The beauty industry is big business, and it’s only getting bigger. A good way to ride the wave is by launching a niche company, and an eyelash extension business is one of the most promising options. You can provide many services in the beauty industry, but lash extensions, in particular, are growing in popularity.
If you like helping people look more appealing and feel more confident, and don’t mind getting up close and personal, then starting a lash bar might be a great fit!
Do you have what it takes to be a part of the lash industry? This step-by-step guide will walk you through all the steps of getting your lash business off the ground.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Before you become a lash extension entrepreneur, you need to take a step back and learn about the industry.
Pros and cons
Knowing both sides of the lash business is vital for deciding whether it’s right for you.
- You’re the boss, so work when you want
- Job satisfaction in the lash industry tends to be high
- Encourages creativity and self-expression
- Time-consuming, exacting work
- Lash training required
- Rising startup costs
Eyelash extension industry trends
A look at recent Google searches reveals consistently high interest in nearby lash extension services, while over the last ten years interest has increased sharply.
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – The US false eyelashes market has been growing steadily since 2016. Data analyst Statista estimated its market value at $250 million in 2022.
- Growth forecast – The global false eyelashes market was valued at more than $1 billion in 2018. The individual false eyelashes segment is predicted to continue growing at least 6% yearly while the natural eyelash extension segment is expected to grow at least 5% per year through 2025.
- Number of businesses – Lash extension services are usually provided in beauty salons. There are nearly 80,000 beauty salons in the US
- Number of people employed – Nearly 54,000 people are employed in the US as estheticians.
Trends and challenges
These are the latest trends in the lash extensions industry:
- Interest in lash extensions is growing fast, thanks in part to hot new trends like colored lashes, wet-looking lashes, and cats-eye lashes.
- Use of influencer marketing to attract customers
Some of the challenges in the industry are:
- Risks of infection, allergic reactions, and permanent lash loss if applied incorrectly
- Raising awareness of the proper care and maintenance of eyelash extensions
What kind of people work in eyelash extensions?
Lash specialists or technicians may be counted among estheticians.
- Gender – About 94% of estheticians are female, while 6% are male..
- Average level of education – About 30% have bachelor’s degree, but lash technicians need professional training and certifications.
- Average age – Estheticians are mostly 30 to 40 years old.
How much does it cost to start an eyelash extension business?
Starting a lash extension salon is likely to cost between $30,000 and $60,000, with an average of around $40,000.
Let’s look at an example on the lower end, excluding the cost of your salon:
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Setting up a business name and corporation||$150 - $200||$175
|Business licenses and permits||$100 - $300||$200
|Insurance ||$100 - $300||$200
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250
|Supplies||$5,000 - $7,000||$6,000
|Tools and furniture||$2,000 - $3,000||2500
|Lash artists per month||$8,000 - $12,000||$10,000
|Website||$1,000 - $3,000||2000
|Total||$16,550 - $26,100||$21,325
How much can you earn from an eyelash extension business?
Industry advisor Lash Affair estimates that the average eyelash extension costs $80 to $120, depending on experience and products involved. So, if you run your own shop and are able to do four two-hour lash extensions at $100 each for five days a week in your first year or two, you’ll make more than $100,000 in annual revenue. Assuming you’re able to achieve a 50% profit margin, that would leave you with about $50,000 in profit.
Keep in mind, this is with you working by yourself, operating the whole salon. As your brand gains recognition, you could hire two lash artists, do a total of 10 lash extensions per day, and extend operating hours to six days a week. But your profit margin is reduced to around 30%. With annual revenue of more than $310,000, you’d make a tidy profit of more than $90,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
Knowing the potential barriers can help you avoid or overcome them when they show up.
Here are some barriers in the eyelash extension industry:
- Professional training required
- Likely competition in your area
- You may need a cosmetology or esthetician’s license
- Finding a good location can be tough
Related Business Ideas
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.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you’ve seen what the lash industry involves, it’s time to start thinking about your business.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Checking out your competition is an integral part of starting a business. It’s important to examine your competitors’ prices, most popular services and possible weaknesses. Once you know what your competitors have to offer, you can start building a plan to be better than them.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as natural eyelash extensions. This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products and services
The most common materials used for eyelash extensions are silk, mink, and synthetic. Besides providing silk or mink lash extensions and synthetic lash extensions, you could also offer volume lash extensions.
How much should you charge for eyelash extensions?
Your first option is to base it on your competitions’ prices. If you do it this way, you’ll be on the right path. Another way is to consider the average price of $80-$120 above and choose a price point that gives you a decent profit.
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
Having a target market will help you connect with and gain new clients. For example, if you want to open a luxury lash bar, your target market should include people with higher disposable incomes. To identify your target market, you’ll need to think about who you want to regularly book appointments with you.
Here are some questions to help:
- In what age range will your target customers be?
- Where does your target market live, work and visit?
- Do your target clients prefer value or luxury?
Where? Choose your business premises
Be sure to choose your target market before you decide on a business location. If you open your store in the wrong spot for your target market, you’ll have difficulty reaching success—even if your services are excellent.
For example, say you’re targeting high-end customers. You’ll need to open your store in a wealthy suburb, urban business district, or a high-end shopping center. 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
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
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 “lash” or “beauty”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
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 set 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 Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr 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 eyelash extensions.
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 eyelash extension business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- 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 needs 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 ZenBusiness’s 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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- Venture capital: Offer potential investors an ownership stake in exchange for funds, keeping in mind that you would be sacrificing some control over your business.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund an entrepreneur’s vision.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings, the sale of property or other assets, and support from family and friends.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding an eyelash extension business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting an eyelash extension 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 eyelash extension 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:
- 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 any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
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 software specifically for salon businesses such as SalonBiz, Rosy, or schedul, to manage your online bookings, appointment calendar, inventory of products, and payments.
- 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.
Some of your business will come from the casual passerby or online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, make sure you link to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a particularly good way of promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: 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 “Avail Now”. This can sharply increase your customers.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence, and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as being the 10th lash customer on a Sunday.
- Signage – Put up eye-catching signage at your store and website.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your products/services at local markets, trade shows.
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
- Influencer marketing – Pay people with large social media followings to promote your eyelash extensions. You can find micro-influencers with smaller followings and lower rates.
- Testimonials – Share customer testimonials about how your lash extensions helped them.
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. 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.
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.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that set 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 eyelash extension 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 eyelash extension salon could be:
- Additional services like eyebrow trimming
- The fastest lash extensions in the area
- Top-of-the-line products and materials
- The most advanced lash artists
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 an eyelash extension salon, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in lash extensions 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 eyelash extensions. 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
If you’re starting out on your own, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for an eyelash salon would include:
- Lash Artists — creating and applying designs and styles
- General Manager — scheduling, staffing, maintenance, accounting
- Marketing Lead — social media, SEO optimization
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: Start Making Money!
Having eyelash extensions may seem frivolous. But for some, it’s a way to boost their self-esteem and self-confidence. So, you would be helping a lot of people feel good with themselves with your lash extension business. It’s a fast-growing market and there’s still time to get in on the action.
You can also provide related services to add to your income. With proper research and adequate preparation, you could well be on your way to success. Now that you know the steps to start a business, you’re ready to launch your eyelash salon and achieve your vision!
Eyelash Extension Business FAQs
Can you make good money doing eyelash extensions?
Based on the average price per set of $81 – $120.
If you work 48 weeks per year, 5 days per week, and see 4 clients per day, you’ll see 960 clients per year. If you multiply this by the prices above, you’ll end up with potential revenue between $77,760 – $115,200.
How long does it take to become a certified lash tech?
Eyelash extension training courses generally last between 1 – 3 days. You’ll be taught about sanitation and the application of the lashes themselves.
If your course doesn’t grant you an Esthetician or Cosmetology license you’ll need to apply for one or complete further education.
Is being a lash tech hard?
Being a lash artist certainly isn’t the easiest job in the world. You’ll need a steady hand, good eyesight, patience, and be able to focus for long stretches. But like any rewarding job, the effort is worth it in the long run. Once you’ve mastered the craft, you’ll forget all about your difficulties in the beginning!