WOMEN who get lash extensions - is this a good business idea?
August 23, 2012 11:59 AM   Subscribe

FOR WOMEN WHO GET EYELASH EXTENSIONS: Is this a good business idea (i.e. - would you buy this service?)

I am a lover of individual eyelash extensions despite how costly they are. Since getting them I have never been extension free b/c I feel naked without them. I get touchups religiously to maintain them but have issues getting appointments right when i need them b/c the spa i go to only has 1 lash person. so if I need them right before a big date and the person i want is booked i'm sol. This got me to thinking that other women probably feel the same way so I wanted to start a members service that would reward users with affordable lashes from the comfort of their homes.

I figure it could work like this:

(1) you sign up to become a member, monthly fees are deducted from your account (totaling the cost of 2 sessions at a discount) and you can schedule 2 appointments per month anytime for someone to come and do your lashes for you in your home (like a mobile spa)


(2) You sign up to become a member which requires you to pay upfront for a package (4 sessions, 8 sessions, etc.) thereby getting a discount. You schedule your appt anytime within a given time period (e.g. 4 sessions you have 2 months to use) and someone will come to your house and do them for you.

My question is, would you (lover of eyelash extensions) be interested in a service like this? Would you want to get lash extensions in your home or would you rather go to a salon? Also, what issues do you foresee me having? i.e. - is this actually a need in the market I would be filling?
posted by soooo to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Primary problem: there is a lot of licensing involving WHO can provide various beauty services, and WHERE they can provide them. So I suspect you'd run into more regulatory hassles than a normal beauty salon would. Also: a lot of women view time in the salon as a welcome escape from everyday life... a time when they can escape irate bosses and screaming kids grinding Cheerios into the carpet and just RELAX and be selfish. I'd personally feel MORE stressed inviting someone into my home (I'd have to make sure it was clean, and keep the kids occupied, etc). This is all just my opinion, though.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:09 PM on August 23, 2012 [6 favorites]

I'm a guy and know nothing of eyelash extensions, but...

Having someone drive to people's homes to do this may be more expensive than doing it in a salon, because there's driving time and vehicle expenses involved, setup and cleanup time, and the beautician will often have to work in inconvenient circumstances.

You haven't solved the problem of there being a shortage of appropriate lash servicers available on short notice. In fact, because each customer will demand more of the beautician's time, you'll need more beauticians to serve a given number of clients, and those beauticians would have to be virtually on call in order to help you at the last minute.

So this sounds like an extremely expensive specialty service for which there might exist a small market if you've got a sufficient affluent population. It definitely doesn't sound "affordable."
posted by jon1270 at 12:14 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

How much capital do you have/do you think you can get? There's a lot of up-front costs you need to take care of before you can even start taking clients.

Do you have a cosmetology license? I don't know where you are, but New York State, for instance, has some pretty major hoops to jump through to get one. You'd then have to find out whether there's a separate permit for you to be allowed to do this in people's homes, as opposed to salons that are inspected by the Health Department. To do this right, you'll probably need to hire a lawyer or business consultant who obviously has their own fee.
posted by griphus at 12:22 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is not a small market; it's a huge market. It's called Mobile Beauty Therapy. Lash extensions are one service offered by my therapist, with whom I have a standing appointment every two weeks.

Oh wait, DO I FUCK, because every mobile beauty therapist in my city is booked solid and nobody is taking new clients. I don't know that you could float a business with lash extensions on their own, but home beauty services is a huge growth industry.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:22 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

That would certainly not be legal where I live (Massachusetts). Seconding julthumbscrew's suggestion to start by researching the regulatory environment.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:22 PM on August 23, 2012

I personally am a big fan of having stuff done for me as conveniently as possible, and am willing to spend money to get what I want. I don't do lash extensions, but I do waxing and pedicures, and if I wanted someone to come to my home and do this (which would be extremely odd to me and I doubt I would ever want this unless I was in some way medically unable to leave the house), I would call up the place I normally go and ask them to send someone to my house. I would expect to pay approximately 3-4x the normal amount for this service. I would definitely not want to sign up for a package/subscribe to a service like this from an untried provider at such a cost.

If this was something you wanted to do as the middleman for various salons already providing this service to a clientele that could afford to treat themselves to this kind of service, that could be a viable idea, I guess? Where would you be sourcing these technicians? What kind of liability insurance would you be carrying to cover the services provided by these technicians?
posted by elizardbits at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2012

Piggybacking on jon1270's answer, I believe there are at least a couple of salons dedicated to this in Austin. All lash extensions, all the time.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:23 PM on August 23, 2012

You might also consider the growing market for beauty services provided in the workplace a la Manicube.
posted by telegraph at 12:29 PM on August 23, 2012

I have a relative who runs a business almost identical to what you're proposing. It does fine, but is not particularly lucrative. It also requires extensive licensing in her state, as I understand it.
posted by The World Famous at 12:30 PM on August 23, 2012

My eyes are already quite hairy, so I have no use for eyelash extensions specifically. But for salon services I would get and have gotten - hairstyling, makeup application, facials, etc. - I'd rather go to the salon. At the salon, I can tell the equipment's clean, the seats are usually comfortable, and there might be some tea for me while I wait. At home, I'd have to tidy up, and the cat might decide to play Pounce on the Stylist while she's half an inch from my eyes. But stylists who make house calls exist, so there is certainly some market.

I share elizardbits' hesitation to sign up for any sort of package/membership service from an untried provider. If you offered single appointments in addition to package deals, I'd be much more willing to try.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:39 PM on August 23, 2012

I've really been giving your question a lot of thought, as I am also pretty much addicted to my lash extensions and have a hard time getting in to my providers fairly tight schedule.
So I do encounter the problem you are trying to solve with your business idea.
On the one hand, my provider does not work out of a spa, she works out of her home. Her home is best described as "chaotic" so for me, I don't chose this provider based on the relaxing spa get away , I choose her because she is by far the best Ive ever encountered at the only thing she does: lash extensions. She works so quickly that an hour fill with her is like one and a half hours with someone else and it becomes more affordable. I don't view it as a relaxing time, I view it as what I need to do to get the result I love.
So I like the idea of the appointment flexibility you describe, and Id have no problem paying in advance for 3 or 4 appts for a discount, or a monthly "retainer" for a couple visits. The one thing I wouldn't go for is the coming to my house part. I could never relax. Between my barking dog and my kids probably not leaving me alone or possibly fighting in the next room ( pre teen boys) I think I would just feel more stressed out than even my provider's house. So for me, I would pay for a block of appts, or a monthly fee if I trusted the provider to do really great work, and I wouldn't need a spa environment, but I wouldn't go for it being at my own home.
posted by Rapunzel1111 at 12:39 PM on August 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Would be interesting to see this done out of a small, appropriately supplied and decorated RV. Drive up, park outside the clients home, and invite them to step into an hour of relaxation! (Ok, now I kind of want this for all kinds of spa services!) But yeah, regulations would definitely be an issue.
posted by platinum at 5:18 PM on August 23, 2012

Yes I would (and do) use a mobile eyelash service; yes I would sign up to a 'club' which gave me standing appointments and a discount. If you offered me these things AND I got a slot that worked for me and wasn't, say, 2pm on a Wednesday, I'd think someone had handed me a magical unicorn.

I think it would be a logistical nightmare for you, though, and don't think it fulfills your initial premise, when you stated that you can't get an appointment that suits you at the salon, because there's only one woman doing lashes.

In your business model, there's still only one woman doing lashes (you) and you actually lose availability vs the woman in the salon, because you're travelling all over to people's houses. So people aren't getting any more responsive a service than they are at the salon. All they're getting is a cheaper one. And those two things might cancel each other out:

Say you can do two clients a day. That means over a month you could do sixty sets of lashes. You've 'sold' all sixty slots by signing thirty people up to your twice-a-month deal; but they all want you to come on Saturday and Sunday. So you can fulfill eight slots, which is four of your thirty clients. The other twenty-six have paid for a service they can't use. They're annoyed and want their money back. What happens then?

I think you could make this work, but you'd need to charge a higher price than the salon (because of the added convenience of somone coming to your house); and definitely a higher price if you were guaranteeing a certain number of convenient slots in a month, as the cost of that to you is likely to be extensive ie you would need to hire on staff etc.
posted by citands at 6:24 AM on August 24, 2012

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