Whether you’re just starting out or an industry old timer the balance of work and home is a problem that affects many of us. Ask any working nail tech, stylist or therapist their measure of success and usually it will involve a full diary that provides them with an income to pay their bills and the odd holiday here and there and of course a tidy profit or for the employed great benefits from your employer, but all that hard work can come at price. The joy of our industry is the flexibility it can provide to work around life and your family. As a female dominated industry it embraces flexible and part time working and yet can also give great breadth of opportunity to advance to management and senior positions across the whole industry within front line spas and salons or within product companies and within education. Our industry is full of entrepreneurs from the solo mobile therapist through to product designers, company owners, industry innovators and more. The opportunities are vast but so are the demands on your time. For this article I’m concentrating on our front-line workers who are often the public’s first point of contact with our industry.
Due to the flexible nature of working life many more mature graduates begin working from home or go mobile. If this is your choice, then as your career progresses and your client base grows the impact this can have on your home life can be challenging as you immerse yourself in work. Where does this leave you? You’ll have to go hard or go home!
For many it involves taking the leap into growing your career. Be it a taking a salon job, building a cabin in the garden or salon ownership, taking the leap brings more adjustments. They all come with different levels of demand and input as well as that of those around you. If you become a successful lone worker the chances are you won’t be able to take a lunch break, book a holiday or take a day off, so make sure you prioritise your personal world into your career plan from the beginning. Your clients need to understand that you too need a break and that although of vital importance, their nail or massage can wait while you go on holiday. Don’t be afraid to take a week out or put firm boundaries on your time.
For those taking on salon roles there is still flexibility and opportunities for both employed and self-employed roles. Employed salon roles give you immediate camaraderie in the work place with a guaranteed minimum income, holiday and other benefits. For many this is a valuable asset as lone working, even if successfully managed, can be an isolated place after a while, even though you are with clients all day, so your support networks become more important.
Nearest & Dearest
The support throughout your career will be from your partner, kids, parents, siblings, friends and even clients. You will call on them many times to pick up the kids, help fund purchases, cook dinner, do the school run and so much more to allow you to grow your skill and business. My kids were 7 and 4 when I started and so I had to juggle all that school stuff, being chair of the PTA, running my husband’s business with him (which I still do), attempting to be the home goddess and all that other stuff that goes into trying to be an entrepreneur, the perfect homemaker and mum.
I have been fortunate and my husband, although initially a little reluctant and sceptical, has become a staunch supporter of my career and has been there to help with the kids, financing my schemes when necessary and sometimes picking up the pieces when things haven’t worked out quite as I’d hoped. My kids too have always been supportive, and my daughter ended up being my assistant as I attended local school pamper events and later as our receptionist in the salon. She still supports me and is now my proof reader and checker of all things going public. She is working on nabuno too and helps with lots of behind the scenes areas as well as helping us develop our membership.
Although the health & beauty industry offers a relatively flexible career option, our need to buy more, do more and practice more can lead to problems with continued support from those around you and it may seem to your partner and family that your career comes at a heftier price tag than just the money. This can of course lead to problems in your relationships as you think your just focussing on moving forward whilst in reality your family and friends may see it differently.
Some areas of our industry, especially nails, can prove to be an addiction that those outside of our world rarely understand. The inability to avoid glitter or new colour collection purchases as a nail tech or the latest skincare developments as a beauty therapist, that last client, no lunch, Facebook forums, trade shows, nail friend chat is something unique to this industry. I worked in several different industries before this life and can honestly say I never witnessed anything like a possessed nail tech queueing for 2 hours for a new glitter or gel colour in any other world. Our driven need for that must have item rivals the Toys’R’Us queue when a new toy launches at Christmas. We are fed this by a social media stream and the FOMO culture make us rush after the latest fad.
One of the best ways you can gain support is through the never-ending world of industry forums. When I first trained there were few forums, but Nail Geek was the place to be. However, we now have Facebook where you can find a vast number of forums for everything you can imagine. There’s nothing like the support you get from like minded people. Find yourself an industry forum may a brand one or for a skill or area and you will always an ear to listen to concerns, troubleshoot with you or give advice. There’s always someone a step ahead of you and someone a step behind you and remember support goes both ways. Always pay it forward with respect. I still use forums for support and now buddy up with other salon owners to ask for and offer help & support.
Networking with other industry peers is a vital source of support and knowledge and you will find groups such as Salon Industry Networking Group hold live meetings around the UK and are always looking for new hosts to hold meetings. This can be a great way to meet other local therapists, stylists, nail techs or business associates and a great place to swap ideas and information.
Remember when starting out charge for your product and even if it’s a small amount to begin with charge for your time! It’s hard but necessary and is the best investment in your future growth.
You may be able to obtain funding for education via local further or private education providers, family help or, if necessary, bank loans etc. As you develop your skills you will need training, products, equipment and possible changes to your home environment and all of this comes at a cost. For me, I had the bank of hubbie and fortunately, my sister would buy nail products in return for nail services when I first trained. This enabled me to continue increasing my polish and nail art stocks without my partner having to keep funding it.
Another way to add to your skill training is to allocate say 10 or 20% of all your income to training. This pot can grow quickly and will give you the options for advancing your education.
We are all responsible for our own education and only we can decide the best route for our own futures. Make sure you read, learn and choose wisely in your career in the industry and if you find you’ve made an error in something don’t take it is as failure, think about why it didn’t work, what may work better and make that change.