Starting Your Lash Business from Scratch Pt 2 – Salon and Spa Ownership


In my last post in this series, we discussed the process and benefits of opening a salon boutique. In this article, we will look at the possibilities of a salon or spa ownership.

Questions You Need to Answer Before Moving Forward

  1. Am I financially prepared to take on a new business?
  2. Have I done any research on locations?
  3. Am I prepared to put in the long hours it takes to research possible locations?
  4. What will it cost me, in total, to open a salon?

The cost can vary depending on the choice of your location. More desirable locations will cost you more in rent. Less popular locations may be a good place for you if you have built up enough clientele to support you as you work to market and grow your business.

If you are counting on walk-in business, then you will want to be in a retail location with ample parking. Get acquainted with a local commercial realtor or the City Planning Manager. Many municipalities have a contact person who helps new business owners find the perfect location. It is wise to get some help with this if you haven’t done it before. Some of the lease language can be off-putting for the layperson, so in this case use a professional to help walk you through the legalese.

Consider Your Build-out Expenses

An average sized salon runs between 1,000-1,800 square feet, and these spaces are leased by the square foot. If you are going for a lash and brow salon or studio your build-out expenses will be significantly less than a hair salon or spa.

Build-out expenses are negotiated with your potential landlord. In most lease spaces that are brand new, the landlord will provide you with the interior walls, restrooms, and mechanicals (like electric, gas, and plumbing). If you are going into an existing space, your landlord may negotiate free setup time. This can range from a few months to longer.

If you have to move or build walls, this will impact your initial expenses. Many areas require you to pull building permits to do any renovations.

Pushing The Paperwork

My experience with remodeling in a small town was exhausting. We were located across the parking lot from the village offices. We were just removing trash from our newly leased space, when the ordinance officer came over and slapped a stop work order on us. We hadn’t done anything construction wise, but were basically told we needed to submit a plan to the village manager.

We were only going to paint and put down flooring. We didn’t need a permit for that, but were warned they were watching! So, my message is, get your permits, no shortcuts. If you get shut down, it will only cost you more in the long run.

My first salon was small at 700 square feet. It was perfect. My rent was very reasonable, and my lease agreement was only the standard three pages long. I found a private building owner who was more flexible and kept things simple. A corporate landlord will generally be much more complicated. The corporate leases are about 20 pages long, and you need a decoder ring to understand. This is where you would need a lawyer to help.

A Word on Landlords

Trust me when I say this: landlords will protect themselves in the lease. They are not your friends. They can and will be friendly, but this is their business. This is their livelihood. Do not be fooled – if you are late on your rent, they will hound you, and charge a late fee! You cannot walk away from a lease. You will end up paying, in court or with a black mark on your credit. Make sure you are prepared for the obligations you are about to take on.

What is My Salon Gonna Cost Me?

You will need a minimum of $30,000 – $40,000 to get your business off the ground. Many new salon owners get financing for a good portion of the opening costs. This is where your relationships with your vendors come in handy. They will help you by splitting up the cost of getting started into a few payments.

First and last month’s rent, a security deposit, deposits for utilities, licenses, insurance, products for back bar use and retail will all be necessary costs. You will also need furniture to work with, to register your trade name, and your business license – just to name the most obvious things!

My biggest surprise was in needing to put up deposits for gas and electric. Back in the day, there was even a deposit for the landline for the phone. These unexpected deposits were a shock, and totaled around $1,000.

There are other costs that you will need to consider: signage, business cards, banners, and promotional items for your business. A website is a must, and a presence on social media is also necessary in today’s marketplace.

Cosmetology Salon Interior

Shop Around for Your Shop

My advice to anyone who has the passion to open his or her own salon, spa or lash and brow bar is, take your time. Look at available space; look at everything in your price range. Get an expert commercial realtor to help you navigate the contracts. They will help you to understand in regular, everyday language what you are signing up for. Find out what your potential foot traffic will be. How many cars drive by? Is there an anchor store that will draw future clients into your salon? Anchor stores are great, but not always necessary.

My current salon is in an office building on the second floor. I love it! I do not have any foot traffic. I market my business on social media, and word of mouth. I enjoy not paying high rent, and my clients love the “off-the-beaten-path” location. My startup costs were minimal; all utilities are included in my rent.

Stay open to the possibilities; spend time doing your research. Do not rush this process. You will find the perfect location, when the time is right. The one thing I have learned over my years in this industry with finding my location is patience. I am a persistent individual and will stop at nothing until I reach my goals.

Glad Lash - Award Winning Lashes

Visualize What You Want

Never underestimate the power of thought! Hold that perfect image in your mind so when you are ready, you are already there mentally. Getting there physically is just the next step on the journey!

We always want to hear from you, so if you have any questions about locations or start up costs, please ask away in the comments section below, and let us know what your research has found for you!

Maryann Matykowski

Maryann has an accomplished, 30+ year background in the beauty industry. As a cosmetologist she opened her first salon in ’83. Maryann has specialized as an educator since 2006, and is now Master Trainer/Training and Education Coordinator here at Glad Lash Academy. Maryann knows what it takes to create successful salon businesses and is here to share her experience with you.

Disclaimer! Opinions expressed on the Glad Lash Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Glad Lash Inc. Content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before making decisions that could affect your business or clients.

16 thoughts on “Starting Your Lash Business from Scratch Pt 2 – Salon and Spa Ownership”

  1. kenya mickens says:

    So I will be taking my lash course this week and would like to know if I need a license and insurance as a traveling lash artist as I will be building my new clientele?

    1. Glad Lash says:

      Hey Kenya,

      Every State has different regulations on being a mobile lash artist. Check with your state on the rules before you set out. I always advise every beauty professional to carry liability insurance. It’s better to be protected, and Heaven forbid you ever need it.

      Good luck on your new adventure!

  2. Joanne says:

    Hi I read your advice and I am willing to open a lash business I want to learn at the e same time . How can you help me to find a training school .

    1. Maryann Matykowski says:

      Hello Joanne,

      We are in Northridge, CA. You can sign up for our classes on the following webpage:


      If you are not local to us in Northridge, CA, please go to the Artist Directory page and click “Find A Lash Artist”, and then the “I Am Looking for a Trainer” box, and you will find a local lash trainer in your area.


      If you have any further questions feel free to give us a call at (888) 688-9621 in order to better assist you.

      Thank you!

  3. Ronni says:

    Hi Maryann

    Unfortunately I was unable to find such a forum that is Canadian based.

    So hoping you can help me. I am in the works if starting my own beauty bar business specializing in brows and lashes, and maybe nails.

    So my questions is, if I am licensed in both lashes and microblading would I still need to take a cosmetology course to open my business or is being licensed in the specific line of work good enough to start the business? The fact that those are my main specialities I don’t feel it is worth paying for a cosmetology or esthetic course if I am only going to be doing microblading and lashes.

    1. Maryann Matykowski says:

      Hello Ronni,

      I’m not sure about Canadian Law, however I do know that you do not need a license to do lashes. I am not sure about microblading. The caveat could be that if you want to hire licensed professionals in the future, they may have to work in a licensed establishment. I would contact your governing authority for more details.
      They should be able to give you their laws and requirements. You always want to follow all the rules to avoid unnecessary hiccups.

  4. Christina Martin says:

    Hello Maryann,

    I am a salon owner and I am interested in opening a lash and makeup location. The space is only 300 square feet, the rent is low, and all utilities are included. Do you think the space is too small?

    1. Maryann Matykowski says:

      Hi Christina,

      Absolutely Not! I just opened a 500 sq ft studio and I’m super comfy. That is probably the best place to get started. All inclusive is amazing!
      Enjoy the opportunity to get things going on the cheap! You can always expand as needed.

      Best of Luck to you!

  5. Kay says:

    Interested in opening a beauty bar. Would like a one stop shop for lashes, eyebrows, tanning. Possibly nails & hair later. I am in Texas, do not have a cosmetology license, have my Bachelors. What are your thoughts?

  6. Dakota McGee says:

    Maryann I am having difficulty finding averages for monthly costs of supplies. Lashes, adhesives ect, basically any inventory needed. Ive researched and I can always find potential income figures but not monthly costs to run the business.

  7. Daisymarie Gonzales says:


    I live in California and I want to open a lash bar. As owner of the bar would I need a cosmo license or esthetician’s license to own it ?

  8. Jes says:

    Hi Maryann, I am looking to rent a spot as an Independent Contractor and I will only be available a couple times each week (couple evenings and every Sunday). I would like to rent my own room and help the owner with marketing and do her lashes for free until I build up a clientele. What percentage of my income should I pay her for the time being, is there a generic formula that can be used as a guideline? For example; don’t pay more than ##% of your income or pay .## cents for every dollar you make on rent? Trying to figure out my negotiation strategy but not sure where to start as I don’t want to low-ball or high-ball it too much.

    Thank you so much.

  9. Esther Bolkin says:

    Hi Kay,

    I’m getting back to you on behalf of Maryann. That’s a great idea, but find out if it’s legal to do those beauty services yourself without your cosmetology license. If not, then you’ll only be able to be owner and manager of the salon. You’ll need to hire licensed staff and work out a fair pay system with them.

    Best of luck!

  10. Esther Bolkin says:

    Hi Dakota,

    I’m getting back to you on behalf of Maryann. That’s a tough question, you won’t know your average supply and inventory costs until you are really up and going for a few months and then you’ll see how much you spent. You can divide how much you spent by how many months you are tracking those expenses and purchases. Some of the inventory and monthly costs will be the same, such as rent and phone services, but as you get busier and accommodate more customers and grow your business many inventory expenses will increase and so will your income.

    I hope this helps!

  11. Esther Bolkin says:

    Hi Daisymarie,

    I’m getting back to you on behalf of Maryann. You can own a lash bar in California without a cosmetology or esthetician license, but you can’t work on anyone unless you’re licensed. You can employ licensed professionals to do the work.

    Best of luck!

  12. Esther Bolkin says:

    Hi Jes,

    I’m getting back to you on behalf of Maryann. As far as I know once you have decided to be an independent contractor and to rent a spot in a salon, I believe that you are responsible for the full amount of rent you have agreed to pay the salon owner.
    It’s not the salon owners responsibility to wait until you can afford the full amount until you build up your business.
    However, if it is in your rent agreement to pay less, then you are very fortunate! The negotiations can be anywhere across the board that you both can agree upon. I wish I could help you more with this, but it’s really up to the two of you.

    Best of luck to you!

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