Note from the KeraGirls: This is the part of our series of KC Pro posts that provide career insights and advice from some of Keratin Complex’s most experienced and accomplished stylists.
Daniel Carter has worked for some big names in the course of his 22-year career. But he sees his time with Keratin Complex—first as an Elite Inspiration Team artist and then as our National Education Manager for the western region—as the high point of his ever-evolving professional life.
Acting Education Director Molly Woodruff has worked with Daniel since he joined the company and can’t say enough about him. “We are lucky to have him,” she says. “He is professional and artistic, caring and skilled. He’s not only a team player but also goes the extra mile every time.”
Daniel is also a natural-born teacher, and so his role helping spread knowledge—and Keralove—fits him perfectly.
“When Daniel started with Keratin Complex as an infield educator and told me he was moving across the country, I did everything in my power to get him a full-time career with us because I didn’t want to lose him!” Molly says.
To learn more about Daniel, we asked him about his career and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
‘One has to be open to flexibility
and take the path that doesn’t always seem like the right one.’
Title: National Education Manager West
Current residence: San Francisco
Years of experience: 22
Training/Education: Keratin Complex Academy, Redken Exchange, Vidal Sassoon
Hairstyling specialties: Hair color, styling, cutting, styling for stage and photo shoots
Q&A with Daniel Carter: His career
When did you know that you wanted to become a stylist?
“When I was 18, I decided to go to beauty school instead of college.”
Who and/or what inspires you?
“My grandmother was a stylist when I was growing up. I watched her perm, set and style hair in her salon in her home. I grew up around a totally different aspect of hairdressing than I learned and practice myself, but those foundations have always stuck with me and serve me well to this day. The fundamentals never change; we just apply them in new and inventive ways.”
Describe your general career path.
“I started out as a stylist in an East Coast salon chain. I learned a lot of valuable lessons from them, and as I grew there I quickly became interested in education. I started as a field educator for another manufacturer and rose through the ranks to lead educator and platform artist.
“I worked at a private upscale salon in the Midtown neighborhood of Atlanta that was a wonderful experience. It was an interesting group of stylists that I learned a great deal from. Working there led me to meet with the people that allowed me to start working for Keratin Complex, and I am forever grateful.
“I became a field educator for Keratin Complex and then made the move to California as the Regional Sales and Education Manager for RWA Serious Beauty. I then became the National Education Manager for the western United States in March 2016.
“There are so many people that have helped guide me along the way and taught me valuable lessons. One has to be open to flexibility and take the path that doesn’t always seem like the right one—until you round that corner and suddenly you’re in the place you were meant to be.”
Daniel has a celebratory moment in October 2015.
What do you love most about working in the salon and/or beauty industry?
“All the colorful people! There are very few careers where one can have tattoos, piercings, purple hair or an atypical body type and sit next to someone in a three-piece suit, and no one bats an eye. The vast array of visual textures we get to experience makes me feel so lucky as a business professional and human.”
Describe the most thrilling moment of your career.
“There are so many moments in my career that make me rock back on my heels, and I think, ‘This has to be the most thrilling thing I’ll ever experience,’ and then something else finds its way into my path and I’m like, ‘Wow … this is even BETTER!’
But if I had to choose one it would be getting to work onstage at Beauty World Middle East in Dubai. What a marvelous experience representing Keratin Complex and such a high-profile event. Super wow!”
What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?
“Nothing makes me happier than seeing a stylist ‘get’ something they maybe didn’t fully understand or struggled with. My belief is that if I can make the industry better for at least one person, then I’ve done a great job and I encourage them to pass it on to the next person to help make their life better. Small things can make massive changes if we nurture them.”
“Hmmm … Excel spreadsheets. LOL.”
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
‘Hopefully continuing to inspire and work to make the industry a better place than when I found it.”
In 10 years or longer?
“See above …”
'My belief is that if I can make the industry better
for at least one person, then I’ve done a great job.’
Daniel at an education event in May 2016.
Q&A with Daniel Carter: His advice
Describe some of the best and worst decisions you made during the course of your career.
“Overstaying where I was not happy out of fear. Change is the best thing you can do for yourself. We work in a business that evolves constantly. Staying somewhere because you fear the unknown is always the wrong choice in my opinion. The best things that have ever happened in my life are the things that I feared the most, and it always works out.”
If you got a do-over, would you do anything differently?
“I like who I am now, and if I were to change anything I could end up not being who I am today. I don’t look back with regret—it never changes the past.”
Have you had mentors? If so, who?
“I look to everyone around me for inspiration and learn something from them. I’ve had so many people in my life that have taught me valuable lessons in so many ways—good, bad, or otherwise. It’s difficult to pin down one or two.”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“Let go and just do it.”
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the industry?
“EDUCATION is critical. Never think you know how to do it the ‘right way.’ There are a lot of different paths to the same destination. Respect that there are more ways and explore them, even if it feels uncomfortable. Growth comes from discomfort.”
Are there any trends you predict for the future of the salon and/or beauty industry?
“Individuality seems to be the future. Cookie-cutter looks seem to be a thing of the past. Be unique.”
Anything else you’d like to add?
“I learned a phrase from an old friend of mine that I taught with for a few years that has always stuck with me: ‘When you’re green you grow; when you’re ripe you rot.’ Never think you know it all and can’t learn anything new.”