De-cluttering and reorganizing can actually put more money in your pocket. Knowing exactly what products you have on hand when you place orders can cut down on duplicates and reduce the possibility of products expiring on your shelves. You can cut down on waste and spoilage. You’ll waste less time searching for things you know you’ve got ... somewhere! After all, that time could have been spent actually performing a paid service. And when you can fully observe your products and supplies, efficient ordering practices can reduce postage and shipping fees.

Taking just a few hours to clear out the old and organize the rest can make your life as a nail tech or salon owner much easier.

The first step in de-cluttering is to decide if anything you have is worth selling to another nail technician. Set those things aside and then set up three categories: keep, toss, and donate. Grab some containers and begin sorting everything into one of these three categories. Here are some general rules to keep in mind:
> Begin by sorting like items together (all the abrasives in one pile, etc.).
> Separate opened items from unopened ones.
> If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s likely you won’t use it at all, so get rid of it.
> All products have a shelf life, so make decisions based on the age of the item. Keep it if you’ll use it before it expires, or pass it along for someone else to benefit from.

> Rotate them so the oldest things are most accessible and opened packages are in front.
> Consider using all the odd products (i.e., the odd bottle of lotion or sugar scrub) you have accumulated in your services. Make up specialty or themed services to make it fun.

> Make sure all bottles or packages are closed completely to reduce the possibility of things mingling in your waste container.
> Dispose of hazardous waste properly. Contact your city waste disposal utility for guidance — there may be free drop-off locations for items that should not go into landfills or down drains. (See February 2008 “Here, Smell This” for proper storage, shelf life, and disposal options for common nail products. You can find the article online at Click on then Past Issues, then February 2008)

> Swap products with colleagues, either locally or through an online community. ( has a special forum for swapping or selling nail products.)
> Make cute gift baskets of unsold retail items and donate them to your favorite charity for use in silent auctions. Be sure to include your business card.
> Contact your local nail academy to arrange for a drop off of items you think the students could use in their training.
> Contact women’s shelters in your area to see if they accept unopened cosmetic items and donate the things that are not for professionals only.
> Small samples of cuticle oil or lotion can be taken to individuals who are confined to their homes. Check with your church to see if someone can deliver them for you.
> Note that donations to non-profit organizations may be tax-deductible. Make a list of all the items and their value, and have the person receiving them sign and date your list so you can present it to your accountant for consideration.

Cash In!
Any items that have useful life and are in good condition could be sold through a number of outlets: eBay, craigslist, local flea markets, or local publications. You could also call nearby salons and ask them if they could use these products. Tell them you’ll deliver to cinch the sale.

Things to watch for:
> Be very clear about the condition of the item. If it has been used at all, do not market it as new. It’s OK to say “Used once, in pristine condition.”
> Be clear about whether the item has been opened or not. If opened for inspection, for example, tell the buyer when that happened.
> Be sure there aren’t expiration issues. Calling the manufacturer with the lot number can give you accurate time lines.
> Be clear about warranties. Let the buyer know about any applicable warranties, but don’t promise anything you can’t stand behind yourself.
> Specify whether or not you’re willing to ship overseas. International shipping requires knowledge of and provision for various customs forms and limitations.

Eco-Friendly Ideas
As you are de-cluttering and cleaning up, consider whether you could find an alternate use for items:
> Old table towels could become dusting cloths.
> Old bath sheets used for pedicures could be cut or torn into smaller pieces for cleaning cloths.
> Unused tips could become displays of your latest nail art or polish collection colors.
> Old acrylic or gel brushes could clean up cuticles with acetone after polishing or airbrushing.
> Unused product sample kits become traveling repair kits.
> Old nail abrasives might find their way into a carpenter’s or house painter’s tool kit.
> Purchase storage containers made of sustainable resources such as cardboard from post-consumer paper products or bamboo.

Repurposing is simply finding new uses for common things. Reusing is a good idea, too. Keep your small gel pots to use for custom-mixing colored gels, for instance. Keep and sanitize small glass bottles to fill from larger, economy-sized containers. Recycle when you can. And if you’re doing all this, be sure to market your salon as green.

Five Quick Tips

1. Use it or lose it. If you haven’t touched the container in months, move it along.

2. Rotate products and use the older items first. Stock new products on the back of the shelf.

3. Go green — recycle, repurpose, reuse whenever possible.

4. Organize logically — place like things together

5. Label it. A small sticker with purchase date and vendor assures freshness.

In this three-part spring cleaning guide we give you tips for clearing out the clutter in your appointment book, in your salon, and in your life. Check out our tips on Clearing Out the Clutter from Your Books here, and check out our tips on Clearing Out the Clutter from Your Life here.

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