How to Work up a Business in Town or Country - How to Prepare Creams, Lotions, Bath Salts, etc. - Prices to Charge - The Cost of Starting a Business - Some Valuable Recipes-attractive Side Lines - The Visiting Manicurist
Once a girl has finished her training, the next essential is for her to set to work in the wisest and quickest way to build up a business. The method to be pursued will differ slightly for town and country.
If a manicurist means to start in London or any big provincial centre, her wisest course is to go round to every good hairdresser in a locality she thinks likely and workable and ask if he already has a manicurist, or if he would like to add that attraction to his business on commission or sharing terms.
Almost every high-class hairdresser advertises manicure, and often face massage; but this is rarely part of his own business. It is done in almost every case by a girl who is working quite apart from the hairdressing business, and who gives a moderate commission on each client to the hairdresser.
Behind or above a hairdressing saloon there is generally a small room suitable for manicure. This only needs fitting with one or two comfortable chairs, a low chair for the manicurist, and a round, low table for the manicuring "outfit." The fitting up of such a room is quite inexpensive, and any girl anxious to start working in such a manner would be justified in risking a few pounds, and offering to "fit up" the place for herself, if the hairdresser made any difficulties in the matter. It should be easy for a clever, persevering girl to persuade the owner of a business to give her a trial, which will not cost him anything, and will probably bring him in quite a large sum in commissions.
A notice should be put in the window, and several displayed prominently near the shampoo-basins and looking-glasses. Then if a customer, seeing that manicure is done at a reasonable charge, likes to have her finger-nails attended to while her hair is being waved, it is simple for the manicurist to bring her chair and outfit and work in conjunction with the "waver." This is often done in the case of busy women, who thus kill two birds with one stone.
On the other hand, a passer-by who sees "Manicure," and enters the shop for that purpose, may well find that she would like her hair dressed afterwards in tasteful, clean surroundings. That is how one profession helps the other, and both work splendidly together.
If a girl prefers to start entirely on her own account, she will do better to seek another girl who will join her as partner. Then they can either jointly produce the small capital needed, and halve the profits, or one can provide the capital, and the other - with, perhaps, a large circle of friends - can undertake to provide the greater part of the clientele.
It is not difficult to find one big room, or two small ones, on a first or second floor above a shop. The better the shopping centre the better the manicurist's chance of success. It is wiser to have a room, even if high up, in a good thoroughfare where people are constantly passing and repassing, and actually entering the shops below, than to pay a smaller rental and go out of the big streets into localities that are not shopping centres. Having made a connection, a manicurist may move to a quieter part, and feel that her clients will follow her; but until then she had better remain in as prominent a position as possible.
A signboard must be fixed on the ground floor, as well as a brass plate, with a bell attached, stating the floor on which the manicurist may be found.
One pound a week in London, or less in the provinces, should suffice for rental in the case of a girl who is starting in a modest way. There remains the cost of furnishing - roughly speaking, £10 or less - the "outfit," and the purchase of jars and boxes for creams, etc. About £25 capital ought to start a girl who is energetic, and leave her eight or ten weeks in which to see her way clearly and give herself a chance of finding out if her business is likely to pay. If she is clever, at the end of that time she should be doing well.
Many girls prefer to "feel their feet" by working at a hairdresser's first, in order to save a little money and discover how they get on with their customers, and whether they seem likely to succeed. But those who are independent, and perhaps prefer to risk a little, find it better to strike out for themselves at once - with a partner - and if during the first two months or so their profit is not large, it comes ultimately to the same thing as working for a hairdresser, and saving or banking the money in order to start alone later on. Both methods provide experience, and neither should represent a loss.
The greatest attractions a manicurist can offer her customers are pure, home-made
Woman's Work creams, lotions, bath salts, etc. Now, as stated in a previous article (see page 3755, Vol. 6), a girl's trainer will usually show her the basis of creams, etc., without divulging any special secrets of her own discovery.
Many creams, powders, and lotions for the face are based on the same ingredients, which, differently blended, coloured, and scented, pass for different things. But in reality they are much the same. A girl should know that cold cream consists of lard, white wax, and essence of some scent; that bath salts are made of soda and scent; that bismuth, zinc, powder, and cucumber enter into most liquid powders; that plain rice powder, mixed with orris root, carmine, and dry scent, composes most face powders and bath powders.
This knowledge she has only to subject to a process of trial and demonstration on herself to find if her products are good or bad. By adding or lessening certain quantities she may, through experimenting, discover a very valuable and beneficial cream. In any case, provided her ingredients are pure, she cannot go far wrong.
"funnels," and plenty of bottles and jars.
Powders and scent essences may be bought wholesale, also the requisite boxes, bottles, and labels. A cupboard, dry and airy, should be at hand, if possible, for storing powders, etc., when not in use, and for keeping a reserve stock of made up goods. It is wise not to make too great a quantity of any facial preparations at once, such things are best fresh, especially anything containing pure vegetable, such as cucumber.
Bath salts are particularly attractive to most women, and offer a large profit. To make them, take a pound or so of ordinary kitchen soda, smash it up, put it in a high, deep basin, and pound it until it looks like a mass of tiny crystals, then pour about a quarter of a pint of scent - lavender water, eau-de-cologne, or violet - over it. Shake it, and leave it to stand.
The scent will gradually soak through the crystals, and accumulate at the bottom of the bowl. Drain the scent carefully away - it can be used again if necessary - and shake the crystals to see they are thoroughly dry, and make sure they are sufficiently but not too highly scented.
Bottle them, cork them tightly, and attach a pretty label. Tie them up with ribbon of the same colour as the scent, and charge Is. 6d. for quite a large-sized bottle. That price offers a big profit, and should attract customers by reason of its moderation.
Cold cream is also easy to make. Take two or three pounds of good lard, according to the quantity to be made, and thoroughly clarify it by soaking it in boiling water.
Repeat this process four or five times - the oftener the better - until it is thoroughly soft and free from any impurities. Add a piece of white wax, the size of a walnut, heat, and then beat hard with a fork until it is quite smooth and like thick cream, but not too liquid.
Add some essence of a good scent, and leave it to stand overnight in a cool place. Beat it again in the morning, and then put it in jars.
Very attractive little bath puffs can be made by means of a piece of oval-shaped white flannel, backed with silk or satin, made into a bag thus, and filled with powder. A ribbon strap is fixed across the back, which slips over the knuckles, and the powder drops through the flannel.
The same idea, in a diminutive size for the purse or handkerchief, may be carried out for face powder and dry rouge. Such dainty things as these sell quickly, and add to the attractiveness of a manicurist's stock.
All the pastes, polishes, and cleaning preparations used in manicure may be prepared by the manicurist, and prove a great saving of money. If a customer is pleased with the colour and polish of her nails, she is doubly anxious to purchase the identical paste for herself.
In the country a girl, who has to work at home or in her friends' houses, can make an excellent living by manicure and face massage, if she cares to do that in addition. Many people cannot go to the nearest town for manicure. But a girl who can ride a bicycle may pack her outfit into a small attache case, and should be able to visit four or five clients a day, at a charge of 2s. each. If an enterprising girl notified" her friends that she was doing manicure, and would come to them, she would be overwhelmed with work.
In addition to starting as a manicurist, in conjunction with an already established hairdressing business, manicure may be combined with other professions. For instance, many ladies who have good positions as secretaries in big City offices find that they can considerably augment their incomes by doing all their secretarial work from one office, which they rent, and also providing manicure, and even face massage.
Again, very many men find manicure intensely soothing. It takes them right away from business, without any journeying or fag on their part. Eighteenpence is not too much to ask in such a case; and in one large building, or a smaller one to which many clients will come once a reputation is established, a clever manicurist will find that she is able to do a big trade in the City among clients who visit her once or twice a week. Such work fits in excellently with secretarial work of all kinds, and can also be worked with a private circulating library or a tea-shop. In fact, there is very little public work done by ladies with which manicure cannot be combined, to the great benefit of both businesses, as a rule