How To Start A Lash Business: A Comprehensive Step-By-Step Guide
Lash extension market size was valued at USD 1.36 Billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 2.31 Billion by 2028.
With such a huge dollar opportunity available, you are thinking of entering this fast-paced market (we read minds you see 😌).
But how do you get started? By breaking the rather long process down into steps! And this blog is just what you might need – a step-by-step guide on how to start a lash business.
There is not a second to be wasted – just dive right in!
- Understanding the market
- Decoding the state norms
- Getting started with the business processes
- Setting up your studio
- Creating an experience to sell
- Marketing proactively
- Tips: To get an unfair advantage
- Conclusion: Keep calm and get started
So let’s get started!
1. Understanding the market
Skipping market research is like jumping into the ocean when you cannot swim – not advisable!
So what is market research?
It is essentially gathering organized information on the business landscape. For example,
- understanding the types of customers,
- their needs,
- current lash trends, etc.
fall under the umbrella of market research. But random searches don’t yield fruitful results. So what can you do instead?
You can choose to follow the below-listed steps, that aim to provide a strong backbone for structuring your research.
A. Research customer preferences
Why customer preferences, you ask? Well, let us answer the question with a few questions.
Do you have a clear idea about what your future lash customers want? Or what the eyelash market trends are? Or if there are any new styles of extensions that are in right now?
If you don’t know the answer to any of these questions before starting a new eyelash extensions business, scoping out the market is important for you.
Here are a few pointers for the customer preferences questionnaire:
- Research current lash trends – You can understand popular styles as well as evergreen options of eyelash extensions to offer, often advised by beauty gurus.
- Gather firsthand opinions – To gather the thoughts and opinions of your customers personally, you can choose to socialize at events or distribute anonymous surveys for them to fill out.
- Go in-depth – A quick Google search will reveal what the virtual crowds are gravitating towards. You can also read more about the opinions and desires of your customers on thought-sharing platforms such as Facebook, Quora, or Reddit.
B. Create customer personas
You can put the information you have collected to good use by creating customer personas with it. A customer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, listing their character traits, hobbies, and preferences.
Ideally, you can create the customer personas by interviewing potential customers and making a note of their
- Time and money (that they are willing to spend on lash extensions)
- Their lash choices
You can use the free Hubspot tool to compile your personas. Given below is a sample persona:
With this example, you can see why a persona would help you understand your client properly. These personas you create will serve as your ideal customers, assisting you in deciding what services to offer and what products to stock, often based on their likes and dislikes. They also help in making crucial marketing decisions, as we will discuss later in this blog.
Of course, you cannot possibly create and manage personas for each and every client. So you can make use of the grouping method. Grouping, or segmentation, is categorizing your clients into groups, by some common characteristics.
For example, during your interviews, you asked everyone about their lash goals and spending limits. Based on their answers, you can group women
- who have a low spending limit and,
- want lashes with a more natural look
as “Wispy Ava”. Similarly, you can form more groups of customers from the interview answers.
C. Assess your competitors
When you open a new lash business if you are unaware of the reason customers frequent the competitors’ salon, you may fall behind. So, you should definitely check out what the competition looks like.
To do this, first, figure out who your main competitors in the locality are. Then, get an idea about their:
- Services offered
- Online presence
- Reviews and ratings acquired
- Pricing strategy
This will help you identify their strengths and weaknesses, being able to find lost market opportunities you can capitalize on.
For example, you know from your research that a few eyelash products sold in discounted bundles sell better than separate ones. And you see that none of the competitors are offering such discounts. Here, you have identified a market gap that can earn you profit and set you apart from the competition.
Tip: You can also talk to competitors’ owners and managers to gather insights into running an eyelash business.
D. Outline your findings
Great job on collecting so much information!
But dumping so much information in a single place can get overwhelming. It is a good idea to organize all the information –
- Separate notes on how to open a lash business from the tips to run it.
- Look for any common trends you have found in the market and competitor research and highlight them.
- Make additional notes or points that you want to remember about your research in the future.
- You can also make a conclusion section of all your learnings.
One last thing is to make sure to revisit your research periodically. As the lash industry trends will keep changing, you want to make sure you stay on top of your game.
2. Decoding the state norms
Now that you’ve warmed up with the market research, grab a cup of coffee and settle in. Next, you’re checking your state’s lash norms and technicalities, that may be entangled in the legal jargon.
A. Check out the state norms thoroughly
So why is it important to do a thorough research of the state norms?
It’s because where you choose to practice will greatly influence your certification requirements. For example,
- Some states require an esthetician or a cosmetologist’s license to be able to practice.
- Whereas in certain states, certification courses are allowed as substitutes for the license as well.
- While a few other states have the policy that through an apprenticeship/or in practice, after a stipulated period, you are eligible to be granted a license to practice.
But without checking the state norms, you have no idea of knowing which of these points apply to you. So, for proper information, you can check your state website or click this link.
If you are unwilling to spend your precious time looking up the norms, an easier alternative for you can be setting up an appointment with a business consultant. It may be pricier, but you are sure to get all information you need without lifting a finger.
B. Next, get certified to be able to practice
Once you are armed with the knowledge about state norms, your next step is to get certified according to the state norms – be it as a cosmetologist, an esthetician, or maybe simply an eyelash tech.
While looking for courses, keep in mind that it is important to get trained from the right place. Choosing to do your course with a popular trainer will yield twofold benefits:
- Not only will you be able to make sure that you gain valuable knowledge for your money, but
- You will also gain credibility by having been certified by a trainer everybody knows.
Ensure that the program you select checks the following boxes:
- Taught by high-quality (preferably popular) lash artists
- Priced moderately and
- Has a good alumni community (to help you build a strong and reliable network)
And after the course, once you receive your certification, be sure to display it proudly. 😊
This step brings us towards the end of this research and certification section. Up next, we will explore the business documentation part of this lash journey.
3. Getting started with the business processes
The amount of paperwork that goes into opening a lash business can seem daunting. So we have tried to divide it into 8 easy-to-follow steps, to streamline your business activities and ensure that you don’t miss out on anything!
Step 1: Register your business
If you do not register your business, you are automatically considered to be a sole proprietorship. This type of business considers your personal assets and liabilities as common between you and the business, and if sued, your personal finances may have to bear the losses.
And so, registering your business is considered to be an essential step among the business activities. There are numerous types of business options to register as.
The below table draws a comparison between the available choices –
While this table may help clarify the pros and cons of each type of business, we suggest that you take legal advice before registering your business.
Step 2: Apply for licenses
Being certified does not ensure that you will be able to practice!
Most states require an esthetician or cosmetologist’s license i.e. a legal designation for you to start working people’s eyelashes. So it is important to apply for the licenses timely in order to get started with your business.
Visit your state website, or call the numbers listed on this site to get an understanding of your requirements.
Step 3: File for your State and Federal Tax ID number
Commonly known as your Employee Identification Number (EIN), a State and Federal Tax ID Number is a unique number assigned to your business. It works like a social security number, but for your business.
This unique number allows your lash company to register and pay the taxes. It is completely free to apply for an EIN and you can do it immediately after registering your business.
However, if you have opted for a sole proprietorship, you can choose to skip this step.
Step 4: Get insured
Insurance is important for yourself and your business, especially when starting your own lash business that deals with one of the most delicate parts of our bodies each day.
You want to make sure you are protected in this sue-happy era. Thankfully, today there is a wide range of insurance policies available for lash professionals to choose from.
- You can search online for the policies that are available for a lash tech in your state.
- Compare all the options for their cost per year as well as coverages.
Not all insurance policies cover the important aspects that require protection. So make sure you check that your insurance includes:
- Professional liabilities – against claims alleging failure to deliver a service advertised, negligence, or misconduct
- General liabilities – against any third-party claims, such as property damage or an injury in the salon
- Product liabilities – covers claims alleging that a product distributed, made, or sold by your business caused property damage or bodily injury.
- Property damage – protects business premises and the property inside from a covered risk, such as fire, theft, or vandalism
among other things.
Step 5: Open a business bank account
Managing both personal and business finances from the same account can get tiresome. You’re tracking your business expenses from the same account as your personal expenditures which can get very confusing. You will –
- Have to sort the expenses manually, which can lead to certain errors
- Sacrifice your privacy (financially)
Hence, opening a separate bank account for your lash business is necessary. Not only will it make your accounting and financial planning that much easier, but it will also add credibility to your lash salon.
Step 6: Establish your USP
The secret to succeeding in today’s market typically is a unique selling point that sets you apart from the rest.
After conducting research, you would have a fair idea of what the competition is offering and you can quickly gauge where you fall in the mix. So now, to draw customers to your eyelash extensions business, you could really hone in on what sets you apart.
Here are some ideas to get you started-
- It could be a unique extension service you offer
- It could be the high standard of eyelash quality and care
- It could be any special add-ons your customers can look forward to
- Or it could even be your competitive pricing and marketing (discount/gift card) strategy
The possibilities are endless, you just have to think over it and identify your USP.
Step 7: Evaluate startup costs
Knowing the expenses to start a lash business can allow you to plan ahead and gather the necessary funds. You can even allow some leeway for unforeseen circumstances if you plan well.
The table below describes the estimated costs for common expenses while starting an eyelash business, for your reference.
Going by these estimates, your total cost to start a lash business can range from $4,000 to $19,000, not including any studio renting costs.
Step 8: Get funding for your business
The last, and perhaps the most vital step before you start your lash extension business, is funding your business. A few ways to get funded are listed as follows-
(i) Gathering your own funds
Self-funding can come in the form of turning to family and friends for capital, using your savings accounts, or even tapping into your 401(k). While funding may be tight, self-funded businesses complete the entire costing upfront, and hence do not have to deal with it again.
(ii) Loaning the required amount
Loans can be taken out from your bank or even venture capital (VC) firms, for a certain interest rate. This is a great option for you if you do not have any savings that you can use to start the cash flow.
The benefit of getting approved for a loan means your funds will be ample, especially for an eyelash business. But at the same time, you will continue paying off your loan in the future, your profits taking a hit.
(iii) Inviting investors to contribute
Sometimes called angel investors, these are individuals who invest money in a small business or startup in exchange for equity. But generally, investors may not be interested in such mainstream business ventures.
Congratulations! At the end of these 8 steps, you have successfully dispensed with the business processes.
4. Setting up your studio
With the paperwork dealt with, now you can turn your attention to putting together the eyelash salon and its basic amenities.
A. Choosing the right location
As a lash artist, you can build your extensions business in various locations. But it is important to choose the right space that matches your business needs.
For example, in the beginning, starting an eyelash business from home might make sense to you cost-wise rather than investing in a large studio space.
Some of the common options are listed below –
- At-home lash studio
If you are setting up at home, you are the person in charge. And it saves you the cost of renting or having to pay a cut to anyone else.
When starting a lash business from home, make sure to invest in creating a professional atmosphere and having a luxurious feel that draws your customers back in.
- Salon Studio
Studio setups are relatively easier to work in, as the salon managers take care of many of your requirements. Some salons allow you to rent a booth in their space if you prefer to work separately.
Here, the downside is that you share profits with the salon and that your brand mingles with the salon. But it is a good way to get exposure and build your clientele before opening your own lashes business.
- Renting a space
Renting a space out on a long lease is the perfect way to build your brand and also add a professional feel to your business. But it can be pricey and requires a lot of maintenance and initial setup costs.
Our suggestion would be to work from home or a salon before investing in renting a space, to build a solid customer base.
B. Creating a menu
Menus are definitely an important part of the service industry. It is how you convey your selection of options to the customer.
But how do you add an Oomph! to your menu? Simply, by adding luxurious visuals.
When curating your menu,
- Focus on your areas of expertise, and be sure to highlight them as specials in there.
- Additionally, make sure you offer a variety of eyelash extension types and lengths. Because who doesn’t love choices?
Some common eyelash types to include can be-
- Faux mink
Along with these, offering lengths from 5mm to whatever maximum size is available, to cater to the individual needs of customers is prudent.
C. Furnish with the right equipment
Choosing the right furniture and supplies here is key. You will be spending hours each day using it and it is what the customers will interact with. So making sure the piece provides comfort and has utilitarian value is important.
You can refer to the below list of supplies you need to run an eyelash extension business, at-home or salon based-
D. Find a vendor
Choosing the right lash supplier is probably the most important step in terms of maintaining quality and setting the standard for your new business.
To avoid any stressful situations in the future, we suggest you screen your vendors carefully.
- Testimonials from existing customers are a great place to get started, as they give you a general idea about their credibility and service.
- You could even visit their supply factories and look into their brand story to get a better idea about them.
- Also, check what their order limits are and whether they align with your needs.
For e.g. if you are just starting out, you will likely purchase smaller quantities of lashes. But if the vendor does not sell them to you at bulk prices, they are clearly not the right fit for you.
The selection process for your vendors should be equally as thorough:
- Initially, you will need to test a lot of samples.
- Once you find a few you are happy with, you will need to ask for a quote.
- If the quote is satisfactory, you will then proceed to negotiate the bulk prices.
Along with this, you will need to make sure that you are delivered quality lashes each time, and there is no inconsistency in the supply.
It is also crucial to have open lines of communication from the vendor’s side, as this is who you will turn to for any concerns or issues that may arise.
E. Set up the technology you will need
Investing in the right technology early on can set you up for success. A few such necessary tools are listed below.
i. Integrate a Point Of Sale (POS) system
A POS system is critical to your lash business in managing day-to-day finances.
Along with POS, setting up a few different payment methods such as – Square, Stripe, PayPal makes payment easy for your customers and gives them the freedom to choose their payment option.
ii. Use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool
Just as the personas helped you understand your potential customers better, a CRM helps you nurture your relationship with your lash clients.
- CRM stores data about each customer’s preferences and appointments.
- The data is then grouped by personas or segments.
By understanding each persona’s needs and operating accordingly, you ensure their satisfaction with your services.
iii. Adopt a scheduling software
Using eyelash extensions online booking software, such as Appointy, to manage your appointments will make your life as a new business owner easier.
- It will automate the booking process for your customers and even send reminders so they make it to their appointments timely.
- As an official partner of Reserve with Google, customers will be able to book appointments straight from your Google Business as well.
- You will be able to add a book button to your Instagram, leveraging social media to attract customers.
- The software, integrated with your POS, will also accept prepayments, leaving one less for you to worry about.
Not only this, you will have the added benefit of the inbuilt marketing capabilities of the Appointy.
Intrigued? You can schedule a free demo here.
F. Hire the right team
Let us consider a scenario, sometime in the near future, when you start an eyelash business. You have your setup ready to attend your next appointment, which is due to begin soon. The client is already in your studio when another potential client walks in through the door. Who do you choose to attend to?
The answer is both. And don’t worry, we realize that you cannot be in two places at once. But other members of your team certainly can.
Whether you are setting up in your home or a studio, you require a strong team. Hiring people, whether it is lash artists, a cleaning crew, or even the receptionist, needs to be done carefully as they will interact with your customers.
When interviewing potential candidates, you can
- Look for qualities and values that align with your business.
- Make sure they have a strong work ethic
- Check if they are dependable and responsible prospects
- Ensure that they have good communication skills
- Confirm that they are good team players.
And once you are done, you could give them an orientation of your business goals, their responsibilities and if possible, train them.
G. Set your pricing effectively
Setting the right price for your business is essential. You don’t want to oversell and lose any potential customers but at the same time, even as a beginner, you don’t want to sell yourself short.
When deciding the prices of your services, look at your costs:
- The investments you have made – the cost of the courses, your time, and business registration expenses
- The daily costs of running the lash business – the materials/supplies you use, and costs of running the studio (rent, electricity, water, etc.)
Then you can check out the average prices in your locality, so you know what your customers are willing to pay.
Tip: A quick search of eyelash artists around you should give you a fair idea of the local competitive prices.
Next, decide on a profit margin – after all, you are in the business of making people feel good!
Now, calculate the total for each of your services after including your decided profit margin in your total costs.
This can be a good starting point for deciding prices for your services.
5. Creating an experience to sell
You have set up shop and now it is time for you to get down to business and extend some lashes. But simply performing a lackluster service today is not enough. You need to attract and then retain the customers.
To better understand this, let us take the example of a spa. We go to a spa not just for a service, but also for the whole experience. Our experience is further enhanced by the luxuries it offers – cozy robes, warm towels, and the zen feel of the place.
Similarly, when building a lash business, you could choose to enhance your customer’s experience to such an extent that they keep coming back.
Here are a few ideas to get you started –
- You can add a professional feel to your business by training your employees and ensuring high-quality service consistently.
- You could also create a soothing atmosphere in the eyelash studio setup. It will add a nice touch to your ambiance and will draw people back to your business.
- You could offer a detailed discussion session pre-service and an aftercare package. It will show value to your client.
- You can even begin a loyalty program for your lash clients that offers them a discount after a certain number of sessions.
You can use the customer personas you created earlier for your lash clients, to personalize their experiences. You can bring in add-ons they desire or offer them gift certificates as well.
6. Begin Marketing Proactively
You might be wondering why we earmarked some funds from our budget for marketing the eyelash studio. Well, it is because marketing is an important part of getting started. If people do not know about your lash salon, how will they come to your door?
After the painstaking research, and creating such a wonderful experience for the client, you want to make sure people know and want to come to your business.
Tip: Before you start an eyelash extensions business, set up your Google Business profile. This way, when a customer searches for “lash extensions near me”, your business will pop up.
The first step in your marketing should be to build a brand and showcase your values to the public. Choose your brand colors, themes, and fonts and stick to them for all your requirements.
Establish a presence on social media. Social media is important because:
- Customers engage with posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or even Pinterest.
- Serving unique content on each of these channels generates interest in your existing customer base.
- And this interest catches the attention of other users, who are your potential customers!
And so, investing your time and effort into social media is key.
You need not try to manage all the platforms yourself. You could either outsource to a social media manager or focus on one platform that most of your customers use (use your personas to guide you in your selection!).
Just be sure to showcase your unique brand voice!
Also, make sure to highlight your USP on your online profiles, websites, brochures, listings, etc. This is your selling point and your marketing strategy should be based around it.
Next, leverage your social networks and connections to advertise your eyelash salon opening. The customer personas you created earlier will help you navigate the right channel to spread the word about your business, be it
- Through social media ads
- Or, word-of-mouth
Tip: As a promotional strategy, offer your customers discounts and gift cards when they book their first appointment.
You can read more in-depth about promotion ideas for your eyelash extension business in our other blog.
Tips: Get an unfair advantage
Some knowledge can only be gained from experience, they say.
But in today’s fast-paced world, you cannot afford to wait to learn from your mistakes. Instead, you need to be aware of what to do, and what not to do.
And this section brings that valuable information to your fingertips!
1. Jazz it up! Decorate that home lash studio
Often we find that home-based lash extension businesses are sparsely decorated (if at all), often due to insufficient funding. While we understand, your customers may not find it attractive and choose to churn out of your business.
A few budget-friendly remedies until you can properly decorate it are-
- You can dedicate a room or a corner of your space as your studio.
- You can add a lighting fixture, a few scented candles, and have some music playing in that setup to build that atmosphere.
- You can also have wet towels and some water ready for your client.
2. Sophie’s Choice – the customer version
Don’t worry, it’s not as heart-wrenching. But you do need to target your customers wisely (maybe even let some go), and here’s why.
While special discounts draw in a lot more customers, they may not be loyal to your business. They may not agree with any price increase you bring in the future and may keep asking for discounts. And that is how you gather that they are possibly not the right fit for your business.
Instead, you can choose to focus on customers you deem loyal, preferably those who have eyelash extensions as a part of their lifestyle. They will be your advocates for any reviews they provide, and they will choose the quality you offer each and every time over any potential price rise.
3. Karen, be honest
The internet is going to be talking about you. And you want to make sure that people are hearing the truth, preferably from your happy customers.
Especially since eyelash extensions are such an intimate service, people generally listen to firsthand recommendations. You could choose to incentivize reviews and testimonials, by offering a loyalty program and lash goodies to them.
Additionally, you can offer discounts to both parties, when your regular customers refer a new customer to you.
Tip: You could try to target any influencers in your locality and offer them a free service in exchange for exposure for your brand.
4. The rule of exponential growth
When starting out, the urge to make more money fast could motivate you to start taking in more clients per week. This can leave you feeling rushed or even burnt out at the end of the day/week.
What you could do instead of taking in more customers, is trying to build a loyal customer base, and then increase your prices by a nominal amount. If you do the math, you will find that you will earn more and also reap the benefits of giving yourself some time to breathe.
So there you have it, tips that will give your small lash business an unfair advantage.
Conclusion: Keep calm, and get started
Once you are set up for success with all the care and attention you have put into your lash business, in a perfect world, people are rushing to your door. But the reality of opening a new business often means waiting. Meanwhile, you could keep in mind that –
- Your first customers often will be friends and family, and you should not discount them. After all, they will be walking advertisements for your lashes once they get them done.
- You should use the time you have wisely, and network within the local area. Building contacts at an early stage will benefit you in the future.
- Collecting testimonials and showcasing your work through demos is a good way to boost your business initially
So there you have it, a comprehensive, step-by-step guide on how to start a lash business.
We hope that our blog covers all the aspects of starting an eyelash extension business, from the research to business processes to marketing, and helps set you up for success.
We wish you the best for your lash journey ahead!
We at Appointy, help business owners grow and run their businesses with our online scheduling software. This blog was a part of our ‘Manage your Business’ category, where we provide expert tips, and resources, or simply talk about the challenges that small and medium businesses face every day.
If you have any thoughts on this blog or would like to chat about your business struggles and achievements, let us know in the comments below.
We love a good talk!