Another day back in the grind. You can look at it as a gift or you can look at it like a chore. Or is it just one of those days spent wishing you could avoid a soul-crushing commute or salon drama with a coworker? We all have fantasies of what would improve our work life. And if you can, you should. As a professional nail tech, part of the draw is a certain level of independence and a flexible schedule. Can starting an At-Home Salon business be the answer to all your prayers? We say, yes. No. Maybe so. The At-Home Salon model is a really interesting situation. Here are a few things to consider before you go down that road.
DON’T FIGHT THE LAW
We know across the pond in Europe and internationally it is quite common for reputable nail techs to operate a salon business from home. Sounds pretty convenient, right? Could it be a growing trend here in the US? This is a huge grey area and the laws are different in every state. Steer clear of any unlawful business practices. Right off the bat, check with the local board that issued your cosmetology license to understand what salon operations are permitted in your area.
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE
The At-Home salon in the US doesn’t get the same respect as its main street or private suite salon counterparts. Know the pros and cons of setting up shop from your home. There are advantages for the At-Home Salon owner from a time and money saving perspective. Be aware that the At-Home Salon may face some unexpected biases that can also put you at a financial disadvantage. For some reason, your “professionalism” can be called into question and your work devalued. In which case, it will be harder to build a profitable long-term business if your clients perceive you as someone who “dabbles” in nails as a hobby. Above all, you want to showcase your badass nail sculpting technique and not have clients be distracted by your pet dander or questionable housekeeping.
YES. NO. MAYBE SO.
Our preference is to separate our work life from our home life. We just like to keep our work brains on during the day and mostly switch it off at night. Of course we understand life happens. Sometimes you just have to rein it in or circumstances dictate that you must work from home. Maybe you have kids or are the primary caregiver for a sick family member. You’ve got to do what you can to survive. So who is the ideal candidate for an At-Home Salon?
Do we recommend it for the salon nail tech with experience and a full clientele? Yes. It depends on how strong your boundaries are. Set a clear price list and stick with it. No discounts or buddy specials here. Get serious about collecting payment at the time of services. Be prepared to lose a few clients. No matter who you are, some clients just prefer to escape their own home lives and be pampered in spa-like setting. Also ask yourself how comfortable you, your partner, and family are to having frequent strangers in the house. In some unexpected ways, things can start to fall apart with your client relationships. Some people will show up uninvited or overstay their welcome. Some may come up with their own idea of what to pay you (usually below market value); as if they are doing you a favor. Some may not even tip. Much of this can be avoided if you are absolutely clear on communicating your expectations and setting your professional boundaries.
Do we recommend it for the new nail tech? Nope. This is not the business model for you right now. You will not be able to build a clientele from your home. You have too much to gain from working in the established community of other nail techs in reputable salon. There is a priceless education and feedback to be had in salon life. Plainly stated, some people will not get their nails done at the home of a stranger without a prior salon context.
LIKE A BOSS
This is still a business even though it’s an At-Home setting. Your business hours and policies must be crystal clear. You must be able to communicate and set firm boundaries for yourself. A smart way to start out is to promote your services as Appointment Only. Set up your social media accounts. Set up a price list for your services and approximate duration of each treatment. Have it readily available in a digital format to email. It may be helpful to use a scheduling app and follow up with a personal call. Just make sure that everything you do, you slay it like a boss.
TRACK EVERY DOLLAR & CENT
It’s already hard for nail techs to charge what their work is worth. Now more than in the salon, you have to get really clear about your money situation; even though you have reduced overhead. Money can slip away from you without these kind of hard costs. Respect yourself and your work. Treat your At-Home salon like the business it is. Charge the going market rate for your services. Designate a “business only” zone in your home. Create a business plan and budget. Have a really good understanding of how much it costs to operate your business at home and your earning potential. How many clients can you see per day? How much time can you spend marketing your work on social media? How much money can you earn per month? Track your time as it pertains to earning. Are you earning the same or more than in the salon? Itemize all your expenses including professional nail products and the house cleaning products, paper towels, tissues, tea/coffee, bottled water etc. used specifically for your client hospitality. Make sure you have a price list visible at your service station plus a tip jar. Open a separate business bank account and deposit what you earn into it. Watch it grow. Finally revisit the business plan regularly and re-evaluate where you are actually making and where you might be losing money.
Disclaimer: The opinions made here are based on an understanding of our local US market. Markets vary based on region and country. If you are considering an At-Home Salon Business, check your local cosmetology licensing board to insure your operation is complete legal compliance.
**This is an adaption from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, “Is An At-Home Nail Business For You?”.
Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full interview here: