Business Overview

A personal stylist helps to perfect the image of a client. The services of a stylist may be required before a major event or even be incorporated into daily life for certain clients. The role of a personal stylist includes handling hair, makeup, fashion, and anything else related to the image of a client. This business is a vital part of any community as it helps individuals achieve success in an increasingly image-conscious world.

Who is this business right for?

This business is ideal for someone who has personal and/or professional experience in categories such as fashion, hair care, and makeup. It is also good for those who are already part of a network that may include actors, broadcasters, and anyone else who regularly requires personal styling before media appearances. Finally, it's a good job for a “people person,” as you may spend extensive amounts of time with very different kinds of clients.

What happens during a typical day at a Personal Styling Business?

Your exact daily activities may vary based on the changing needs of diverse clients. Generally, however, you will meet with clients for an initial consultation, agree on a particular look and style, and then facilitate the client's style makeover. To this end, you may need to shop for clothes, makeup, and other supplies, and then help the client with everything from makeup application to fashion coordination in order to perfect their look.

What is the target market?

While many people will want your services, the chief market is young professionals. These are up-and-coming people for whom image may be a deciding factor in both their professional and romantic aspirations.

How does a Personal Styling Business make money?

You will ultimately decide whether you wish to bill clients by the hour or to bill them by session.

What is the growth potential for a Personal Styling Business?

The growth potential of this business is decent, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimating that the related fields of hairdressing and cosmetology are expected to grow by ten percent between 2014 and 2024. This also gives you a kind of marketing edge as well, as you can point out to prospective clients that a visit from you is like a visit from three different specialists rolled into one.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful Personal Styling Business?

As mentioned before, any previous personal or professional experience in the fields related to a personal styling business are very beneficial. This includes any formal educational experience in these categories as well. Finally, being part of a network that includes cosmetic stores and related businesses can help provide an opportunity for cross-promotion and brand awareness early on.

What are the costs involved in opening a Personal Styling Business?

Perhaps the most attractive thing about opening such a business is that it costs so little. Many personal stylists meet their clients at the clients' home or business, so you do not need to pay for any expensive overhead. Ultimately, you can start this business for around $3,000. Of that, $500 should go towards a professional website, $2,000 should go towards local advertising (via newspapers, radio stations, etc.), and $500 should go towards online advertisement. The biggest early obstacle is to get your name out there, which is why most of the initial money is going towards advertisement.

What are the steps to start a Personal Styling Business?

Once you're ready to start your Personal Styling Business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your Personal Styling Business is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your Personal Styling Business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  5. Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
  6. Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
  7. Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
  8. Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
  9. Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I find a business mentor?

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Recommended: offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

What are some insider tips for jump starting a Personal Styling Business?

If possible, practice your personal styling skills on friends and family before starting your own business. Try to get consent from some early clients to create very striking “before/after” images that you can advertise with to show how you can transform someone's image. Consider building relationships with things like local clothing and makeup stores so that they promote your business and you steer clients towards those businesses.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a Personal Styling Business

As mentioned before, it's worth spending money on radio and newspaper advertisements to help build a community reputation, but much of your advertising will be online. You should advertise extensively through your website and create various social media pages: these forms of advertisement are cheap and free, respectively, and you can supplement these activities through paid online advertisements. Ultimately, the product you are selling is image-based, so online advertising is ideal because it lets you show off your skills with makeup, hair, and fashion makeovers.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

In addition to the advertising methods outlined above, you should consider doing some initial consultations for free (or at a reduced rate). This will create grateful early customers who effectively become your brand ambassadors. You may also consider some traditional sales techniques such as offering discounts or even free sessions after someone has purchased enough sessions. Fortunately, retention is built into the business: someone who loves the look you give them will typically be eager to come back for more.

How and when to build a team

The nature of this business means you are likely to keep doing it solo: the appearance of having a personal stylist is a large part of your brand and appeal. However, if you become successful enough (and busy enough), you may consider hiring other stylists to work under your banner.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a personal stylist business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Services Contract

Personal stylist businesses should require clients to sign a services agreement before starting a new project. This agreement should clarify client expectations and minimize risk of legal disputes by setting out payment terms and conditions, service level expectations, and intellectual property ownership. Here is an example of one such services agreement.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

How much you charge depends on your experience, the client's needs, and your business model. If you charge hourly rates, you'll likely start out charging $20 to $50 an hour or $150 to $200 or so for a session (which may last most of a day). As you grow in experience, you may consider raising your rates (it's not unreasonable for a professional stylist to charge over $100 per hour and $1,000 or more a day), but you should also keep the local economy in mind: you don't want to price yourself out of business.

What are the ongoing expenses for a Personal Styling Business?

A key factor of this business is that there are almost no ongoing expenses. For instance, you will spend about $100 a year maintaining your website, and you will pay varying amounts driving around and meeting clients. Similarly, you will pay varying amounts for any makeup or hair care products you need for a particular client's needs. However, you will typically either charge the client for those costs or adjust your prices to reflect those costs, so these do not cut into your bottom line.

How much profit can a Personal Styling Business make?

It's difficult to assess how much profit you can make, as there are unknown factors such as how many clients you will have and what you will be charging them. Someone charging $50 per hour who manages to work thirty hours per week, for instance, can easily make $78,000, and the lack of significant overhead means that the majority of this is profit. You can also supplement your business by advertising services such as personal shopping and even creating a blog about your experience in which things like referral links help drive your profits.

How can you make your business more profitable?

As mentioned above, you can become more profitable by embracing side business opportunities that range from personal shopping to blogging. You can (and should) raise your rates as time goes on and your experience grows. Finally, you should consider expanding the area you serve: someone who is willing to service several cities in the area will inevitably build more clients than someone serving only one city.

Next Steps

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