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Should You Encourage a Student Who Wants to Open Her Own Salon Right After Graduation?

While school instructors all want what’s best for their students after graduation, it’s a hard call as to whether lofty initial ventures will pay off or backfire. We asked nail school instructors and owners: Should you encourage or discourage a nail student who wants to open her own salon immediately after graduation?

I’ve always been the kind of educator who pushes my students to reach super high. So high that anything lower is never good enough again. So I would have to say that nothing is impossible. There are a ton of “experienced” salon owners who don’t have a clue about running a nail bar/salon/spa! I recently had a student, with absolutely no experience and no existing clients, start a brand new nail business — and you can’t get in for an appointment because her bar is so packed! These younger generations are social media and business savvy. I say go for it if the location is amazing and you’ve got great staff, and a great concept. There may be bumps in the road, but that’s to be said for all of us as entrepreneurs. — Jessica Ellison, Nail Nerds Academy, Toronto

It’s not necessarily about encouraging or discouraging a student, but, more importantly, it’s about educating them about the industry. Elite Nail School has two important sections in our curriculum: budgeting and marketing. We have students create a budget at the beginning of the school term. The thought behind that is it doesn’t matter if you make a hundred dollars or a million dollars, if you mismanage it you’ll still never feel like you have enough money. We also have the students create a marketing plan to get their own clients to fulfill their quota (services) for graduation requirements. Additionally we have them look at how they will promote themselves, including the use of social media. Their marketing plan has to reflect what their intentions will be once they are out of school. According to the 2011 PCR Booth Rental Study, booth rentals are already prevalent in 35% of salons and, by 2015, nearly 50% of all U.S. salons will offer some form of the booth rental model. So it’s important to educate our students about the pitfalls of owning (bookkeeping, product usage, over buying product, buying what you need and not what you want, etc.) and how they can succeed in this industry as a booth rental or suite owner. Although a newly graduated student doesn’t have the experience of working in the industry, we continue to be a resource for graduated students where they can access the many years of experience our instructors bring. We desire to see our students become as successful as they can and our ceiling is their floor. It’s part of our culture and all of our instructors live this out every class. So we equip our students with the best training, knowledge and resources so that if they choose to venture out into their own business, they will be ready. We have had students launch their own businesses immediately after school and have become very successful. So, it really is an individual decision. — Georgianna Halverson, Elite Nail School, Madison, Wis.

I would never encourage a newly graduated student to open a nail salon because it would be setting them up to fail and possibly give up on the industry entirely. I always suggest working for someone else to gain experience and build your clientele first. —  Darlene Sammons, Miller-Motte Technical College, Chattanooga, Tenn.

 For years I’ve been encouraging my students to open their own salons immediately after graduating from nail school, if they are financially stable and understand the responsibility of operating their own business. I’ve also encouraged students to go and seek employment in full-service salons and day spas to gain the knowledge of the operations of well-established salons and day spas. As a result of my influences on my students, many have gone on to open their own salons and are doing extremely well. One of the advantages of having students who open their own salons right after school is they share their success stories with other students who are still in school, which eventually creates a chain reaction. The student-turned-salon-owner shares her success stories continue to recruit new students, thereby helping her business grow and building a close association with the school faculty. The graduating student’s salon also becomes a great place for class field trips. In some cases new students lack the confidence of opening right after school (or aren’t in the financial position), in which case they’re encouraged to seek employment in high-end establishments where can learn the ins and outs of business operation. Sometimes the experience working in a salon becomes so rewarding that students choose to make the day spa experience a career (especially the ones that offer benefits, education, and the opportunity to grow). — Roy Williams, Nail School Chicago, Blue Island, Ill.

Related Book:

NAILS’ Salon Start-Up Guide

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