Just starting out? “Get hairstylists in your area to wear your nails or at least refer their clients to you,” says Sharon Frenz, owner of The Nail Boutique in Tomah, Wis., and the newly opened Next Step Nails Training. “If they don’t want to get their nails done by you, give them gas cards, gift certificates, or any other incentive. Consider it a marketing expense.”

When Frenz first started doing nails, she took her business cards and went shop to shop, offering to do the stylists nails for free if they would refer their clients to her. “I figured that not only would doing their nails give me great practice but when their clients saw the nails, they would ask who did them,” she says. “It was only my time and a small amount of product that I was sacrificing. It helped that I loved to do fun glittery nails and not just plain pink-and-whites. Stylists love that stuff.”

She would go during business hours in hopes the stylist was working on a client. “I figured that while I was talking to the stylist, her client would also hear my presentation,” she says. “Of course, I had my own nails done perfectly to show off my work to the stylist and her client.” No matter what the response, she’d ask if she could leave her business cards with a discount coupon on the back. “No one refused and I’d always leave 15 or 20. I also made sure that they knew I did natural nails too, not just enhancements. That first year, I probably got 15-20 clients from that. Not everyone came back but it got the ‘buzz’ going about me.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.