So, you’re thinking of goin’ solo? Congrats! Whether your motivation is to take the next step in your career, or you’re ready to do things your way and on your own time... this is a big decision! There are many things to consider when deciding to go solo to start your own waxing business, and we want to help you succeed!
Liz Lugo began her waxing journey at a large waxing chain and after 3 years, moved on to start her own business.
“I always knew I wanted to work for a franchise. I didn’t know the first thing about opening a business and I had no interest in figuring that out - I wanted to focus on my craft & nothing else!”
Most standard esthetician programs teach more technical topics such as hair cycles and the anatomy and physiology of the various skin types. These programs are usually designed to prepare you to pass your state board exams, and that’s it. You can take additional courses for certifications in waxing, however, most estheticians gain their initial experience by working hands-on on real clients.
“My waxing career started at European Wax Center and it was a great experience! I went into that position knowing I needed proper training, as school solely prepared me for the state board exam. You don’t get real experience until you are working in the field. I was taught how to wax by following a specific pattern, I learned that customer service is an essential part of our job and how to professionally speak to and handle clients, I learned about sales, product ingredients, how to educate clients on their skin, how to sanitize/clean your area while maximizing your time.”
If you’re in the position now where you are considering branching out on your own after working for a chain or for someone else - here are some things you need to consider before taking the plunge to start your own esthetician business.
Do you really need to work at a waxing chain before starting your own waxing business?
You do you, boo. Seriously! If you’ve taken advantage of additional training, certifications, and practiced waxing ‘till your skin falls off - you could start your own business right off the bat or work alongside one or two other esthies in a shared space instead of going to a large chain. On the other hand, if you really want to gain solid hands-on experience in addition to other skills like customer service and sales, working at a chain can provide you with a wealth of knowledge that will give you a solid foundation to branch out on your own when the time comes. It may not be ideal to work for someone else when you are starting out, but setting goals and a timeline for yourself will help you stay motivated. By setting goals for yourself, you ensure that you do not become complacent in your current position and that you are constantly working towards the next step. Assigning each goal a “due date” will also make your goals more concrete. Setting elusive goals with no timeframe does not put you in a strong position to grow, instead it may take you much longer to finally feel confident enough to go out on your own. The due dates or timelines can be somewhat flexible, but having the end in sight will make you that much more motivated to get there as best as you can.
“Initially, I never had plans to open my own business. I was so happy to have found my calling with waxing and esthetics that the thought of being able to do something I love every single day was enough for me. I started working at EWC and my goal going in was to absorb as much information as I could! I worked hard to build my books and get to a point where I had solid clientele and was fully booked!
Once I achieved that goal (which took me about a year and a half - this location was a SUPER slow location) my next plan of action was to become a faster waxer so that I could see more clients and make more money. Part of the job was also sales and becoming familiar with the products and the ingredients within them. I studied every product we sold and eventually got comfortable with selling to my clients.”
How do you know when it is time to move on and start your own waxing business?
This is truly up to you and the goals you have set for yourself. Once you have checked all the boxes and achieved everything you set your sights on, you can begin to strategize the next step of going solo. Taking the leap of faith and venturing out on your own can be scary, but it will be incredibly rewarding in the long run if you plan and execute everything as best you can.
“After three years at European Wax Center, I had reached the point in my career where I knew this was it! There was no more room for growth, there was no more opportunity to make more money, and I was no longer okay with having to ask permission for time off and always having management control everything I do. I realized it was time for me to move on when I was no longer happy or excited about going to work. I needed more of a challenge, I wanted to make more money, I wanted to create my own schedule, and I wanted to have my own clients. I knew I could only do this if I went into business for myself.”
What first steps do you need to take to begin planning your solo esthetician business?
While making the decision to go out on your own is a “leap of faith” - please, do not LEAP into it. You may feel ready to branch out on your own, but sometimes the planning process will uncover that you may need a bit more time before you’re ready - and that is okay! Finances are HUGE and your first year of business may not be profitable at all - some can afford to take that risk due to savings, others cannot. If you envision what you’ll need and visually plan it out, you will be able to see if you are financially and emotionally ready to take concrete steps. If you are not quite there yet, you will at least be able to know how much you will need to save and what you need to accomplish in order to feel truly confident in starting your own business.
Create a budget to determine your start up costs before you research location options. This will prevent you from scouring the web for the best studio in the best location that comes with a high price tag. Your first studio most likely will not be your forever studio! As you grow your business and clientele you will most likely grow into a new space that will be your “dream studio,” so do not stress yourself out with trying to find the perfect studio right off the bat. Once you know what your basic operational costs are, you will be able to create a realistic budget for your location. The nicest studio in the world does not mean a thing if you do not have the proper equipment, certifications, and supplies. If you do want to have a nicer studio, planning your basic costs will help you with saving for it! You’ll have an idea of how much you need to put aside to get that dream studio once all the important details are covered first. Remember, rent is a cost that is FIXED and does not change whether you have a busy month or a slow month.
Once you have determined your initial costs, you can also decide whether you want to have your own studio or not! There are many options out there: you can rent a suite in a shared studio, you can share a space with another esthetician, or you can decide you want to start off mobile with house calls! (Always do research and figure out if mobile or at-home studios are allowed in your area!)
Order only what you need, and add a little extra. When ordering your products, for example wax - be careful to not over or under order. This is something you can start on before you even begin planning your solo endeavor. Pay attention to how much wax you use per service and take notes! Experiment with your application and ensure you are maximizing your wax - are you using too much wax? Are your strips thicker than they need to be? Are you not using enough wax the first time around so you end up wasting more wax and time having to go over the same area more than once? Once you have an idea of how much wax you use, you will have a solid idea of how much you need to order per month. A two month supply is a good amount to have on hand to ensure that you will never run out of wax. Having an extra month on hand protects you in case your wax supplier runs into shipping delays or you get a sudden boom in business (yay!).
Account for taxes and fees! Determine what permit, licensing, and insurance requirements are necessary for your state, city, and/or county. Ensure your area will be state-board approved so you can avoid fees or fines down the road. Research taxes - you may find that it is much less of a headache to hire someone to assist you with this than trying to do it all on your own. When starting out, any small fine or fee can really set you back so always ensure your legal bases are covered.
Determine what your target profit is, and have that as a priority. Most people calculate “profit” as whatever is left over after you subtract your expenses from your revenue. While that is technically a correct equation, it is not as beneficial to you. The whole point of starting your own business is to make money for yourself - so do not lose sight of that when you start calculating your finances. If you put yourself first, i.e your profit, you will have a better gauge of how much you will need for expenses. If you calculate your revenue and subtract what your ideal profit is, that magic number is what you need to have set aside for expenses. This ensures that YOU are taken care of first, and everything extra can wait. Fancy decor and a high-tech spa bed can definitely wait. When you know what your “bare minimum” expenses are AFTER you have determined what you need for yourself, it will be much more profitable for you in the end.
- Put money back into the business as you grow. Your equipment may need an upgrade in the future, or you may choose to invest in better quality products and supplies for your salon. Maybe you will get to the point where you are able to add some nice furniture and decor to your studio to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Whatever your expansion goals are, ensure you are slowly setting yourself up to achieve them. Esthetics is an ever changing and fast-paced industry. Brow laminations are trending, who knows what will be trending 6 months from now! Stay educated and on top of all the latest industry trends so you are ready to hop on them!
Find Your Niche
It may seem attractive to offer a multitude of services at your salon, in addition to waxing, to maximize your revenue, however, do not overwhelm yourself right off the bat with a crazy service menu. Not only will it be incredibly expensive to purchase all the necessary supplies and equipment for multiple different services, but it will be difficult to keep up with all the options. What sticks with clients is becoming the best at what you do in your area. If your passion is waxing - stick to that and own it! Work hard to perfect your technique and build your clientele in that area. Your niche customers will allow you to start exactly where you need to be and keep you away from giving into the temptation of exploring other services. This leads to over-commitment on products that you do not need right now, especially in your first year or two of business. Spend your energy mastering your true craft instead of trying to satisfy varying trends and needs - this will just spread you very thin!
When you build your solid group of repeat customers, they will completely trust you. Once you have that solid base, ask your clients for feedback on additional services and products they are looking for so you know where exactly to expand (if that is what you want to do!). Facials are incredibly popular, but there is absolutely no shame in sticking to waxing if that is where your passion lies. You do not need to feed into what is “trending” at the moment, especially if you are not trained or prepared to deliver the same level of service as you do with your main niche service. If brows specifically are your passion and you HATE body waxing, stick to just brow waxing and invest in the supplies for additional services in that area such as tinting, lamination, or microblading and become a true brow boss! Once you become the best at whatever your niche is, your clientele will grow and your business will grow from that. If your clients 100% trust you with their brows, they will 100% trust you when you begin to offer additional services as well.
Trust the process
Growth does not happen overnight - and that is okay! The beginning stages of launching your solo waxing business will be a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. It takes passion, work, and motivation to succeed and these things take time. Do not get discouraged when your books aren’t immediately filled, or if you have a slow month. If running a successful waxing business was easy, everybody would do it! This is why planning is so important. Once you’ve laid the solid foundation it takes work to actually build your business. You may work 10-12 hour days, you may work all 7 days one week, you may go a whole month without a single day off. Manage your expectations and know that every ounce of work you are putting in at the beginning stage will get you to where you want to be - designing your OWN schedule, setting your OWN hours, and running things the way YOU want them to be. Have the end in sight at all times! Before you know it, your first year will fly by.
“Once I found my first small, affordable place that I could work out of, I worked and worked until I had solid clientele and my books were consistent and I was fine-tuning my schedule. This process took me over a year and within that time I had moments of uncertainty, but the one thing that gave me hope was understanding how passionate I was about what I do and knowing that I am really good at my job. I gave myself no options to quit or give up - if you work really hard things will fall into place.”
Celebrate every success, learn from every mistake.
No matter how small the win is, celebrate it! Recognize the highs and give yourself a pat on the back when you’ve reached a goal. Whether it is your first referral, the first day you reach your target revenue, your first fully booked week, or your first online five-star review. The way you celebrate does not have to be grandiose, it can be as simple as treating yourself to coffee with a friend, or taking the night to give yourself an at-home spa day. When you reward yourself, you become that much more motivated to reach for the next goal and the next treat you’ll give yourself.
With wins comes many losses, trust us - you will make mistakes! That is all part of the growth. Try your best not to wallow or get discouraged from your mis-steps, as they are not always negative. Every mistake you make will teach you something and you can only grow from them! Letting yourself be consumed with negativity will not allow you to move forward and it only distracts you from your dream. Go into this solo journey with the expectation that you will make mistakes and promise yourself that you will learn and grow from these mistakes, and that you will not get discouraged or repeat them.
“The only tools I had were how to work a wax room; I knew the ins and outs of what worked with clients but I didn’t go to business school and I had no clue where to start! I learned through trial and error.”