How to start a lash career: Essential tips for beginning your eyelash extension business
The lash extension market is projected to reach $2.31 Billion by 2028, so if you’re looking to break into the industry - now is a great time to dive in! Like any new business venture, getting started can be challenging, but the payoff is well worth the effort if done correctly. There are many steps to starting and sustaining a successful lash business, and you will need to navigate being a lash artist and a small business owner! In this article, we’ll cover the four basics to starting your lash business - building your skillset, market research, state licensing & business requirements, and setting up your shop.
1. Learning to lash
This may seem like an obvious first step, but honing your craft is essential to the success of your business! You’ll want to enroll in a reputable lash certification course, which will teach you everything from sanitation to lash application and may be required by state regulations. Pricing for courses ranges from $300 - $2000 per course. Be sure to choose a course that fits your desired outcome, as every lash artist has a different style! Lost Artistry and Lash Markers are two of my favorites that offer a variety of different courses!
The most important thing to remember is always to be learning and practice, practice, practice! Lashing is a learned skill, muscle memory is crucial when making and placing lashes. It’s going to take you some time to perfect your lash artistry - it takes most people three to six months to really develop their skills, so keep going, you got this!
2. Use market research to gut-check your business ideas
This is the first step to putting on your business owner hat and a necessary step for starting any business. Market research is gathering information regarding the business landscape of where you are looking to start your lash extension business. The three main areas you will want to dig into in your research are demographics, competitors, and potential customers.
This looks at the statistical data of a population as it relates to things like age, income, and education. When opening a brick-and-mortar lash studio, age and income are particularly important, as these statistics will impact your location, service offering, and pricing. When selecting the location for your studio and starting your marketing efforts, you want to make sure people interested in your services can find you. A studio in the right area that is easy to get to will help you get visibility when you are first starting out!
Be sure to check out other lash artists in your area, from service offerings to pricing structure. You want to remain competitive when it comes to pricing, but at the end of the day, the time you put into learning to lash and the money you put toward education is how you should price your services. The more important thing to focus on is what differentiates you from your competitors in your area. Maybe you noticed none of your competitors offer mega-volume fills, or their studio chairs aren’t as comfy as possible. Picking up on details like that is what will set you apart!
Build a customer profile
You’ve chosen the perfect area and scouted your competitors - now it’s time to manifest your desired clientele. This might seem silly, but curating your client will help you avoid burnout, pick the right products to stock, and provide the best service to your clients!
For example, let’s say you want to cater to mega-volume babes. Your ideal customer profile would be people with a more flexible income and a higher spend limit. They have likely been getting lashed for longer and are more willing to be flexible to make an appointment that fits with your schedule.
If you only want to work Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 3 PM, you can still have a successful business. You just need to ensure you’re finding the right people for you!
3. Make sure to meet all state licensing and business requirements
Certification and requirements vary from state to state, so you must do the leg work to determine the state requirements for where you plan to operate. Some states require an esthetician or cosmetologist license, while others require a course certification or an apprenticeship. You must also have the correct insurance, and your business is registered with the state. Not having the proper licensing is illegal and dangerous for your potential clients and their eyes! Let’s look at an example of what the state of New Hampshire requires to become a practicing lash artist.
How to become a practicing lash artist in New Hampshire
Training: 1,500 hours in a state-approved school or 3,000 of training under a licensed cosmetologist
License: Barber, Cosmetology, & Esthetics
You will need to apply using either a shop or booth application
Insurance: Liability insurance - if you’re attending a school that will also license you, they can help get you set up
Professional - protects you from malpractice
General - protects your business from liability for something like a slip and fall
Bonus! Registering your business: While not always required, this will help protect your personal assets against bankruptcy and help with tax breaks. Just make sure you’re paying your LLC every year before April!
To see a list of requirements by state, check out the National Association of Last Artists state directory.
4. Setting up your shop
This is the fun part, but don’t get too carried away! The look and feel of your shop or booth can make or break you. I’ve gotten compliments time after time from new clients, saying how clean my space looks, and they trust me more because of it. It’s essential to keep things organized and clean and make sure you always have the right products in stock!
Vendors and supplies
If you’re just starting, you’ll want to test different products to see how they work for you and how you lash. Choosing the right lash supplies is crucial for setting the standard for your new business. Be sure to screen your vendors carefully! Read reviews, look into their brand, and ensure they meet your needs. A great way to try out new vendors is by testing samples to find ones you like and then exploring their pricing options for bulk orders.
Here is a quick breakdown of supplies you’ll need to get started:
Eyelash extension trays
Tape - try a few kinds of different skin types
Sterile tool trays
Lash tiles and storage
Magnifying lamps or glasses
Antibacterial hand soap
Linen or chair covers
While very tempting, don’t spend too much money decorating. This was a hard lesson I had to learn during my first year open. I went to HomeSense, Target, Marshals, and Amazon - the amount of money I was spending was insane! I don’t even use most of the things I bought to decorate my shop now. A clean medical-looking environment is the best way to go because you are working on someone’s eyes - keep it clean and bright. This will not only feel more comfortable, but it will also help you to stay more organized. Less is more!
Keep calm, and get your lash on
While this is not a totally comprehensive list of EVERYTHING you need to create your own business as a lash artist, this is a great place to start. Learning and practicing your craft, creating a vision for yourself, and manifesting your ideal customer will help you set yourself up for success. You won’t be able to do everything at once, so take it one step at a time. You got this!
Be on the lookout! Soon I’ll be sharing even more tips and tricks I have learned as a lash artist and small business owner. Don’t forget to follow me on social media!