Whitney Porter is an entrepreneur, style icon, and Houston-based stylist inspiring women one salon visit at a time. We sat down with Whitney to learn about her journey as a stylist, who inspires her, and how she brought her business to where it is today.
What inspired you to become a stylist?
Growing up I would always mimic the looks I saw on TV and in magazines. Recreating these looks ultimately inspired me to become a stylist. I attended performing arts schools since middle school, so I’ve always been creative.
What aspect of styling are you most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about the transformation aspect of the industry and the relationships I develop behind the chair. I love the transformation journey of meeting with a client and mapping out a plan to reach their goals. I feel the most fulfilled when I set goals with my clients and we work towards them.
How did you get your business to where it is today?
Short answer: Hard work and dedication.
Building your clientele requires consistency, I consistently showed up even when I didn’t have clients. I signed up for classes and continued to educate myself. You have to sow seeds even when you don’t know how they will harvest.
I’ve been working in Houston for four years. I’m originally from Memphis where I started three years before that. Moving to Houston, it was hard starting over from day 1. I ended up coming to work every day regardless if I had clients — I made sure I was available. I worked in a beauty studio, when people were getting makeup done I would give them my card. In my free time, I went to the mall to hand out business cards and I always looked the part. You are your own billboard, the way you present yourself makes people inquire about how they can get your look.
Is there a community or support system that you wish existed for pros but currently doesn’t?
There’s a need for a support system for stylists who need professional development. That’s one of my main concerns with the industry. Stylists need a place to learn professionalism, financial literacy, as well as cosmo-therapy from someone who deals with the same issues as them. Stylists graduate and don’t know how to charge clients or pay themselves. You can skip years of heartache and headache with a stylist blueprint program. We need a place to improve ourselves collectively to set the standard.
What advice would you give to new stylists and business owners starting their journey?
Write your plan down, make sure you set short term goals for yourself. Small victories lead to larger ones. I would also advise them to trust the process, things may not happen overnight but if you commit yourself to do the work, success is the only outcome that is possible.
Have a plan and set small goals. When you get out of beauty school, the immediate goal isn’t to have your own salon. The goal is to be a better version of yourself. Make those goals attainable, reachable, and celebrate the small wins. We’re often taught that you’re not successful unless you own your own salon, but that’s not the case. Everyone deserves their best self. To work towards that, it’s important to listen to the older stylists, sign up for classes, and educate yourself.
I would tell my younger self to operate like I’ve already arrived. Look the part and exude confidence — it makes a world of a difference.
How can the beauty industry better support the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement?
The beauty industry can better support the Black community by including people of color in more campaigns, creating lines that have products for women who have texture, and providing continuing education for black women, who may not have access to the top innovative schools. Young girls deserve an inclusive culture where they can see people who look like them in beauty campaigns.
What are some of your favorite Black-owned beauty brands and businesses?
Hair growth oil from Hydra Care and Mielle Organics. It’s one of the few brands that can cross from adults to children.
How does your business impact your community?
I aspire to inspire. I have created an environment for young professional women to come and be themselves. We give back, speak to the youth, and engage in community events to expose people to the latest techniques that the industry has to offer.
Yearly I participate in a lot of community involved events. Several of my clients have nonprofit businesses, one being She is a CEO. We donate to charity, hold a toydrive at Christmas, and every year I go back to speak to my beauty school.
Who are three inspiring stylists every pro should be following?
Pekela Riley’s True & Pure Texture Extensions, her line provides a lot of range when it comes to texture. Indique extensions, they have a lot of textures that match and blend ethnic hair. Britt Szza, I was apart of her Thriving Stylist community last year. Szza helps stylists create a website and gives you the blueprint for organizing your time and money. I think we could all benefit from a community that encompasses this support but is geared towards women of color.
To learn more about Whitney, including how she came to style Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, check out her personal website or book an appointment on StyleSeat.