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How To Pick The Perfect Salon Environment To Work In?



Growing pains and leaps of faith are a normal part of road to success. Along the way, recognize when a change needs to happen. Finding a suitable salon environment for your talent is one of those key transitional moments. Where you are in the arc of your career will determine where and who you’ll want to run your business. Trying to find a home as a nail pro? What do you look for commission or booth rent? Beginner to advanced, each person is different.


It’s typical that a person right out of school cannot afford to jump into a booth rental. Location is key to finding your tribe. Look for a place packed with established nails techs. There is so much to learn from good company. Ward off any feelings you might have to try hog all the business. Imagine this first step out of cosmetology school like you’re working as the line chef at a five star restaurant. It’s a post graduate program you get paid to attend. Eventually you will work your way up to executive chef and soon you’ll be running the joint with your name out front. But for now, you have no idea how to actually be and move around in a salon. Surrounded by a talented, listen, and learn. You will rise up. Accept an position in a busy salon with many other techs and soak up all their knowledge. It’s not competition at this point. Try commission out for six months and see how you feel. It’s a once in a lifetime growth opportunity before you go all into a booth rental. Focus on learning and getting to practice on paying walk-in clients.


There is one working arrangement we need to highlight here, appointment only with the rare walk-in accepted. This is the golden star of achievement for a nail pro. It is hard earned through blood, sweat, and years of service. This usually means a steady client following has been built up through time and they’re on a regular service schedule. While it’s not for everyone, we aren’t critical of a strictly walk-in business. We know there is always room for both. This is the private nail suite and you can afford to go at it solo. Starting out, we recommend work that is commission based. A busy salon in a great location with street traffic is priceless. Senior nail techs can divert their overflow clients to you like repairs while you build your book.


If you have to choose between a main street nail establishment or the cool, trendy place ten miles out of town; stop and think first. What is your current goal for earning money? An under the radar destination might work for a hip art gallery or bar. As a new nail pro, if no one can see it; no one is going to see your work either. You want to double expose yourself to any walk-in foot traffic plus potential over flow and repair clients. An odd location may keep you in obscurity. A tucked away salon might drive the hype with a killer social media feed and marketing strategy. Ask how and if the “likes” translate to actual client bookings. Then that is a different story.


It’s so important to ask questions. Don’t ever feel like you can’t ask them. Here are a few things to consider.

-Does the salon have an IG account? Is it ok for you to have your own social media accounts for self-promotion? Nail techs should be able to own and post to their own social media without salon constraints. You want a salon owner that treats their team well and isn’t paranoid about you poaching clients. The salon should encourage you to build your social media following without fear of your leaving. If you grow; they grow. Control over a salon’s IG account can cause controversy because you want to make sure nails is equally represented among the many other beauty services like cut, color, eye lash extensions, etc.

-What kind of client overflow do they have? This will help you determine if you’ll be able take on clients as you initially find your ground and aren’t able to bring them in on your own.

-Are they friendly and open to helping you learn? Good communication and mutual respect between the owner and techs are essential. Support is a two way street.

-What is the business structure and culture? You need to understand the salons policies regardless if you are booth renter or on commission. Sketchy things happen otherwise. A true booth rental arrangement will allow you to have control over your business operations. You can have a key. You can come and go as you please. You can post what you want without restriction. You can price as you please. This is the core of booth renting. A lot of salon owners do not follow those rules. Talk to a local nail pro to know what is fair in the workplace. We know in California it is pretty strict. A booth renter is an independent contractor and your rights are different than someone who is a full time or hourly wager earner. If you’re on commission, ask for what the split looks like. Who buys the products?


The good place you are looking for is looking for you too! The goal is to work in an environment that supports your growth. Keep in mind your current level of experience. It’s all about hands-on confidence building. No salon will be perfect but will it be good enough? Will it be a place where you can do good work and make a good living? As you command more skill, be mindful that you might begin to outgrow your salon space. Don’t ever feel trapped and limited to one salon. If you’ve made a good impression with who you are; believe your clients will follow. Of course, you are dealing with humans. Even if it’s a great fit; there will always be certain challenges between clients, colleagues or owners. Active and open communication is key to making things right. Verbal abuse is unacceptable. If it’s not a right fit, don’t ever be scared to leave. One of the best things about this career is it’s portability. Just keep asking questions of yourself and those around you whom you respect. You are guaranteed to find your way.

**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, BIZ TALK:HOW TO PICK THE PERFECT SALON ENVIRONMENT TO WORK IN?

***Follow our YN YouTube Channel and click here to watch the full discussion: