Some Singapore mums run lucrative beauty businesses from home.
When customers who have booked appointments at Cin City Nails arrive at the nail salon in Kembangan, they will be forgiven for wondering if they have come to the right place.
The salon is housed in manicurist Cindy Chang’s home, a three-storey terrace house that looks just like the other houses in the quiet residential neighbourhood.
But past the living room filled with children’s toys is a medium-sized room where the 31-year-old runs her business – a two-year-old nail salon catering to 10 to 12 customers weekly.
The mother-of-two, who spent about $5,000 to renovate the room, quit her branding and marketing job in 2009 and started freelancing as a nail stylist. She decided to open her home business a few years later as it gives her the flexibility to pursue her interests and spend time with her young children.
“Working for myself means I can adjust my schedule and make time for acting and my other interests,” says Ms Chang, who has snagged roles in television advertisements for companies such as Malaysian bank Maybank and digital telecommunications operator Circles.Life.
She works about four hours a day and has time to prepare her sons, aged five and six, for school, pick them up after and spend time with them in the evenings.
Working from home also means saving on rent, she says, allowing her to charge lower prices. A classic gel manicure at Cin City Nails costs $38, less than the $55 to $85 charged at most commercial outlets here.
The number of home-based beauty businesses such as Ms Chang’s seems to be on the rise in recent years.
Although no official figures are available, local beauty appointment booking app Vanitee – which allows users to search for beauty services by location, post reviews, chat with service providers and book and pay – has seen a big jump in the number of home-based beauty businesses listed on it.
Half of the businesses on the app – about 800 of them – are homebased. This is up from 55 in 2015, when it launched, and 386 last year.
Singapore Polytechnic senior retail lecturer Sarah Lim, who says that there “definitely has been an increase”, reckons that over the last three years, “thousands of new home-based salons have opened”.
The lure, she adds, are the flexible working hours and fewer overheads such as rent and transport costs. She says the cost of running a home-based business, compared to running the same business in a mall, would be at least 50 per cent less.
Starting a business from home, she adds, is also a way for entrepreneurs to test the market before deciding if they want to plough in the capital to open a full-fledged outlet.
“It is a great chance to experiment. If you have a passion for something, a home-based salon is your chance to see if people like your style and skills,” she says.
Singapore Management University associate professor of marketing Seshan Ramaswami says the ailing retail industry has propelled the growth of home-based businesses as entrepreneurs are more careful about taking risks.
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