"I dropped out of high school at just 17. By age 21, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a hairstylist, and by 22, I was renting my own booth. Like you, I wanted to be in business for myself. Today, we find ourselves in a desperate fight for our businesses and our way of life."--Gina Rivera
 -

"I dropped out of high school at just 17. By age 21, I fulfilled my dream of becoming a hairstylist, and by 22, I was renting my own booth. Like you, I wanted to be in business for myself. Today, we find ourselves in a desperate fight for our businesses and our way of life."--Gina Rivera

It’s time to organize, says celebrity hair artist and owner of Phenix Salon Suites, Gina Rivera.  During this crisis created by COVID-19, Rivera, along with her life and business partner, husband Jason Rivera, is calling for a permanent self-employment plan that addresses the needs of “tiny businesses.”  Through their Business of One movement (www.businessofone.org), they are speaking up on behalf of solo artists (hair stylists, manicurists, estheticians, massage therapists, etc.)  and proposing the formation of a union to protect these independent lifestyle professionals who have been so hard hit by the shutdowns.

“In our 270 locations around the country, we work with approximately 10 thousand lifestyle professionals and we are seeing, up close, how this is impacting them,” Gina says. “We were headed in the right direction (with the CARES Act) but the states are being so overwhelmed with unemployment claims they can’t handle the demand. They don’t even know how to process these people and they are  getting pushed to the back of the line.”

The “tiny business” owners, Gina says, don’t typically qualify for payroll loans or Small Business Administration aid. They are a unique entity and one that The Riveras feel needs representation.

 “We want to push for funding to be included in the next packages, specifically for the Business of One entrepreneurs,” says Jason. “In the short term, we realize this is an uphill battle…but we’re willing to fight it because Gina is so passionate about providing support for the booth rent salon owner.  She gets so many messages from these stylist/owners who don’t have a voice and don’t know where to turn.  And Gina understands what they’re going through; she is an artist, someone who got into this industry as a kid, and comes from a long line of stylists. She knows what it is to have children while working as a stylist, without maternity leave, and to live without a cushion.”

The Riveras say that it’s time a union for independent professionals is established, especially considering the economic contributions that come from this group. 

“These independent lifestyle professionals serve over 100 million clients a month, they pay a substantial amount of self-employment tax and they bring in an estimated 50 billion dollars of revenue a year,” Jason concludes. “They have never had a voice to vouch for them…but now, with Gina, they do.”

At the site is a prepared letter that can be submitted to local state representatives, asking them to support Gina Rivera’s Business of One Initiative.

LEARN MORE: http://businessofone.org/

Gina Rivera founded Phenix Salon Suites. Rivera was featured on the show Undercover Boss and her business was named to Entrepreneur’s Top 500 Franchise List.​

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.