Starting your eyelash extension business - a practical guide
Eyelash extensions are HOT. The eyelash extension industry is growing more and more each year and by 2023 it is expected to be worth 1.5 billion dollars! As more and more people become interested in eyelash extensions, you’ll be there to help them fall in love with their lashes! Or so you think. The fact is that running an eyelash extension business is not easy. There are plenty of things you need to do in order to run a successful eyelash extension business.
Why do you want to be an eyelash artist?
Before you dive into the eyelash extension business you need to make sure this is the career you want. Becoming a lash artist is not easy and it requires determination and patience. When starting a business, remind yourself of why you’re in this business and be aware of the challenges you will face. Here are some of the Pros and Cons of the business.
- Recession proof: people always want to look their best
- Be your own boss
- Won’t be replaced by machines
- Low start up costs
- You pick your own schedule and breaks
- Your income is completely in your hands
- The feeling of making someone feel beautiful is very satisfying
- No benefits
- Can take quite some time and effort to start getting new customers
- You have to deal with any paperwork, administration, or tax issues
Eyelash extension business landscape
So you decided to be a lash artist? Congratulations! You’re about to enter a very fulfilling and lucrative career. Here comes the hard part: Taking stock of your situation and getting started with your career. The first thing you should do is to take a look at your location and evaluate the best way to promote and deliver your services. In bigger cities like Los Angeles or New York, you will have a lot of competition (and potential customers!) so you will definitely have to stand out. Where you work within the city is also important: If you’re working in a downtown core or near office buildings, your clientele will most likely be young professionals, whereas if you are working from home in a suburban neighbourhood, you should have a higher percentage of clients being parents. This is important because when you decide to advertise your services, you want to tailor it to your potential clients!
Your location and living situation also determines where you work. There are three options available for you: mobile, work from home, or in a salon. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages:
Working from home
- Low startup costs
- No time spent transiting from work
- Complete control of your lashing environment(meaning more consistent quality of work)
- Requires an empty room/home to work out of
- Dependent on your location for clients
For a new lash artist, working from home is typically the best option due to the low startup costs, control over your environment and zero transit time to and from work. Working from home might not be the best choice if you live in an area without your preferred clientele, you live in a sparsely populated area, or you lack the rooms available to practice from home.
- High foot traffic: means more potential clients and turnover
- Control over your lashing environment
- access to more experienced lash artist to learn from
- High startup costs (renting a chair in a salon is very expensive, especially as a new artist)
- Some travel time
As a new lash artist, starting out renting a spot in a salon is typically not recommended due to the high costs without a consistent income to pay for it. Nonetheless if you can afford it, starting out at a salon can jumpstart your career as a lash artist, just don’t expect to break even for a while.
Mobile (Lashing at client’s home)
- Low startup capital
- Not limited by location where you work
- Traveling costs money and time
- No control over the environment (leading to inconsistent results)
- potentially more dangerous than either working from home or a salon
Working mobile is not the best choice, but may be your only option if you are on a budget and cannot work from home. Even those who work from home may opt to visit their clients home to do lashes if the situation calls for it. Just remember that because you are working in a different environment each time, you cannot have complete control over humidity or temperature, so your lashes may not last as long!
What does it take to become an eyelash extension tech?
Once you have thought about where you are going to start your lash business, it's time to start picking up the skills and certifications to start practicing. First thing you need to do is figure out what you need in order to become a licenced eyelash technician. In the US, most states require you to be a licenced Esthetician or cosmetologist in addition to being certified for classic/ volume lash application. So make sure you fulfill the requirements before you start lashing. Starting off, you should work on your friends or for free to improve your skills so that you can create beautiful works through practice. You can also practice on mannequins, or practice on a sponge to get extra reps in!
Next you want to think about investing in your decor. Attractive workplaces make great advertising content and will make it more likely to attract and keep new customers. Once you have a decent amount of photos, start posting on social media. We recommend Instagram and Facebook because of the nature of our business: rich visual content is perfect for these platforms. You will also have to decide to set up Your business as either a Sole Proprietorship or a Limited Liability Company (LLC):
Sole proprietorship advantages:
- Easier and cheaper to set up vs LLC
- Less regulations and accounting to deal with vs LLC
- Any business losses can be written off from personal income tax
- Any legal costs and liabilities are 100% yours, not separated like an LLC
- Income taxed at your personal income tax vs a lower corporate tax rate
- Limited liability (if you get into financial or legal troubles only the company is liable for the cost, not you, shields you from personal liability)
- Tax savings due to taxing at corporate rate vs personal income
- Can transfer ownership
- More stringent regulations
- Accounting is more complex and expensive
- Must maintain corporate records annually
- More expensive to set up.
It's best to start off as a sole proprietor since in your first year you are unlikely to use LLC’s advantages where it’s worth the tradeoff. Meanwhile you can use the sole proprietorship’s tax writeoff to gain tax benefits from any business expenses you may have. Always consult with your tax accountant to have a complete understanding of your options.
When deciding your pricing, make sure that you are:
1. Comfortable and confident in your lashing
2. Have at least 100 sets of experience
3. Have the equipment, setup and skill necessary to do lashing safely
4. Believe you should be paid for this
5. Have some kind of insurance to cover liabilities
You should also factor in all your expenses to come to a price point that makes sense to you. We recommended to charge no less than 100 dollars a set, anything lower is not worth it.
Think about how much time you spend on your phone, on social media or the internet in general and you’ll understand that your online presence is one of the most important ways to attract customers. Your website is the bedrock of your online presence so it's very important to make sure that you have a website that is set up to take advantage of this!
To keep costs low, use a basic web service like Wix.com to start off. Make sure you have the following essential pages:
- About Page: what do you want your clients to know about you
- Services and Pricing
- Gallery: Before and after pictures of your lash extensions
- Booking Page
- Contact Page: Phone number and email address
- Terms and Conditions
Next, you should register your business with Google so that people can find you on google maps and prevent other people from claiming your business. Finally, create a Facebook Page and Instagram account for your business and add the link to your website to your profile.
Essential eyelash extension supplies
So you got your license and certification, decorated your lashing station, and finished designing your website, now you have to start preparing for your clients! Here is a short list of what you will need:
- Eyelash extensions
- Mascara / eyelash wands
- lash bath
- lash fan (for drying adhesives)
- micro applicators
- cream removers (to remove lashes)
- Silicon pad/glue holder
How to choose eyelash extension suppliers
There are four things you want to keep in mind when selecting your lash supplier:
- How credible and usable their website is
- Product availability
- Their customer service level
- The quality of their products
We will go in depth on how to best evaluate potential suppliers in future blog posts, but make sure to keep these criterias in mind when shopping for eyelash extension supplies.
I hope this helps you on your journey to becoming a certified lash artist! We will have future blog posts that will delve deeper into the lash business. Stay tuned!