The only thing I ever wanted to be was a hairdresser. I never have thoughts of changing careers or ever dreamed of owning my own salon.
I had been trucking along, working for the same large salon group for 25 years when bam! Corona Virus struck!
Let me paint a picture of what 2020 looked like for hairstylists in California. We were shut down three times—March, July and December. We were only allowed to open for two weeks in the summer and in total we were shut down for six months out of that year. That was utterly devastating to small businesses.
On a personal level, my whole world had been turned upside down. For the last decade, I was hopping a plane every weekend, either facilitating a color education program for Matrix (a division of L’Oreal) or working in a salon in Los Angeles. Overnight in March 2020 that all came to a DEAD STOP.
The Pandemic Pivot
In September of 2020, I pivoted and opened my own salon space. Never in my entire career did I see myself opening a salon but I saw the need for a small, safe space for clients to go. I re-invented the salon studio experience to be larger and luxurious yet still very private and personal.
The space I chose has incredible light and ventilation, high ceilings and an outdoor deck. I also installed two hepa-filter air purifiers on either side of the salon. Salon guests feel safe, confident and relaxed away from the frenzy of a large salon atmosphere.
It felt really good to be able to provide this safe space for my clients. Being back in-salon I saw how much people missed that human connection and being physically touched. I realized how much I missed my clients, our conversations and the joy they bring me. I realized more than ever that so much of people’s emotional and mental well-being is wrapped up in their appearance and connection to their hairdresser. As I was told by so many guests, I am valued and definitely essential!
So what does a salon look like in 2021? Well, safety protocols including masking with both clients and technicians will continue probably until at least the end of the year. Elevated sanitation and social distancing (keeping a minimum of 6’ of distance) between clients will be the new normal.
Stylists should have two different certifications issued by Barbicide that show that they have the new COVID-19 sanitation protocols in place. With the increased safety and disinfection guests should feel 100% safe seeing stylists in salon but if they do not, they should feel comfortable enough to ask their stylist for private sessions (either before or after normal business hours) especially if they are high risk or have medical concerns about being in the salon with other clients. Most stylists would be happy to oblige.
You Got This
This pandemic forced change for a lot of people. It made us question everything in our lives; our careers, our priorities, even where we live in the world. Huge changes had to happen and we had to pivot to remain relevant. The interesting thing is that out of a horrific, scary situation wonderful new opportunities were born.
People who thought creatively thrived and actually got to do things they never thought possible before. Many could now work from home, or work on the road, or travel all over the world with their office umbilical cords cut.
Restaurants built amazing outdoor dining areas. Salons were forced to focus in, and focus on the core of our industry; beauty, well-being and self-confidence. My clients rely on me not only for my expertise but as their cheerleader. I am the person who makes them feel beautiful and confident and occasionally can be that shoulder to cry on when times are challenging. Don’t give up on your dreams. Don’t let the pandemic crush you...PIVOT. You got this! You are amazing!
Cares Mills is a Matrix Artistic Educator. Follow her @colorbycares
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