Aveda helped him get his start and through his first years working in the salon, Graham started to pave his own way. His story, short and sweet, is all about determination and, in his own words, “being hungry for success and busting a**,” Graham shared a post on his Facebook page a few weeks ago after accepting a modeling contract with First London.
So grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given the last few years. They say dreams don’t work unless you do. Believe me it’s true. I’ve laid awake at night thinking of the next move how to be better. Pushing for more out of my life knowing this life has more to offer. This goal has moved me to Los Angeles where I became apart of now my amazing salon family at @kenpavessalon where I can’t thank @kenpaves enough for allowing me to grow as a stylist and a creative human! The la…st year I started modeling a ton in LA as a way to meet people and still create and colab as an outlet. The past few months I signed with @firstlondon ?? and today I leave for a few week trip to work and grow even more! I can not express how grateful I am for the support of my friends and family and clients! I can’t wait to share my travels with y’all the next few weeks!!
Recently, we had a chance to catch up with Graham and find out how he’s grown to become a successful stylist at Ken Paves Salon in Los Angeles, Cali. And we’ll discuss his modeling career too…
Following graduation from Aveda Institute Denver, Graham started working at Matthew Morris Salon where he worked hard for about 15 months to build a clientele and then later joined the Juno Salon team in Denver, Colo. He shared how it was tough working behind the chair in his early years and he also bartended part-time to help steady his income. Graham describes his first few years behind the chair as a trial period where he learned from his mistakes, developed his craft and finally felt confident as a stylist.
I failed a lot those first years but for every loss there was a gain.
With his mind set on success and knowing that meant being fully booked, Graham make a big change in his life and got sober and a few months later, he says everything took off and started happening for him. He worked 7 days a week, hungry for success.
Graham desired to “make waves” in the industry so he set intention to move to New York and become more involved with fashion week and a celebrity clientele. Alas, after a short time he realized he wanted sunshine, warmer climate and a car to drive around so he headed West for Los Angeles, a better city to “make waves.” He finally made it to LA but the job he had lined up fell through. He was crushed but he didn’t give up hope. He put his networking skills to use and connected with those people who knows someone, who knows someone, who knew Ken Paves.
Let’s back up a bit because it wasn’t this easy. Graham had connections to other salons in LA and Beverly Hills but they want high-end, quality, experienced stylist – which he feels he’s still aspiring to be – and to get to that point he would have to be an assistant for six months up to 2 years. In Graham’s mind, this wouldn’t be a challenge for a 20-something stylist starting his/her career but being he just turned 30 at the time, he felt he didn’t have time to start at the beginning… again.
Kelsey Christian at LA models by Kimo Lauer hair by Graham Nation me on beat shot at #KPSstudios #marccornwall #makeupbyme #lightdusting #Kenpavessalonla — with Kimo Lauer and Graham Nation at Ken Paves Salon.
Fast forward, Graham walks into Ken Paves salon and immediately clicked with Ken. “He was (is) the coolest dude,” says Graham. In their meeting, Graham said he was asked two questions by Ken that he has rarely heard in the industry (which made him realize he had landed exactly where he needed to be). Ken asked, “What do you want to do? How can I help you?” Twenty days later, Graham was working with his first celebrity guest, a model. A few weeks before this interview, he had Eva Longoria as a guest for a shampoo and style.
Graham worked seven days a week at his training that led to a series of test-outs and presentations including nine color services, 12 haircuts while working an additional 40 hours a week assisting. The expectation was to get his timing down and presentation factor set to the Ken Pave’s Salon level.
I’m on the path and it feels right. My continued vision of success is building a brand, owning a home and my own list of clients.
As he settled in his salon in LA, Graham got back into modeling and is working with First Model Management in London. He has also worked with the Ted Gibson team as part of the haircutting stage team for New York Fashion Week. Graham continues to be inspired by his mentors, Ken Paves and Geno Chapman, and he also credits his time at Aveda Institute Denver and Matthew Morris as being instrumental to being where is his now and where he’s headed.
The educators gave so much of their time for a reason. I remember Scott, my educator, always saying “stay focused” there’s so much more out there but be in the moment and learn this first. I had to learn discipline. You have to learn discipline or you won’t have a career.
Throw back to 2009 when Graham was a cosmetology student, and DJ. Here he’s providing the music soundtrack for our Earth Month Hair & Makeup Show.
His advice for our students is simple and involves living the Aveda mission:
Timing. Always be 15 minutes early. You cannot be late for a client, ever so don’t be late to school.
Take advantage of the yoga. I realize now it was the best thing for mental focus.
[credit to his educator, Scott] Stay focused. When you’re tired and over it, that’s when you need it the most. Know what you want and learn what the industry can offer you. Anyone can learn hair but you have to show up, be positive and stay motivated.
From being fresh out of beauty school to working through the failures and mistakes that led to opportunity, Graham paved his way to make his mark in the industry. We, at Inspire Greatness Institutes, know this is just the beginning of Graham “making waves” and they’re about to get even bigger.
Graham travels to Denver often and works as a guest stylist at Indie Six salon. Appointments can be scheduled directly through Graham by visiting his Facebook page or follow his story on Instagram @grahamnation