Who is Mikey Henger?
Mikey Henger is a force to be reckoned within the beauty industry, from his renegade styling, to his atypical advice, consistently sold-out and fully booked educational classes— he's unlike anyone else in the industry right now and that's his hook.
There is no doubt that his impact has helped shape the industry into what it is today, and we were all ears when he spilled the secrets to his success!
Ambassador for: Redken Barbers and Brews
Mikey wasn’t always on the path to beauty industry fame. In fact, he wasn’t always on the path to be in the beauty industry, at all. At first, Mikey thought he would thrive in fashion school. Having always had a passion for style, self-expression, and individuality, fashion school was the obvious choice.
A natural talent, he did cut hair but only one the side as a way to make a little extra cash. Mikey, admits, at first, he felt the hair industry (even with its innate creativity) was rigid and need a reality check. Merging his love for fashion, art, and individuality, Mikey abandoned other’s expectations of him as he dove head first into forging his own identity and path in the beauty industry.
I built who I am from the ground up being influenced by many different outlets. It’s important never to change who you are to be someone else but to evolve, there is a difference. I take pride in what I do and the image I’ve built because I’ve always been authentic. I will stand up for what I believe in no matter who it offends. Being soft never gets the job done, go hard or go home. ” -Mikey Henger
While Mikey is happy to break “rules”, one of his core values is respect. From cosmetologists, to barbers, to students, or world-renowned professionals Mikey firmly believes everyone deserves the same respect and should be appreciated for who they are. Even with his fame (or infamy depending who you talk to), Mikey doesn’t feel he’s superior to anyone.
He's always looking to improve, and better himself.
This is ultimately what keeps him pushing every single day as a stylist/barber/artist/ambassador, the list goes on, but Mikey wouldn’t have you define him with any labels.
Mentors—Who or What Inspired Mikey Most?
Mikey never had a mentor per se, but always looked to certain industries for education and inspiration. Aside from fashion and hair, Mikey is a semi-professional wrestler and integrated a lot of that world into who he is as a stylist.
But, most all of Mikey says any person with the determination to overcame all odds to create greatness keep him motivated and inspired.
This firm belief stems from the small town in Pennsylvania Mikey grew up in. He has always strived to be known. While others judged him for his aspirations, he was diligently working toward them.
Being known never seemed like a logical career choice. You can’t really study how to get people to be interested in your life. I was made fun of a lot, still to this day, for wanting this. I always was different in some shape or form. Even at my lowest of lows I never walked away from this goal. Most of my ideas were crazy and not practical. I think this thought process is something that kids these days need to understand. No one knows your path, only you do. ” -Mikey Henger
Regardless of the great educators and mentors we are all familiar with, in Mikey’s opinion the most difficult aspect is setting yourself apart. The industry (and Instagram) are flooded with stylists, generic cuts and colors, and influencers, so in order to make your mark you must have a plan and most importantly the mindset to stick to your individuality.
PRO TIP | MAKE A NAME FOR YOURSELF & REMAIN RELEVANT.
According to Mikey, once you carve your path there are so many opportunities (and obstacles) that await you. Having fearlessly forged his own path in the beauty, against all opposition, Mikey is a great source of advice and knowledge for others looking to blaze their own trails. Here’s what he had to say:
There are two paths you can take in this industry, other industries, and in life: go with the current or against it. Even though everyone likes to pretend they support what’s different and promote individuality, the moment you stray away from the popular opinion, you become the bad guy. If you want the numbers and the positive engagement, I suggest you tell people what they want to hear. I recommend drinking the kool-aid, hell, even add sugar. If your idea is to build a community of support that may not be the largest but are loyal, then I suggest you take the kool-aid and set it down. Industries aren’t meant to be filled with leaders, but those who choose to lead need to withstand the heat of the fire of being real. ” -Mikey Henger
A path and a passion are nothing without a plan, however.
Step 1: Be recognizable
Step 2: Be consistent
Step 3: Understand passion doesn’t pay the bills.
Step 4: Don’t let anyone shake you. Thick skin is imperative.
With almost 80,000 followers on Instagram, it’s no surprise other budding stylists and industry veterans would want to model their career after Mikey’s. His education takes it one step at a time, in the proper order. Mikey is able to show others how to walk the walk, and to avoid many of the same mistakes he's made. He helps stylists navigate the waters of the beauty and barber industries, while creating a legacy of their own. What is most important to Mikey is focusing on helping others, while always maintaining one’s integrity and individuality.
I could probably talk to you for hours about the do’s and dont’s, but there is one thing, that I even have to be constantly reminded of. You absolutely need thick skin. You won’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t try to. The only opinion that matters is your own, but use other opinions as fuel, negative or positive. There is success to be found with any publicity, you just need to know how to channel the feedback. " -Mikey Henger
Okay, so you have a plan, now what?
Do you identify yourself as a maser colorist, a barber, an expert at hair design? STOP.
The moment you label yourself, you pigeonhole yourself. You cut yourself off from so many potential clients and opportunities. Remember our introduction of Mikey above? “stylist/barber/artist/ambassador the list goes on” Mikey has done everything but label himself—he’s breaking the rules doing it, and we couldn’t be more inspired.
Forward Thinking—What Do You Think The Future of the Beauty Industry Is?
Mikey feels social media can be a double-edged sword. On one hand it has created a myriad of new opportunities for people just getting into the industry - which is awesome and honestly imperative, says Mikey. On the other hand, in some ways it has hurt the business side of the industry.
Hard work should never be free or undervalued.
Take this scenario for example: a stylist posts a great dimension balayage, or a sick fade, naturally there will be other stylists who ask what formulas and clipper settings were being used, not to mention the exact steps to reach the same look. But why would the creator share this?
To be nice, sure.
To be helpful, okay.
But you need to pay your bills at the end of the day and the magic of your craft is what you create—you should never give it away in a caption, for nothing.
I never really tell the secrets of my brand on social media because I believe it’s not fair to those who invested and spent hours with me in my seminars. — Mikey Henger”
Mikey also suggests that one of the major keys to building a successful social media presence for professionals is to merge personal and hair accounts. Your clients, your fellow stylists, and the greater industry want to relate to you. Yes, they want to see your art, but they want to understand and connect with the artist behind it.
PRO TIP | YOUR BRAND IS WORTH THE VALUE YOU ASSIGN TO IT.
Mikey has certainly accomplished this. There is little differentiation between who Mikey is when you sit down with him face-to-face and when you scroll past his hauntingly beautiful and expressive Instagram feed. He has gone above and beyond to show his raw, uncensored, genuine self and this has no doubt been an integral ingredient in his success.
Mikey also had one more piece of advice for beauty pros and truly anyone else interested in the industry and we couldn’t wait to share!
Mikey firmly believes they moment you start following trends, you're already behind. Be the trend setter, don't wait for trends to come to you.
We thank Mikey for taking the time to share his knowledge with all of our beauty pros and we can’t wait to see him on stage again!