Here at BELO, we understand how exciting it is when you're starting a lash business. There are so many considerations to make, whether you're wanting to start your lash business from home, renting space in a salon or practising mobile. We have trained hundreds of aspiring lash technicians, so we totally understand the main concerns and questions many of our students feel when embarking on the first steps to becoming self employed.
Let's get into it: here are our top 10 tips to consider when starting your own eyelash extension business.
1. Get your training and accreditation in order
We've already talked about this point quite extensively in a previous blog, but we can't stress the importance of training enough. As a self-employed lash artist, your lash business is only going to be as good as the training and development that you undertake. It's also crucial to ensure that your training is accredited so that you can be fully insured as soon as you complete your course.
Whether you're qualifying for the first time, or wanting to refresh your skills, undergoing thorough lash extension training is the best way to boost your services. With eyelash extensions, practice makes perfect. Learning from multiple trainers enables you to compare different techniques to refine your personal lashing style.
If you're qualified in classic lashes why not book onto a Russian Volume lashes training course to add some variation to your client offering. Alternatively, if you're already a Volume baddie, try upskilling with an advanced masterclass course. Any additional training you can undergo will only make your business stronger.
Also, the more qualifications and certificates you can demonstrate to your clients, the more you can justify charging premium prices.
Read more about training and upskilling in our blog: How to become a lash technician.
2. What are other lash businesses in your area doing?
Market research is a core element of any business plan. We love that the lash extensions industry is close knit and friendly, but that doesn't change the fact that your lash friends are your competition, especially if you're in the same area. This doesn't mean you have to start a war for clients - there are plenty of ways to support each other in the lash community and ensure that everyone has a fair share of the pie!
You need to understand what your competitors are doing and where the lashing services in your area are saturated. Is there a particular neighbourhood in your area that doesn't have a specialised lash tech? Are there some services which are not being offered in your area? How do other lash technicians or lash studios in your area price their services? And how do they market themselves?
All of these questions lay the groundwork for the next step: how to get your eyelash business to stand out.
3. What's unique about your offering?
Now that you have analysed what other lash studios in your area are doing, you need to figure out what you can do that's different. You're never going to have a complete USP (unique selling point) from other lash techs as you're offering such similar treatments. The main thing that is unique about your lash business is YOU!
Especially in beauty businesses, it's crucial to provide your clients with something that makes you special, as there is always someone that can compete with you on price. You are the heart of your eyelash business, so put yourself at the centre and figure out your vision for your brand.
Maybe there are plenty of lash technicians in your area providing classics and hybrids - but there's a gap in the market for an expert in mega volume lashes. Maybe it's the other way round. Perhaps all of the salons and lash studios close early, so you offer an out-of-hours service for busy working clients. You could target high-end clients that want luxury and convenience above all, so you offer a higher quality mobile service with luxury treatments to appeal to that target audience.
From your research, create customer personas for the clients that you're trying to reach and figure out how to appeal to them. It may seem silly at first, but this step is at the core of every marketing activity you will undertake. We cannot stress enough how important it is to understand your audience. Here are some examples:
Client A: Sarah, 26. Sarah is a successful marketing executive at a firm in Manchester, she works late and spends most of her free time in the gym or out with friends. She wants eyelash extensions that look professional in the week but give her a bit of glam at the weekends. She's pressed for time, so the quicker an appointment can be, the better.
Sarah wants hybrid lashes and needs late night appointments or weekend mornings. She will need ultra retention in her sets to withstand her active lifestyle and busy schedule. Promade eyelash extensions are a great option for her as they speed up the appointment time.
Client B: Carrie, 32. Carrie is a stay at home mum and wants to bring glam into her day-to-day life. She spends most of her time looking after other people, so she loves a pamper and to feel special. She's pretty chatty in her appointments and is happy to take 2 hours of me-time a month for a mega volume lash appointment. She's a ride-or-die client and will book in every 3 weeks without fail.
Carrie wants mega volume lashes at all times and can fit in her appointment during the day when she has help with childcare. She would benefit from a good aftercare kit and books her infills in advance. She would appreciate a loyalty programme for her eyelash extensions and is happy to recommend you to her friends.
It's all about figuring out how you can compete in spaces that others have overlooked. If you have a mix of Sarahs and Carries in your potential client list, you're going to have to figure out how to appeal to them both.
4. Find premium supplies and stock up
If you're already a practising lash artist, you'll have plenty of supplies already and you'll have a pretty good idea of the products which you want to stock. However, we would always recommend that when you're starting a lash business, stock up with a full starter kit of premium lash supplies to get off on the right foot.
Even better than a kit? Bulk buying your supplies. At BELO, we offer a range of bulk buying discounts to enable professional lash techs to stock up without breaking the bank. Bulk discounts are especially useful when buying lashes, as you can gain the most value when you order single length trays rather than mixed length trays. There are even bundle discounts for tweezers available, like our Tweezer trio bundle that enables you to buy three pairs of premium eyelash tweezers for only £30 as opposed to £45+.
It's worth keeping in mind when bulk buying lash supplies that for lash adhesives, the shelf life of most unopened adhesives is around 6 months. For eyelash businesses that are just starting out, it may be worthwhile ordering less glue to begin with and seeing how long it takes you (and how many clients you can lash) until you run out of glue. This will help you to reduce as much waste as possible, which is crucial to protect your profit margins.
5. Decide where you want your lash business to be based
Another important step to consider when you start a lash business is where you want to set up your workspace. Do you want to start your lash business from home, rent space in a salon or even open your own lash studio? This is an important step to consider, not only because you'll have to figure out how you want your lash business to function, but also the insurance you'll need.
If you choose to set up your lash business from home, there are lots of administrative considerations. If you rent your home, you'll need to ask permission from your landlord to be able to run your business from the property as they will need different insurance. If you're paying a mortgage on your home, you may even need to ask the mortgage lender's permission. Also, you may need to display your business location on public government databases and your Google my Business profile. Not to mention the added risk of people who you don't know coming into your home. There's lots more information on running a business from home on the UK government website, so it's definitely worth a read to cover your bases.
If running a lash business from home doesn't appeal to you, you have a couple of options: you can rent space in a salon or lash studio or go mobile. Both options have their pros and cons. Operating out of a lash studio or salon gives your business a sense of professionalism that is difficult to achieve from home, but you obviously have to spend money to rent the space. Working from a salon could limit the amount that you can make your treatment room your own, and could even become an issue if the building is heated in a way that is not optimal for eyelash extensions. Wherever you decide to set up your eyelash extension business, you'll have to ensure you can control the humidity and the temperature of your treatment room so that the retention of your sets is not impacted.
6. Nailing your lash business name
Figuring out what to name your business is probably one of the toughest parts of starting your own lash business. So much is riding on your lash business name, and rebranding if you decide to change it in the future can be really damaging. You're going to need to think of a name that's catchy, memorable and timeless.
There are pros and cons to lots of different names for your lash business. For example, if you begin lashing from home as an independent lash artist and use your name in the business name, you may struggle to scale the business. If you pick a lash business name that is completely unrelated to you, you may find that the brand of your business doesn't feel authentic.
If you're really struggling for name ideas for your eyelash business, we recommend outlining the core values of your business and some words that you think reflect your brand. These could be words like 'luxury', 'luxe', 'sassy', 'cute', 'professional' and even some inspirational words like 'dream' or 'fantasy'. Expand on these by writing down what you like about all of the different words and the different elements that you want to combine. For us at BELO Lash, we wanted to ensure that we were at the heart of our brand but the brand had its own identity.
It can seem daunting coming up with your lash business name, but don't worry! There will be one name idea that feels natural and you'll know you're on to a winner. Once you have at least five lash business name ideas down, check these on Companies House to ensure the business name is not already registered or trademarked. Don't be disheartened if your name idea is already taken - it's just not meant to be!
7. Opening a business bank account and registering your business
It can look unprofessional when you expect your clients to pay in cash or transfer payments to a personal bank account. Set up a business bank account to ensure that you keep your lashing money separate from your current account. This will help you to keep track of your accounts and makes it much easier once it comes around to completing your tax self assessment (or you can hire an accountant). At BELO, we have created our stylish account books to make this process even easier throughout the month!
Also, as a self-employed lash artist, you'll need to register your business. You can either register your business as a limited company or register yourself as a sole trader. If you register as a sole trader, you are personally liable for any debts that the business may accrue. If you set up a limited company, you have more paperwork to handle, but your personal finances are treated as distinct from the business finances. To find out more about this side of setting up your eyelash extension business, check out the UK government website.
Insurance is one of the more boring, admin-heavy elements of starting your own lash or beauty business. The minimum insurance you'll need for lash business is public liability insurance. While most public liability insurance plans will cover the majority of your needs, there are plenty of add ons that are useful when you go through specific beauty treatment insurance providers. This ensures that your insurance isn't a cookie-cutter policy which could leave you vulnerable later down the line.
If you're wanting to offer other beauty treatments aside from lashes, it's best to discuss this with your insurance provider and see if you need any additional cover. It may also be worth looking into property damage insurance and stock cover. There are plenty of insurance providers out there, so take your time to figure out which policy is best for you.
9. Securing clients & offer loyalty and/ or outreach programmes
When you're establishing any business, the key is to start in small manageable chunks. If the goal is to be a full time lash technician, you need to build up your client base to ensure that you have enough income coming in to cover your expenses and earn a good wage.
Maintaining a loyal client base is what makes or breaks a lash business. Without clients and cash flow, any business is unsustainable. Word-of-mouth recommendations are the best way for eyelash businesses to build their client bases, but it's difficult to control. A good strategy to boost your word-of-mouth recommendations is to try offering a referral scheme to your existing clients and offer clients a discount for both themselves and their friend when they refer a client to you. This provides incentive for your clients to share your work, and to recommend you when they no doubt receive compliments of their extensions.
You could also introduce this referral strategy to social media channels and provide your clients with referral codes when a new client books in with you. Obviously, at first your profit margins will take a hit, but once your new clients fall in love with your treatments, you will reap the benefits.
Another good method of retaining clients is to provide a loyalty scheme which enables clients to gain discounts or even free goodies with repeat bookings. You could hand out copies of loyalty cards alongside your client paperwork kits to ensure every client is aware of the benefits of having their eyelash extension treatments with you!
10. Focus on marketing and building your social media following and online presence
Marketing your lash extension services in your local area and across your social media channels is a must for any successful eyelash business. But it doesn't have to be the last step in setting up your lash business, in fact, it could be a good idea to start building a social media presence before you actually start lashing on paying clients.
Show off your training, examples of your work and even lash aftercare tips like how to clean eyelashes on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok to get your business' name heard across all of your channels. You could even offer competitions, charity raffles and other marketing pushes to gain some traction in your following. Here at BELO, we understand the importance of social media for your lash business. It provides your business but personality, enables prospective clients to see your work and provides a sense of community for your client base.
Also, it's important to set up a Google my Business page to ensure that your online reputation looks professional and legitimate. Most eyelash businesses and freelance lash technicians don't have a Google my business page, so this is a great tip for those lashing in big cities where potential clients may search on Google for 'eyelashes near me' or similar terms. Get your clients to add reviews, images and a location for your lash studio or practice space to bring in a wider pool of clients.
Starting your very own eyelash extension business is a challenge - but it's worth every penny!
All eyelash professionals need to start somewhere when they're embarking on their lash extension career. Following these steps, you can be sure that you have covered your bases when starting an eyelash business. Don't worry if there are any unexpected setbacks, that's all part of the journey of becoming a true lash artist.
Still don't know where to start? Check out our range of eyelash extension kits to kickstart your business with premium lash products.