Our mission at Harper Ellis Hair Co. is to support stylists in their quest for personal success. We elevate our hand-tied artists not only by providing them access to the highest quality hair extensions on the market but also in offering an unparalleled stylist support network and industry-leading hair education.
In this spotlight, we chat with Arizona stylist Mikela Torres! We’re so excited to share Mikela’s story with you and talk all about her plans for this summer!
Hi, Mikela! Tell us a little more about you!
For some reason, this is always such a challenging question to answer! I'm California born, Arizona raised. I was raised with just about every domestic animal you can think of which is probably why I love them so much. If I wasn't in the beauty industry, I'd most likely be doing more with or for animals.
Now I live in Prescott, Arizona with my husband Adam and our pets. My parents live close, and I really appreciate the closeness that we have with our family. Outside of the salon, I enjoy crafts of various kinds, reading, music, and off roading. I have many hobbies and interests and always wish I had more time for all of them.
I'm very much an introvert but have been enjoying the aspects of my life and career that bring out a more extroverted side of me. As a child and even into adult life, I have never felt I've 'fit in' or belonged. This has become one of the most challenging pieces of my life, and while I still face challenges of these feelings on a regular basis, I feel as though I'm growing and coming into my own... it has actually been pretty liberating. I owe a lot of my new confidence to the last three years of education I've poured into. I've been able to connect to more like-minded individuals and learn more about myself. It has been one of the largest blessings of my life.
We would love to know what’s brought you to where you are now! Tell us about your career as a hairstylist — how you started, all that fun stuff!
I learned to braid on the mane and tail of a horse, and while many have a dream to become a hairstylist, my journey to become a stylist began when my dad passed away when I was 17. My original plan was to pursue a career in interior design in California so that I could be closer to my dad. We had developed a close relationship via phone and I was excited to spend more time with him. In May of my senior year, just before graduation, he passed away. Around the same time, I was offered a promotion with my current job at Harley Davidson so I decided to take that offer to get me through the new journey of Beauty School.
In changing direction, I thought I could use my skills as a stylist to get me through college without working in a restaurant, and I knew I wouldn't stay with Harley because I didn't enjoy the corporate aspect of it. I quickly realized that I missed doing hair as much as I was before college and that maybe I had already found what I was supposed to be doing. I completed one full year in community college and never went back. I always thought I'd find a nice salon to rent in and enjoy being part of a team. I never wanted to be a salon owner because I didn't want the responsibility and to some extent probably feared that I would fail.
By 2019, I had noticed some things in my salon owners that made me question if I could actually remain in a salon in my town. For the most part, the community of salons to choose from are behind in education, unwilling to accept innovation, or lack a sense of culture in the salon space. Additionally, I had witnessed some situations that made me question the overall character and integrity of the salon owner(s) that represented my work place. I decided to no longer fight true entrepreneurship and open something of my own.
In two years, my vision has rapidly changed and with new goals on the horizon, I owe it all to finally allowing that door to open. I never dreamed I'd be in the position I am today. With 15 years under my belt, I'm a published stylist, a salon owner, and mentor/coach for other beauty professionals. I feel so blessed and truly honored to have this career.
What advice would you give to other stylists starting their careers?
My largest piece of advice is to find a good tax accountant and develop a relationship with that person. This will be a huge benefit in setting you up for financial success. Submerge yourself in education, don't hide your money, and stay in your own lane. Nothing good comes from comparison, but we do it all the time.
Can you tell us why you choose to use hand-tied extensions and why you use Harper Ellis hair?
I chose the Harper Ellis Concealed Bead Method because I wanted experience with another beaded method that could apply to all hair types but more specifically thin and fine hair. I choose the hair for quality and color. I choose the brand for their customer service, belief pillars, and added value in all that they do for us as stylists.
You were just at our Spring Masterclass! Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and how it impacted your business?
The Spring 2021 Masterclass with Harper Ellis was an amazing experience. I learned so much in so many different aspects of myself and business. I think the impact is coming. I see big changes coming as I continue to implement the tools I gained at Masterclass. I fell even more in love with the brand, the people, and the method.
Tell us something you’re really looking forward to this summer!
This summer, I'm looking forward to spending time with my pups, the sunny weather, and fun activities. My husband is a Wildland Firefighter so we always look forward to the time we can see him during the summer. As a stylist, I’m looking forward to my assistant graduating from school and having all three of us together at the salon. My salon is better because of my girls and it's just so exciting!
Be sure to follow Mikela on Instagram and check out some of her recent Harper Ellis transformations!