Mobile Stylist

How to Navigate the Ins and Outs of the Mobile Stylist Life

If you read the title of this e-book, scratched your head, and wondered (out loud or to yourself) “what the heck is a mobile stylist?”—then honey, we’re so glad you’re here. Whether you’re just starting out in the beauty biz world or you’ve been an integral piece of the industry’s puzzle for decades, we’ve got some news— times are a-changing. 

And honestly? We’re pretty damn pleased about it.

Gone are the days of a traditional in-the-salon-at-8-and-out-at-6 career.Gone are the days of shampooing clients for a boss you can’t stand while you dream of building your own stylist empire. Gone, say it with us, are the days of pushing your best stylist life to the corner because you don’t think you can make a viable living going against the grain.

A mobile stylist—for those of you who are just now learning this term (get ready to start using it constantly; you’re bound to be hooked)—is a freelance stylist who isn’t bound by the walls of a salon or spa. In other words, a mobile stylist is a professional cosmetologist, stylist, colorist, etc. who offers their specialty services at the client’s preferred location—homes, workspaces, nursing homes, mobile salons that belong to the stylist, and more.

The cool thing about a mobile stylist? You can live your creative, badass stylist life without being tied to a single location, working a single gig for a single boss doing the same thing over and over. As a mobile stylist, you make the rules about what you want to do, where you want to do it, and what services you want to offer.

The mobile stylist career is in the now, you guys. It’s the best thing happening to the beauty industry ATM and it’s only going to get much, much bigger. 

Translation? Mobile salons and mobile stylist careers are about to take over, so you better hop on this bandwagon right freakin’ now if you want to get a jump on the competition. 

Sounds pretty dang sweet, right? Yeah—if we didn’t already have this insurance gig, we’d probably hop on it ourselves. But the good news is that you can. This career niche is ready and ripe for the taking—all you have to do is get started.

Wondering how you can do that? We thought you might be. That’s exactly why we’ve created this resource for you.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about being a mobile stylist— from the basic benefits to the must-have career advice, we’ve got all of your mobile stylist questions on lock. At the end of the day, the direction you take your stylist career is entirely up to you, and the cool thing about the beauty industry is that there are thousands of niche career paths out there.

Still—we’d be doing you just about the biggest disservice ever if we didn’t introduce you to the badass world of being of a mobile stylist.

So, what are you waiting for? Start reading ASAP!

First Things First— Why Become a Mobile Stylist? 

You’ve probably been dreaming up an entire list of reasons to become a mobile stylist since you first heard the buzzword. AKA, you’ve got your own set of answers to the why become a mobile stylist question. 

But you guys—there are so many advantages to becoming a mobile stylist. There are so many opportunities. There are so many legitimate reasons that becoming a mobile stylist can take your career to the next level.

And if you know us at all (which, by the way, if you don’t: hi, we’re Elite Beauty Society), you can bet we’re about to outline every last one of them right now.

The Benefits of Being a Mobile Stylist 

Profitability ($$$) 

While the mobile stylist life might not seem like a six-figure salary kind of thing right off the bat, we can guarantee you that it can be exceptionally profitable. Not only are you setting yourself up to work the hours that you want, charge more (because you’re offering a premium, luxury service), and work with a specific market, you’re also not having to deal with certain costs like rent or utilities (in most cases).

Sure, you might have other expenses (if you’re using a converted van, for example, you’ll need to pay costs associated with that), but ultimately, it likely won’t add up to the amount of cash you invest in a studio, salon or spa. 

Tight-Knit Clientele 

If you’ve worked in the industry before—or you’ve ever been to a stylist, like, ever—then you already know that people tend to form strong bonds with their hairdressers, estheticians, stylists, etc. But when you’re working in a salon, there’s only so much room to form a tight-knit bond. As a mobile stylist who’s either entering into a client’s home or inviting a client into their mobile set-up, a lot of trust is at play.

When you form relationships with clients as a mobile stylist, you have the opportunity to build even closer bonds than you ever could in a salon or spa. People open up more than just their haircare to you—they open their lives. You meet families and pets, chat with loved ones, see the inner workings of their environment.

You become a big part of your clients’ lives. Further, because you’re not bound to a specific salon, you’re able to cultivate your group of ideal clients—you can target your exact market to really find the people you want to work with. 

Create Your Own Work Environment 

You literally create your own work environment as a mobile stylist because you’re the one who makes the decisions about where you’ll work. Further, depending on your own goals, you can set your own schedule, serve your specific market of ideal clients, and craft a career that revolves around your preferred environment. 

Flexibility Like You Wouldn’t Believe 

Of course, as a mobile stylist, you’re granted the flexibility of working where you want to, but you can also control when you work, who you work for, what you offer, and how you work, too. Best of all, it’s a job that can work within your life goals—not the other way around.

Do you want to travel the country exploring new places and work at the same time? As a mobile stylist, you absolutely can. Do you prefer your cozy space within your city but still want to work on your own terms? A mobile stylist can do that. The flexibility of this type of career is literally endless. 

Hating Your Boss Without Feeling Guilty 

OK—we’re totally kidding. We definitely don’t support self-hatred. But we do love the fact that being a mobile stylist means that, in most cases, you’re only answering to you. You make your choices, you create your own opportunities, and you’re accountable for your success. There’s no one to hold you back, no one to keep you from accomplishing your dreams, and no one to keep you in any corner. 

Where Can You Practice? 

Literally Anywhere We’re not messin’ around here, fam. You can practice your craft literally anywhere. Want to set up a program that specializes in serving clients within a single neighborhood in a big city? Do it. 

Your Own Mobile Stylist Vehicle 

#VanLife, right, guys? We’re just being cheeky—in all actuality, we’re huge fans of this type of mobile stylist setup. This is a hugely popular way to service clients right now and we anticipate it will only get bigger. If you’re all about being mobile—in the literal sense of the word—this type of stylist venue could be a great thing for you.

You can travel the country in it or travel the neighborhood. You can create a customized space that’s fully equipped and is every stylist’s dream—but it just so happens to be on wheels. Of course, with any stylist work environment, you’ll need to make sure this space is legal and up-to-code so that you can offer your clients the cleanest, most sterile, safest environment possible while you’re dishing out your stylist A-game. 

At Client Homes 

This is an enormous trend in the mobile stylist game. Unlike a normal salon where the clients come to you, you go to your clients. Revolutionary, right? This whole limitless location thing can be enormously profitable because you’re not restricted by one geographic group of people—instead, you’re only curbed by your own restrictions.

With salons, it’s likely that most of your clients will live within the area (very few clients likely drive in from 2+ hours away). But as a mobile stylist who enters clients’ homes, you’re not limiting yourself to the opportunities within a few geographical blocks. You open the door for thousands more clients than you ever thought possible. 

Nursing Homes & Hospitals 

This option isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fantastic choice for stylists who love to be the bright spot in someone’s day. Mobile stylists can be hired by hospitals, nursing homes, hospice facilities, and more to service their patients. This type of mobile styling gig can be super-rewarding but also very challenging. 

Rented Studio/Booth Space 

As a mobile stylist, you can rent booth or salon space and hop around like crazy if you want—even if it’s just for a month or two at a time. Want to split time between a booth rental and going to your clients’ homes? Do it. Want to take a month to bust out a ton of client appointments in a row to save up some funds? Go for it. Mobile stylists aren’t defined by always being on the road—you can create your own niche however you want. 

Weddings, Elopements & Special Events Galore 

We’re not saying that you have to be a wedding stylist, but mobile stylists can make an absolute killing off working special events. From elopements in remote locations (they’re a thing!) to proms to traditional weddings to retirement parties and more, there’s no limit on what you can offer as a mobile stylist—you just have to be willing to show up wherever the special event is.

TBH guys, that’s just a teeny-tiny list of the options. With the mobile stylist gig, the opportunities are pretty much only as limited as your own creativity. There are no real rules to how you go about where you can work as a mobile stylist. This whole limitless location thing can be enormously profitable because you’re not restricted by one geographic group of people—instead, you’re only curbed by your own restrictions. 

That being said, because you’re planning to work anywhere and everywhere, you’ll need to be in-the-know about license reciprocity. In other words, you’ll need to know how your license works where you are because license validity changes from state to state.

We suggest reading up on our post about license reciprocity to get a better idea of where you stand, what could affect your license’s validity, and how you can ensure you’re practicing properly.

The Good & the Bad of Mobile Styling (It’s Mostly Good) 

We’re not going to sit here and pretend that a mobile stylist life is perfect— you should know by now that nothing is ever totally perfect (except for that balayage you did last week—now that was perfect). 

There are some downsides to being a mobile stylist.

You’ll need to invest in great, portable equipment, which isn’t always the cheapest. You’ll have to deal with traffic and a lot of factors that are totally out of your control. You’ll have to drive distances to reach your clients and you’ll still—occasionally—have to deal with people you don’t like. You’ll need a firm understanding of where your license works and how you’ll need to make changes.

But at the end of the day, if the pros outweigh the cons (and for a lot of people, the pros of this type of gig do), you’re bound to be absolutely smitten with this career.

So, to summarize—no, a mobile stylist job isn’t perfect, but when you do it the right way, it can be #careergoals.

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How to Kickstart Your Mobile Stylist Career 

So, how exactly do you do this the right way? How exactly do you kick your mobile stylist career off with a bang and set yourself up for mobile success? It’s just like anything else—take small, but vital, baby steps to really get the ball rolling. Let’s start with the very basics.

  • Check Your Licenses/Certifications 

  • Quick Start 101: Apps 

  • Advertising & Marketing 

Check Your Licenses & Certifications 

We know, we know—you guys are probably already well-versed on the whole you need to be licensed and certified to practice your craft thing, but we’re going to say it anyway. Obviously, you’ll need to ensure that you’re covered for any and every service you offer (which goes hand-in-hand with any gig in the beauty biz). But, with a mobile stylist job, you’ll need to double-check on a few different certs and regulations before you kick your career off. 


Standard Cosmetology License 

If you’ve been in the beauty industry for a bit, you’ve probably got this whole thing tackled. But, if you’re brand-new to this career, you might still need your cosmetology or stylist license. Picking a school or program can be a difficult choice, and there are hundreds to choose from, but ultimately, obtaining your license is going to be the biggest piece of getting your business started.

Specialty Certifications 

Are you planning to offer specialty services to your clients? We recommend obtaining certifications for every service you plan to offer. No, this probably isn’t always required, but it can be a huge boost in customer confidence in your abilities (and can be proof to have on you when you’re running around to clients’ houses).  

License Reciprocity Rules 

Like we mentioned a little bit before, if you’re planning to be a mobile stylist who occasionally crosses city, state, or even country lines, you need to have a solid understanding of what your current licenses and certifications cover and what they don’t.

Licenses don’t always have reciprocity wherever you go, meaning, even if you’re legally allowed to practice a certain type of cosmetology in one area, your license might not apply somewhere else. It’s hugely important that you take a look at the areas you want to work and ensure that you’re licensed to operate there.

The Next Steps: Mobile Stylist FAQs 

Sure, we’ve given you some of the need-to-know details about how to kickstart your mobile stylist business , but that doesn’t mean you’re feeling 100 percent ready to conquer the world of mobile styling just yet. 

Guess what? That’s OK. 

We figured there were still a few more questions out there (probably a lot, actually), so we thought we’d break down some needed answers to some of those Qs runnin’ through your minds right now.

We’ve laid out a few frequently asked questions about starting your own mobile stylist business—we might not know everything that’s on your mind, but we’ll sure as hell try to cover a bunch of the basics! 

What Should I Charge for My Mobile Stylist Services? 

This probably feels like a huge question—and that’s fair. But we’re happy to tell you that it’s actually not as overwhelming and complicated as you might think. Creating your own set of prices really isn’t that scary—you just need to be willing to do a little math. When you charge for your services, you need to take a few different things into account, like: 

Your Costs 
  • This is everything that goes into running your business. We’re talkin’ products, overhead, expenses, gas, tools, equipment, subscriptions, suppliers, etc. Everything that your business costs you should go on this list. 
Your Time 
  • So often, stylists forget that their time is valuable. And in your case, your time is extra valuable because you’re driving to your clients. Be sure to include that in your rates—if you don’t you’ll find the math won’t work in your favor.
The Value of Your Service 
  • Of course your skills should be priced appropriately. Remember, you’re not trying to gouge anyone, but you’re a talented stylist. You know what you’re worth, and you shouldn’t undercharge someone. As a mobile stylist, you’re offering a premium service, but you’re also bringing that premium service directly to your client. You’re giving them a lot of value, so price accordingly. 
  • Want to go a little more in-depth on some of those factors? Go for it. We’ve linked our guide on how to charge for your craft right here. Although it’s not specific to mobile stylists, it offers great insight for reviewing your costs and understanding how to charge a fair, but profitable rate for your premium services. 

What Services Can I Offer? 

The only real limits to what you can offer as a mobile stylist are going to depend on your tools, your equipment and your need for space.

Looking to offer nail services? You can do that. How about facials and esthetician services? Sure—if you have the tools to do so and the space to do it, go for it. 

Eyebrows, lashes, color, blowouts, etc. You truly can include an impressive array of services as long as you’re equipped with the tools you need to offer services properly. 

How Do I Make Sure I Get Return Clients? 

Ultimately, people are going to want to hire you over and over if you get them the results they’re after. If you’re kind, professional and great at what you do, you’ll have no problem keeping clients on your roster. And of course, paying attention to customer satisfaction is an enormous piece of retaining clients. 

Think about it—customers won’t invite people into their home or go out of their way to work with a stylist who isn’t granting them the customer satisfaction they desire. Be sure that you’re following up, offering loyalty and reward programs, interacting and engaging, connecting with them, putting them first, and offering them a premium experience every single time.

Is Working in a Client’s Home Weird? 

This one could go either way because it depends on a lot of individual factors. If you’re the type of person who feels weird entering someone else’s domain and you feel like you can’t do your best work when you’re uncomfortable, then it might be hard for you to work in your clients’ homes.

A personalized, mobile styling vehicle might be a better option for you because you’re able to control and optimize your own space. 

That being said, if you’re willing to work through a little initial weirdness, there are ways you can avoid having awkward experiences with clients in their own homes. You truly can include an impressive array of services as long as you’re equipped with the tools you need to offer services properly. For starters, set up rules, policies and guidelines, and make sure your clients are aware of them before they hire you. 

We’re not saying they need to sign paperwork or anything, but we do recommend creating firm guidelines on what you’re OK with and what you’re not OK with.

For example, if you’re uncomfortable working at a client’s home at night, make sure that’s something you make known. Or, if you want to retain the right to cancel an appointment if a client is making you uncomfortable, make sure that’s listed, too. 

How the Heck Do I Run My Own Business? 

This one is kind of a fake-out because we can’t actually answer that for you. How you run your business is totally up to you, and we absolutely believe in your vision. That being said, if you find that you’re struggling with the concept of running your own business and are feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a few business 101 courses to get some footing.

You can find free tutorials online, attend classes at your local community college, or find a successful businessperson to mentor you. There’s no single way to go about this. We always recommend bettering yourself through education that makes sense for you!

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The Final 6 Things Every Mobile Stylist Needs 

So, you’ve learned mostly everything you need to about being a mobile stylist at this point. You’ve already laid out the pros and cons. You’ve figured out how to kickstart your career. You’ve studied up on some of the basics behind the mobile stylist gig.

You’ve basically got it covered, right? Well—almost.

We’ve still got a few last-minute tips to share. We know, we know—you’re probably ready for this lengthy resource to be over, but remember, we’re here to uncover all the tools you need to be a successful mobile stylist, and we’d be doing you a huge disservice if we didn’t mention these last few things you absolutely need before you kick off your mobile stylist career. 

The Appropriate Licensing & Registration 

At this point, we’re just throwing this one in here to make sure you know we mean business. Straighten out your licensing and certifications, understand reciprocity, and figure out what you need in order to offer your unique services legally and compliantly in the areas you plan to practice your craft.

Ya dig? PS: If you’re running your own business, you legally have to register that business (because the government wants to know what’s going on and honestly, we don’t blame them).

Be sure that you’re compliant with all your local laws wherever you’re planning to register your mobile stylist biz. 

A Marketing Strategy 

Once again, we’re hammering home about marketing. Why? Because, you guys, it is so important for drawing in new clients, keeping your regulars, and showcasing your brand and your message.

Marketing is key when it comes to your brand’s message, so you’ll want to make sure you’re putting a lot of work into that. We’re linking some resources here that we believe are going to be hugely helpful! 

While they’re not all specifically targeted toward mobile stylists, with a few tweaks here and there they can be incredibly useful for your marketing plan. 

A Business Plan 

Just like any other freelancer or entrepreneur, you’re going to have to set up your own business plan. We won’t go off on a tangent about this, but we will say one important thing—this isn’t as intimidating as it might feel.

If you’re unsure of where to start, consider hiring someone to work through a business plan with you. Trust us: If mapping out your business’ strategy isn’t your strong suit, it’s well worth the investment to partner with a professional who can help simplify and optimize your business plan.

Marketing is key when it comes to your brand’s message, so you’ll want to make sure you’re putting a lot of work into that.  

Liability Insurance 

Yeah, yeah, roll your eyes. So typical, right?

The insurance company is coming at you about buying their insurance. We get it, we know how biased this comes off, but we’ll be super straight up with you—whether you buy from us or not, we absolutely, 110 percent recommend you invest in liability insurance that protects you at all costs.

Why? Because it’s absolutely the smartest thing you can possibly do to protect your business, your assets, your financial security and your own reputation.

We’re not saying that you’re going to make a huge mistake or something—that’s not what insurance is about.

We are saying that investing in liability insurance that’s going to protect you should anything happen—an allegation, a sketchy situation, a mistake, etc.—is a must when it comes to running a successful business. 

Your Own Tools & Equipment

Yep, if you’re running a mobile stylist business, you’re going to have to invest in your own tools.

The downside? It can be a substantial upfront cost. 

The upside? You’re the only one using those tools, they belong to you, and you’re accountable for them—that means if you take care of them, do right by them, and buy quality equipment, they can serve you for years to come! 

Plus, you get to make all your own choices about what brands and products to purchase—that’s a beautiful thing right there. 

Supporting Services 

The cool thing about being a mobile stylist is that you’re running your own business—everything is up to you!

The overwhelming thing about being a mobile stylist? You’re running your own business and everything is up to you. 

Unlike when you’re working in a salon or shop, you’re the one who’s in charge of all aspects of your business—marketing, advertising, running the books, financial planning, website building, taxes, actual services, etc. 

The list goes on and on. If your budget allows it, consider hiring on other contractors in those niches that you’re not quite comfortable in. While this might be something you need to grow into as your company starts making more money, we can guarantee that when you start hiring for your weaknesses (hey, we all have them), you start to alleviate your stress bit by bit.

Not only can that be exceptionally rewarding, but it can also free up your time to do what you do best—be a damn stylist. 

You’re literally so close to becoming a mobile stylist. You’ve got all the basics you need to get this show on the road, so what’s stopping you? Take your career by the horns and create the job you’ve always wanted. The world needs more stylists like you, so take your talent to the streets and start slinging your craft!

If you’re ever in need of anything—from liability insurance to more advice to a network of beauty babes and bros who have been there before you—Elite Beauty Society’s got your back.

Keep up with our regularly updated blog for more advice and insight, contact our team for information on how we can help protect your business, and most importantly, interact with our community! We’re rooting for you—always. 

Go kick ass and take names as the newest—and best—mobile stylist on the block!