Believe it or not, the incomparable Lupe Voss, Aveda Guest Artist (@lupevoss), was once an extremely nervous beauty school student. What helped her push past her nerves? An unflappable love of learning and mentors with invaluable advice.

Dear “Beauty School Lupe,”

In 1981, you’re going to sign up for cosmetology school at your local City College, dreaming of the countless opportunities that are ahead of you. But even with that uncontainable enthusiasm, you’re still going to be unbelievably nervous.

Questions will swirl around your head at a dizzying pace. What if I can’t learn how to cut and color hair? What kind of salon will I work at? Will I like this as a career? Will I be good enough? Looking back, my best advice is this: Relax. Everyone feels that way when they’re just starting out. And, soak up every drop of education that you can. You’re going to need it.

Fresh out of school, you’re going to be broke, but you’re still going to have a nagging feeling that you need to know more. It’s okay to reach for more classes and continue to learn in whatever way you can. Master the fundamentals of hair cutting and coloring, because as your mentor, Ricardo Dinis, Aveda Global Artistic Director of Cutting, will tell you, “Your fundamentals are advanced classes.”

On the road to mastery, you’re going to learn a lot about yourself and being a successful hairdresser. Your biggest lessons: In the pursuit of excellence, you have to put yourself out there. Being in the right place at the right time is important—even if that means working for free sometimes. And, the fundamentals easily give way to more creative endeavors, but that creativity is only communicable when executed with strong, foundational skills.

You’re going to get some sound advice from incredible mentors that support and love you. Listen to them. They know what they’re talking about.

From Ray Civello: “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

From Mr. Pappik: “You can do whatever you set your mind to do, with persistence of mastering your craft.”

From Horst: “Remember why you teach, and know that each human deserves your best.”

From Dad: “Whatever you do, do it at 200 percent or don’t do it all.”

Young Lupe, you’re going to create an amazing network of like-minded craft hairdressers, and you’re going to get to do things that you never thought were possible. Take to heart everything that you learn. One day you’ll have your very own platform for sharing your passion—and you’ll need every last bit of the foundational support that you’re collecting today.

With love,

“Future Lupe”