Owning Vs. Working in a Salon: Which Is Right for You?
After you finish beauty school and become a licensed hairstylist, you need to find a job. At this point, you could travel down a few different avenues. You could go to work at a salon, including a chain salon such as Great Clips or Supercuts or a family-owned business. You could also rent a chair in a salon or a private salon suite. If you’re very ambitious, however, you could try to open your own salon. What are the pros and cons of each option? And which one is right for you? Let’s review each option to help you determine which salon-based path fits your career goals.
Why Work in a Salon After Beauty School?
Many hairstylists work in a salon right after they graduate from cosmetology school. Why do they choose this option? Working on the floor of a hair salon is a great way to build your clientele and gain work experience in the beauty industry. If you go to a salon owned by someone else, you can perform and perfect the skills you gained during your cosmetology training without worrying about any managerial duties. You work a steady schedule, and you can take walk-ins while you build up your base of regular clients. Also, you don’t have to start immediately working as a stylist in a salon. You could start as a salon assistant to learn the rhythms of the salon floor before taking clients yourself. Overall, salons are great places to learn the daily ins and outs of the salon industry’s operations while you gain experience.
However, a salon stylist position might not be right for everyone. When you perform this type of stylist work, you have to listen to the salon owner and salon manager. You have to follow their rules, adhere to their dress code, and attend all their mandatory salon meetings. Additionally, you have to give a portion of all the money you make back to the salon. While you can gain a lot of great experience as a salon professional, you may find you want more freedom in the workplace. You can move forward to a few other career options.
Renting a Salon Chair
If you have a solid base of regular clients, you could go to a salon where you can rent a chair. In this setting, you work only with your clients. However, you do have to pay rent on your chair and work well with the salon owner or manager. In this situation, you become an independent stylist, but you still get to work in a busy salon environment. Salons that rent chairs tend to be smaller or more upscale, which are aspects to consider when making this career move. Also, you can make lots of money in this situation if you have a solid clientele base, but chair rent will cut into your earnings. But this might be the right career option for you if you want to work in a busy beauty salon while maintaining more freedom than you would at a chain salon.
Opening a Private Salon Suite
This career option sits between renting a chair and owning your own salon business. When you open a private salon suite, you become a small business owner. A salon suite is a space about the size of a small office or apartment where just one stylist operates their business. Opening a salon suite allows you to customize your suite to your liking. You can use your preferred products, provide the services you excel at, and put up any decor you want. You can create your own brand, which often isn’t possible on the salon floor. You’ll also be in a building with other stylists who work in their own suites, so you’ll have colleagues nearby, but you won’t experience the business of the salon floor. Some buildings that house salon suites offer stylist training sessions that help you build your skillset. Ultimately, a private salon suite provides a solid middle ground between the busy nature of salon floor stylist work and the responsibilities of owning your own salon.
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If you’re ambitious and you want to be your own boss, you can open your own salon. This is a great opportunity to start your own business and run it according to your own rules. However, it’s best to be financially stable before you start your own salon business. Why? You need money to purchase or rent property, pay employees, stock retail products, and maintain salon equipment. The money you invest in these aspects help you grow your business in the long run.
What are the advantages of owning a salon? As with opening a salon suite, you can create your own brand and stock and sell the products you prefer to work with. It gives you the chance to develop a business plan and become an entrepreneur. You get to make your own rules and keep your own hours. Also, you can determine how often you come into the salon once you hire stylists, assistants, and salon managers. Opening a salon may be the right choice for you if you prefer the broader business aspects of the salon industry, such as determining the services you offer and your business’s brand, over the daily grind of salon stylist work.
Are there disadvantages to owning a salon? Yes, there can be disadvantages. For instance, you have to be able to keep hairstylists on staff to serve customers. It can be hard to find reliable stylists with excellent hairstyling and customer service skills. You may sometimes find that stylists will work for you for a little while and then leave. Also, the first one or two years of owning a salon can be financially rocky. You have to ride out the first few years to begin reaping profits from your salon. While these disadvantages exist, many hair salon owners discover that the advantages outweigh them.
What Do You Need To Pursue Each of These Career Options?
Each of these beauty career options has several basic requirements that you must meet to pursue them. Those requirements always include having a cosmetology license, but here are some additional requirements for each career option we’ve discussed:
Salon Stylist Position: To apply for a salon stylist job, you must have an organized resume and a portfolio of previous work experience. Your portfolio should include photos of the different hairstyling skills you’ve acquired in beauty school and the working world. How can you create a portfolio of work if you’re still in school? If you attend a cosmetology school like Brillare, which has a student-run SalonSpa, you can take pictures of the styles you create in the school’s salon. Just make sure you get clients’ permission before you take the photos and put them in your portfolio.
Salon Chair Rental: When you rent a salon chair, you must be able to pay rent regularly. You should also have a solid base of regular clients who visit you for hairstyling services. Your clientele base provides the income you need to afford the chair’s rent month after month. If you rent a salon chair before you build a clientele base, you may find yourself struggling to keep up with rent and other salon expectations.
Opening a Salon Suite: If you decide to open a salon suite, you need to prepare to run your own small business. Find a salon suite in a building you like with amenities and equipment that meet your styling needs. Also, save up about $1500 to cover the first three months’ payments. Also, you’ll have to manage and market your salon suite yourself, so it’s a great idea to take continuing education classes in marketing and business management. You should also begin building your salon suite’s brand on social media and marketing it on those platforms. Also think about which demographics you want to work with. When you determine your key demographics, you can calibrate your marketing to reach them. Finally, you should consider what types of hair products you’d like to stock in your salon suite and sell to customers. Which products do you like using? Once you figure this out, you can begin making your salon suite your own.
Salon Ownership: When you decide to open a salon, you need to be financially stable. You also need to find the right property and have the funds available to pay either rent or mortgage payments. Develop a business plan that helps you rent or purchase your salon’s property and make equipment and product purchases. Outline your salon’s rules, employee expectations, and compensation. As with a salon suite, determine which demographics you want to reach and which products you’d like to carry. All these steps help you open and run a successful salon staffed with qualified beauty professionals.
Why Are Salon Suites Growing Popular?
Of all the career options listed above, private salon suites have surged the most in popularity in recent years. Why has that happened? Many stylists find that running their own suite is a blend of working on the salon floor and owning their own salon. Also, salon suites are already built and some come with existing equipment and amenities, such as private rooms. When a stylist invests in their own salon suite, they don’t have to invest in the property the way they would with a full salon. However, they also get to set their own rules, target their preferred demographics, and express themselves through their salon suite decor. Overall, salon suites have grown popular with stylists because they create freer work environments than salon floor positions, but they require less responsibility than full salon ownership does.
Start Your Salon Career Path With Brillare
Connect with us today if you’re ready to join the salon industry and learn the skills you need to launch your beauty career. Our qualified instructors and hands-on teaching methods help you master the techniques that make you a star on the salon floor and build a book of business to attract clients. We also bring instructors in from local salons to demonstrate skills and techniques and make connections between students and salons. We encourage our students to do trials with local salons to determine if they like the salon industry’s atmosphere. The Brillare experience prepares you for all types of salon work, no matter which of these career paths you choose.