As salons in Georgia reopened for business, Beauty Changes Lives, a nonprofit driven to make the beauty profession a first-choice career by empowering individuals with mentorship, inspiration and scholarships, caught up with hairstylist Joanna Grant. A 2016 Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education scholarship recipient, Joanna is a hairstylist at Van Michael Salon in Atlanta. Preparing for her first day back in the salon, Joanna shared her perspective on what she expects to be a “new normal” when she returns to work.
When will you start back in the salon?
Joanna Grant: My first day back is Monday, May 4. It’s been a long time since lockdown measures started, but I’m glad the salon provided its team members with a choice regarding the day we return to the salon. It’s a very personal decision and it’s important for both hairstylists and our clients to feel safe.
What did you do to stay busy and positive during lockdown?
JG: Most of my family does not live in the U.S., so I’m really grateful for technology that helped us connect virtually and make it through a stressful time. Beyond helping me connect with family and friends, technology also provided an opportunity to keep learning. Dexterity is important – you can’t just put your shears down and walk away. I watched a lot of presentations and discussions presented by the Van Michael’s team, various Aveda artists and hairstylists all over the globe.
Additionally, the lockdown provided an opportunity for a pause and a chance to rethink my priorities and what is meaningful. One insight was that I don’t view this career as work. I had a bit of an epiphany: I don’t have to work; I get to work.
From a financial perspective, how did you adapt to uncertain economic times?
JG: I’m so grateful for the Van Michael team’s approach. The salon implemented no layoffs or furloughing and gave stylists the choice about when we re-enter the salon.
Did clients reach out during the lockdown?
JG: Yes; a few clients asked me to make house calls. Communication was important – explaining to clients that their safety is important to me and why it’s important to have protocols implemented to keep all of us protected.
How comfortable do you feel returning to the salon?
JG: I’m very reassured by the extreme measures the team has taken to make sure hairstylists and clients are safe. Masks are required of all who enter the salon along with temperature checks. I’ll be wearing a face shield when serving clients and we’ll be wearing gloves. From a service perspective, we’re asking clients to come in with their hair washed as we won’t be doing blow drying, with the exception of extensions and keratin treatments performed only on Sunday.
How are you helping clients feel comfortable returning to the salon?
JG: The process at Van Michael starts with the re-bookings or new appointments when a client calls in. We have a questionnaire that includes questions such as whether a client has been ill in the past 14 days or been in contact with anyone who has been ill in the last 14 days. All of my booking and re-booking clients have expressed appreciation for the precautions we are taking.
What are you most looking forward to when you return to the salon on May 4?
JG: Our “normal” has changed. I’m eager to discover how to best care for my clients in this new normal. I want to listen and understand how I can help clients feel comfortable in the salon. There is a lot of anxiety now so I want to be part of a safe space where clients can be heard and cared for. Fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Through listening and implementing responsible safeguards we can help clients feel comfortable as we find a new normal.
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