Starting your own nail studio

When you open your own nail studio, your first priority is to keep your clients' nails looking their best. But there are other issues to consider, including remote working rules, administration and insurance. Make sure you are well prepared when you establish yourself as an independent nail stylist.

French manicures or complete works of art on your clients’ nails: influential content creators show the latest nail styles. A nail stylist is more than just someone who gives your nails a pretty colour: as a nail stylist, you also contribute to a person’s identity.

A rule that applies to all starting entrepreneurs: when starting your own business, you need to consider factors such as company name, legal structure, and registration with KVK. This article explains what issues are relevant specifically to starting nail stylists.

Business plan

A business plan will help you investigate whether there is a demand for your service among consumers. It will enable you not only to determine your target audience; it will also allow you to keep track of the competition. The KVK Company Counter tells you all about competitors in your area.

You are not required to write a business plan. If you choose not to write one, a feasibility check is a good alternative.

Do you doubt if you qualify as an entrepreneur?

The law states that you can be considered to operate a business if you independently provide goods or services to others with the intent to make a profit. It can be difficult to determine exactly what constitutes an active business. Check whether your activities satisfy the criteria for a business.

If you are under 18 (in Dutch) and want to start a business, you need permission from your parents or guardian.

Tip: test your business skills through the KVK Krachtmeting (Measuring your strengths, in Dutch) and discover whether you are ready to be an entrepreneur.


Your business plan will also help you set the correct rates. Obviously, you want a healthy bottom line. You should therefore list all your estimated purchases, fixed expenses and variable costs. Check how much you need to earn to make a profit. You will want to make some money from your hard work. In an ideal situation, you might even have enough to build some reserves.

Denise van Stokkem of nail salon Lak! received assistance in determining her rates. “The company that manufactures the brand I use in my salon helped me calculate my rates.”


You should also think about how to promote and advertise your company and how to attract clients. Many businesses use various social media platforms. Van Stokkem: “I share a lot of pictures, especially on Instagram and Facebook. I have also found word-of-mouth advertising to be very effective.” The latter will not cost you anything, as your clients are doing the work.

By determining your target audience in advance, you will find out what is the best way to reach your clients.

Part-time entrepreneur

You can also start a nail studio in addition to your paid employment. There are both pros and cons to this. Although it helps mitigate risks, for example, it does mean you have less time on your hands. Do check your employment contract to see if starting your own business in addition to your job is allowed, or discuss your plans with your employer.


Many people starting out in the business start by working out of their home, but you can also choose to start at people’s homes, in a building, or by renting a chair. No matter what decision you end up making, you should consider the issues below.

Operating a nail salon from your home

Starting a home business using that one space that happens to be vacant and where you can get started right away, without making too many changes. If you are a little more ambitious, you also have the option to convert your garage into a professional nail salon. Van Stokkem took the following approach: “I started working from home as soon as I finished my training. I began by inviting some friends, who would then invite their friends. My business ended up growing pretty quickly. I enjoy working out of my home; being in a familiar environment where I have everything within reach to let my creativity flow.”

Many nail stylists start their business by working out of their home. The benefits of running your own home mail studio are that you eliminate travel time, travel expenses, and additional rents. One of the cons is that it can blur the lines between your business and your personal life (work/life balance) and that your clients will get a glimpse into your personal life. Van Stokkem’s take on it: “It was the combination of working from home and keeping costs down that suited me.”

Remember to check the terms and conditions with your local authority. Do you need to register with them before starting a home business? Are your plans compliant with the zoning plan? What do you need to look out for when remodelling your home? Also, are you permitted to hang up a sign outside your home?

Check whether your mortgage agreement or lease allows you to start a business out of, or in the vicinity of, your home. Contact your bank or landlord to discuss your plans.

You should also remember your insurance policies. Building insurance and property insurance cover your personal property and the home itself; they do not protect you from damage to your business assets and workspace. So, you will need to take out additional insurance policies.

Visiting clients in their homes

You can choose to provide your services in clients’ homes. One advantage of this approach is that you can get started pretty much right away. When buying the equipment you need for your work, remember you will need to carry it with you and also that you must comply with all the applicable health and safety requirements.

Tip: build your travel expenses into your rates/hourly rate.

Renting or buying a building

If you decide to rent a business unit, make sure this space meets your needs and requirements. You should therefore check if the space can accommodate the number of chairs you need, has the facilities you need to allow you to work safely and install an extraction system, along with a waiting room for your clients. You should also find out if there is room to add an extension if necessary. You should also check with your local authority to see whether your business activities comply with the zoning plan.

Van Stokkem set out to find a building that ticked all the boxes: “I was looking for a building that had both the right look and feel and provided the space I needed. It also needed to be well served by public transport and bicycle.”

Renting a chair

Chair rental involves a collaboration between two or more independent entrepreneurs who offer their services to customers at their own risk and expense from the same commercial unit. Van Stokkem has opted for this approach: “It was a good way to extend my services. I do have a set of internal rules, which state how I work in the salon, including how I deal with customers. I do not want my clients to notice any difference.”

Chair rental is growing in popularity, as this approach allows you to reduce your accommodation expenses, purchase costs, and marketing expenses. It also provides you with opportunities to extend your services, for example by working with beauty therapists and pedicurists.

Van Stokkem states that her services are in high demand. While she is considering hiring staff, she also likes the flexibility offered by chair rental.

Het Nagelgilde (professional association)

You do not require any specific training to work as a nail stylist. The main thing is that your clients are satisfied with the result, as it is all about professionalism. The professional association 'Het Nagelgilde' (in Dutch) was established with the objective of professionalising the nail trade by offering training courses and examinations and working based on quality certifications. Het Nagelgilde supports members by sharing information about doing business.

You can become an aspiring member if you are registered with the Chamber of Commerce. You can become a full member after you have passed an examination from a training course recognised by the industry. Some clients may require that you are a registered member, as a star system is a token of recognition. Your membership will tell people that you use an extraction system, and that they can file a formal complaint with the Arbitration Board if necessary.

Administrative records

As an entrepreneur, you will be required to keep administrative records. You can choose to do your financial accounts yourself, or you can outsource it to a bookkeeper or accountant. They will organise your accounts for you, provide you with advice, and they are aware of the various tax benefits out there. Van Stokkem has found that having a good bookkeeper or accountant can really pay off. She did her own accounts for six years: “By the end of it, I was thoroughly fed up with it. It was one of my least favourite activities, and I would keep procrastinating. However, I did enjoy my work and, at the end of the day, my revenues. I now have a bookkeeper to help me out with my accounts, which has freed up a lot of time for me.”

Although it is not required, it is recommended that you open a separate business bank account for your business, to allow you to keep track of your purchases and sales. Read about the pros and cons of business accounts.


If the tax authorities have classified you as an entrepreneur for VAT purposes, you must file a VAT return every quarter. This involves reporting the VAT you have charged to customers or clients and deducting the VAT you have paid to your suppliers/vendors. Tip: download the VAT Alert app (in Dutch) offered by the Dutch tax authorities to remind you when to file VAT returns.

In addition to your VAT returns, you will also need to file income tax returns once a year. Read everything you need to know about taxes as a starting entrepreneur.

Check whether you can benefit from the Small Business Scheme KOR (kleinondernemersregeling). In this case, you are not required to charge VAT on your services. You can take advantage of this scheme if your annual sales revenues (turnover) exclusive of VAT are less than €20,000 on an annual basis and if the Dutch tax authorities have classified you as an entrepreneur for VAT purposes. You can take advantage of the Small Business Scheme for a period of 3 years. This means you must be fairly certain that the scheme will not have any negative implications for you over the next three years. Example: suppose you start making home visits to clients now and apply for the small business scheme, but then, after one year, decide you want to convert your own garage into a salon. In this case, you are not permitted to deduct the VAT from the remodelling costs. Read here about the pros and cons of the small business scheme and view the video checklist for the Small Business Scheme (English subtitles available), which explains how the scheme works.

Rules and regulations

As a nail stylist, you will have to keep in mind the following main rights and obligations:

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

As an entrepreneur, you are required to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation GDPR (Algemene Verordening Gegevensbescherming, AVG), which details your obligations in processing personal data. For example, your clients’ names, address details, and phone numbers. A client may ask you to access the data you have stored on them, or withhold permission to use their data.

Playing music in your salon

If you routinely play music in your nail studio (including background music), you will need to deal with music rights. Check with Buma/Stemra what the costs are.

Hours of operation

The Winkeltijdenwet (Trading Hours Act) states that your nail studio can be open Mondays to Fridays from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Do you want to use alternative hours of operation? Contact your local council to apply for permission.

Workplace safety

As a nail stylist, you typically use a specific brand of products. Depending on the ingredients contained in these products, you may be required by law to use an extraction system in your nail studio. This is because, if you breathe in specific substances on a regular basis or have it come into contact with your skin, you may become vulnerable to health issues.

Using safe products in the workplace is essential to yourself, as well as to your clients. Knowledge of the products you use and how you can use them safely is vital as well. Van Stokkem makes a point of using a brand that is both odourless and free from harmful substances. “Ventilation and extraction are therefore not necessary.”

The brochure Veiligheidsinformatie nagelproducten (Leaflet containing safety information for nail products, in Dutch), which you can download from the Nederlandse Cosmetica Vereniging (Dutch Cosmetics Association) website, contains information and advice on workplace health and safety. This information can help you choose specific brands of products.

Van Stokkem advises nail stylists just starting out to check online and attend commercial fairs and exhibitions to find out what brand or concept suits them best. “I would also recommend that people take a training course, although that will teach you just the basics – you can only perfect your craft through lots of practice.”

Avoiding risks

Discover what risks your business runs and try to avoid them. General terms and conditions help you contain risks in contracts, and you have the option to draw up your own General Terms and Conditions.

You can also take out insurance to protect you against risks you are unwilling or unable to bear yourself. There are some insurance policies which are mandatory, while others are voluntary, such as income protection insurance (disability insurance). Suppose a client’s nails are damaged (nailbeds and all) by the products you use in your studio – in this case, you will be grateful you took out professional (third-party) liability insurance.

Van Stokkem has insured her building and taken out professional liability insurance. “However, I am not yet insured against disability. It is expensive, but I would like to learn more about this type of policy. The Covid pandemic made me more aware of how important this really is, and the same is true for my pension.”

KVK Insurance Check

 While some insurance policies are compulsory, others are simply practical and convenient. Which ones do you need? The KVK Insurance Check (verzekeringscheck, in Dutch) helps you choose your insurance products.

General information  for starting entrepreneurs

Apart from all the above, starting entrepreneurs will also have to deal with the following:

Tip: if there was a word on this page that you did not quite understand, check out this glossary for a simple explanation of business words such as ‘revenue/turnover’, ‘sector/industry’, ‘deduction’, and ‘accountant’.