How I Became My Own Boss
Isn’t it everyone’s dream to one day work for yourself? Doesn’t it sound amazing to answer to no one, but you? Well, let me tell you how that dream became my reality.
I graduated from beauty school in August 2010. I took a 10-month local course and tuition was around $9,000 and some change. Let’s say… $10,000 ish. This course covered everything from natural manicures, pedicures, full body waxing, lash/brow tinting, lash perming (which is pretty much unheard of now), and gel and acrylic nail enhancements. I always prefer to say nail “enhancement” because “fake” nails just sounds so harsh. Like when people ask, “Are your lashes fake?” something about it just rubs me the wrong way. I prefer to say lash “extensions” or even “false” lashes sounds better. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there, just thought I’d touch on that lol. Oh, and my lashes are my own for those of you who send me questions on that. Luckily, I have a decent set of lashes so mascara is enough to give my lashes the look that I want. The odd time I’ll throw on some (say it with me now), false lashes for a special occasion. Okay, I’m getting distracted. Let’s get back to the topic at hand.
Another thing you should know before I get into it is I come from a family of estheticians. My mother, sister, and my aunt (who I work with) had all been estheticians before I decided to enroll in school. With that being said, I grew up watching my mom give a thousand manicures and pedicures, and I was my sister’s guinea pig when she was in esthetics school (which was the same school I later attended). It would be safe to say that esthetics is just in my blood.
My aunt (the one I mentioned earlier) found this awesome location to move her then home based business into. This new location had two rooms, a bathroom, a front desk area, and a little storage space that could double as a mini kitchen. It definitely needed some TLC so my aunt put some work into it to make it look a bit more feminine and pleasing to the eye. A few weeks before I graduated, she approached me and asked if I’d like to apprentice under her and she could show me the ropes of the real world. At this point she had been an esthetician for 10 years, so I was so fortunate that this opportunity was presented to me. Now, you may ask, “Why didn’t your mom or sister teach you?” I’ll tell you why. My sister was already working full time somewhere else and there was absolutely no room for a second esthetician and my mother had built an addition to my parents house to work from home, so there was also no room for me there. Another note, my aunt is uhhh-mazing at doing a set of gel nails and this was something that I needed to work on. Even though we learned how to do gel and acrylic nails in school, it just wasn’t enough practice.
So after I graduated, I started to spend my days at this new salon with my aunt. I would watch her do nails all day and she would teach me different things that weren’t necessarily taught in school. Sometimes tips and tricks are picked up only when you start to work in the industry, and these tips are helpful to say the least. As the days turned into weeks, my aunt had me slowly do her clients nails. I would do one hand and she would do the other hand. She would watch me work and correct the things I wasn’t doing properly. This went on for weeks and I was shocked at how much extra information I was learning. I slowly started to find my own method of working, even down to the smallest thing like holding a nail file. It’s almost like learning to hold a pencil all over again and when it comes to nails, there’s a lot of filing done. Another thing I had to learn was to use an electric drill. We weren’t taught how to use drills in school so this was very different for me. Once I got my own technique down and practiced, practiced, practiced, I slowly started to feel more comfortable and confident in creating a beautiful set of nails (or whatever service I was doing). I keep saying nails, because that’s mainly what I do. Slowly, my clientele started to grow. One person turned into two, two turned into three, and these people became repeat clients.
I can remember doing my first client by myself without the help of my aunt. An emergency had come up and she left work abruptly and I was left to work on the client that had just come in for her appointment. Oh shit, here we go. I was trying to remember all the steps so I didn’t screw up. Almost an hour later my aunt comes back and I’m still working away. She walked into the room and she took one look at the nails I was doing and said, “No. We have to remove these and do them all over again.” Oh my god, I totally bombed. I was so nervous the entire time I was working on that client and it obviously showed. I did a terrible first set. What makes it even more nerve wracking, is knowing clients are paying to get their nails done. So there’s a lot of pressure to make sure they are satisfied with your work, especially when you’re a beginner.
I started my esthetics career as an employee of my aunt. She was technically my boss, but really she just let me make my own schedule. I would come to work everyday and hoped that someone would walk in or call the salon needing a service done. I didn’t make a lot of money in the first year and even the second year. One thing that everyone in this industry knows is that growing a clientele is hard. It takes people years to have a full clientele and when you’re in this line of work you get paid per client. Not all the time, but usually and this is how it was for me. If I wasn’t working on a client then I wasn’t making money. So, my mom suggested that maybe I get a part time job just to ensure a paycheck every two weeks, but I said no. I was committed and determined to esthetics. Esthetics is what I wanted to do and I didn’t want any other work distracting me from my goals. The only thing I could do was work my ass off and make sure every client left satisfied.
Producing quality work is incredibly vital and takes time because word of mouth is the best advertisement you can have. The thing about nails, pedicures, and waxing is people need these services done 3-4 weeks at a time (depending on the service). One tip that my aunt told me was to make sure you book their next appointment before they walk out the door. That way you don’t leave it up to the forgetful client to book because believe me, lots of them will forget and just take a break from their nails. Which is not good for business. This tip has always worked for me and I continue to do this now in my career.
It was around the 3-year mark when I really started to get busy. I was working like crazy and found myself always at the salon. I would work a minimum of 8 hours a day and 6 days a week. The nice thing about not having a boss is that with all these hours I was putting in, I took it upon myself to start taking vacations. During my early years at the salon, Tim and I started our relationship (read about my relationship post here) and it was incredibly helpful to take a week off every month to go see him in LA, or just take a week off and stay home. My aunt never acted like a “real boss” in the way that I didn’t have to ask for time off, but I would always let her know of course, and I would always make sure my clients were taken care of. I never abused the freedom that I had because my aunt and I were running a business together and clients were always number one. As much as I love my clients, this is my livelihood and I need a paycheck the same way everyone else does. Not only that, but when you are self-employed there is no vacation pay for the time you take off work. Meaning you do not get paid for the days you aren’t at work. So if I took a whole month off, I would make $0 that month. Kind of sucks, right? There’s a lot of budgeting that goes into my month to make sure my expenses are met.
I officially became self-employed year 4 into my career, (I’m in my 6th year now), so this meant that my aunt was no longer writing me a paycheck. I was writing my own and it’s a big responsibility to handle your own money. I had to learn about running a business, how to manage money, book keeping, taxes, and a whooole buncha of other stuff that sometimes still doesn’t make sense to me. To this day there will be always be something I’m unsure about so I’m constantly asking questions. It’s better to ask questions than to guess and find out you’ve made a big mistake.
Being self-employed is an absolute dream, but it’s a ton of work. I’v been extremely lucky in this life to have an incredible support system and I’m surrounded by experienced and talented people to help me along the way. This story would not be the same if these people didn’t exist in my life and I’ll be forever grateful for them. If you’ve turned your own passion into a career you’ll find it’s the most rewarding experience. You’re motivated, driven, creative, and your work will reflect that. You show up to work everyday because you want to and when you do what you love, it really isn’t work at all.
What’s your dream job?
Hey chia, I can totally relate! I’m a pastry chef and used to putting in brutal hours just so customers can be satisfied. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do, but it is hard trying satisfy everyone without looking like all your in it for is the paycheck. Everyone needs to make a living and I strive to one day be my own boss! Love your blog.
Girl, it sounds like you have all the tools. Pastry chef, ayyye? Too bad we don’t live in the same city, I like me a little pastry! Best of luck in your future Maegan!
Chia your inspirational I love you ? I’m only 11 years old and I read your blog all the time and it inspires me ? to do big things in life ? thank you for every thing ?
Thank you for reading, little lady! Keep aiming for the stars!
I still remember you as an esthetics student. It’s hard to forget the students that really wanted to be there!
Lol, awe! I remember you, too! Crazy how quickly the time passes, right?!
Ugh finally I’ve always wanted to know more about you chia you seem like such an amazing person in toms blogs your so funny but we never see enough of you I can’t wait to read more of your blog ☺️☺️☺️
Thank you, Maria!
I have always admired the work of estheticians…I can barely paint my own nails, let alone do the crazy talented stuff! haha Very cool to learn that you come from a family of estheticians and I think people can learn some good lessons from your post. I have been self-employed since 2012 when my hub and I decided to start a family 🙂 I knew I wanted to set my own schedule, etc and I’ve just always had a mind for business. So I enjoy what I do for work, but my dream is to GROW so that I can achieve my life’s mission: To uplift and inspire women, giving them the courage to enjoy life, love themselves and rejuvenate others’ spirits =) I hope you have a great day, Chia!
Good for you, girl! Thanks for taking the time to come and check out my site. Much love!
Running your own business sounds like a lot of work but exciting! It’s nice to see women making strides for ourselves. I think I’m still figuring out what my dream job is but something creative like a screen writer or doing communications for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders (since dancing is not for me). Love your posts!
Do you know what we need to start a nail salon business? Besides having a license, what else do you need to do before you open your salon
You should look into that within your own cities. It’s different everywhere. Permits and licence are def on the top on the list. You’ll have to look into merchant services, banking services, find yourself a great accountant, pick up a few self- employment books!
This is really inspiring, I want to become my own boss it is something I always dream of. Hopefully one day soon it will become a reality!! Love your blog <3
Thanks girlie! That means so much to me. You can turn that dream into a reality, it just takes hard work and lots of learning! <3
Hi Chia, I am currently a Esthetician student in California but I will be moving to Canada with my family within the next year. What school did u attend there and do you think once I get my license it will transfer out there!
I went to school in my own city in Saskatchewan. You’ll have to look into whether or not your licence transfers over, if anything you may have to re-write a test or practicum. Don’t quote me on it, but there’s plenty of resources online to help you answer those question! Best of luck in your new city. =)
I’m new to your blog but I love you on TimothyDeLaGhetto Vlogs!
It’s my dream to be an author. I want to write novels that people will love enough to watch in a theater! <3
My problem is that I get discouraged by the people around me who think writing isn't "monetarily smart". It's like they are telling me that following my dream is a foolish thing to do. I let my own self-doubt get me down too. Any advice?
You are really an inspiration because you go to so many beautiful places and do so many fun things all because you do what you love.
I think you are great!
Thanks for writing me Bri. Never, ever, EVER let someone tell you what you love is foolish. They aren’t in your shoes, so they have no idea how you feel. It’s so easy to judge people instead of encouraging them to follow their dreams. At the end of the day you have to do what your heart tells you to do and if your heart is telling you to write, then DAMMIT GIRL WRITE!! Remember that you will never be able to please everyone, so f the ones that don’t f with u. <3
Hey Chia! I’m so glad you posted this because I’m in the process of becoming my own boss ??????. It’s a lot of work and I’ve had the thought “will people really pay for this?” Go through my mind a lot. It keeps me motivated to see others succeed and I hope one day I too can write my own checks 🙂 keep it up girl
Thank you so much. You can do it, hard work and determination will absolutely pay off.
I went from reading about long distance relationships to this post and now my mind is in many places at once lol. It’s always nice to see somebody make it out of the traditional system. I am currently on the path of reaching my own goals for my business to become self-sustaining. The money is so slow rn that picking up a part-time or even full-time job again seems like a necessity, but I also feel like you did in that it would be a distraction. It’s a tough spot to be in as well need to earn a living.
I’m not sure where this post is going, but I just felt compelled to write and say thanks for the insight and that I look forward to cutting my own checks someday. Until then, any advice you could offer on maintaining a living while staying focused sure would help.
Also, I appreciate the insight on long distance relationships as well. It’s already made me feel better about my own. Thanks.
Dedication and determination are everything. Stay organized and work your ass off!!
I plan on doing the same after high school ! It’s also a dream of mines to work for myself honestly I can’t wait !
Hi Chia! Thank you for posting your story. I’ve always related to you through the looking glass and you are very inspiring. I’m stuck in a standard job that I thought would be my “dream job” but truth is, my creative juices are fading. Im an artist at heart. I love art, and beauty and would LOVE to be self employed doing something fulfilling to me. Maybe a makeup artist! Or an esthetician like yourself! And let my work speak for itself<3.
Thank you for the new goal!
You go, Arielle!
Never ever let the creativity diminish! That would make for such a sad and dark world. Work hard and you will get there.
Thanks for stopping in at Just Peachy, it means a lot to me. =)
Hey Chia, love the blog And particularly this post. I’m in cosmetology school right now, more interested in doing hair, the part about building a clientele being the hardest is definitely true. I’m currently doing extensions at home part time I have a good little clientele but nothing crazy. I really can’t wait to finish school and get more clients and eventually open my own salon. Well either open my own salon first or be a traveling stylist. Anyway, I love your blog <3
I’m glad that you have such a great vision! It helps to keep you motivated! =) Thank you for reading!
That’s so incredible you took that leap of faith and put your whole heart into something you love. I hope I can be as blessed as you one day and find my passion in life and become my own boss. Your the real M.V.P.
Thank you so much! <3 Thank you for your kind words.
What is the starting salary for esthetician? I live in California and I am worried that if I do this program, I won’t make enough. Thanks
Impossible question! I wouldn’t know what the “going rate” is because that depends on your situation. It will be different for every single soul! In my situation I can work whatever I’d like so…my pay checks are always changing.
Aw congrats on being self employed. I’d really love to see you in action hopefully I could get the address of your shop one day not only to see you but for you to give me a mani + pedi. Anyways I love how hard working you are Chia keep it up!
I’ve wanted to be a fashion designer since I was sixteen (I’m 22 now). When it came time to graduate from High School I decided that I would take a course in Fashion Design and Technology. But then I found out that I got accepted into university and was torn between the two options.
I decided to accept my university offer in studying Criminology and disliked it my whole first year which lead me to transfer into studying to be teacher. I am in my fourth year now of University and I’m grateful for the experience, It’s just….my heart has always been with fashion and when I graduate next year I definitely want to actually START following my dream. Like you said, when you do what you love, it doesn’t feel like work at all.
I sometimes regret that I didn’t go into Fashion when I had the chance (because that particular course isn’t offered anymore) but I feel that I have matured over 4 years and am mentally ready, as an adult to handle the Fashion business.
I’m really happy that your dreams came true Chia <3
Well at least you’re doing something other than sitting on your ass. At the end of the day if you don’t pursue your passion it will always be in the back of your mind. You never want to live a life of regret. My dreams came true because I worked hard for it, you can do the same. =) Thanks for sharing this story, Sarah…I believe in you! <3
Reading this while I “prepare myself” for a 4-page essay lol.
Amazing, inspirational read. I’m a blogger, but I soon will be self-employed too. I get discouraged now and then and feel I need to get a “useful degree” and do something I don’t care for. But then I read blog posts like this. It’s rough, but as you have proved, it definitely isn’t possible.
Thanks a bunch for sharing! Glad I saw Tim’s retweet of your website before I started writing.
Good luck with everything 🙂
Thank you for reading, Blossom! You have to make sure you love what you do. Life is too short to do something you feel like you should be doing. Achieve your goals, girl! Good luck with the essay.
Hey Chia, I love reading about your life and your passions. It’s great to see someone who’s so enthusiastic about what they do and so positive about everything. I have watched your boyfriend’s channel for years so it’s nice to get to see the real you (I get the impression you don’t like being in front of the camera lol).
I love beauty treatments and think it’s so important to feel good about yourself, I always take on all your tips. These days everyone’s obsessed with contouring, lash extensions etc to the point that they’re forgetting that your base is what’s most important. People need to learn how to take care of their nails and skin (coconut oil!!).
I’m an ESL English teacher and I live in Tokyo. I love seeing my students develop and grow in confidence and have so many fantastic memories of all the years gone by. I’ve definitely found my passion and hope I can continue to learn and grow.
Stay peachy honey.
Wow! So you’re a long time fan of Tim’s- we both appreciate the love and support, foreal! I totally agree that people forget about having a good skin care routine and focus solely on makeup. Coconut oil is my life!
I would loooove to visit Tokyo one day, I’ve heard such amazing things. You truly are changing the lives of your students and this is something that you should be proud of. It makes me happy knowing people have found what they love in life, it’s too short to be miserable.
Lots of love,
Hey Chia that was super motivating for me I graduated from cosmetology school in 2014 and it’s been so hard to get my foot in and build my clientele but hearing how long it took you really gives me hope. I’m kinda torn now though between continuing cosmetology and becoming a Fashion Stylist which is a even bigger passion of mine. But thanks for the story it was inspiring!!!
Thank you for reading Mariah, it’s so hard to get started in these types of careers, but stay focused and don’t lose that passion! At least you know you’re in the right field- you are a creative. Work hard for what you believe in and I’m sure you’ll end up exactly where you want to be.
Just curious, what esthetician school did you go too? I was looking at Paul Mitchell but its more of a cosmetology school and it’s wayy too expensive for myself and family to pay off & $10,000 sounds way better than $21,000!
Hope to hear back!
Hello! I went to a local school. My tuition was also around $10,000 but that was several years ago. The price may have increased since then. Make sure you do your research and don’t be afraid to ask for extra information and tour the schools. Good luck!
Love to read your blogs, Chia. You are such a good writer! Lots of admiration for you and how you became your own boss. Thanks for inspiring us all 🙂