When the panic begins to set in I remember this because I can rest easy knowing that I have the entire human race working to find solutions to all of these new problems. There is some peace in knowing that you are not the only one that has suddenly lost all income and sense of security. You are not the only business owner that is worried how you will make rent so that you have a place for your employees to return. It’s all scary. The comeback will not be easy. Our collective recovery will require hard work, commitment, problem solving, and most of all…understanding.
I have remained quiet on social media over the last 4 weeks, but I am there watching our industry scramble for messaging, worry about survival, question their career choices, share ideas, and find creative ways to sustain. Studying what I am seeing in online hair stylist groups has made me realize that as an industry we need to have cohesive messaging if we want to come out of this as the pillar of strength our clients need us to be.
As a 22-year veteran of the industry I have seen a lot. I have switched salons, taken maternity leaves, lost clients, lived through recessions, started new businesses (multiple times) and I have found a way to persevere though all of it. While what we are all going through is new, surviving uncertain times is not.
If you are a successful stylist you have already weathered some challenges in your career, and those same skills will get you through this. What is most important is to remember why we are here and what being in the service industry is all about. Our clients are looking to us to help them through this because no one knows what to do; we are the professionals, and we have become their friends.
I am not here to offer business tips, or ideas to make money to keep you afloat during this trying time. There is enough out there to help you through. I’m here to talk about the long-term state of affairs.
It means being their rock when they lose a loved one or a job, fight cancer, or experience a devastating break up. We put our emotions aside and carry their burdens, even if it’s just for an hour. Our job goes way beyond good haircuts. It is our job to solve their problems and be their friend. That’s what solid clienteles are based on.
Seeing some of the posts online, it seems that somewhere along the way we have lost our mission. I understand that this is hard for us, but we need to remember it is hard for our clients as well. Remember what they are going through. Some are locked in their homes with their husbands and a bunch of rambunctious kids, some are working everyday on the front lines, some are paralyzed with fear, some are caring for sick family members praying they don’t contract the virus, and some have slipped into a depression they can’t pull themselves out of.
We have all spent our careers promoting the idea what when you look good you feel good, right? It’s how we support ourselves and pay our bills. If no one cared how they looked, we wouldn’t eat. So, guess what? Our clients are still buying in to that because IT’S TRUE! So, it’s no surprise that EVERYONE in those previously mentioned categories are asking for our help, our guidance, our expertise.
And you know what I have seen as a response to these client requests online? Judgement. Ridicule. Public shaming. Is it inappropriate for a client to demand us to endanger ourselves to provide services? Sure.
Are we worried about all the box color corrections we will be facing? A little.
Does it seem out of touch that people even care about their hair during these tough times? Maybe, but guess what? If you have done your job, you have trained them to associate feeling better with updated hair and renewed confidence.
Now is not the time to shame or judge. As stylists, we should be reassuring our clients by letting them know that we are there for them. We are prepared to coach them through this and that we are ready to fix whatever mishaps that may come about during quarantine hair experiments, without any judgement or mention of the “tax” they will pay in the form of inflated corrective color prices if they dare touch a box of color.
INSTEAD OF JUDGING…
In the meantime…
- Send links to root cover product.
- Be proactive. If they need a bang trim? Be available to walk them through the process.
- Make a video to coach them through at home clipper cuts for their family members.
- Send product and style suggestions for those not interested in hair experiments at home.
This will not take business from you. This will not downplay what you do. This is a temporary fix. None of these clients will do hair once and be able to recreate what you do. It will be a band aid during a traumatic event.
Stop making this about you.
The very thing you are trying to protect is what is in jeopardy when you think on the defensive. Use your expertise to help them FEEL GOOD when nothing else does. Solve their problems and be their friend. These are the things that will save you. This will guarantee you have a clientele to return to.
There are salons on every corner, what will set you apart? The answer is a combination of quality hair services, connection with your clients and the value you place on your relationship with them. No one seeks out advice from a professional to be judged, ridiculed, or threatened with fees to correct a mistake that was made in dire circumstances. This time is no different.
Before you react to a client request for an at home service or advice on box color take pause and choose your words carefully. All of us will be remembered. It’s up to us to decide HOW we will be remembered.
Stay strong. Remember why you chose this career and who we are here to SERVE. Hint... it’s not ourselves.
Lauren Moser (@laurenmmoser) is a winner of the North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) and runs the Hair Lab Detroit Barber School with partner, Rodrick Samuels.
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