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TIPS FOR FUTURE SALON OWNER - pay, commissions, benefits, paid vacation, hiring, etc
(04-22-2017, 04:26 PM)I am just your original salon, were you classified as an independent contractor or employee (1099 or W2) ?manisbymanny Wrote: So I am not a salon owner but I had a few experiences with different salons - so I wanted to give my feedback. (This is actually my first post! YAY!)

I live in Maryland, and I started doing nails 5 and a half years ago. I was in my first year of college, and kind of became obsessed with nails overnight. I did a little research, and found out that there was a small, kinda low quality nail program in my area. It would only cost me 2.5K and only take 4 months of night school to get it done. It was very doable with school schedule at the time, very close to my home, and it was winter so I didn't mind being tied up most weekend nights.

Towards finishing nail school, I began to get REALLY nervous. Nothing had ever given me more anxiety than thinking about having "REAL" clients, and having the responsibility of being a good nail tech. You NEED to be able to promise great nails - or what's the point?

Homebase salon:

At the time, I was going to this large salon and spa for my hair. It was the rated as the top salon in my area. Employed by 70 people (hair, spa, nails, med spa, make up, EVERYTHING). Their reputation has a 20 year history, and the owner was the mother of a guy I grew up with. I knew that the salon was HUGE on education - even sending stylists to NY and CA to learn new techniques. I reached out to the salon, and asked if I could *pretty please* "intern"... I would clean pedispas and do laundry for free - if I could just sit and observe real salon life. This was the best offer I ever made - not only did they take me up on it, but I got myself a job after just a month. AND it was May! The BEST time to get into nails.

I worked there for the next 3 years while completing my degree, and it was the perfect thing for me. My boss was very fair about my schedule with school. It was a fantastic thing for me. I was paid 50% commission, and got to keep all of my tips. Which were ALWAYS cash by the way, the salon did not take tips on the card because of the percentage charged on them. The salon had an ATM inside so clients could get cash out if needed. The 50% commission was AWESOME! They provided everything except implements. They charged $20 for manis, $38 for gel manis, $65 for full sets, $38 for fills, $45 for pedis, $50 for spa pedicures. Pedis were my favorite, because you'd make $22.50 plus tip an hour. And tip was usually $5-10 because the clientele are more wealthy.

D.C. New salon:

During my last couple of years of school - I transferred to a university close to D.C. I was only trucking over to my salon on the weekends because of the long drive. I started thinking - can I work more and make more money in D.C.? I applied and interviewed for a salon that hadn't even opened yet. My interview was in a gutted space, but it was full of potential. The new business owners were a mother and daughter. They had never done any nails before, but they had a vision for a business model just like some of the Blowdry Bar chains. They wanted to be a VERY classy, designer nail salon. With the Chanel nail polish, and leather chairs, and bright white walls, and chandeliers etc. I loved the vision because I had a similar one. During the interview I became a little nervous about a few key things

1) The mother did not want to have "wet" pedicures because she was very germaphobic. She said her ideal nail salon did not have basins for pedicures, and that there was no soaking. The nails were going to have to use warm, wet towels to complete a pedicure.
- I hated this idea, as someone who looks forward to a good pedi soak. I also am fairly confident that I am in the majority who think that. Also - I was used to the benefits of soaking. Everything from having a short break while your client soaked so you could finish up your last client, or be able to clean up your station, or have a snack to softening the skin and giving a better pedicure for the foot.

2) They were going to be using a line of artisan products (lotions, scrubs, etc) made by someone they new. To be fair, I hadn't used these products so I can't say for sure they were not as good. But after being in the industry for a little while - it is hard to give up on your favorite products (like CND sticky base coat, and Qtiqa sloughing lotion). They also had this tool that they were going to have me use that was supposed to take the cuticle off the nail without ever using nippers. I didn't see it working as well.

3)  During the interview they were gobbling up everything I was telling them and said that they NEEDED me to give them the run down on everything. I kinda felt a little nervous about that because I worried that their plan wasn't very well thought out, and if they didn't know some of the basic things I was telling them - was this going to work out?

I still wanted the job though - during the interview they committed to wanting to hire me and told me they were going to be making an offer in a few days. They told me that they could see me becoming an integral part of their business, and that in a year from now - we would have 15 salons and I would be managing a lot of responsibilities. I liked that idea of being part of a start up business as well as a nail salon (after all - I was pursuing my degree).

A few days later - they offered me $11 an hour no commission. I was extremely disappointed. This was substantially less that what I was making at my home base salon. I also felt that I was slighted, I had gotten the impression during the interview that my knowledge was worth more than $11/hr. Also - they were probing me for ideas in this industry - I would be a consultant for them! I did not take the job.

I gave up on D.C. at that point, because I also realized that the D.C. licensure would be a long process.

Baltimore salon:

Then, I heard about a natural nail salon in Baltimore that was very hip, and classy. I interviewed there, but they offered me 30% plus commission. Again - this was paying less than the 50% at my home base salon - so I didn't take it.

Towson salon:

Fast forward to YAY I am graduating college. I loved doing nails BUT I now had a very expensive piece of paper that I didn't know what to do with. I figured - I better go get a job with health insurance, and income stability. I ended up leaving nails, and working a "regular" 9-5, and I moved to the Towson area. There is a very reputable chain of about 5 salons. They are classy/pricing and local celebs and such only go there. A woman I worked with at my "regular" job, had a daughter who could get me a part time job there if I wanted extra cash and it was about 7 minutes away from where I lived.

I really wanted the extra cash. They offered to me EITHER 10/hr OR 40% commission depending on which was higher (during a pay period, not a shift). I know 10/hr is even less than the D.C salon, but I already had a "regular" salary from my full time job, so I was feeling differently about things and just wanted to do nails for fun at this point.

I only lasted one month at this salon because they played seniority while booking appointments so being the newest - I was last to get clients. Sitting doing nothing for 10/hr was not fun, and I was trying to do this for fun. So I left very quickly.

Homebase salon:

Fast forward to today - it has been a year and a half of me working in the corporate world. I am in a job I HATE! I am now making the transition back to nails at the first salon.
At my corporate job - I make 38K (or a little more than 18/hr). So far, I have done 2 Sundays back at the salon - and I have made 27/hr on both days. Right now - I am just waiting for May 5th which is the day I am giving my notice to my corp job. Then at the end of May - my homebase salon is opening a second salon and I will go full time there! I couldn't be MORE excited! This is the salon I will stay at and build my business. I wouldn't open my own salon because of the responsibility/time commitment but I am more than happy with 50% while someone else figures out the business portion!

I know that was a lot to write but I figured it never hurts to have as much perspective as you can! Talking to nail techs is the best thing you can do to find out what will keep them happy! Just be a fair boss, and remember that in a sense - your nail techs have their OWN business within your business. They control things like retention, retail, etc. Treat them fair and everyone wins! The better they are treated, the more money they will make for you and themselves!

Scotch Tape & Rhinestones
NYC Based Nail Artist

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