Updated: Oct 30
In the lash industry there are different classifications to describe your employment status.
Apprentice. Employee. Self-employed. Bed/Booth Renter. Suite Renter. Studio Owner.
But what does it mean to be an apprentice, self-employed, or a booth renter? There can be some pretty steep consequences to being misclassified. It’s important to know the differences so you can make sure you're categorized correctly.
Review the list below for a detailed explanation of each classification.
Apprentices are paid employees (see below) who are currently in the training phase of their career. The training they receive in-studio does not replace a formal education and certification. The apprenticeship simply helps improve the skills of a newly certified lash artist under the guidance of an experienced lash artist (usually the studio owner) while offering discounted services to clients.
It must be made very clear to clients booking with an apprentice that their service is being provided by an apprentice. These services are typically discounted and the appointment is scheduled for a longer time slot than normal. Because the studio is not earning the usual profit per service, the apprentice is very likely earning a reduced wage or commission (must be in compliance with local minimum wage laws).
An apprenticeship can be set for a specific period of time or based on performance. For example, a studio owner may state that the employee will remain at apprentice level for 3 months or they may promote them to regular employee status once they are able to accurately and safely apply a full set of lashes in under 2 hours. This is up to the owner’s discretion.
Employees are required to follow their employer’s rules. This means employees must:
Work according to the employer’s schedule,
adhere to studio policies and dress codes,
use whichever products the studio requires (and provides) and
perform services in accordance with the studio’s protocols.
Employees are also required to participate in studio promotions such as discounts, coupons, and events, as well as continuing education, and mandatory meetings.
Employees are required to assist with cleaning duties and other tasks between clients.
The client's information is controlled by the studio owner.
Client payments are processed through the studio’s merchant services.
Employees receive a wage (or wage + commissions) and payroll taxes are dedicated from each pay cheque.
To be self-employed means the lash artist works independently. The solo lash artist. They are a business owner/operator who is responsible for all aspects of running the business while also offering services to their clients. Many self-employed lash artists work from home but some choose to rent a bed in a lash studio or rent a lash suite where they can set up their own personalized mini studio. (See next categories.) They must obtain a business license and have their own insurance.
A bed renter is a business owner who runs their own business within a lash studio but is completely independent from the studio. These self-employed bed renters keep 100% of their revenue, pay for their own products and supplies, set their own prices, and set their own hours. They don’t have to answer to anyone. To clarify, this means that bed renters:
choose which products they are going to use,
choose which products they are going to sell (unless the rental agreement prohibits retail sales),
acquire their own clients,
set their own prices,
pay for all their own advertising and marketing,
make their own schedule,
book their own appointments,
collect money from the clients directly (the studio must never collect money from the bed renters clients).
Under no circumstances should a bed renter receive money from a studio owner.
The agreement between a studio owner and a bed renter is a landlord and tenant contract. Bed renters cannot be fired. They must be properly evicted according to the landlord and tenant act. Bed renters cannot be commanded to attend meetings or do studio chores. They are business owners who have their own business license and simply pay rent to the studio owner.
A suite renter is a business owner who runs their business in a private lash suite (basically a mini studio). Similar to a bed rental but with a few additional benefits such as a greater feeling of independence and privacy. Plus, a suite has the option for growth as it allows the renter to hire staff and begin building a team of lash artists. Lash suite renters get ALL the perks of ownership WITHOUT all of the expensive overhead. Some suite landlords offer additional perks to their tenants such as in-house events, access to continuing education, and/or advertising.
A studio owner is a small business owner who rents (or owns) a retail space and must manage all of the overhead costs and responsibilities involved with owning a business. A studio owner usually has a team of staff (or bed renters) and multiple lash beds for accommodating a group of clients at one time.
Now let’s talk about ‘Independent Contractors’. Notice I didn’t list that as a career option?
A lash studio makes their money by offering lash services. Therefore, anyone offering lash services in that business must sign either an employment contract or a rental contract. No one should be classified as an independent contractor for doing lashes in a lash studio.
An independent contractor is someone who provides services outside the scope of the lash business, such as marketing services, accounting services, remodelling services, etc., but not lash services. Furthermore, legitimate independent contractors work in multiple locations for multiple clients, they are not exclusive to any one studio.
Studio owners often use the independent contractor classification to evade employment taxes. Not only is this illegal, it’s unfair to the employee. This misclassification puts all of the tax burden on the employee who will end up paying the portion the employer is meant to pay, as well as their own taxes. Being classified as an independent contractor also means the employee is not eligible for workers compensation, unemployment benefits, the required minimum wage, and other local government protections for employees.
Each of these career options and levels have their advantages. To determine which is right for you consider things like:
How much independence do you really want?
Do you want to run a home-based business with people coming in and out of your home? If so, will your home pass a health inspection (no carpet, no pets, stainless steel sink, separate client washroom, etc).
Will you feel more secure with an employer so you can just go to work without the stress of gaining clients, legal considerations, insurance, business licenses, etc.?
Are you driven and dedicated to running your own business and taking on all the responsibility that comes with it? If so, at which level? Bed rental, suite rental, studio owner?
How much start up cash do you have?
Do you already have a full list of clientele?
So many things to consider! My advice; start as an apprentice/employee then work your way through the options in the order they're listed above. This way, you slowly increase your responsibility. You can learn and grow through each phase.
Which ever option you decide is best for you, be sure to keep up with any legislative changes in your area so you can remain compliant. Laws and classifications vary in different regions and there are some states that don’t allow certain classifications.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to replace formal business advice, financial advice, government regulations, or any other form of legal advice.