Hair braiding is a mix of art, skill, and love. Exceptional patience it requires can be born only from the great appreciation of this specific hairstyle. Its roots are deeply set in tradition and its future is in transforming the world of hairstyling. Its present, however, is turbulent. Hair braiding is currently fighting a battle for recognition in licensing sense and uniform regulations across the world. However, starting a braiding shop is not impossible.
If hair braiding is your dream job, learn what starting a braiding business requires in time. And then make it happen.
Steps between you and your braiding shop
Identifying everything that stands between you and your braiding business is the first step toward making hair braiding your profession.
To start, ask yourself five important questions:
- Where do you wish to work from? The good thing about hair braiding is that it allows you to either work from home, from a beauty salon, or as a mobile hair braider.
- Do you have the necessary licenses? If you are not certain, check with your state authorities as rules and regulations affecting licensing for hair braiders vary from country to country.
- Do you have a portfolio showcasing the styles you offer? Customers would expect to see your portfolio partly to learn which styles are currently trending and partly to estimate your level of expertise.
- Have you thought about your marketing strategy? Regardless of where you work, you need to advertise your braiding shop. Think about the best way to reach potential clients in your locale.
- Which braiding techniques do you wish to offer? You already know there are many types and styles, so the real question is: who is your target customer?
However, making hair braiding your calling requires much more than merely obtaining a work permit.
What does it take to become a hair braider?
Most likely, you are already imagining a typical day at your braiding shop.
You tidy everything up before you open, check your daily schedule, work on your clients’ braids, and update your social media with new photos.
Before that dream comes true, you need to invest in your training, materials, practice, portfolio, license, and place to work from.
Training is the foundation
Learning how to work with strands of hair, especially unique African hair texture is at the basis of braiding training.
Once you learn and understand the hair you are working with, moves you need to apply, and tools you have to use, you can proceed to practice.
In essence, you will gain knowledge through training, confidence through practice, and true skill after years of dedicated work. It isn’t as difficult as learning to engineer or figuring out how to bid small construction jobs.
It shouldn’t scare you, though. It is time well spent.
An important note to all aspiring hair braiders: you need a formal education degree to start your braiding shop.
The good news is that there are many cosmetology schools you can choose from.
While most braiders learned their craft from their family members or other experienced braiders, it isn’t enough to start a business.
True, some countries do not require licensure but they do have strict regulations on starting and owning a shop.
Also, some states require a braider to pass several exams before they can obtain their license or permit.
Running your braiding shop from home is not the same as owning a salon but is a good start
This is something you can do to build wealth as a single mom as it allows you to choose where and when you work.
Only if you operate as a mobile braider you won’t need to invest in your workspace.
Whether you choose to offer braiding service at home or rent a brick-and-mortar salon, make sure it looks professional and complies with hygienic and other regulations.
A middle ground, investment-wise, is renting a braiding booth at the local beauty salon.
The rent will differ depending on the salon’s reputation, its location, and target clientele.
The materials you will use for braiding are affordable
It is one of the many advantages we will speak of.
Investing in materials begins with mannequins and includes tools such as combs and brushes, crochet needles, clips, and scissors.
Later, braiding supplies will extend to decorations and extensions.
The best part of owning and working with training heads (mannequins) is that they resemble the real customer in all important details.
Also, they will endure long hours while you build your confidence and improve your braiding skill, without complaint.
The practice is key to establishing yourself as an expert
… in every niche.
The hair braiding business is not different.
As a necessary addition during and after your education and training, practice will slowly differentiate you from other braiders.
The more of your time and effort you invest, the better and faster you will work.
Once you get good enough working on training heads, start practising on live models.
You can either offer to braid at a lower price or practice on your family members and friends.
This is an important step as working with people provides feedback that is vital for your improvement, including your soft skills.
Over time, you will begin to discover how different braid types suit different face shapes and how your clients react to your braid designs.
A hair braiding portfolio is something you should constantly update as you improve
However, you need to start with something.
Taking pictures of your work means either asking your friends to pose for you or offer free service in exchange for photos.
Having a professional-looking portfolio makes a difference so hire a photographer who will present your work in the best light.
Photos from the back of the head and profile are the most important, so make a pattern and stick to it during every photo shoot.
Obtain a license for running a hair braiding shop if your country regulations require it
Licensing laws and regulations differ from country to country and finding the ones you need would likely give you a headache.
Bear in mind that some countries ask for additional tests and impose fees following your application for the license.
How to set up your braiding shop?
Once you feel ready to start working on your own, revisit the steps needed to start a braiding shop and make some important decisions:
- Decide how you will operate, as a mobile braider, from your home, or a brick-and-mortar salon.
- Decide on your legal status because it makes a difference.
- Pick your favourite braiding hair techniques you will specialize in and offer first.
- Choose your target clientele (kids, women, men) and focus on their specific needs and requirements.
- Determine your working hours but bear in mind when your target customers are available.
- Decide on the marketing strategy that will best suit your braiding business.
How to monetize hair braiding?
Starting a braiding shop is one thing, but making money from it is another matter.
Braiding skills are not the only skills you will need to succeed in this line of work.
Invest your time, effort, and money in marketing and you will get a powerful ally.
A good promotion method is only a part of your marketing strategy.
If you create a well-thought-out strategy, marketing will bring you a steady flow of customers and an opportunity to raise your prices over time.
As you already have a portfolio, focus on your online presence.
Build a website and create professional profiles on social networks, including YouTube.
Creating your channel will not only turn your followers into customers but also provide some passive income.
If you’re not familiar with SEO or you don’t have time to regularly maintain your profiles on social networks or your website, hire a professional to handle it for you.
Stay ahead of the competition through constant improvements
And it doesn’t imply only perfecting your skill with cornrows or extensions.
It is important to get more and more creative over time, as your confidence in your expertise grows.
Try to rise above the average by dedicating your free time to practice and experiments.
Only the most imaginative braiding artists get to be called trendsetters.
Find inspiration in other braiders’ craft, working with customers with different hair types, or studying international braiding techniques.
Do your best to create and maintain lasting relationships with your clients
Don’t get lax and stay in touch with your clients even after they leave your braiding shop with a smile.
Check up on them from time to time and offer free advice on braid maintenance, discounts or simply ask for feedback.
Most satisfied customers return to the braiding shop responsible for their great hairstyle after being praised by their friends and family.
Hence, word of mouth is a promotion method you should not underestimate.
Finally, focus your attention on every single client and their specific requirements.
Listening to them will provide great insight into their expectations.
Next to your braiding and styling skills, excellent people skills will make you and your braiding shop stand out.