How to Establish a Home Salon


If you read my article on the pros and cons of running a salon from your home and have decided to go all the way, this article is your next step. A few things need to be done before you can even start taking clients, and I’m not talking about painting and decorating.

1.) Know your state cosmetology regulations.
Some cosmetology boards absolutely forbid home salons. Those that do allow them tend to regulate them just as strictly as they do standard salons. Know what your state requires for a home salon and ask yourself whether you’re capable of ensuring compliance. You will likely be required to make major, permanent changes to your home.

If you’re going to do it, do it right.

2.) Know your restrictions and requirements.
Most areas require your property to be zoned correctly before you can start running a business from it. A lot of deed-restricted neighborhoods will not allow people to work in their residences. You need to make sure that you don’t have to get any kind of clearance from your home owner’s association or your county.

Additionally, you will likely require:

  • an occupational license (a professional license to perform beauty services),
  • an occupancy license (a license to perform beauty services in a particular location–in this instance, your home),
  • a business license (if you plan on using a trade name), and
  • professional liability insurance (a MUST, no matter your situation).

Be sure to contact your home insurance company to learn about whether or not you’ll need to make policy changes, as some home insurance companies will cancel policies entirely upon discovering an undisclosed business.

3.) Plan ahead to avoid making expensive mistakes.
If your state board and your county will allow you to have a home salon, your next step is to plan before you apply for construction permits.

Visit the building commissioner’s office.

Your city or state building requirements may not be reflected in your state board facility requirements. For instance, the Florida state board doesn’t require ventilation for nail salons in our facility requirements, but our state does–in the form of an extremely costly source capture system that ventilates to the exterior.

Trust me, that is not something you want to learn after you’ve set your plans into motion.

Meet with a building authority in your area and ask what the requirements are. You will very likely require building permits to get your home facility in line with the state board standards, and guess what? The building inspector won’t approve your permits if they aren’t compliant with state and/or city building codes.

Once you’ve learned your requirements, measure out your furniture and equipment and plan for placement before you purchase anything or begin construction on anything. Serious thought needs to be put into how your space is designed to maximize your square footage.

4.) Have money set aside for several months of advertising.
If you’re not fully booked, you will definitely need to put aside advertising money. Unless your home is located in one of those quaint areas that are zoned for both commercial and residential with a bit of exposure, it’s unlikely that someone is just going to walk up to your door looking for beauty services. Build a website, put ads in neighborhood newspapers, and think about whether or not Facebook advertising will be effective in bringing in new clients to your home business.

5.) Get a sign.
If your city and neighborhood allow it, get a nice sign. It should be situated close to the road, large enough to see clearly from 100 feet away, and be written in a font that’s easily readable. (Nobody is going to be able to read “Jennifer’s Nail Salon” if it’s written in Wingdings.)

The rest of the setup (products, furniture, paint colors, business card designs, and brochures) are all up to you. As long as you understand what you’re getting into and you’ve got clearance from your county, permission from your cosmetology board, some signage, and some advertising money, you really can’t go wrong.

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Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of the book The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and the blog This Ugly Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.


  1. Also, you need to make sure you don’t need a permit through your city. Some cities do not allow signage that is on the outside of your home. I would hate to see someone go through the hoops of setting up at home only to get shut down by the city because a neighbor complained because of clients and parking. It happens!


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