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How to Start a Personal Styling Business

Written by:

Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.

Edited by:

David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.

How to Start a Personal Styling Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$500 - $1,800

Revenue potential

$52,000 - $156,000 p.a.

Time to build

0-3 months

Profit potential

$46,800 - $140,400 p.a.

Industry trend




Do you turn heads when you enter a room because of your unique style? If you make people green with envy, you could turn that into another kind of green with your own personal styling business. 

Nowadays, younger folks looking to be seen as stylish and trendy often turn to personal stylists for tips on fashion, hair, makeup and accessories. So if you’ve got great ideas, you could help countless people feel more confidence while making a good living. 

But in addition to impeccable fashion sense, getting there will require some serious business know-how. Luckily, this handy step-by-step guide has all the business insight you need to start down the road to personal styling success. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons


  • High hourly rate 
  • Share your style and creativity
  • Low startup and ongoing costs


  • Difficult to acquire clients
  • Some clients may be hard to satisfy

Personal styling industry trends

Industry size and growth

Personal Styling industry size and growth

No industry statistics for personal styling are available, but personal styling falls into the personal services market. 

Trends and challenges

Personal Styling Business Trends and Challenges


  • Personal branding is trending, and creating a personal image is part of that branding, fueling the demand for personal stylists.
  • Online personal styling services like Stitch Fix are growing, but most only offer fashion advice. This presents an opportunity for an entrepreneur to offer comprehensive online personal styling.


  • As people cut back on discretionary spending, revenues for personal styling businesses are likely to decrease.
  • Growing number of online styling services are making the industry more competitive.

Demand hotspots

Personal Styling Business demand hotspots
  • Most popular states – The most popular states for personal stylists are West Virginia, Washington, and Colorado.((https://www.zippia.com/stylist-jobs/best-states/))
  • Least popular states – The least popular states for personal stylists are New Mexico, Georgia, and Arkansas.

What kind of people work in personal styling?

Personal Styling industry demographics
  • Gender – 86% of personal stylists are female, while 14% are male.((https://www.zippia.com/stylist-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education – The average personal stylist has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age The average personal stylist in the US is 40.4 years old.

How much does it cost to start a personal styling business?

Startup costs for a personal styling business range from $500 to $1,800. The largest expense is for an initial marketing budget.

Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Setting up a business name and corporation$100 - $500$300
Business licenses and permits$100 - $300$200
Initial Marketing Budget$200 - $500$350
Total$500 - $1,800$1,150

How much can you earn from a personal styling business?

Personal Styling business earning forecast

When you’re first starting out, you should be able to charge about $50 per hour for styling services. Your profit margin should be about 90%.

In your first year or two, you could work 20 hours a week, bringing in $52,000 in revenue. This would mean $46,800 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. 

As you gain traction, you might work 30 hours a week and raise your rate to $100 an hour because you’ll have a reputation and more experience.  With annual revenue of $156,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $140,400.

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If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
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What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry for a personal styling business. Your biggest challenges will be:

  • Having the fashion skills and creativity
  • Acquiring clients when you have no portfolio 

Step 2: Hone Your Idea

Now that you know what’s involved in starting a personal styling business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market. 

Market research could give you the upper hand even if you’ve got the perfect product. Conducting robust market research is crucial, as it will help you better understand your customers, your competitors, and the broader business landscape.

Analyze your competitors 

Research personal styling businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews.

  • Make a list of personal styling businesses that offer similar services. 
  • Review your competitors’ services – their features, pricing, and quality – and marketing strategies
  • Check out their online reviews and ratings on Google, Yelp, and Facebook to get an idea of what their customers like and dislike.
  • Identify your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. 

This should identify areas where you can improve your business and gain a competitive edge to make better business decisions.

Why? Identify an opportunity

You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a local celebrity stylist or a personal stylist that also offers a personal shopping service. 

You might consider targeting a niche, such as personal styling for young professionals.

This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away. 

What? Determine your services

In addition to in person styling, you could offer virtual styling online. You could also get referral fees from beauty salons for bringing in clients. 

How much should you charge for personal styling services?

Rates for personal styling range from $50 to $100 per hour. When you’re first starting out, you’ll probably charge on the lower end and you can raise your rates as you gain experience. You should aim for a profit margin of 90%.

Once you know your costs, use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.

Who? Identify your target market

You should choose the people that you want to market your services to. You might want to target higher end clients to style for special events, or you may want to target young professionals who are looking to build an image. If you target young professionals, you’ll likely find them on Instagram or LinkedIn. 

Where? Choose your business premises

In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out an office. You can find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.

When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:

  • Central location accessible via public transport
  • Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
  • Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
  • Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Personal Styling Business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Personal Stylist Business Name

Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:

  • Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
  • Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better 
  • Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
  • Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
  • Including keywords, such as “styling” or “personal styling”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Style Alchemy” over “Modern Menswear Maven”
  • A location-based name can help establish a strong connection with your local community and help with the SEO but might hinder future expansion

Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these. 

Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead and reserve your business name with your state, start the trademark registration process, and complete your domain registration and social media account creation. 

Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick a name, reserve it and start with the branding, it’s hard to switch to a new name. So be sure to carefully consider your choice before moving forward. 

Step 4: Create a Personal Styling Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: Provide a concise summary of your personal styling business, highlighting your unique value proposition and target clientele.
  • Business Overview: Give an overview of your personal styling venture, including its location, the types of styling services you offer, and your business’s mission.
  • Product and Services: Describe the range of personal styling services you provide, such as wardrobe consultations, shopping assistance, and outfit coordination.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the market for personal styling in your area, considering the demand for fashion advice and the demographics of your potential clients.
  • Competitive Analysis: Identify other personal stylists or fashion-related businesses in your region and explain what sets your services apart in terms of style expertise or customer experience.
  • Sales and Marketing: Detail your strategies for attracting clients, which may include building an online presence, collaborating with local boutiques, or offering introductory packages.
  • Management Team: Introduce key team members, emphasizing their background in fashion, styling, or business management.
  • Operations Plan: Explain how your personal styling business will operate, from client consultations to shopping trips, and outline any partnerships with fashion retailers.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including startup costs, pricing strategies, revenue forecasts, and expense estimates for your personal styling business.
  • Appendix: Include any additional materials, such as client testimonials, portfolio examples, or marketing materials, to support your business plan.

If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.

Step 5: Register Your Business

Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.

Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business! 

Choose where to register your company

Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you are planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to personal styling businesses. 

If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state. 

Choose your business structure

Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your personal styling business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely. 

Here are the main options:

types of business structures
  • Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
  • General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts. Here’s how to form an LLC.
  • C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation. Read how to start a corporation here.
  • S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.

We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have. 

Form Your LLC

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Step 6: Register for Taxes

The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN. 

Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.

The IRS website also offers a tax-payers checklist, and taxes can be filed online.

It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you are completing them correctly.

Step 7: Fund your Business

Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:

types of business financing
  • Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
  • SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
  • Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
  • Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
  • Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
  • Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.

Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a personal styling business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

Step 8: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a personal styling business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments.

Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits. 

You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more. 

You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.

This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.

If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.

Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account

Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account.

Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your personal styling business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.

Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account. 

Step 10: Get Business Insurance

Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked, yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.

Here are some types of insurance to consider:

types of business insurance
  • General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
  • Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
  • Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
  • Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
  • Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
  • Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
  • Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
  • Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.

Step 11: Prepare to Launch

Launching a Business

As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business. 

Essential software and tools

Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.  

You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Monday, workee, or Garmentier, to manage your clients, digital wardrobe, invoicing, and reporting. 


  • Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero
  • If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.

Create a website

Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.

Your customers are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. 

Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Consultation Now” or “Contact Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.


Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Social Media Style Challenges: Engage your audience by organizing weekly style challenges on platforms like Instagram, encouraging followers to showcase their outfits and tagging your business for feedback, creating a sense of community and visibility.
  • Collaborate with Local Boutiques: Partner with local fashion boutiques to cross-promote your services, offering exclusive styling sessions for their customers or featuring their products in your styling content.
  • Pop-Up Styling Events: Host pop-up styling events in popular local spots, such as coffee shops or co-working spaces, to provide on-the-spot consultations and attract potential clients with your hands-on expertise.
  • Client Testimonial Videos: Create short, impactful video testimonials featuring satisfied clients discussing how your styling services positively impacted their lives, then share these videos across social media platforms to build trust and credibility.
  • Fashion Workshop Collaborations: Collaborate with local businesses or community centers to host workshops on fashion and styling, positioning yourself as an expert while reaching a broader audience.
  • Referral Programs: Incentivize satisfied clients to refer friends by offering discounts or exclusive styling perks for each successful referral, creating a word-of-mouth marketing engine.
  • Seasonal Lookbooks: Develop seasonal lookbooks showcasing your styling expertise and offering insights into the latest trends, distributing them digitally and in print to potential clients and local businesses.
  • Personalized Style Subscriptions: Introduce a subscription service where clients receive personalized styling tips, curated outfit suggestions, and exclusive discounts regularly, fostering an ongoing relationship.
  • Fashion Podcast or Blog: Establish yourself as an industry authority by starting a fashion-centric podcast or blog, discussing styling tips, trends, and personal anecdotes to connect with a wider audience and showcase your expertise.
  • Collaborate with Photographers: Partner with local photographers for styled photoshoots, creating visually appealing content for both your portfolio and their portfolios while expanding your reach through shared content.

Focus on USPs

unique selling proposition

Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your personal styling meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire. 

Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your personal styling business could be: 

  • Create a bold new image with our advanced styling 
  • Personal styling for true personalities 
  • We’ll make you a showstopper at your next big event! 


You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a personal styling business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in personal styling for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections. 

The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in personal styling. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. 

Step 12: Build Your Team

Building a Team for a New Business

If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a personal styling business include:

  • Styling Assistant – assist with styling and fittings
  • General Manager – scheduling, accounting
  • Marketing Lead – implement marketing strategies

At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need. 

Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent. 

Step 13: Run a Personal Styling Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

How fun would it be to style people all day and get paid good money for it? You’d also be boosting people’s confidence. Personal styling is a great opportunity – and who knows, maybe someday you’ll be the stylist of the stars!

You’ve got some serious business acumen now, so it’s time to start your journey to personal styling success. 

Personal Styling Business FAQs

Is a personal styling business profitable?

A personal styling business can be very profitable. You can charge between $50 and $100 per hour or more when you have extensive experience.

What happens during a typical day in a personal styling business?

As a personal stylist, you’ll meet with clients to determine their needs, and perhaps review fashion magazines online to see what they like. Then you’ll go to stores with them to pick out items, and perhaps to the beauty salon to offer advice on their hair and makeup.

What is the growth potential of a personal styling business?

A local personal styling business can only grow by a certain amount. However, if you start a service and hire other personal stylists, you could either expand to new locations or start a virtual styling service to handle clients anywhere. 

Can you start a personal styling business on the side?

Personal styling can be a good side hustle. You could consult with clients and go shopping with them on the weekends. 


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How to Start a Personal Styling Business