My first year as a California esthetician was a bit of a dud. The salon I worked at was just a few steps above awful and I was in way over my head. To make matters worse my service list was THREE PAGES LONG!!! I went for the fire hose effect instead of honing in on my skills and preferences. If there was a service I offered it and I wasn’t making any money.
I was bleeding money to pay for all the supplies necessary and somehow let a rep talk me into ordering thousands of dollars in products I didn’t need and NEVER sold. I still have some of it in boxes in my garage! One very important lesson was discovered in my first year at my first salon. Find my niche.
Finding My Niche as a California Esthetician
The owner was cleaning out a closet and throwing stuff away. She had gone to a hair show a few years ago and picked up a lash extension kit. I had never heard of it. The kit was missing everything but the actual lashes so she said I could have it. I took it home that night and went down a deep google rabbit hole learning all about lash extensions.
No one in the area was doing them. No one knew what they were. No one knew how to do them. So I found the soonest class and signed up.
It just happened to be with NovaLash. The training was a joke. It was in a girl’s hotel room and consisted of practicing on a lime cut in half with a pair of lashes tapped to them. Then after lunch, we practiced on each other. My partner ended up dropping a quarter size amount of bond in my hair, never told me, and I had to cut the chunk out when I got home! But, I was now a “certified” lash artist. **Novalash went on to revolutionize the lash industry with state-of-the-art training, a real textbook, and training facilities all over the US. I’ve gone back for refresher courses and am so impressed with the education offered now.
I went home and begged every stylist, friend, family member, and stranger to let me practice on them. I LOVED lash extensions. I found my niche. This was also the same time I switched salons so my attitude was looking up.
At my new salon, I was slowly growing my clientele but also paying higher rent. I loved every one of my new coworkers–there were only 4 and we had fun each day. They were all real businesswomen and didn’t have time to mess around with drama. They were impressed that I sat all day waiting for walk-ins instead of going out and running errands. Their last esthetician was never around so unable to take walk-ins. I was happier and growing but the recession was in full force and I needed to make a real income.
Enter GROUPON. It was a new thing, lash extensions were a new thing and I was willing to try anything. So I signed up for a GROUPON. It was the perfect match. I sold over 13k in lash sets in a matter of hours. It was nuts. I actually had to ask them to turn it off. Groupon was happy with the success too and they went out of their way to mentor me on the process.
Now, I don’t think GROUPON is an instant fix or right for everyone. I had enough time to take on that many clients, I also had a great rep who guided me through turning one-time clients into repeats. But, most of all it was successful because of timing. NO ONE else in Monterey County was offering lashes yet so once the clients had them a large percentage returned. It pays to be first.
I offered a 10% discount off a fill if they booked and paid the day they came in for their full set. Almost half did. I gained a ton of experience and practice with the lashes. The first GROUPON customer took me over 3 hours to do a set. By a month later, I could do a full set in under 90 minutes. I finally had a clientele!
For a few years after, I offered different discounts like Groupon once a year and NEVER gained that much success. I firmly believe it was all about timing. These days I avoid those sites but if you have something new and then it can be a big win. From the experience, I did learn that lashes were my thing. Soon after I dumped waxing, makeup, and “organic” facials and narrowed down my service list to custom facials and lashes. My income tripled. I was finally able to start paying back my savings.
Lessons Learned…. YOU DON’T HAVE TO OFFER IT ALL. When I discovered my niche my expenses went down, my waste went away, and my income went up. Learn one thing really well and be the go-to Esthetician in town for it versus offering everything that you might be good at but not great at.
Take at least 1 class a year to discover new treatments and find or improve your specialty niche. I have a friend who does the most amazing peels and another that is the BEST facial massage in town. I recommend clients to them all the time and they send lash clients to me. I know they will take care of my clients and I know my clients will appreciate the referral.
Are you working on becoming a California esthetician or do you know someone who is? Let me know in a comment below!