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Starting a Nail Business

How to Start a Nail Business With the rising popularity of media and “influencers”, the UK’s beauty industry is growing at a monumental pace, now with an annual turnover of £...

Starting a Nail Business

How to Start a Nail Business

With the rising popularity of media and “influencers”, the UK’s beauty industry is growing at a monumental pace, now with an annual turnover of £6.2 billion* while providing jobs for over 277,333 people across the country. 
Social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube now have such a large impact on the beauty industry as a whole; this, therefore, has resulted in the steady growth of the nail bar/technician industry in recent years.


Starting your own nail business is a great way to be in control of your working hours and earn your own money. Whether you intend to start a freelance nail business or run a fully-fledged nail salon,  starting a nail business can be a challenge - there are certainly a lot of factors to consider before you can start making your clients look and feel beautiful. 


What does a nail technician do?

Nail technicians should be qualified in manicures before they take on any further nail treatments.  With your manicure qualification as a base, you will have the expertise to branch out into extensions, gels, nail art, overlays etc.


As a nail technician, you’d be responsible for making client’s nails look great and therefore, help them to feel great. It’s no wonder, nail technicians often say how rewarding their job can be. 


Common Nail Salon Services: 

  • Acrylic and Gel Nail Extensions
  • Shellac, Gel and Standard Nail Polish
  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Nail Art (Airbrush) 
  • Foot spa treatments
  • Hand massage
  • Cuticle oil treatment
  • SNS Nails
  • Nail Extension Repair/ Take Off


Cost to Start a Nail Salon

Firstly, you’ll need to find suitable premises to operate your business from. If you’re a startup looking to offer freelance nail services, your job may mean you travel to a client’s home or you can offer your services from a dedicated space within your home, e.g. a spare room or summerhouse. 


However, for technicians looking to rent a shop for their new salon, this can come at quite an investment. Costs of renting retail space can vary depending on your town and the location within that area.


Purchasing all of the equipment required for a successful nail salon business comes at no small cost. Most technicians require basic tools such as:

  • buffers, blocks and files
  • nail scissors
  • nail files
  • cuticle clippers 
  • brushes
  • bowls
  • UV and LED lamps
  • nail polish
  • remover
  • brushes
  • paper towels
  • hand soap


In addition to more complex tools for acrylic and gel overlays, nail art and manicures and pedicures.


To furnish your premises, you will also need to consider the type of services you will be offering at your salon. Furniture which is must-have include desks or stations and chairs. 


If you would like to provide pedicures in addition to standard nail services, a professional chair can cost £1000 upwards, while a nail bar/station can cost anywhere from £200 to £1500. You will also need to consider foot spas and baths to offer a professional pedicure and manicure service which can vary quite significantly in cost dependant on the quality.   


In order to display nail products effectively, the majority nail salons opt to install either simplistic strip shelving or more ornate display casing. Depending on your budget, there are hundreds of options available to customise your nail salon. 


Of course, if you decide to take on staff, you will also need to take into account the wages you will need to pay to your regular staff members. According to the UK job site Indeed, the national average hourly salary for a nail technician can range from £6.65 to £19.85 depending on location and the customers you wish to attract. You would also need to ensure that your staff are fully trained and be prepared to pay for ongoing training should they need it.


Nail Salon License

In order to set up your nail technician business, you will need to register your salon and contact your local authority or council to apply for your premises license. Additionally, you should also be able to show evidence of a nail certification.


You may also require several other licenses depending on the type of services you wish to offer. The GOV.UK website has a helpful tool to help you with this. Please be aware that you need a license for everything from playing music to offering alcoholic drinks to customers. 


In 2018, the UK government recommended the implementation of a pilot licensing scheme to tackle the issue of modern slavery in nail salons. Take a look at our article to find out more. 


Hiring a Team of Qualified Technicians

You’ve been running a freelance nail business for a while, it’s becoming busier and busier by the day and you can’t fit everyone in. You need an extra pair of hands and decide to open a nail salon with staff. 


Successfully starting a nail business requires a business with staff who are both qualified and have enough experience to complete the services you offer. 


Nowadays, courses in nail treatments and general beauty therapy are readily available to provide your technicians with the skills they need. Many people opt to have a recognised qualification, such as a VTCT Level 3 Diploma in Nail Technology, which is recognised by the government as an industry standard. 


Risks of Opening a Nail Business

Customers who visit a nail salon expect a high standard of service, clean premises, use of quality products and industry-approved techniques. However, as with any type of beauty salon, there are numerous safety risks which can threaten the wellbeing of your customers as well as your staff. 


Health Risks for Nail Salon Staff

As an employer, you have a duty to look after the wellbeing of your staff. As nail technicians constantly work with products that can produce dangerous fumes or are potentially hazardous in other ways, it is recommended to purchase products that will have minimal impact on the health of your staff as well as the environment. 


Additionally, being seated in inappropriate chairs can also result in extremely poor posture and potential lower back problems. 


Health Risks for Nail Salon Customers

Customers are most commonly at risk of contracting or spreading infections through undressed wounds or broken skin. Infections can also occur if your staff do not use appropriately sterilized equipment or if workstations are not cleaned periodically. 


General Nail Salon Risks

There is always a possibility of accidents occurring on-premises, whether unintentional or simply due to situations out of your control. Some examples of this include accidental flooding, blocked drains, breakages and even fire in certain instances. Unfortunately, like many other local businesses, nail salons are also susceptible to targeting from criminals and vandals. 

Although the risks mentioned above may be concerning for any small business owner, you can protect your company and your staff with an appropriate salon insurance policy. This covers you in the event of a claim being made against you. Most insurance policies should offer public liability, products liability and treatment liability.  For a salon owner with staff, employer’s liability and business interruption glass cover and money cover would also be expected.


7th November 2019