Salon, Booth or Suite? How to Find the Right Working Environment for Your Beauty Services


As a former salon owner, employee and suite renter, I have tons of experience in the different working environments of the beauty services world. In this article, I will go over my experiences working in a salon, renting a booth and renting a suite so that you can get insight into what working in each one is like. If you are struggling to choose the right work environment to offer your services in, hopefully, this article can help you make your decision.

What’s it Like Working in a Salon?

I have experienced every side of the beauty employment industry. I started out as an employee working in a small salon as a commissioned hair stylist. I worked well with a team and learned quite a bit once I started to value the input from my coworkers. We had fun, bickered from time to time, but we were a family. We shared tips and tricks on hair color, hair cutting, manicuring and we also went to trainings together. We helped to promote each other and support each other in times of trouble both personally and professionally. We truly enjoyed the back and forth conversations our regular clients would have with each other as well — there was so much to be happy and grateful for and I didn’t know how good I had it.
Later on, in my career, I came to realize how amazing my early experience was at this salon.

A cross-country move pushed me to seek employment in a new salon. What an eye-opener. The new salon was nothing like where I had come from and the team was nothing like my previous salon’s family crew. The stylists were not engaging and always gave me a feeling that nothing was ever enough; they worried about losing clients to other stylists and always counted how many walk-in customers would get assigned to each person to see if someone got more work than someone else.  Overall, I was dealing with some pretty petty issues.

I was not used to this kind of an environment and it was a bit sad for me to think that these individuals were acting so immature. Didn’t they realize that there could be a much better working environment with just a little bit of tweaking? Needless to say, after a few years of trying to be the glue to help bond these co-workers together, I realized it was impossible. After all, it wasn’t my job.

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My Experience Owning a Salon

I took a leap of faith and opened my own salon. I thought it would be easy. In my mind, I would open a beautiful place, hire talented people, and imagined myself happy and productive. I soon found out that what I wanted was a bit more challenging than what I had anticipated. It took me a long time to get the right group of salon professionals that would work well together. I found out in hindsight that I was being hasty in my hiring.

I hired by resume, looks, snappy hairstyles, and makeup— I wanted my staff to look the part that I wanted my business to portray.  I found out this was a big mistake in a few important ways. I had to learn the hard way that building a team was hard work— it is tiring and time-consuming. The ultimate lesson was to not take everything so personal, which I’m still working on today. It isn’t so easy to do, however, when you are a bit of a perfectionist like me.

After some soul searching and much persistence, I built my team. It was great until I had to make another cross county move.

My Experience Booth Renting

Starting over without any clients, I decided to take the plunge and rent a booth. I wanted to be my own boss, control my schedule, and choose the products I wanted to use. I also wanted to be a part of a salon but in a different way.

It was difficult at first. I was constantly passing out my cards and networking to find new clients. After the hard work marketing myself, it eventually began to pay off. I also liked the booth rent concept— it gave me the feeling of being a part of the salon without actually being an employee.

There were some downfalls, however. I had no control over the actions of the salon owner, the salon opening and closing hours or who was renting the chair next to me. In the end, not having control over who was next to me dictated my next move.

One day, I was given a chair next to a stylist who used salty language and mouthed off personal information better suited to be said in a person’s living room or kitchen. It was too personal at times and very unprofessional. I tried to speak to them and ask that they temper the language and topics used while I was working next to them. Unfortunately, it only got more intrusive. I decided to make another move, yet again.

My Experience as a Suite Renter?

I gathered up my client list and went on the hunt for a nice, clean and convenient location to move to. I did quite a bit of research into the amenities that each location had to offer. I spoke to current renters and even a few former renters before making a decision. It took me several months to find the place that seemed to fit for me.

I settled into a salon boutique in the entertainment district of a growing community. I had fun decorating my little place — it was probably the best thing I did at the time. There were 30 suites and every genre in the beauty world was represented. We had hair stylists, manicurists, massage therapists, estheticians and even lash artists. We referred our clients to each other whenever possible. We got to know each other and created a little friendly community in the boutiques.

The rent was all-inclusive so I just had to worry about purchasing products. There were no utilities to pay, no towels to wash and no extra unexpected expenses. It was so easy and I loved it. I got to decorate my little suite just the way I wanted and had very nice neighbors that looked after me and others, I would do it again in a minute.

Choosing the Best Working Environment for You

In conclusion, if you are a salon owner who needs a change, there are options out there for you. Closing your salon or selling it is not a sign of failure, but can be a sign of growth. You had the enriching experience of being a salon owner, you learned your lessons and you accomplished an impressive goal.

Renting a booth can be another option if you still want to be part of a salon without being under the control of the salon owner. It allows for a bit more freedom and flexibility but also allows you to have interaction with other salon professionals. It fills the need to belong and have a community of people who do what you do around you. Another option you can exercise is becoming a suite renter. This option gives you the feeling of having your own salon without all the overhead. It’s pretty much a turn key operation and fits the working style of many salon professionals.

Any of these options can be the perfect fit for someone considering a new place for their next move. The right option for you depends on what you are looking for and what working environment you feel the most comfortable in.  Do you have any other preferred work environments for your beauty services? If so, let us know about it in the comments section below!

Maryann Matykowski

Maryann has an accomplished, 30+ year background in the beauty industry. As a cosmetologist she opened her first salon in ’83. Maryann has specialized as an educator since 2006, and is now Master Trainer/Training and Education Coordinator here at Glad Lash Academy. Maryann knows what it takes to create successful salon businesses and is here to share her experience with you.

Disclaimer! Opinions expressed on the Glad Lash Blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Glad Lash Inc. Content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before making decisions that could affect your business or clients.

2 thoughts on “Salon, Booth or Suite? How to Find the Right Working Environment for Your Beauty Services”

  1. Michele Montalto says:

    Very Informative and great timing! I am entering the beauty industry fresh out of school. Thank you for taking the time to write this, I appreciate it.

    1. Maryann Matykowski says:

      Hi Michele,

      You’re very welcome, thank you for reading!

      Good luck on your new venture!

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