How Much Does it Cost to Open a Nail Salon

Being a nail art professional can be a very rewarding line of business: it’s diverse, it’s challenging and you’ll probably never run out of clients. People love having perfect nails that look better than what they can make them look at home, and you have the means to make that happen by providing manicures, pedicures and various other nail treatments. If you open a nail a salon, of course. 

Opening a nail salon can be a great idea, but if you’ve never run a business before, there’s a good chance you have no idea how to get started. Well, first and foremost, you need to know how much money does it take to open your very own salon. To help you get acquainted with all the expectable investments and expenses, we have assembled this little article on the costs of a typical nail salon. 

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Location and Rent

In truth, the first step to open a nail salon is obtaining proper certification, as well as different licences and permits (beautician licence, business licence, health and safety compliance permits, seller’s permit), but the cost of these varies all over the map depending on specialization, state and city of operation.

 

After you’ve got those covered, it’s time to think about the spot. There are two main options to consider here: working at home or in the city. 

 

  • At Home
    • The obvious advantage of working at home is that you don’t have to pay for the actual physical space of your activity. It’s free, so to speak. 
    • You still have to purchase all the necessary equipment, appliances, tools and furniture, because let’s face it, you can’t do your clients’ nails sitting by the kitchen table. You need to create a professional atmosphere, where they feel in good hands.
    • A possible disadvantage of setting up your salon at home is that it might make building a steady client base a bit harder than out in the hustle and bustle of the city. Also, you won’t be able to charge as much as you would in a conventional salon. 

 

  • In the City
    • The cost you’ll have to pay in the city also depends on the location you choose: a less busy street in the suburbs or one with high foot traffic and ample parking space.
    • A good nail salon is at least 1,000 square feet which can cost anywhere between $80 to $130 per square feet (that makes it a total of $80,000 to $130,000 for 1,000 square feet) if you’re building your salon from the ground.
    • You can save some money on the build-out by choosing a location where the previous tenant operated a salon as well.
    • Know that you will have to pay rent for a few months before you open a salon – unless you’ve purchased the place, but even in that case, you might have mortgage payments ahead of you.

Equipment and Furniture

Once you’ve set up the dream spot for your salon, the next thing that you’ll have to think about in terms of cost is the equipment and furniture required to operate as a nail artist. 

If you inherited a fortune, you can go buy all new equipment, but if you aren’t exactly loaded, purchasing used equipment from previous salon owners for a significantly cheaper price is always an option. Here’s a breakdown of all the things you’ll need with prices.

 

  • manicure station – $200–$300 (standard model)
  • technician chair – $100–$200
  • customer chair – $150–$500 (depending on comfort level)
  • pedicure chair – $1,000 (lower-end) / $10,000 (luxury)
  • electric nail drill/polisher –$1,200 
  • drying lamps – $50–$100
  • equipment sanitizers – $50–$100
  • nail polish displays – $50–$1000 (depending on size and quality)
  • nail salon trolley – $50–$300
  • magnifying light – $50–$800 (depending on quality)
  • nail dust collector – $30 (lower end) / $1500 (high-end)
  • initial supplies (specialty polishes, brushes, sanitizers, scissors, nail files, nail powders, towels, toiletries, etc.) – up to $20,000

 

We haven’t included the prices for additional items like chairs, coffee tables and coat-hangers for the waiting area, because the price of these ultimately depends on your taste.

Close-up of beautician painting a woman's nails with a brush in

Marketing

Once your nail salon is done and ready to roll, you’ll need to show off it off and market your services in order to drum up a clientele. There are a number of free marketing options you can take such as word of mouth, social media presence, loyalty and referral cards, etc. 

But regarding that this article is about the COSTS of opening a salon, let’s move onto the paid options. 

  • Launch Event
    • A launch party or a grand opening is a pretty good way to let people know that you exist and it can also be the celebration of starting your business.
    • Invite friends, suppliers, your local media, local trendsetters and of course, your potential clients. 
    • There are food and booze at every considerable launch event, as well as bartender service. You’ll be expected to give out gift bags too: these should include a gift certificate (or more) for services a business card and other stationery products that you may have. 
    • All that isn’t cheap. A memorable party can smoothly cost $2000. To reduce your expenses, you can ask your caterer for a discount in exchange for putting their marketing materials in your gift bags.
  • Online Promotion
    • An online presence is essential for all businesses out there. You need to have a professional website and at least two social media business pages (surprise: those are Facebook and Instagram!) to be able to share relevant information, show off the beautiful nail art you make and attract as many clients into your salon as you can take.
    • However, to reach your target audience, you may also consider taking advantage of online advertising opportunities too. 

We advise you to try Google Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads since these are the most widely used ad tools, though using them will take a bit of financial and time investment from your part. 

Google Ads cost about  $1–3 per click, which is considered pricey, but it might be worth it because Google takes your ads to people who are already half-committed to book services like yours. Facebook and IG ads are considerably cheaper, it can get as low as a few cents per click.

Facebook ads

Salon Staff

As the owner of a nail salon, you can work solo or as part of a team. Doing everything by yourself from reception to administrative tasks can be overwhelming, and the chance of burning out gets higher and higher as your business grows. 

On the other hand, hiring staff represents the major costs in the long run. It’s also an option to try to get on your own in the first few years until the business gets a little stronger and then, when you already have a solid income, you can afford to hire colleagues.

 

A licenced nail technician‘s salary ranges between $22,000 to $43,000 per year, a salon manager normally earns $21,000–$47,000 per year and if you choose to hire one, reception staff may cost you $17,000–$29,000 on a yearly basis. 

The annual salary structure has the obvious drawback for all the nail technicians you hired that they won’t be getting compensated for the additional work they do outside business hours.

A possible solution for that is introducing a commission-based pay structure. This means you don’t offer a base pay to your employee, instead, you give them a commission rate on the clients they bring in after you open a nail salon. 

Commission-based payment compensates your technician based on a percentage of the salon profit per service. Commission rates generally go from 30% up to 50%.

 

nail salon

Opening and running a nail salon is everything but cheap, as you can see. But if you are determined, you have a great business plan and some financial resources, we say have a go at it! Just you see, you will find much joy in this profession.