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How to Start a Press-on Nail Business

Written by:

Natalie is a business writer with experience in operations, HR, and training & development within the software, healthcare, and financial services sectors.

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 Press-on Nail Business

Fast Facts

Investment range

$3,145 - $8,450

Revenue potential

$62,000 - $125,000 p.a.

Time to build

0 - 3 months

Profit potential

$50,000 - $87,000 p.a.

Industry trend

Growing

Commitment

Flexible

Gorgeous, salon-perfect nails have long been seen as a style symbol. With endless color, shape, and design options, today’s nail artists continue to break the mold. But the pandemic forced nail salon enthusiasts to look for an alternative to their weekly manicures, and press-on nails rose to the challenge. 

Today, press-on nails are more popular than ever, offering the look of a flawless manicure at a fraction of the cost. The global artificial nail industry is forecast for strong growth through 2030, making this the perfect time to start a press-on nail business. 

But before you join the party, it’s important to learn what it takes to start a business. Lucky for you, this step-by-step guide contains all the entrepreneurial insight you’ll need to make your press-on nail shop a smashing success. 

Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You

Pros and cons

Before starting a press-on nails business, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons.

Pros

  • Flexibility – Set your own hours
  • Low Overhead – Press-on nail inventory is inexpensive
  • Creative Work – Make good money while creating art!

Cons

  • Crowded Market – Low barriers to entry = stiff competition
  • Skills Needed – Art and creativity are needed to stand out

Artificial nails industry trends

Industry size and growth

press-on nail industry size and growth

Trends and challenges

press-on nail Trends and Challenges

Trends within the press on nail industry include:

  • The recent pandemic forced nail salon customers to look for an artificial nail alternative. Press-on nails became instantly popular and many people are choosing them over the full salon experience, even though salons are open again.
  • Elaborate nail designs and embellishments are all the rage. Talented nail artists from all over the world are creating their own custom kits, offering endless options.

Challenges within the press on nail industry include:

  • While inventory and supplies needed for a press-on nail business are relatively inexpensive, it can be hard to find a responsible wholesaler. Selling low-quality products could be a health hazard.
  • Social media platforms are flooded with press-on nail offers and discounts, making it harder than ever to stand out from the competition.

What kind of people work as nail artists?

press-on nail industry demographics
  • Gender – 85% of nail artists are women and 15% are men.((https://www.zippia.com/nail-artist-jobs/demographics/))
  • Average level of education The average nail artist has a bachelor’s degree.
  • Average age – The average nail artist in the US is 43 years old.

How much does it cost to start a press on nail business?

Startup costs for a press on nail range from $3,100 to $8,400. Costs include inventory and supplies, packaging materials, and a website.

You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your press on nails business, including: 

  • Press-on nails
  • Nail glue
  • Nail polish and accents
  • Packaging
  • Shipping supplies
  • Website
Start-up CostsBallpark RangeAverage
Licenses and permits$100-$300$200
Insurance$100-$200$150
Marketing and advertising$1,000-$3,000$2,000
Website$1,000-$3,000$2,000
Computer$800-$1,600$1,200
Press on nails & glue$25-$100$62
Nail polish & decorating supplies$20-$50$35
Packaging & shipping supplies$100-$200$150
Total$3,145-$8,450$5,797

How much can you earn from a press on nail business?

press-on nail business earnings forecast

The average cost of a press-on nail kit is $30. After your costs of inventory, packaging, and advertising, your profit margin should be about 80%

In your first year or two, you could sell 40 nail kits per week at $30 each, bringing in $62,000 in annual revenue. This would mean almost $50,000 in profit, assuming that 80% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 80 per week. At this stage, you’d increase your inventory and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 70%. With annual revenue of $125,000, you’d make a tidy profit of $87,000. 

What barriers to entry are there?

There are a few barriers to entry when starting a press-on nail business. Your biggest hurdles will be:

  • Honing your artistic skills to make great nail sets
  • Competing with other nail artists and businesses

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Step 2: Hone Your Idea

develop a business idea

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

Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.

Why? Identify an opportunity

Research press-on nail businesses in your area and online to examine their products, price points, and what sells best. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a press-on nail business that fulfills custom orders. 

You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as press-on nails for weddings or nails that feature floral designs.

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

What? Determine your products

You’ll be selling press-on nail kits and related accessories like glue, nail files, and remover. To stand out from the competition, it’s important to develop a unique style and keep up with the latest trends. As your business grows, you may wish to develop and sell your own nail polish and adhesive designs.

How much should you charge for press on nails?

Prices for press-on nail sets range from $20 to $40 per set. Your prices will depend on how intricate your nail designs are, the quality of the nails, and packaging. After factoring in the costs of inventory, supplies, and packaging, aim for a profit margin of about 80%.

Once you know your costs, you can 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

Your target market will be people who enjoy wearing artificial nails. Spread your marketing efforts across popular social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. 

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
press-on nail business idea rating

Step 3: Brainstorm a Press-on Nail 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 “press-on nails” or “nail art”, boosts SEO
  • Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Stick-On Style” over “French Tip Press-Ons”
  • 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 with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.

Step 4: Create a Press-on Nail Business Plan

Here are the key components of a business plan:

what to include in a business plan
  • Executive Summary: A brief overview of your press-on nail business, summarizing key points like your mission, target market, and financial projections.
  • Business Overview: Detailed information about your press-on nail business, including its mission, vision, and the problem it solves in the market.
  • Product and Services: Clearly define the press-on nail products and services you offer, emphasizing their unique features and benefits.
  • Market Analysis: Analyze the press-on nail market, identifying your target audience, market trends, and potential growth opportunities.
  • Competitive Analysis: Evaluate competitors in the press-on nail industry, highlighting your competitive advantages and positioning in the market.
  • Sales and Marketing: Outline your strategies for selling and promoting your press-on nail products, including pricing, distribution, and marketing channels.
  • Management Team: Introduce the key members of your press-on nail business, emphasizing their skills and experience relevant to the industry.
  • Operations Plan: Detail the day-to-day operations of your press-on nail business, covering production, supply chain, and any partnerships or collaborations.
  • Financial Plan: Present financial projections, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow forecasts, demonstrating the financial viability and sustainability of your press-on nail business.
  • Appendix: Include supplementary information, such as additional market research, detailed financial data, or any other supporting documents relevant to your press-on nail 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 press-on nails. 

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 press on nail 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 press on nail business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.  

Step 8: Apply for Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses and Permits

Starting a press on nail 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 press on nail 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 Shopify, BigCartel, or WooCommerce to sell products, manage inventory, and process shipments.

Accounting

  • 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.

Develop your 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.

They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google. 

Marketing

Here are some powerful marketing strategies for your future business:

  • Engage Influencers: Partner with beauty influencers on social media platforms to showcase your press-on nails, leveraging their reach to build credibility and attract a wider audience.
  • Create Tutorials and How-To Videos: Develop engaging and informative video content demonstrating the application process and unique design features of your press-on nails, helping potential customers visualize the product’s value.
  • Collaborate with Nail Salons: Establish partnerships with local nail salons to offer your press-on nails as an alternative or complementary service, expanding your market presence and reaching customers who frequent these establishments.
  • Run Limited-Time Offers: Generate a sense of urgency by periodically offering limited-time promotions or exclusive designs, encouraging customers to make quicker purchase decisions.
  • Host Virtual Events: Organize virtual events, such as live Q&A sessions with nail artists, to connect with your audience, address their concerns, and showcase your press-on nails in real-time.
  • Customer Testimonials and Reviews: Encourage satisfied customers to share their experiences through testimonials and reviews, leveraging positive feedback to build trust and credibility among potential buyers.
  • Leverage User-Generated Content: Encourage customers to share photos of themselves wearing your press-on nails on social media, creating a user-generated content stream that serves as authentic marketing material.
  • Themed Collections and Collaborations: Introduce themed collections or collaborate with artists and designers to create exclusive lines, attracting niche markets and generating buzz around your press-on nail offerings.
  • Attend Beauty and Fashion Events: Participate in local beauty and fashion events to showcase your press-on nails, network with industry professionals, and gain exposure among your target audience.
  • Subscription Boxes: Offer subscription box services, providing customers with a regular supply of curated press-on nails, creating a steady stream of income and fostering long-term customer relationships.

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 press on nail business 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 press on nail business could be:

  • Custom press-on nails for your next special event
  • Get a salon-perfect manicure without leaving the house!
  • Gorgeous press-on nails that last

Networking

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 press on nail business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in artificial nails 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 press on nails. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership. Online businesses might also consider affiliate marketing as a way to build relationships with potential partners and boost business.

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 press on nail business include:

  • Administrative Assistant – Ship out orders, manage customer inquiries
  • Accountant – Bookkeeping, financial reporting
  • Marketing Lead – Manage social media accounts, run advertising campaigns

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 Press-on Nail Business – Start Making Money!

Running a Business

Press-on nails are booming, and you could get in on the action by designing your own press-on nail kits that wow your customers. With a bit of creativity and commitment, you could build a reputation and have a raving fan base that can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Now that you’ve brushed up on what’s needed to start a successful venture, it’s time to start showcasing your creativity and build the nail business of your dreams.

Press On Nail Business FAQs

Is a press-on nail business profitable?

Yes, a press-on nail business can be very profitable. The key to standing out from the competition is developing a signature style and keeping up with the latest artificial nail trends.

Can you make money selling press-on nails on Etsy?

Yes, it is possible to make money selling press-on nails on Etsy. Etsy is a popular platform for handmade and unique products, and there is a market for custom press-on nails.

How do you make press-on nails last longer?

To make press-on nails last longer, properly prepare the natural nails by cleaning, shaping, and buffing them before application, use a good quality nail adhesive or glue for secure attachment, and avoid exposing the press-on nails to excessive water, heat, or chemicals.

How can I differentiate my press-on nail business from competitors in the market?

To differentiate your press-on nail business from competitors, offer unique and creative designs that stand out from generic options, provide customizable options like custom sizes, shapes, or personalized designs, and focus on using high-quality materials that are durable and long-lasting.

Can I start press-on nail business on the side?

Yes, you can start a press-on nail business on the side. It allows you to pursue your entrepreneurial ambitions while maintaining a primary job or other commitments. However, it’s important to manage your time effectively, set realistic goals, and ensure you have the necessary resources to handle production, packaging, shipping, and customer inquiries. 

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How to Start a Press-on Nail Business