Starting an eyelash extension business is an excellent way to make a lucrative income while working part-time. Since the eyelash extension business is service-based, you don’t have to worry about expensive inventory and high start-up costs. This business has low barriers to entry, and with a small investment in training and classes, you can be well on your way to enjoying the financial freedom and career security that comes along with owning an eyelash extension business.
Step 1: Research State Requirements
Each state has its own requirements for lash technicians. Since eyelash application is a relatively new innovation in the beauty industry, there may be wildly varying requirements between states and even cities. The first step is to research these requirements to ensure that you are operating legally. Will you need a license? Does the state count your years of experience in lieu of a license? Contact your state licensing board to find out exactly what credentials you will need to start your business. Do not skip this step!
Decide if you are going to work from home or set up a salon. This is a major consideration that will have a huge impact on your budget. There are pros and cons to both.
- An at-home salon has lower overhead expenses, but you miss out on the foot traffic that you would get at a salon
- You can only work out of your home if your home is zoned for commercial business. If not, you could be hit with penalities from your city or town
- People tend to expect to pay less when using an at-home salon, so you may have to lower your prices
- If you are thinking of traveling to client’s homes to perform the service, safety can be an issue. You have no control over who else may be present in the home. Additionally, you don’t have control over factors like the client’s lighting and your workspace
- Traveling to the client’s home can take valuable time—time that you could be earning money. Charge accordingly.
Step 2: Create a Budget
There are a lot of budget considerations when it comes to starting your eyelash extension business. First, you will need to map out startup costs. (This is where your licensing requirements will play a huge role) Here are a few costs to consider when creating your budget:
Projected Costs (startup)
- Certification and licensing
If you have no prior experience with lashing, you will need to get your lash certification. Depending on where you live, this course can cost between $1,000 and $4,000.
You will definitely need adequate insurance as you will be performing a service on another person’s body. Should that person become injured or sick as the result of your service, you could lose your entire investment. Your insurance will cover bodily injury, loss or theft of your tools and liability for any damages that result from your service. This is another step that you absolutely should not skip.
- Equipment, space rental and supplies costs
This will definitely vary depending on how you will operate your business. If you are planning to work in an existing salon, you likely won’t need too much decoration or cash for building out your space. If you are renting your own salon (or purchasing a building) you will need to factor in rent, mortgage, utilities, decor, workstations and cash registers. Your startup costs may include security deposits, utility deposits and the upfront purchase of furnishings.
Of course, you will need the lash extensions, glue, cleansers and tools. Invest in the best quality supplies you can find and charge a premium for them. Find one supplier you trust and stick with them to enjoy a long-lasting relationship and (hopefully) discounts for your loyalty.
- Utilities, Rent
Factor in the costs to rent the place each month. This may include booth rental or building rental. Of course, you can save with a mobile service in which you travel to your client. In that case, you will need to factor in the cost of travel and vehicle maintenance and insurance.
- Advertising and Marketing
You can build the best eyelash extension business on the market, but it won’t thrive if nobody knows about it. You will need to factor in the costs of a website, advertising and other marketing materials to get your name out there.
Projecting Your Income
The next step is to figure out how much potential income you can earn from your business.
A full set of eyelashes usually costs the client between $150-$200. For refills, the client will typically pay between $55-$65. Of course, these costs will vary based on a number of factors. First, your geographic location matters. You can certainly charge close to the higher end of pricing in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Miami, but bear in mind, your overhead costs will be higher as well.
You also need to factor in the cost based on the time it takes you to complete the application. If a full set of lashes costs the client $200, for example, and it takes you an hour to complete, your average hourly earnings are $200. If it takes you two hours, your earnings drop by 50 percent to $100.
In addition, you will also need to factor in your overhead costs. Let’s look at an example here:
- Price per client: $200
- Overhead costs: $2,500 monthly
- Break-even point: 13 clients per month
- Price per client: $100
- Overhead costs: $2,500 monthly
- Break-even point: 25 clients per month
The break-even point is the point at which your expenses and your income are the same. After that point, each client you service represents a profit for your business. Consider, for the sake of argument, that you service 5 clients per day. At $200 per client, it would take you less than three days of work to break even. At $100 per client, it would take you about five days.
Assuming you work a 20-day month, you would earn profits 17 days per month at $200 per client, and 15 days per month at $100 per client.
Of course, earning your profits each month is not going to happen in this clean and predictable fashion. There are all sorts of factors that will affect how much you earn each month. Weather is a major one. A blizzard, thunderstorm or extreme heat can keep people from venturing out of their homes, drastically affecting your daily profits. Road construction outside of your shop can make it hard for clients to visit, thus reducing your profits. Major holidays like Valentine’s day, New Year’s Eve and Independence Day can mean larger than average crowds, which can cause your profits to swell.
So in projecting your income for your business, it pays to be conservative in your estimations. In other words, assume that your expenses will be about 25 percent higher than you project and your income will be about 25 percent lower than you project.
Step 3: Learn How to Do Eyelash Extensions
There is a reason that we listed this step third instead of first. You will need to be well aware of your startup costs before you go out and hang up your “Open” sign and start waiting for business to come flying through the front door. You need to be realistic about your startup costs, ongoing costs and potential profits. So now that you have done the math and you’re convinced that you are ready to start the eyelash extension business, it’s time to get the right training.
Finding a Training Program
Lash extensions have exploded in popularity in the past few years, with more nail salons and beauty salons looking to add this service to their existing menu. This demand has also brought with it an influx of “training programs” promising to teach the ins and outs of lash application. While most of these are legitimate, there are scams and low-quality programs out there. Understanding how to find the right one is key to getting the best possible training.
- Make sure the course has accredited instructors
Remember what we said about state licensing? Accreditation is equally as important. There are boards that accredit schools and individual instructors, so search for your training program with your state’s accreditation board.
- What comes in the lash kit?
Lash courses will come with a kit that includes the supplies and tools you need to start doing applications for class practice. These kits typically include lash trays, adhesive, primer, remover, gel eye pads, lash tape, micro brushes and scissors. Other kits will include more items and some will include less. Be sure to ask what’s included as this will make a difference in the cost of your training.
How long is the program?
If you are looking to start eyelash extension business right away, you will want to know how long it will take to get your certification. Some training programs are offered for one full day or two to three half days. It pays to ask how many days you can expect to be in the training.
Can you bring a model?
It is important that you bring a live model to practice with during your training. Without this live training, there is no way to tell if you will be ready to work with actual clients. In some cases, the training will include a model, but it is important to ask this upfront so you know what to expect.
Step 4: Start Working
If you have worked in the eyelash business before, you’re in luck. You likely already have a set of clients who trust your work and will support you in your new business.
If you have not already developed a client base, the best way to do it is to work in another eyelash extension salon first. Spend a few months working as an employee for a salon owner so you can get an idea of how the business is run. You will get used to scheduling clients, managing your workload and handling the financials.
Advertising and Marketing
Once you have gotten some experience under your belt, it’s time to let people know that you offer eyelash services. There are many ways to advertise your business, and it helps to tap into more than one to see which ones are most effective.
Postcard marketing has proven to be highly effective in bringing in clients for service-based businesses. You can find simple and inexpensive postcard templates from sites like Vistaprint™ and print up a few hundred to get started.
Hand them out at local businesses. Any business that caters to women is idea. The wine shop, the local brunch spot, the nail salon (if they don’t offer this service), the dog groomer, the supermarket.
It is also helpful to set up a website to get the word out about you online. Advertise on your social media pages, have friends post pictures of themselves with brand new lashes and tag you and your new business. Developing a Web presence is important, so even if you choose not to go with a full website, it pays to set up accounts on Instagram and Facebook.
Niches and Specialties
If you really want to bring in the big bucks, market your business to brides, girls going to prom, and other special events. You can set up “lash parties” and work on several clients at once. Team up with makeup artists and photographers and perform your work on-site for photo shoots. The sky is the limit when it comes to adding value to your business, so find the right niche and start advertising. Try sites that connect special event vendors to clients and the work will come to you.
When it comes to opening your new eyelash extension business, there are many factors to consider. The eyelash extension industry is booming, as more women are devoting their disposable income to self-improvement. With the right training, work experience and a bit of cash, you will be well on your way to the financial freedom that this career path brings.