Do you know your hairstyling terms and tips? Plenty a college student cut his or her own hair back in the days of ramen and canned soup, just to save some cash, but a few are able to extend their skills to others' hairdos as well. If you were one of those people, you might be able to set up a small but lucrative side business at someone's garage sale -- by offering to cut and style the hair of customers for a price they'll never be able to find at a salon.
You need to realize that this isn't something you can reasonably pull off at your own garage sale, because you will be too busy paying attention to your clients to also pay attention to the customers. Unless you can find someone who's willing to run your sale as if it was theirs, including bartering in a way you deem fit, it's best to ask a neighbor or friend if you can bum a little space in their yard (maybe for a small share of the profits?) -- plus, that way, you can hold your business all summer long! (Don't forget, if it's consistent, your income will be taxable.)
You'll need a few things to properly style and cut hair. Most importantly, you'll need a sanitizer bucket (more about that in a moment) filled with a sanitizing solution of some sort. Besides that, you'll need haircutting shears, a comb, a brush, some hair accessories (barrettes, clips, bobby pins, etc.), and some hair product. A tall chair with a back is a good place to seat your clients, too. Whatever you gather together that you won't be able to save, be sure to factor into your initial cost, and into your pricing.
To sanitize your products, you'll want to get a big plastic bucket and fill it with warm water. Add to this some commercial chemicals (find something non-corrosive and non-toxic at low levels) or bleach, to create a diluted solution that will destroy germs on your products. Keep this water consistently changed as you sanitize tools and accessories from each client.
There isn't enough room to tell you how to run your new business, but here are a few pointers:
- Throwing together a few hairstyles on your friends and taking snapshots is a great way to make a little portfolio for customers, who can then select what they want their hair to look like.
- Be familiar with how various hair types react to cutting and styling. For example, some will frizz and curl, while others will drop and straighten.
- If you use a straightener, be sure to protect your clients' hair from burning.
- You'll want to keep some running water (like a garden hose) and shampoo handy so you won't have to cut the hair dry.
- Decide on your policy about money back ahead of time -- customers may not like your product, so give them fair warning!
A simple haircut at a chain salon usually starts around $10 at the very least. You should factor in the cost of your equipment and tools, but remember that you don't have to pay for labor -- all the profits come straight to you, so you can afford to charge half that price and still make back what you spent, as long as you get a fair amount of customers.
If the garage sale you'll be working at isn't yours, ask if you can advertise on their signs; just add a little addendum to the bottom that say "Haircuts, $5". If they don't want your info on there, just create yourself a folded sign and paste it up in front of your booth or table.
Got a crazy garage sale side business idea? We would love to hear it! Post it in the comments, or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.