‘I have always suffered from anxiety, but I was determined it would not control my life,’ says Dawn, now a major voice on Instagram – with over 40k followers – and a business guru as well as a genius colorist. ‘I wanted to travel and I wanted to learn. Moving to London was one of the best things I ever did because I learned so much, and in Australia, I finally understood that I definitely wanted to be in smaller, boutique salons. But eventually, my anxiety got the better of me. I started getting panic attacks and it reached the point where I literally couldn’t open the door to go to work.’
Dawn moved back, first to Saskatoon in Saskatchewan and then to Calgary in Alberta, a city almost five times the size of Saskatoon. She knew no one apart from her boyfriend. From there she continued her battle against anxiety, refusing to accept the limitations it threatened on her life and her career. She set up a podcast, The Anxious Creative, to share her experiences, and she began rebuilding her career.
‘I was so paralyzed by anxiety and panic I couldn’t leave my home, so I set up a studio in the basement and began reaching out to the kind of person I would have liked to be my client on Instagram. I’d message offering to do their hair. Within three months I was fully booked three months in advance,’ she explains. ‘I also began building a series of online learning materials giving advice on how to build your own personal business, whether you are employed in a salon or renting a booth.
Dawn has been an avid Instagrammer, engaging with other creatives and posting content that inspires and helps hairdressers minimize stress and maximize profits. There are short-snap tutorials and blogs where she talks technical and personal, giving support to other stylists who are building their business or paralyzed with anxiety. She recently linked up with ECOHEADS, which is dedicated to making the lives of stylists easier and healthier, and she now mixes all her cool color formulas in her Ping.
‘I was lucky when I moved to Calgary because social media allowed me to make contact with some really cool people who value a good stylist and who get them,’ adds Dawn. ‘But it also hooked me up with other creatives who are equally hungry for inspiration and many of whom also struggle with mental health issues. I don’t feel so alone anymore.’