Are you interested in opening up a lash studio? This blog is for you - straight from the experience of our founder, Blaze Lloyd who is the owner and operator of our sister lash studio.
Background: I decided to open up my lash studio at 17 years old with no experience in what it was like to open up a commercial space. Over the process of opening up the studio and growing it to be a six figure lash studio there was many lessons among the way that I want to share with you all in hopes of helping you to not to make the same mistakes as I did.
My suggestions to anyone who plans to open up a lash studio:
1. Ensure that you have all of your paperwork lined up before going looking for potential spaces. This includes (but is not limited to):
- register your business with the government (if you are based in canada you can do this at https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/start/register-with-gov.html)
- choose and register your business name (and trademarked in some instances)
- create a detailed business plan
- obtain any permits and licences that you may need to operate and renovate in your region.
2. Consult with an accountant to create a budget. The budget should include how much you can afford per month for rent and utilities as well as renovation costs, licensing costs, etc. You should also always factor in an additional 20% into your budget for unexpected costs so that you never end up in the red.
3. Look for potential employees. The last thing you want to do is sign a lease on a space and then find out that you can't find anyone who wants to work for you. You don't necessarily need to do a formal interview / hiring process before you sign the lease on a space but you should have a good idea of who would be willing to work for you.
4. Start looking for a space. When looking for spaces, although it can be exciting to look at large and luxurious spaces it is essential that you find something that is in (or under) your price range and you do not stray from that. You do not want to be stuck with a 10,000 SQF space if you don't need all the space. It's a good idea to start off with something smaller with a shorter term lease and then move into a bigger space in the future if needed.
5. Always negotiate. The landlord will always tell you that they aren't willing to budge much on price and that there is someone else looking at the space who is also interested in hopes of pressuring you to sign the lease ASAP at the price they want. Do not fall into the trap. Let them know that you are firm on your price and if they can't accommodate you that you will move onto the other space options that you have available. It is also a good idea when looking at spaces to not say things to not say things like "I love this space! This would be absolutely perfect for my salon" or anything along those lines as the landlord will see that you really want the space and use that to their advantage when negotiating price.
6. Get a lawyer to overlook your contract. Landlords can be sneaky and add in small clauses that could cost you a lot of money in the long run. This was one of the bigger mistakes I made. I looked over our contract, thought everything was fine to later find out that i missed two important clauses that ended up costing me a lot of money. The one clause stated (in very sneaky terms) that anything attached to our walls or ceilings was owned by our landlord. So our 5 thousand dollar chandeliers that we bought and hung up are now owned by our landlord and as you can imagine we were NOT impressed when we found this news out. The second clause stated that if our air conditioning, heat or plumbing went that we were responsible. Obviously when your in a space for years things break and we have had to spend several thousands of dollars fixing utility issues that would have been covered under our contract if we had it overlooked by a lawyer and negotiated. Luckily, those were the only two clauses that caused us problems and we were able to learn from them and move on but other business owners aren't as lucky and have to pay tens of thousands of dollars for small things that could have been negotiated with the landlord.
7. Clock in and out contractors. If you end up having to hire contractors to renovate your space for you, you will want to make sure that you are watching their progress the entire time and clocking how many hours they are putting in if they are working on an hourly basis for you. I'm sure there is a lot of really great contractors out there, but truth is that there are also a lot of not - so - good contractors who want to make a couple extra bucks (or a couple extra thousand ) off you. If they are not working hourly and instead by project cost such as, x amount of dollars to do flooring and so on. My suggestion would be to get a quote from them for every single part of the job and then have them sign off on a contract stating that they may not by any circumstances go over the budget unless given written consent from you. This will help to ensure that you do not have any unexpected costs at the end of your project.
8. Create employee contracts and handbooks. One lesson I learned early on is that if you plan on giving any of the lash artists working for you education that they should always sign a contract stating that they agree to work for you for a certain period of time to make the education you gave them worth it. For our salon, we make all of our employees sign a one year contract when they first start that states that if they choose to leave us that they must repay us for the education that we gave them. This helps to ensure that you don't have someone agree to work for you, learn all your tips and tricks and then leave once they got the education that they wanted. However, if you don't plan on giving your employees any education than this may not be as essential for you. Employee handbooks are also really great to have on hand for new hires. The handbook will help your employees to understand your expectations, their roles and responsibilities, your business's goals and missions!
Here is the link for a sample employee handbook that you could use for reference when creating your own (this is subject to copywrite and Lashiivo does not own or have any affiliation with this company): https://lenuspa.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/Le%20Nu%20Spa%20Employee%20Handbook.pdf
9. Prepare yourself for a major time investment. Opening up a lash studio is something that takes a ton of time and energy. You will want to make sure that you are ready to make the time investment and put in the hours to make sure that everything runs smoothly when your first getting started.