How are you riding out the crisis? Is this the time to park yourself on the couch and binge old episodes of "Friends" or stare at COVID-19 trackers online? That may work for some, but for others, this may be the time to get productive, healthy and happy.
MODERN checked in with some of our favorite salon owners, from three different regions, and asked how they are advising their staff on keeping it all together during this unplanned break from work and routine.
“Many of us now have the opportunity to hit the reset button on different aspects of our lives,” Eva Scrivo, co-owner of the Eva Scrivo Salon in NYC says. “This is something that will, hopefully, never happen again in our lifetimes and should be seen as an opportunity rather than a setback.” For Rona O’Connor, co-owner of Lukaro, Beverly Hills, California, this is the chance to be more artistic. “Now that the salon is closed and the days are open to our imaginations, we can grow in different ways.” Rusty Phillips is hoping the stylists at his Belle Epoque salon in Kansas City, Missouri, are taking this time to develop skills and practice new techniques while avoiding depressing news. “I am limiting my watching and reading media about the Corona Virus to two times a day,” Phillips says. “Instead, I’m using this time to connect with friends and family across the country. It’s reassuring to keep surrounded with positive energy and love from those people.”
Eva Scrivo advises getting outside everyday if possible
“You can be productive both mentally and physically during this time,” Scrivo says. “This is a great time to reflect on your career and what you really want out of it. This is the time to perhaps re-evaluate if things are moving in the right direction for you professionally. This can be very difficult to do this when you’re constantly busy with clients and just want to have dinner and fall into bed at the end of the day. “
Phillips has set up a “play room” in his basement. “I’m organizing all of my hair equipment, mannequins, wigs, extensions products and tools, and then spending time watching some tutorials. I’m watching things on Modern Salon's site, YouTube and Instagram, and enjoying some of my subscriptions to educational sites. I’m also working on extensions on mannequins, something I really never have time to do.”
“I think the hardest thing is not having the routine we had,” O'Connor adds. “I personally start my day very early to have quiet time, meditate on what I can do and make a daily plan.” But then O’Connor says it’s about staying connected. “My staff and I started a group chat to stay connected and updated when we realized what was happening. It’s non-productive to get stuck in stress. The ‘not knowing’ is the most unsettling, beyond the news, so we have kept a daily conversation going to support one another and to stay updated. We share what each of us is doing, which inspires each of us.” Others on the Lukaro staff are watching hair videos from recent hair shows and taking this time to improve their knowledge and skills. “This is a luxury the busy ones don’t always have.” She also advises tuning in to the classes that are offered through different manufactures to keep on top of what’s new.”
On a personal level, O’Connor says this is the time to “do things for yourself that you never get to! Clean that closet or a garage that you have saved for the rainy day that never comes.”
Scrivo agrees, advising that this is the time to take care of yourself. “Read the books you’ve been meaning to read, organize your home, edit your wardrobe. My husband and I are talking about getting a dog now while we are spending seven days per week at our house.” Phillips is keeping his artistic juices flowing. “I’m doing some painting exercises using water paint. I mix different colors together to create a palette for future projects.”
Rusty Phillips is working on wigs and extensions to keep himself creative during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Hairdressers are like athletes and should treat their bodies as such,” Scrivo says. “Our work can be so physically taxing, that it’s imperative to stay in shape and healthy - I always preach this to our staff. If you’re not in good health and don't have excellent stamina, it’s hard to be successful.” Scrivo believes that a salon pro’s success is based not on just on skill and personality, but on pure physical endurance necessary to handle a full book of clients four to five days per week. “Take this time to learn more about health and what your body needs for optimum performance. If you have open space around you - spend time outdoors. It helps to open the soul.”
O’Connor also stays physically active and also suggests getting fresh air once a day. “Go for an hour walk - make it an adventure! Go hiking if you have that opportunity near you. We are blessed in California. I hike every other day-for two - three hours. It’s calming and a great way to reset, besides keeping fit. Topanga State Park is spectacular. The color green promotes creativity and taking that time allows you to take a minute or more a day to look around and be grateful for what you have.” O’Connor also advises keeping active at home watching YouTube workouts and Yoga. “Hairdressers and colorists need to protect their backs, so if you don’t have a routine, taking the time now to create one that involves core, posture and awareness of self-care would be a great time.”
Phillips has set up an area as a home gym. “I’m using resistance bands to keep muscle strength and density. I am planning on learning yoga so I will stay limber and also getting outside to enjoy some of the beautiful spring weather.” But beyond working out, Phillips decided it was time to focus on his diet. “Before I suspended work, I stocked up on my food supplies,” Phillips says. “It’s important to keep a healthy balanced diet. Most of the things I purchased were frozen. I also bought lots of vegetables, and lean meat, plenty of fruit. I got as much fresh things that will keep for several days, carrots, apples, oranges. I am taking some time to try new recipes.”
Beyond diet, cooking has become a fun experience for O’Connor. “My husband Luke and I follow a client on Instagram who is cooking every day from her cookbook- "An American Girl In London." She is amazing! @marissahermer. We now regularly make a 'Pot Of Chicken Soup' from her recipe – healthy cooking.”
When it comes to food, Scrivo recommends taking this opportunity to read one book in particular, ‘The Plant Paradox’ by Dr. Steven Gundry. “I have changed my diet and how I feel based on the insight I gained from it.”
To prevent additional stress, O’Connor advises not overdoing the news. “It’s anxiety producing. If you do find it overwhelming, try this breathing exercise. Breath in for seven seconds, hold for seven seconds and then breath out for seven seconds. Do this for five minutes. It works!”
“I end my day with movie night and popcorn,” O’Connor says. “Or dark chocolate - or cake! On Demand offers movies that were supposed to be opening in theaters. Directors and others involved have been on Twitter to connect with their audience- pretty cool. We now watch from the convenience of our own homes with our own popcorn! It’s a good time for guilty pleasures.”
Scrivo is finding happiness in gratitude. “Gratitude is happiness and so many of us have lost it because our lives have generally been so easy, self-absorbed, and focused on consumption,” she says. “This is an incredibly unique time in our lives to reflect on what we have and gain a new sense of appreciation for things that we've been taking for granted, while they have been temporarily taken away from us. Stylists may begin to once again - or for the first time ever - appreciate the salons where they work and feel gratitude toward the salon owners who sacrifice so much so they can have a place to practice their craft and earn a living. To feel fortunate when they’re so busy with clients that their feet and body ache at the end of the day, rather than being resentful of having to work so hard.” Scrivo says this is also an opportunity to look at employees through fresh eyes. “Salon owners may feel a new sense of gratitude toward their staffs, clients, and everything they’ve built. And, of course, clients will never be so thankful to be able to sit in your chair. We have hit a pause button in our lives and society. In a couple of months, when things should begin to normalize, we can have a new beginning with a fresh attitude and perspective. As so many businesses around us have been forced to close, many to never reopen, be thankful that most of us will be able to pick right back up where we left off because of the unique nature of what we do. Not only that, but you’ll be busier than ever as clients who were forced to neglect their hair clamor to get in with you.”
For immediate happiness, something to share with your neighborhood and anyone looking, O’Connor suggests putting up Christmas lights, either at your home or in and around your salon if possible. "It symbolizes hope," O'Connor says. "In every dark situation there is always light. You can find your light and be a light for others.”