Working at home has its advantages – time with your kids and being your own boss – but there is still a price to pay-client calls at midnight and never really being able to leave the “office”.
Another portion of the basements was sectioned off into a waiting area where clients can enjoy coffee and donuts while relaxing on a comfortable wicker couch and chairs. For clients who like to bring their children, Franck turned an adjoining room into a family center complete with Nintendo, a desk for coloring and a couch with soft cushions perfect for building a fort. She even installed a hot tub that clients can use, with a tight lid to prevent accidents when it is not in use. “I wanted to create a professional atmosphere,” Franck says, “yet one that was personal, private, and catered to my clients’ needs.”
Franck’s career women clients can now schedule early morning appointments and come dressed for work or in their pajamas. Young mothers can hold and feed their baby in their left hand while Franck manicures the nails of their right hand. Other clients appreciate the privacy and quiet. “When you work at home you can really personalize services,” she says, “and make your client feel special.”
To attract additional people to her residential address, Franck named her business California Nails, and advertised in local papers. “People would schedule appointments to find out what ‘California Nails’ were,” she says. “Of course, they were the same as Illinois nails but the name encouraged customers to come.”
After a few months, Franck had gained enough clients through word-of-mouth that she no longer needed to advertise. Since opening her salon, her client base has swelled to more than 250.”I have to turn people away now,” Franck says. “But what’s nice is I refer them to other local technicians whom I’ve helped build a clientele.”
Besides being able to arrange appointments according to her six-year-old son’s schedule, Franck has earned a lot more money since deciding to work at home. “I can write off part of my house and I don’t pay rent on a separate space, so my overhead is really low,” she says, “yet my quality is high so my prices are the same as in any other salon.”
Franck says other advantages of being home-based include being home when her son is sick and referring and sharing customers with her husband, who owns his own painting business. “We’ve developed good working relationships within the community,” she says, “and those ties benefit both of us.”
Combining her home and work environments has its disadvantages also: people call on her day off, she works longer and later hours than she used to, and she has clients who feel so relaxed that they forget to bring their checkbook. “There have been a few times when I’m too nice, and some people take advantage of that,” she says. “When you work at home, you have to learn to set boundaries and be assertive if someone crosses the line.”
But like other home-based salon owners, Franck says the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. “What I love best about working at home is that I’m my own boss and can design my schedule to get the most out of my career and family,” she says. “Right now, I work four days a week, from 5 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. Most days, I work straight through with only 15 minute breaks to drop my son at school, pick him up, or start dinner. It’s really hectic, but then I take three days off to recuperate and be with my family. Where else could I earn a living and have that flexibility?”
GLAMOROUS HANDS BY ANGELA, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., ANGELA GOMEZ, OWNER
Angela Gomez has built her home-based nail salon into such a success that her husband recently went to school to get his license so he could work with her. “Even though she works at home, Angela is always going to shows to compete and to keep up on what’s going on in the industry,” says her husband, Leo. “When she decided to attend a Las Vegas show a few years ago, I went along with her so I could gamble. But when I lost all my money in about 20 minutes, I started wandering around the nail show and became interested in what was going on.”
When Leo returned from the show, he took a good look at Angela’s business and realized it has more than doubled since she first opened more than five years ago. “When Angela first told me she was going to leave the salon she worked in to start her own business, I thought she was taking a big risk, “Leo says. “But now that I’m a nail technician working in the salon, I can see how Angela’s clients prefer a home-salon atmosphere. Her service is more personalized and clients are more relaxed. They feel free to let their hair down and be themselves. Clients can also bring their kids with them and not have to worry about them breaking something. With Angela, clients also have the flexibility of scheduling appointments during early morning and late evening hours when most salons are closed.”
Besides offering clients better customer service and more flexile hours, one of the reasons Angela wanted to work at home was so that she could work appointments around her two daughters’ schedules. “Our house was too small to incorporate a business,” Angela says, “but when my parents, who live five doors down from me, heard my idea, they immediately offered to turn their garage into a salon. I was skeptical, afraid I’d be in their way. But they convinced me it would work out. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Double French doors mark the separate entrance into Angela’s salon. Soothing posters grace walls textured with a tint of pink, along with trophies, certificates and numerous other awards Angela has won in nail competitions.
Mauve carpeting, black leather reclining lounge chairs, and an oak manicuring station lend a professional air to the salon, and a strong ceiling fan sucks fumes out the window to keep the area well-ventilated.
Angela also has a separate bathroom, an area for refreshments, and a separate office and supply area. Leo is now creating his own work area for his specializations: airbrushing, pedicures, and reflexology.
“There are so many advantages to working at home,” Angela says. “Your overhead is lower, you don’t have to waste time traveling to and from work, you have the flexibility to set your own hours, you make a lot more money and if a client cancels, you’re free to use the time constructively.”