Getting Your Own Chair 101

Getting Your Own Chair 101

By Kristle Jones

The time has come for you to become an independent hairstylist and work behind your very own chair. Doing so can be an incredibly freeing and rewarding position, but before you get ahead of yourself, follow these simple steps to create a successful future for your business.

Step One: Make sure you’re fully committed to becoming an independent contractor. Award-winning San Francisco Bay Area salon owner Carol Carey recommends that you look into any and every step of becoming a successful independent contractor before getting started. According to the Professional Beauty Association, stylists need to know that getting your own chair has both risks and benefits that need to be understood before stylists take the leap into being an independent contractor. Take the time to make a pros and cons list of what taking this next step will entail. It will help you build a timeline and accurately assess what it will take to launch your new endeavor.

Step Two: If you’re changing jobs, give ample notice to your current salon and address any contractual obligations you may have with them. If you originally signed a non-compete agreement, determine if you will be able to take your existing clients with you. If not, you may have to turn over their contact information—and possibly your color formulas—to your current salon.

Step Three: Contact any clients you’ll be retaining and give them your new information. You can snail mail an actual letter or postcard, send an e-mail, or make phone calls. The formality of your client notice depends on both you and your clientele. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Tip One: Keep the note short and sweet. Include pertinent info such as the new salon address, phone number, and website.
  • Tip Two: Avoid telling dramatic stories about your old salon, which is both unprofessional and unappealing. If you’re making phone calls, plan a short, positive answer to give clients who ask why you’re leaving your former position. It can be as simple as, “I’m ready to start a business of my own.”
  • Tip Three: Offer a special to entice clients to move over with you, such as a complimentary deep conditioning treatment or 10% off their next color service.

Step Four: Fill out any paperwork you’ll need as an independent contractor. According to the Professional Beauty Association, you need to follow all local, state, and federal tax obligations. You’ll also need to report your income—including tips—as well as apply for and maintain both your licenses and insurance requirements as an independent contractor.

Step Five: Set up your chair for business. Start by stocking up on your must-have styling products and tools. Next, create and print business cards and other signage needed to promote yourself. You may want to create an account with a point-of-sale credit card processing company so you can accept credit cards in addition to cash and checks. Salon owner Carey advises, “Many of my independent contractors utilize services such as Square and Salon Iris for their personal point-of-sale credit card processing.”

Being an independent contractor with your own chair in a salon can be a very lucrative and rewarding career move for a hairstylist. Follow these simple steps and you’ll set yourself up for success.

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