Dritan, Father, Owner @ Casual Chic Salon, CA
Dri’s passion has been hairdressing since he was young - and he's exceptionally skilled at it. He owns multiple hair salons in PA and CA, and is the father of two children, ages 6 and 7.
What is a good life?
I was raised by European immigrant parents who taught me that school wasn’t about making money it’s there for the knowledge you gain. You’re valued for the knowledge you have, not for how much money you’re making from it.
A good life is to be able to do what you want – do what you love. And it's also the opportunity to find what that is first. That’s the trick of everybody’s life, right? When I see my life, and I see other people’s lives, most people who are not happy aren't happy because they’ve been advised by other people how to be in their life and they’re not allowed to just be themselves – to think for themselves.
What is success?
Success is a perception. Everyone sees it really differently. For me it’s actually be able to always grow and stay in that growth. Not necessarily be always on the rise – because there is power in even in just staying afloat. For as long as I’ve been here in the U.S., all I’ve heard is that you have to grow business-wise – 10% a year. That’s a general rule of thumb: If you don’t grow you’re basically losing. That could be true, but also there is an art to sustaining. Many people touch the "sky" but they fall right away. Success is also the longevity - sustaining what you have achieved.
How you see success is important too. You have to redefine it every time you achieve something or learn about yourself. Perceptions of success can change over time and you have to be open to how it changes for you.
What’s the role of schooling in success?
So, I didn’t finish. I didn’t graduate a four-year college, I have just my associate’s degree. So I don’t know that I really know how school is. I remember how it was for me but I don’t know how it’s changed since then. From what I remember, school was fundamental.
Honestly, if I had the money I would be a professional student because I like the idea of learning. I wish that I could have stayed in school. It’s the one thing no one can take away from you. School is the one thing no one can take away from you. You can lose everything in life but you can’t lose that. You can’t lose your M.D. You can go bankrupt, you can fall from that "sky" or those heights, but if you are educated you have something inside you that you achieved. It defines you – school defines you. I started hairdressing when I was just 18 years old - I dropped out of school just to do this. I was going for a sociology degree and I was like, “forget it”. Which some days I regret, but I love what I do.
Tell me about your most powerful learning experiences?
Actually, for me those powerful learning experiences happened while I was a hairdresser. My mentor, his name is Adam, was incredibly inspiring. I had never actually been inspired to learn before. I mean, I didn't remember the last time I was inspired to learn - probably when I was a kid with bugs or something, when you’re fascinated with everything. But Adam, he took me under his wing.
I was a baby in hairdressing, I was like 20 years old when we met. You’re very insecure when you’re learning hairdressing and after certification you’re suddenly in the field, still learning, but you’re suddenly "a professional". You’re deemed safe by the government, but that’s it – you’re not necessarily any good at it! For some reason, this guy made sense. He made learning it easy for me. He made it easy for me to understand how simple geometry, second grade geometry, applied to all of hairdressing. You don’t have to see a haircut as a puzzle: all you have to see is point one, point two, bring it together and cut and there you made a straight line. He made it so easy that when I saw it I was like, “a ha!”. And it was “a ha” all the time – so it was exciting. Ha. He always said, “piece of cake”. I wasn’t ever satisfied – I wanted to be really good at this – so I kept on learning.