How To Start a Hair Product Line While Still Running a Busy Hair Salon —A Step by Step Guide
As your salon business builds its reputation, your loyal clients might turn to you not just for services, but also products you use when you do their hair.
And that presents a great business opportunity for you to introduce your own hair product line, build on your work experience, and add another income stream of revenue to your hair business!
But starting a hair product line isn’t a low-hanging fruit and without a well-known brand name to back you up, you’ll find it challenging to compete against drug store brands and other salon products.
Plus a failed product line may lead to angry and dissatisfied clients, which in turn can jeopardise your brand’s reputation.
So how do you build your hair product line, without putting your business reputation on the line?
If you’re wondering how to start your own hair product line, you’ve come to the right place. In this post we’ve covered everything that you need to know about launching a hair product line from scratch.
Excited? Let’s get started.
- Step 1: Understand the pros & cons of starting a hair product line
- Step 2: Create a plan of action
- Step 3: Choose the hair products you’ll sell
- Step 4: Decide between getting a supplier or producing in-house
- Step 5: Receive the products & test them
- Step 6: Create your branding, website, and domain
- Step 7: Pricing your products & calculating expected income
- Step 8: Growing your hair product line with your salon
Step 1: Understand the pros & cons of starting a hair product line
Running a successful salon business is tough enough. But introducing a hair product line is even more challenging. That’s why it’s important to do the groundwork i.e know the pros and cons of launching a product line as the first and foremost step.
The pros and cons listed below will help you identify if investing in one is worthy enough.
- Work from home: You don’t need a physical store or office space to sell your hair product line. You don’t even need a warehouse to store your inventory (we’ll get to that later). You can put as much or as little time into your business as you like, depending on your life circumstances and your goals.
- Alternative income stream: If your salon is having to cancel appointments or can accommodate only a limited number of clients at any given time, a hair product line will keep the money flowing in.
- Low startup cost: You could spend as little as $2,500 for your initial batch of orders. If you’re going solo, you’ll also save on labor costs until your business grows enough to justify hiring someone to help you out.
- Lots of competition: Haircare is a very crowded space, so you need to identify a key market you want to focus on, get to know what people want, and deliver exactly what they demand.
- Reliance upon a supplier: Most hair care businesses don’t physically make their own products. Instead, they engage with a supplier to manufacture the product line according to their specifications. You’ll need to choose the right supplier as you will be reliant upon them.
- Time investment: Marketing a successful hair product line means you’ll have to put in a lot of work into promoting your products, providing great client service, and communicating with vendors and employees. But if you’re confident you can do it, you need to start planning ahead.
Seems like something you’d want to do? Let’s look at the next steps.
Step 2: Create a plan of action
Since you will be managing two projects – a salon and a hair product line – you will need to be deliberate and strategic about it. Take the time to learn how other brands have done it. In this section, we’ll look at the steps you need to take to get started.
First, you’ll need to look at the costs you will incur. This will depend on a number of factors. Here are some things you will have to budget for as you market a hair product line:
- Licenses and business formation: Depending on your location, you might need to register your product with the appropriate office (such as the FDA), then pay for the cost of business licensing and other applicable taxes.
- Payment processing: While your salon probably has a payment processing system of some sort, you will need a separate payment processing system for online transactions.
- Equipment: If you choose to manufacture your products in-house, you will need to pay for laboratory and factory equipment. In most instances, partnering with a supplier is a better bet.
- Payroll: While you might be able to handle launching the product line and processing the initial orders yourself, you may eventually need to hire someone to help you.
- Liability insurance: It’s always smart to have liability insurance in case a client files a complaint against your product. Costs range from $500 to around $2000 per year. In some locations, liability insurance is legally required.
- Website: Operating an online business is different from selling hair products out of your salon. If you want to look like a credible seller, you will need to get your own domain name. You should also create a new Gmail account specifically for this side of the business—one that’s separate from your current website.
- Inventory: Your supplier might require you to purchase a certain amount of product upfront. The initial inventory cost might be the key deciding factor that sways you towards a specific supplier.
How are you going to fund your new project? You could secure a loan from a bank, find an investor who believes in your product, ask friends and family for help, or go to Kickstarter for initial funding. You will need a compelling business model to get people to invest in your product, so a good unique selling proposition (USP) is very important. In other words, what makes your line different from all the other hair care products out there?
Step 3: Choose the hair products you’ll sell
Knowing which products you’ll sell is the next step. It might be tempting to say “everything!”, but I recommend starting small. Focus on just a few products that are highly in demand. Once the profits start rolling in, you can gradually expand your business.
The first step is knowing your target demographic. Different kinds of people have different kinds of hair, and you cannot appeal to everyone. You could start by observing the people who come into your salon. What treatments are they asking for most often? What demographic groups do they fall into?
You might wish to create a product line that will be useful to people with a specific kind of hair, such as curly, thin, or straight hair. You might choose to cater to a particular demographic, such as older women or college students on a budget. When you understand your target market, you can work out the kinds of products that would appeal to them.
Step 4: Decide between getting a supplier or producing in-house
Some companies produce their own hair products using their own equipment. However, this takes a lot of capital for equipment and research and development costs. It also requires a lot of specialist scientific knowledge that most people don’t have (or the budget to hire those who do!).
For a small business like you, it’s best to work with a supplier. This means that you partner with a manufacturer, give them your specifications, and they’ll produce the products for you. Your name and branding will be on the products. This is sometimes called a private label.
Many suppliers require you to order a certain amount of product upfront. If you find that the product doesn’t live up to your expectations, you might end up with a surplus of inventory that you won’t ever sell.
Therefore, do your research. Ask around for supplier referrals. The hair salon industry is a tightly-knit one, especially for small, independent salons, and fellow salon owners will be happy to share the suppliers they love. So don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s been in the business longer! You can also read online reviews, and ask for sample products before you make a decision.
Step 5: Receive the products & test them
Before you start marketing your products to paying clients, you’ll need to test them first. While some hair product brands spend thousands of dollars on testing, you don’t need to do that.
When you receive your sample products from your supplier, check whether they pass the sight and scent test. If something looks and smells different from what you expected, you might need to have a word with the supplier. If everything seems fine, it’s time to start testing!
Before you test it on other people, try it out yourself. After all, you wouldn’t sell something you wouldn’t use, right? If it leaves your hair dry or your scalp itchy, or it doesn’t lather and rinse very well, you might need your supplier to reformulate the product.
If it passes your quality control, it’s time to start asking your team members and loyal clients to try it out and give you their feedback. Make sure you test your product on different kinds of hair to see if they have the desired effect for your target audience.
Once you and your clients are satisfied with the performance of your product, it’s time to bring it to the market!
Step 6: Create your branding, website, and domain
A huge part of starting your own hair product line is learning how to promote it. It’s likely that many of your sales will come from online clients. You will need to pick the right brand name, build your website, choose your domain name, and do SEO on your site to make it easily searchable—something that you’ve most likely been doing for your hair salon business too.
First, you need to think of a catchy name for your hair product line. If you’ve already given your salon a name, you could use that. Otherwise, here are some pointers to help you:
- Avoid names that are hard to spell.
- Do a quick Google search for a potential brand name. If your brand name is taken or sounds like another company, choose something else.
- Try to avoid anything that boxes you into just one niche, in case you decide to branch out later
Make a shortlist of possible names, and do some market research to see what your prospective clients think. Once you’ve chosen a name, grab the domain name straight away. Register the handles on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, too.
You can build an ecommerce website using Shopify or an alternative platform. However, if you choose to use WooCommerce instead, you’ll need to have a WordPress website. For that, you’ll need to get WordPress hosting from a reliable hosting provider and then install WooCommerce on it. You will also need images of your product packaging, marketing copy for your product pages, and a short introduction to your salon and hair product line. In fact, with a recent boom in e-commerce social selling has become key too. Test out platforms like Facebook Shops or sell via Instagram.
You might also wish to create a newsletter where subscribers can receive hair care tips, special offers, and the latest updates from your business. Use a landing page builder to create a great looking landing page where website visitors can subscribe to your newsletter.
Finally, you’ll need to work on the SEO for your ecommerce website. SEO is a long game and cannot be accomplished overnight. Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Create a blog within your site and post regularly, using relevant keywords
- Add alt text to your images, describing their content, and using your chosen keywords.
- Use a plugin like Yoast SEO to help you
Pro tip: people love to support local businesses. When you choose your keywords and start writing SEO-optimized content for your site, don’t forget to target local keywords. client reviews are also hugely helpful for local SEO.
Step 7: Pricing your products & calculating expected income
One of the most critical tasks you have to do as you start your own hair product line is deciding how much your products will cost. Both overpricing and underpricing your product could have serious negative effects on your business.
If you overprice your product, your clients may not see it as good value. On the other hand, charging too little might lead to clients viewing it as cheap and therefore of lower quality. Both options can be damaging to your reputation and bottom line.
When you price your products, you need to understand your target clients. You’ll need to know their age, buying habits, location, and sensitivity to price. An affluent middle-aged person is likely to be willing to spend more on hair care than a broke college student.
You will also need to identify the costs you incur as you produce and market your product, ensuring you keep a healthy profit margin. You also need to understand your revenue goals by calculating your break-even cost and estimated sales for the first few months. These factors together will help you identify your pricing sweet spot.
You can see if your pricing is competitive by comparing your product line with your competitors’ similar products. How much do they charge? If your price point is very different, you might need to reassess.
Step 8: Growing your hair product line with your salon
Your salon clients make the best target market for your hair product line since you already know what they want and look for in their hair care. If you already own a salon, your stylists will play a crucial role in educating your clients about your products and their benefits. For example, they can use your shampoo to wash clients’ hair, allowing the client to see how high quality it is.
Your professional stylists are well-positioned to promote your brand because they know their clients’ needs intimately. They will be able to make customized recommendations, leading to loyal clients who keep coming back again and again.
Along with nurturing relationships with your salon clients, you can also build a community online. The simplest way of building an online community is creating an exclusive Facebook group. You can post hair care tips, encourage discussions between members, featuring some of your most loyal clients looking stunning after visiting your salon, and run surveys and market research to inform future product launches and marketing campaigns.
As your clients get to know more about their hair and what it needs to stay healthy, you have the opportunity to introduce more products and build your influence in the market.
Starting a hair product line along with your salon allows you to expand your business beyond the local market and gives you an additional source of revenue.
When you run both a salon and a hair product line, you need to make sure you can dedicate sufficient time and energy to both (or else hire someone to help you). While a hair product line is an exciting opportunity, you will need to ensure it is financially viable and that you have a strong USP. You will also need to find the right supplier for your products, assuming you don’t intend to physically make them in-house.
Before you bring your products to the market, you should understand your target audience and competition. This will allow you to design, promote, and price your products accordingly. Finally, you can use your salon as your primary promotional tool and educate your stylists on how your products can meet your clients’ hair care needs.
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