As one of the queens of bridal hair, Ulyana Aster has created beautiful wedding looks for brides across the world. From her fairytale-esque floral accessories to tumbling curls and softly feminine dresses, Ulyana has built up a career unique to her.
We caught up with her to find out how she forged her own path in the wonderful world of bridal hair…
When did you realise that a career in bridal hair was for you?
I’ve been interested and passionate about hairstyling ever since I can remember. As a little girl, I used to play with my dolls and my friends hair, and I recognised my skills really early. I guess when I grew up and pursued my career options, I realised that all I wanted to work with was hair. Hence why I enrolled into a hairdressing course when I got the chance!
My key moment was when I just started the course and my teacher recognised my styling skills at our first practice session. She was so inspired by the hairstyle I made that she immediately approached me and invited me to accompany her to a bridal styling party she was attending the coming weekend. I agreed, of course, and the day was all the inspiration I needed.
I realised then, at that wedding, that I wanted a career in the bridal industry, as to me it was so inspiring and endlessly creative. My hobby became my passion and I am lucky to have been able to turn that passion into a successful business. I have never looked back.
What has been your standout career highlight so far?
I began my humble beginnings from my home office and slowly worked my way up. I never expected to get such a substantial following and interest in my work! I am proud to be able to share my love for work and inspire others to do the same via my online education program.
Being able to provide beautiful and desired hair accessories and jewellery to the brides of the world is also a dream come true. But a standout of my career so far, I would say, are my masterclasses. I absolutely love being able to travel and meet other stylists from all around the world to share my knowledge, passion and ideas with them.
There is always such a good and positive vibe during the class that it makes it hard to say goodbye at the end of the day! It is very rewarding to leave a positive impact on so many people’s lives and I am grateful that I am able to experience that.
What has been one of the biggest challenges of your career to date?
The biggest challenge so far for me would be balancing my family life with my work life. As you may know, I have two small children; Ashton, 5, and Scarlett, 2. Being a full time mum, as well as running and growing a business, does not leave you with much free time.
My work involves creating new ideas and content constantly, so it can get a little stressful at times when deadlines have to be met. I also travel a lot and leaving the kids at home is always a difficult task. Even though I know they are well cared for, being away from them always has a slight negative impact on me. Luckily I have an understanding and supportive husband as well as friends who help out as much as they can.
And, as many would know, having an online business means that you have your work always with you on your phone or laptop. It is so easy to get distracted into continuously reading emails, replying to requests and comments. So, I always aim to do as much work as possible while Ashton is at school and try to have the afternoons free for visits to the local parks, lakes or beaches.
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What is one thing you wish you had been told before embarking on a professional career in bridal hair?
One of the things I wish I knew before is how addictive this type of work can be. I have the opportunity to be creative, try new things and work on new projects every day, and to me this is very valuable. I am always thinking about new hairstyles, ideas and trends and how I can bring them across to my audience. There is a constant desire to bring new accessory designs, dresses and products to my store.
The possibilities with hair and and all things bridal are endless and I learn something new every day. I feel fortunate that I get to do something that I love from the comfort of my own home and that I can take all the time I need. Even if it means midnight ideas and creations while everyone else is asleep. It is challenging to have an own business, but I learn as I go along and everyday is a new task.
Who inspires you to be a fantastic bridal hair stylist?
There is inspiration all around us. But most of my inspiration comes from all the bridal stylists and brides around the world that send me positive feedback and say how much I have inspired them. It is a wonderful feeling knowing that something that I do helps someone else do what they love. Being creative and seeing things differently is a gift, and sharing that gift is a satisfying feeling which motivates me to work even harder.
Being an educator also means I have to interact with my students and understand their needs and requests. So I aim to improve whatever and wherever I can.
How has your career developed over time?
Initially I started working from my home office and as a freelance bridal stylist. I enjoyed the flexibility and carefree work life until I had my first baby. When Ashton arrived, I found myself unable to keep up with the busy schedule and weekend work that I was doing before, so I decided to be a full time mum instead.
During that stay at home period, while the baby was asleep, I would get creative with a mannequin I had in my studio, just to keep myself busy. My friend once noticed what I was doing and suggested I should start sharing my work on Instagram. I followed her advice and found that in a very short time my images were ‘liked’ and shared thousands of times. I started getting thousands of new followers each day and I had such a demand for more that I just kept going.
At that time I also started getting a lot of requests for tutorials which is what lead me down the path of actually creating an Online Education Program. I have also always used hair accessories to amplify the hair styling effect and I would constantly get asked where they can be bought. This is what gave me the idea to actually create my own brand and sell my own hair accessories and jewellery. I remember very well when I bought all the necessary wires, beads and crystals and started putting together my most popular Maria accessory.
And, as one thing leads to another, the latest addition to the Ulyana Aster brand has been the wedding gowns, which complete the bridal look and for which I am extremely proud. It is something that I always dreamed of doing but never thought I would be able to!
What are your holy grail kit essentials that you can’t work without?
Some things certainly have changed over the years, but my all time essential kit has stayed pretty much the same. I am crazy about bobby pins of all sizes and shapes and I believe my work would be almost impossible without them! I have a styling box full of a variety of pins, grips, clips, hair elastics and hairdressing combs that I could not work without. All of these are the old style accessories that have always been around and will stay around.
I also use several hair products on a regular basis like the Schwarzkopf OSIS+ range and the Label M. Texture sprays. Another important tool worth mentioning, that you will not find in my essential kit but is always on me, is my phone. Work would definitely be impossible without it.
Shop the Ulyana Aster Look…
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed across the industry over the years?
I have noticed that there are so many fantastic hairstylists out there that are doing an amazing job. With social media being in full swing we are able to see everyone’s talent with the click of one finger. I think that is a big game changer in this industry. We are able to get our work out there and get noticed around the world easily, which was not so much the case a decade ago.
There is also a plethora of new tools and products available that are certainly making this type of work more enjoyable and more fascinating. The choice for hair products alone is enormous and everyone has their own favourite brand they like to work with. Reaching out to people has also become so easy. Collaborations are very successful and expand the horizons for everybody involved. I would say that social media has certainly opened many doors for a lot of us to get noticed and to get acknowledged.
What inspires you to keep your outlook and work fresh?
Following the current trends and interests, yet staying true to my own niche, is what I look forward to do. Being an influencer, my work is constantly followed and commented on. I have to create new and engaging content everyday. My work is based on visual content so taking a lot of good photos is crucial. Easy doable relaxed boho hairstyles that everyone can recreate easily is what I like to focus on. Following the current colour trends and styles is also very valuable. There are so many tools, accessories and products available on the market today that I want to utilise and work with and by doing so refine my work. I look forward to creating better content than the year before and better myself as well as grow my business to the fullest potential possible.
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