Industry • Best Practice
How to Start Your Own Lash & Brow Business: The Ultimate Guide
Jul.27.2023By Boulevard Staff
Whether your specialty is lengthy lashes, show-stopping brows, or both, here’s how to take the first steps
It’s no secret that starting a self-care business is challenging. For proprietors joining the rapidly growing lash and brow marketplace, there are additional hurdles to clear before opening those doors to the public. Finding a perfectly descriptive name, creating a business plan, sourcing equipment, complying with varying state requirements — it’s critical to have a thorough understanding of the lash and brow market in order to rise above the competition. If you’re wondering how to start your own lash business or how to start your own eyebrow business — or want to offer both services — this comprehensive guide will walk you through the process and prepare you for your grand opening.
It all starts with a name
Getting your business name right is a critical first step. You want something that’s creative enough to stand out and catchy enough to be memorable, but you also need to let potential clients know what to expect when they walk through your doors. It’s a tough balance to strike, but these guidelines will help you narrow down your list until you’ve picked a winner:
Be specific: Some of the top lash businesses in Los Angeles have names like Blink Bar, Beverly Hills Lashes, and Star Lash Beauty Bar. What do they have in common? They immediately convey the salon’s unique value proposition. That blend of creativity and specificity is what you’re aiming for; make sure that when your business comes up in a search, clients know exactly what you have to offer.
Stand out: Before filing any paperwork, be sure to do extensive market research on other lash and brow businesses in your immediate area. You want a name that won’t be mistaken for any other salon, so make a list of your competitors and analyze their names to see if any words or phrases are particularly overused. Don’t go overboard trying to be different, but making sure your business name is distinguishable is the first step towards building your brand identity.
Express your brand identity: Speaking of brand identity, do you know yours? Do you want your shop to be funky and colorful? Or do you have more of a high-end, glass-and-chrome vision? There’s no right answer to that question, but once you’ve chosen a brand identity, it’s important to convey that in your name. Whether you’re going for bold, humorous, or sophisticated, knowing your brand inside out will make it easier to express that identity in a name.
For more tips on landing the perfect lash and brow business name, read the full article — Brow & Lash Business Names: How to Catch Your Clients’ Attention.
How to start a lash business: requirements, equipment, and more
Let’s focus on lashes for a moment. Are you up to speed on the various state requirements for licensing, labor, and insurance? Have you made a checklist of the supplies and equipment you’ll need to meet those requirements, as well as client expectations? Are your revenue goals realistic? These next steps must be completed before you can open your doors to the public; otherwise, you’ll risk scrutiny from regulators while finding yourself struggling to stay in the black.
Step 1: Know your state requirements
As the “self-care capital of the United States,” California has the most comprehensive eyelash extension requirements and guidelines in the country, with many other states following its lead. This makes the Golden State an ideal example for establishing a baseline understanding of the various rules and regulations that business owners breaking into the extension market must know.
First up, you’ll need to know licensing requirements before hiring a team to perform lash services. California law dictates that only cosmetologists or estheticians with licenses from the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology can apply eyelash extensions. Those interested in practicing lash extension services must either attend a board-approved school or complete an apprenticeship program — but that’s just the beginning. Next, aspiring lash techs need to complete their required hours of service (1,000 for cosmetologists or 600 for estheticians) before being allowed to take the state licensing exam.
If you’re not planning on applying eyelash extensions personally, you won’t need a license to open your business (though that could affect your credibility). However, any cosmetologists or estheticians you hire will need to have their licenses prominently displayed at their workstations.
Once you’ve hired your team, you’ll need to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as far as maintaining an Injury and Illness Prevention Plan, as well as providing Workers’ Compensation Insurance coverage. That’s only the first step in ensuring adequate insurance coverage; you’ll also need public liability insurance, product liability insurance, and employers’ liability insurance to protect your team and yourself in a worst-case scenario.
Finally, you’ll have to understand sanitation requirements, though those are more straightforward than some of the other regulations that self-care business owners face. In a nutshell, everything that’s clean, unused, or disinfected must be stored in closed containers, cabinets, or drawers that have been carefully labeled. The same goes for liquids, creams, waxes, gels, and other cosmetic preparation tools, though powders can be kept in shakers. Disinfectant containers must be large enough to fully submerge any tools that require this process; be sure to replace your disinfectant based on the manufacturer’s guidelines (or sooner if it becomes visibly cloudy).
If this feels like a lot to keep track of, the California State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology offers a convenient checklist for self-inspections. Keep this form on hand; when your answers match the state requirements, you’re ready for what’s next.
For a list of individual state requirements, see Eyelash Extension State Requirements: What You Need to Know for Your Business.
Step 2: Choose your equipment
This step actually goes hand-in-hand with regulation compliance, as you’ll be gathering needed supplies while making sure any equipment you purchase meets state requirements. For lash technicians, these are your must-have tools:
Lash trays: All lashes are not created equal. Some clients will want full-strip lashes for an ultra-glam look, while others might seek out fillers for a more subtle effect. You’ll want to stock a variety of lash trays with some of the most popular varieties, including B Curl, C Curl, CC Curl, D Curl, and J Curl. For smaller businesses or those just opening their doors, having four or five mixed trays on hand is a good place to start, but expect that number to grow along with your clientele and budget.
Adhesives: Because eyes are so sensitive, you’ll want to be especially thoughtful when it comes to purchasing the adhesive that bonds lashes to eyelids. Avoid adhesives containing latex in order to prevent potential allergic reactions in clients, and take drying speed into consideration as well. For newer techs, a slower-drying adhesive might be more appropriate as you develop your skills in a practical environment.
Application tools: Any experienced lash tech can tell you there’s more to the process than lashes and adhesive. You’ll also need to stock tools like lash primer, tweezers, extension tape, eye pads, micro brushes, and bladeless fans.
Lash lifters: Not everyone coming in for eyelash services will want falsies, so make sure you also have products on hand to enhance natural eyelashes as well. This includes lash lift rods and curling products in a variety of sizes.
Cleaning supplies: Remember those sanitation requirements we mentioned? To meet them, you’ll need medical-grade supplies such as Barbicide for sanitizing all non-disposable tools.
Software: Keeping track of client appointments, staff scheduling, payroll, and marketing is often tedious and time-consuming, but the right software makes administrative duties a breeze. For example, Boulevard’s platform handles scheduling by allowing clients to self-book while optimizing appointment times, as well as storing client details and sending out automated reminders when appointments are coming up.
Learn more about how to properly stock your lash business in our full blog post — Lash Tech Equipment: The Essential Checklist Your Business Needs.
Step 3: Maximize revenue
Salons that specialize in lash treatments can be lucrative businesses, but it takes time (and money) to build a reputation and clientele that deliver steady profits all year long. After the initial cash investment that comes with obtaining a space, purchasing equipment, and onboarding staff, you might find yourself short on available funds until that revenue starts rolling in.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to optimize your earnings right off the bat. Begin with a thorough analysis of your prices — are they in line with other salons in the area? If yours are significantly higher, it might make clients wary about spending extra on an unproven business. Prices that are too low may draw in more clients but make it challenging to meet your business goals. Find that sweet spot in between when you’re opening your doors, and be sure to regularly revisit those prices and study the market at regular intervals.
To spread the word about the hottest new lash salon in town, you’ll need a marketing plan that stays within your budget — easier said than done. Focus on organic strategies like building a social media presence and setting up Facebook and Google business pages. Email marketing remains a significant driver of new business in the self-care industry, so use your online booking software to create a mailing list and send out regular blasts advertising company news and special offers.
Finally, make sure your employees are well-trained on upselling, cross-selling, and retail. Consider every appointment an opportunity to further serve your client with add-on services like extra-voluminous lashes or retail products such as eye masks. Your approach shouldn’t be too aggressive; instead, have your team tailor their pitches to the client, offering additional services that truly suit their needs and style.
Want to know more? Read the full blog — How Much Revenue Can Your Eyelash Extension Business Make?
How to start a lash and brow business: nailing the business plan
Eyelashes are lovely, but maybe a perfectly shaped brow is more your speed. If you’re wondering how to start a brow business, many of your early steps will be similar to those listed above — you’ll want to know your local regulations, choose the right equipment, and find ways to maximize revenue through smart pricing and add-ons. No matter what services you’re offering, however, you’ll need a business plan — particularly if you’re planning on appealing to investors for early funding.
If that sounds intimidating, think of a business plan more as a roadmap to success. Along that road, these are the first steps you’ll want to take:
Executive summary: What’s your vision? Use the executive summary to tell your story in a few paragraphs, briefly describing the services you’ll offer, your target clientele, and your mission statement.
Market research: Once you’ve determined that target clientele, it’s time to dig deeper. What are their demographics? You’ll want a general idea of their age range, income, and style preferences — are you catering to trendsetters or those who prefer a more traditional look?
Competition analysis: As mentioned above, studying the competition and analyzing the current lash and brow landscape will inform everything from your name to your pricing strategy. Outline your findings in this part of your business plan…
Market differentiator: …and then express how you’re going to set yourself apart from the pack. What makes your business special? That’s your market differentiator.
For more tips on building a brow business plan, see How to Edge Out the Competition With Your Brow Business Plan.
Starting your own self-care business can be an intimidating process, but with careful preparation and a little help from modern technology, you’ll be opening your doors before you know it and welcoming clients for many years to come.