Owner versus Independent Nail Artist, who will be the winner of this
what-do-I-do-next battle? For many professional nail artists, living the
dream means opening your own nail salon. It’s the ultimate career goal.
What could be more satisfying than designing your own store, being the
big boss, and having no one to answer to but yourself? In this space,
Habib Salo, CEO and Tracey Reierson, General Manager of Young Nails,
explore what salon ownership looks like in real life and whether it
might be the fit for you.
So, you have this awesome independent nail artist thing going full steam. You only work four days a week. You work with tons of amazing return clients and have a serious income pouring in. Are you happy and content? Or are you bored? Are you interested in a new challenge and finding new ways to make more money? These questions are usually the lead up to determining whether salon ownership is in your future.
If you answered, yes I’m happy and content right where I am. You can pretty much stop reading here. Stay on the path of being a solo act because it’s working for you. However, if you bore easily and find yourself seeking out a new challenge (maybe even feed on stress); then it’s possible you’re ready to take on life in the second act as a salon owner.
We can all relate to the fantasy of having a salon where everyone is happy and everything is always perfect. Yet the actual responsibilities of running a salon can often be at odds with the dream. It’s a unique position and isn’t for everyone. If you think you’ve already mastered the working hard part; building out a prosperous salon business is a completely different kind of untamed beast.
Independent nail artists can count the number of responsibilities they have on one hand: booth rent, self-promotion/marketing and skills maintenance. It’s simple and straightforward allowing you to prioritize yourself and your quality of life. End of story.
Salon Owners must be ok with the responsibility of maintaining their own clients while overseeing the operation details of the salon: store lease, utilities, station equipment/rental, creating a team of talented nail techs/receptionists, nail product lines, dress code, ventilation, health and safety, store atmosphere, taxes/payroll, and sanitation. At times, it might feel like your a glorified janitor who keeps the coffee machine and toilet paper stocked. Other times, you’re the human resources manager who must hire and fire as required.
The salon environment is also a major responsibility of the owner. Going beyond the looks and building the reputation of the salon, there is an added layer of stress of managing people. You must be selective about the team of techs that make up the salon talent. You can count on staff turn over. Sometimes you can have someone come on that is not a team player, doesn’t share the same goals or just doesn’t fit into the salon culture. It’s a delicate balance to insure that everyone can work well together but it must be a priority. Your salon’s success depends on it.
And another thing, you need to be really good at communication to motivate everyone to rally together with a shared mission and address conflict as it arises. You must lead with confidence. You must make tough decisions. You must set limits and not mistake professional comradery with personal friendship. As the salon boss, your goal is to focus on the team and create an environment with fair rules and fair pay. When it all comes together it is a beautiful thing, a creative community that makes all the pressure and stress worth it.