With Tissue Nearby
Judging the SALON TODAY 200 was radically different this year. While there were still piles of essays to read and score and data to consider, most of the SALON TODAY team did their judging with a box of Kleenex at hand. Not only did these essays show how salon were impacted by the pandemic, they often revealed a strength in character that makes us all proud to be human.
In a typical year, this year’s ST200 would only have examined the growth and best business practices of 2019. But in the midst of the chaos that was last summer, I queried a handful of long-time honorees, asking how current events should impact this year’s application. Many told me it was hard to write about their success in 2019, when they were struggling to hold onto their businesses in 2020. So we decided to look at both years through our essays, allowing applicants to share their growth in 2019 and their survival strategies in 2020.
Knowing and loving the industry as we all do, it was impossible not to be emotionally impacted as you read these essays. Here are two that will stand in my memory forever:
"One day, after receiving news that we did not obtain the first round of PPP loan, all our employees came together and presented a special surprise. After working curbside orders that day, I walked across the street to the park and shockingly saw the entire team sitting together in a circle with wine and love letters, along with a huge envelope full of cash they wanted to donate to the salon; just in case we didn’t get the second round of PPP. I will never ever forget that moment for the rest of my life. It was the most selfless and most caring act any employee can do for their place of employment. It just goes to show, when you truly care and take care of people and show them what’s possible and how to reach their own version of success, then they will do the same for you. I’d move mountains for them, and I know they would do the same.” Raven Row Salon, Austin, TX
"We had been reopened for just over three months after the shutdown when Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 hurricane, made a direct hit to our Southwest Louisiana community. The entire town was without power for weeks. We were lucky that both the salon and the academy received minimal damage, because the approximately 150 mph wind had ripped roofs off of buildings and collapsed brick walls into rubble all over town. Two weeks after the storm, we opened for two days to offer free haircuts to first responders. We invited stylists from all over town to join us and worked out of our academy on generator power. We took a break for two days, then opened back up for our stylists and clients at the academy where we stayed on generator power for another two weeks, returning to the salon when power was restored. We then let other salons that had lost their locations use the academy to start seeing their own clients. At least 10 salons we know of were completely lost to damage from Hurricane Laura—we felt called to open our doors to those stylists. However, this only lasted a week before our area was hit again, by Hurricane Delta. Again, we were forced to close and evacuate our still-devastated community and watch as a hurricane poured salt (or in this case, water) on open wounds (or in this case, roofs). Delta only kept us closed for seven days, and we were back in business.”—The Ritz Inc., in Lake Charles, LA
While these stories certainly tug at the heartstrings, I’m hoping 2021 is a year of rebuilding, growth and success that yields strong, but less heart-wrenching essays, in next year’s SALON TODAY 200.
Wishing you good health, full chairs and happy clients!