Working From Home
Why Home-Based Aesthetics and Permanent Makeup Business Fail
The internet has given us one more reason to abandon our jobs and to work for ourselves: we all have direct access to our own clients, and can make money on our terms. Or can we? We know that home-based cosmetics have really grown in interest, but we're not quite sure about that business model. We caught up with over a dozen home-based Permanent Makeup or Lashing businesses to ask them how working at home is going? What is working, and what isn't. The feedback was a sobering look at what is happening in the beauty industry.
The real names of those interviewed have been changed for obvious reasons but their stories are very real.
18 months ago Jessica left her job working in a steady-paced government department. While the pay was solid and secure, she had been following a friend from across the country who built a microblading business all online - and was doing well. Jessica took a week long training course from an instructor in Toronto and had a plan. She would build her clientele on the weekends and supplement enough of her income so that she could take a leave of absence from her work. Within 6 months she had built her brand and was making the leap into the somewhat unknown world of working as permanent makeup artist from home. Over 1 year later, Jessica found herself stuck and deflated.
"I thought that I would build a business from home, but it actually burned me out. I was telling my family how great everything was, but inside I couldn't make any real progress."
Jessica's troubles grew as she had difficulty finding the right kind of supplies. The products from Amazon and large asian-based e-comerce channels were always arriving later than expected, contained the wrong items, or were blocked at the border by customs.
"It got to the point where I was spending more time rescheduling clients, or driving across town to mooch supplies from someone else in the industry." "My phone was blowing up and I couldn't balance new client requests with moving existing clients around because of my supply problem. I was now spending 14 hours a day on a business that definitely was not what I thought it would be."
When we found Nikki she had already been in the industry for 3 years and had been working from home in her basement. Her setup was amazing and the decor was exactly what her clients would expect from a commercial salon. It was modern and impressive. Nikki had planned to shut down her microblading, lashing, and facial business temporarily while she was renovating. When starting her business she hadn't been inspected by a Public Health inspector and had been operating under the assumption that as long as the premises were clean, and she was following safety protocols - that she was safe. A health inspector reached out to Nikki after hearing of her location following a client complaint. During the inspection Nikki was found to be missing the necessary lighting and access to fresh water and sink. The inspector required that she install the proper sink for hand washing and lighting in her work area. Nikki took the opportunity to make this a redesign to add space or more beds and to do a complete rebuild of her home studio. The contractor hired to do the work ghosted her half way through the job. In what should have been a 1 month job left Nikki out of commission for 4 months. The unanticipated inspector and new reno project left Nikki with new challenges. By the time her 4 month project was complete she had lost all of her lash clients and almost half of her facial clients. They had moved on.
Lori had started her own home lashing business and was packed with clients between 8am and 6pm. Some days she would even work as late as 9pm just to meet her client's requests. The demand for Lori's eyelash extensions were due to her price. She was offering the most competitive price among all of the lashing studios nearby.
"When I first started, I didn't have any clients, and so I ran Groupon deals and promotions for a long time". Clients were booked for up to 2 months in advance. Lori was incredibly busy but her income was not growing. In fact, she was making less than ever trying to keep up with the low prices she set. "I didn't have any time to do any marketing - to fix this, and I didn't feel like it. By the time my last client was finished at the end of the day all I wanted to do was lay in bed". Lori began missing client calls, emails and DMs and when some of her schedule thinned out she panicked. "I though, I'm already offering the best prices but not getting bookings from my existing clients as much. So I lowered the price again and asked some of my previous clients to come back, giving them bigger discounts. I didn't know what else to do".
Lori was maxed out. She was running the show by herself and unable to keep up with her low price, high demand and increasing service issues.
Charlotte started out in a busy suburb where the competition was already high. There were nail and lash extensions on almost every corner. But she was excited to break into the beauty business, and decided to jump in with both feet without doing her research. She taught herself lashes using an online course and some YouTube videos. "I guess my time was too long because I would only see clients once and then they wouldn't come back." Charlotte was doing lashing while working a part time servicing job at a local pub. "I couldn't find clients and they didn't know about me." When we asked Charlotte if she had a website or what her Instagram looked like Charlotte mentioned "I had a website that a friend put together for me but I couldn't make any changes. I did some Instagram but I didn't know how to get followers." Charlotte eventually returned to serving full time and decided to put her lash extension business on hold - indefinitely.
"Lashes Co." We found Eliena who had a thriving home business. Her branding seemed good and she had medium prices and a solid demand. The website was in great shape and she had a steady and growing social media engagement. It looked like Eliena was doing everything right. She had started as a lash technician doing lashes from home and built a permanent makeup clientele. All was going well and there were no concerns about her ability to sustain her existing business. She was getting great reviews and was able to build a fund of dollars to help her launch into a commercial space. "I don't have time. Even though my business is good now I cannot do a big project to bring me to, like, a regular studio on the street." Eliena didn't have the know-how or the skills required to grow her business to the next level. "I started to teach, but then I didn't have the books or online technology for my student, so it was hard". Like so many other business owners reaching that next level and growing into training or even retails sales is sometimes out of reach due to lack of human power or business skills. Eliena plans to continue working from home and maybe take less clients so that she can take some business courses online to help her grow her business to the next phase.
When we reached out to Lisa she had just moved to a commercial location, having launched herself from her home-based business. She didn't do it alone, though. She joined up with Chelsea and Ava, two other permanent makeup and lash artists who had a few years of experience working in the industry. "Things were difficult right away", said Lisa. "We all had a different idea, but we all wanted to be in a commercial space, so we forced it." "Looking back it was maybe not the right choice. We think differently." The three were at odds about how to split expenses and how to grow the business. "It felt like we were are all pulling in different directions, but we signed this lease so we are here for 5 years."
With the beauty industry growing there are more home-based businesses coming online every day. They are all competing for the bottom tier of service dollars.
Unable to reach clients and unable to market there is a surplus of new business who are all competing for the bargain dollar space.
THE BOSS BABE MOVEMENT
Boss Babes emerged sometime over the last decade. Ambitious women were raised up by motivators publishing blogs, books, and YouTube Channels, creating everything from pens to small business coaching plans. The world would never be the same. Women everywhere, feeling empowered, were leaving jobs, or starting side hustles and setting big goals for themselves.
The result? While there are pockets of success stories this movement made us all consumers of small business services and not much else. Entrepreneurs quickly realized that in order to make their own lipstick/skincare/pigments/jewelery etc this meant putting out a huge amount of money and then working for the massive minimum order (which was stuffed in garages or spare rooms) to make money back. This movement was successful for the economy because it drove consumption but it failed to materialize in big changes for everyone who jumped in.
At some point this movement took a hard left turn from "I want to be my own boss" to "I'm going to be my own boss and do this by myself". The movement promised women that they could have their own name over the door - and that they too would be a world-renowned fashion/cosmetic creator/microblading artist/business coach/consultant etc. What started as a movement encouraging entrepreneurism resulted in scattering women, dispersing them to work as solitary units, and not together.
Working from home was idolized as the ideal job, allowing owners to make their own schedule, and do laundry while they made money on their own terms. It liberated women from desk jobs, or other employment that they fell out of love with long ago.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF WORKING FROM HOME and BOSS-BABE CULTURE
The reality is that we have diluted our power by not working together. Where women compete ferociously against each other to maintain their own brand we have become weaker. Where successful businesses are formed in excellence, growth, and increased brand awareness this is no longer a reality for everyone. We see countless Instagram ads with promises to grow organic followers and engagement. The truth is, with so many adopters and so many Instagram-based businesses all of the voices are becoming weaker and it is increasingly more difficult to pull out in front. Facebook acknowledges that organic content is impossible. This is why the promoted ad network exists. With so many new businesses coming to market every website and instagram account is fighting for exposure on the front page. Yet the number of front positions remains the same. It is practically impossible to reach front page exposure or to show up in explore or hash tags. The algorithms distribute this exposure making it "fair" for all. This means everyone gets a smaller piece of the pie. As a result of "do or die" boss babe determinism women are spending countless dollars on Google Ads or Instagram Ads, but without the long term strategy of transitioning away from SEM.
NEXT GENERATION WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS: A CASE FOR COMMERCIAL BUSINESS AND WORKING TOGETHER
For small businesses to survive the future it requires competing together. It means unifying and combining brands, and to share resources. For success to be found we must stop duplicating the same processes and instead focus on building a brand together. Women who collaborate and join forces, sharing common goals, common infrastructure and who can belong to part of a team will out perform their peers who do not. Those women who can come together and play off of their common strengths will become a brand that is unlike any other. No one is as strong as all of us.
At Ivonne Sanchez Beauty we have conducted market analysis of our brand against other common beauty names. The data shows that there is much recognition already established in Ivonne Sanchez Beauty. Our Domain Authority continues to grow, our Google Trends continue to increase. We have the support and attention of many clients and industry partners. We look forward to growing our brand with so many of you! We partner with industry experts in marketing and business development to reach and service clients. We look forward to joining forces with like-minded women to bring the best in micropigmentation, aesthetics and fashion.
If you are a skilled expert who has been working from home and would like to evolve your business to the next level then get in touch. We would love to discuss your options for joining Ivonne Sanchez Beauty.