At five years old, I practically lived in a small-town church. I have many early memories of passing the time in the pews, lost in my imagination. I saw frumpy church ladies all around me... and I dreamt up makeovers for each of them.
The truth is that I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up. That's the problem with loving everything that you do and everyone that you meet along the way. It's hard to let go and narrow it down.
By high school, I knew that I was academically gifted, yet I had this opposite desire to be highly interactive- to do makeovers, sing, dance, act. I remember being secretly so jealous of those high school cosmetology students who were carrying around practice mannequin heads from class to class... I secretly wished I could have one for myself.
When I was all geared up and prepared to go off to college, I suddenly froze. How in the world could I actually decide what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life? That's when this acting-dancing-singing, closet hair stylist decided to stop fighting the urge. I took a year "off" and went to cosmetology school. I figured, "It can't hurt... "
In that year, something shifted. I stopped wanting to be centerstage and started genuinely embracing the urge to help others navigate through the confusing world of image. My interactive nature turned its focus on clients. It did not take long for me to change my college plans. I decided to work on a degree that would ensure a career in the image industry. By day, I went to school for Fashion; by night, I worked as a hair stylist, developing relationships with clients.
By my third semester, I had my first of major internship with an international fashion forecasting company. We made books for fashion designers that analyzed Italian runway trends and cornered a niche in the market (ask me more about that in person). My weekly life involved a barrage of constant fashion imagery. It began affecting how I viewed trends and style. I could remove myself completely from the equation and analyze without my personal preferences in mind.
While interning with that company, I accompanied the owners on business trip to Italy. I became hooked. The next year, I spent a semester studying in Italy, an experience which inspired both humility and confidence. I learned how it feels to be in the minority, a newbie to the language, and I enjoyed the beauty of embracing other cultures. My world view grew.
But, as far as my path, I still wasn't sure where I belonged...
I thought that, maybe, I needed to tackle more writing. So, for my final internship I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC and competed for a marketing internship with L'Oreal. I spent every day one summer commuting to that L'Oreal high-rise on 5th Ave. It was my big break into the corporate career track and, yet, it felt empty to be working in a cubicle every day. While I loved the challenge, pleasing my boss and making the company more successful did not hold the same joy as helping individuals navigate or learn. I missed educating individuals. I was torn between "major success" and my heart for working with people. It seemed counterintuitive at the time, but I knew it was right for me to walk away.
I wondered, "Did I just give up my one big break?" So, I packed up and moved back home to Rochester.
When I started my hair styling career in Rochester, I thought I was "taking a breather" on a short term job. As it turned out, Rochester was meant to be. As my husband completed his education in Rochester, I developed a loyal client base. Over time, I started privately coaching clients through hair, makeup, and then, suddenly, wardrobe decisions. As demand grew, I branded the services, lessons, and content that I had created as Andrea Bonawitz Image Consulting. Simply put, I fell in love with Rochester and the people that make this city thrive.
I am so grateful to those loyal Rochester clients, colleagues, and small business owners who have won over my heart. Thank you for keeping me here. Two years after establishing Andrea Bonawitz Image Consulting, I opened a brick-and-mortar salon and named it Parlour, an ode to beauty parlours of the past and my appreciation of vintage styling. Parlour now serves as home-base hair salon and image studio for both Andrea Bonawitz Image Consulting services and our speciality cut and color services for naturally curly hair.