business advice

The following are the tools that I use to be an independent studio based hair stylist.  Also below is plenty of advice when considering a transition from commission to booth or studio rental.


Transitioning from commission to booth or studio rental

Hairdressers considering transitioning their business from commission and/or employee based to a independent contractor non-employee compensation based business have many things to consider.  

  • How will I book my clients?
  • How will people find me?
  • How do I do my taxes?
  • How do I accept payment for my products and services?
  • How do I offer products to my clients?
  • How do I retain clients?
  • How do I pay my rent?
  • How do I know when it is time to switch from assistant to stylist? Commission to Rent? Rent to Studio?

I will make an attempt below to answer these challenges in the way that I have found to solve them.

How will I book my clients

I personally use Square Appointments. I have found that it is extremely easy to set up and it has all of the features I need without any extra features to confuse me.  No one cares about your books more than you do and no one can run them as well as you can.  You will know your waitlist and you will do the best job of fitting them in.

  • Text confirmations to clients
  • automatically managed cancellation policy (CC required to book)
  • ability to require approval for new clients before an appointment can be booked
  • Easy online booking
  • works on iphone
  • processes payments with iPhone using square card reader

How will clients find me?

While Instagram is a great marketing tool for clients to find you it is also beneficial to have your own website where prospective clients can see your services, pricing, and location.  I watched several videos when deciding on a tool to use to create my website.  I settled on using Square space after watching this video.  This father and son team made it look so easy to set up.  I just followed along and two hours latter the first version of my website went live.

How do I do my taxes?

This has been a source of much stress for me.  At first in my career as a business owner back in 2004 I would keep receipts from my business expenses in a bag and then at the end of the year I would throw them at the tax professional and say "you figure it out".  Then when I married my husband he would record my expenses at year end when he did our taxes.  My husband wanted me to be knowledgeable about all aspects of my business so he eventually convinced me to do my business expense totaling myself.  Now... I hate numbers.  That is one of the reasons I thought hairdressing would be a good profession for me.  Little did I know about all the numbers I would have to memorize and work with in this industry...  He eventually made me a spreadsheet that I used to record expenses.  Then in 2018 we kept seeing advertisements about QuickBooks self employed app.  It seems like a great idea so this is what we are using now.  It connects to turbo tax at year end to facilitate tax preparation.  I have a business checking account and a personal checking account.  I also have a business credit card and a personal credit card.  The business cards connect directly to QuickBooks so that expenses simply show up in the app.  I then swipe left for business and right for personal.  Just like on Tinder!

How do I accept payment for my products and services?

When I set up my Squarespace website it came with Stripe which is an online credit card processing company.  I use Stripe to sell online education, in person tickets to classes, and my hair color tools.  When I moved to my studio I needed the ability to process credit cards in person and that is something Stripe does not seem to do.  So I went with Square Credit card processing.  This is the one that is available in Best Buy.  So far it has worked really well!  It is fulling integrated with Square Appointments mentioned above and very intuitive to use.  Just make sure to keep the chip reader in its own bag so that it does not get a gum wrapper stuck in it from the bottom of your purse...

How do I offer products to my clients?

I currently do not sell products to my clients.  I haven't figured this out yet.  For now I recommend products that they can find at Sephora or on Amazon.  

How do I retain clients?

You always want to pre-book your clients one to two appointments out.  6-8 weeks for roots.  3-6 months for retouch on a Foilayage/Balayage.  Make sure you educate the client on how to style their hair and recommend products for them to use.  Also, make sure that your are educating yourself by taking classes and interacting with other stylists in person and on social media so that you can stay relevant in the products and services that you provide.  Be your authentic self and the clients who like and value you will stay.

How do I pay my rent?

I have worked as an extern, assistant, commission stylist, rental stylist, and now studio stylist.  The setup I have now is by far the easiest.  The rent is simply withdrawn from my business bank account every week.  I don't have to worry about forgetting it or being late.  I always keep at least $5,000 in my account so that I never have to worry about my account being overdrawn.

How do I know when it is time to switch from assistant to stylist? Commission to Rent? Rent to Studio?

The transition from assistant to stylist is sometimes outside of your control.  The salon may determine when you are ready.  If it is in your control here is what I would recommend for this transition.  It typically takes about 2 years to complete your assistantship after beauty school.  Find a great salon that has a program like the one I started at the salon I rented at or find a master stylist that will guide your through this time.  Make yourself a list of all of the things you see that other stylists are able to do and check them off as you become proficient.  Review this list with a mentor or master stylist and make sure that they agree when you check something off.

The transition from commission to rent is another difficult decision some hairdressers need to make.  My advice is that when your income is consistently above the rent equivalent for about a year you might be ready.  For example, say your commission is 25% and rent is $250 per week.  If you are consistently making $1400 per week then you are paying $350 per week in commission vs. $250 in rent.  Some salons tie certain perks to being on commission so all of that should be considered as well.  Perks can be only commission stylists receiving walk ins, free color, use of the front desk for booking clients, etc...

The transition from rental stylist to studio stylist is a difficult decision.  One of the hardest I have ever made.  Many things have to be considered.  I'll let you know when I figure out advice for this transition.  For now, all I can say, is that you need to weigh the pros and cons of each option and once you decide you should commit to the choice fully.