In the #PMTSONE series, we celebrate our diverse and inclusive culture by highlighting Future Professionals, alumni, and team members who use their voices to make a difference in their communities. This month, #PMTSONE features Paul Mitchell The School Tampa graduate J Ladner, who works to make it easier for the next generation of stylists to navigate their transition into the industry.
After J Ladner was kicked out of his home at age 16 for his sexual orientation, he never went back. He graduated from Paul Mitchell The School Tampa’s cosmetology program in 2010 and launched a career in film, television, theater, print, and digital media. Now an accomplished hair and makeup artist, J was recognized as one of Modern Salon’s Top 100 in 2019 and nominated for the American Influencer Awards’ 2020 Emerging Hairstylist of the Year. Today he is a successful entrepreneur, educator, digital author, Digital Creative Director of Oligo Professionnel, and co-host of the No Stylist Left Behind podcast with Nina Tulio.
Q & A WITH J LADNER
Why did you choose a Paul Mitchell School?
The culture. It was the first place where I was seen for me. The authenticity within the school was vivacious and electric. I also appreciated the structure in education and the opportunities the school gives to Future Professionals
What was your favorite part of Paul Mitchell Schools?
The Learning Leaders changed my life and projected my career forward. My mentor, Alan Kemp, was my Learning Leader and the first salon owner I worked for. He impacted my whole career through the guidance and knowledge he gave me in school and in my first year is the salon.
What was one of your most memorable experiences in school?
Green Team instilled in me the importance of looking at our precious world in a different way, We set our sights on our local community and cleaned up the area. I learned the importance of helping and doing our part for a better future.
Why did you choose the beauty industry?
We have such a precious gift. It starts with our hands but led by our hearts. We are the safety net for the majority of guests who walk through the door: a safe space to grow and deliver confidence. Being licensed to touch is a gift that I love giving to my guests and Future Professionals. It’s such a magical career with unlimited possibilities.
How do you use your Paul Mitchell School education to make a difference?
I lead with love and light, inspired by the words of Winn Claybaugh and the standards placed upon us as Future Professionals to “be nice or else.” I’m now focused on helping the next generation of stylists have a better transition into the salon world through leadership, mentoring, and showing that leading with love and being nice will build creditability throughout their careers. Love always wins!
What do you stand for?
Growing up, I was always a little different. I understand what abandonment feels like and I know what it means to be left alone. I strive every day to showcase clarity in the ways to adapt, evolve, and overcome struggles while tapping into your survival mode and making sure that no stylist is left behind. I am an educator and mentor and feel so honored that I get to have a platform where I can change the perspective for a stylist. I let them know that saying yes, leading with love, and owning self-love is the way to success.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life and/or career?
Alan Kemp, who recently passed away. His mentorship in the beginning of my career set me up to win. He had hard conversations with me about salon reality, held me accountable for my actions, and inspired me to forward-focus. I’m inspired to give back to the next generation of stylists because he took a chance on me. It’s my responsibility to pass on his legacy because he is a huge part of the man I am today in my life and career.
Who inspires you?
The next generation of stylists. I sit in rooms with fellow industry leaders and companies, asking hard questions and holding them accountable for our next generation. I travel the U.S. on my hair tours to motivate stylists and set up our industry for them. It’s our role to do better and be better. Our value is known now and the stylists who put in the work changing lives behind the chair in big cities and small towns are the magic. I stand with stylists. They motivate me.
What is one thing you’re deeply grateful for right now?
My husband showed me what love and commitment are all about. I was used to everyone abandoning me, but he never left. We rock this world together—we just celebrated 10 years of marriage.
Social media makes being a professional look easy. What is the hardest part of having a large following? What’s the most rewarding part?
The most challenging is the amount of time it takes to stay connected and on top of everything. The most rewarding things are making someone’s life a little easier, feeling less alone, and brightening someone’s day. We are all more alike than we are different. I strive to remain authentic and I pride myself on being paid but never bought. I never take this for granted: I always pinch myself. Thank you to everyone who comes to my IG for inspiration. I am forever grateful!
J’S WORDS OF WISDOM
“SAY YES! Be humble. A closed mouth never gets fed. Seek knowledge first and success will follow. Lean in and be aware of the magic that happens within every room. Oh, and BE NICE, OR ELSE!”