot more free time when I don’t spend my energy where it ought not be spent.
N: What is one skill you believe all successful educators need to have?
A: Engagement. I think anyone considering being an educator need to understand the importance of being a good educator. And honestly there is no road map on how to be one, how to get there or how fast you do it. Be passionate about being an educator and do it with purpose everything else will follow in suit.
N: Why that one?
A: Because to me engagement means education, motivation and inspiration. If you can engage that means you hold the attention of those you educate in front of. And as we know hairstylist especially learn differently and when I educate I want to make sure that not only did I make a difference but that they were able to absorb as much knowledge as possible and I continue to have attendees coming back to my workshops that lets me know that what I am doing is working and making a difference.
N: Why are you so passionate about authenticity and sharing behind the scenes work in the salon with other professionals?
A: I think it’s so important in a world full of unrealistic standards and expectations to be both authentic and raw. Thanks to Pinterest and social platforms a standard of hair has been set for our industry and there were little to no real conversations happening about all the grey areas. I don’t want to set my fellow hairdressers up for failure or myself. So I love sharing how many hours it took, what types of processes, how many sessions, how I share the same struggles that they do as a stylist behind the chair. I have taken off over the last year but there were several things that went into my success and has been a course of actions over the last 5 years. Having had life changing mentors in my life makes me want to pay it forward to those who don’t have anyone to uplift them, to empower them, and to hopefully share my challenges so that can foresee some of those same challenges before they happen.
N: Favorite quote?
A: “Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.” Jim Jarmusch
N: Coffee Bean or Starbucks?
A big shout out to Ash for sharing an intimate look into her journey and for being so generous with her art. Love you to the moon and back boo!
You can find Ash on Instagram @xostylistxo on Facebook and be sure to check out her upcoming color workshops.
Love + Awesomeness-