Salons and spas adapt to new normal

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Salons and spas in North Grenville are figuring out how to adapt their business to the new realities of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stephanie Richardson, of Richardson Hair Design in Kemptville, says they never thought they would be closed for months when they shut down in March. “None of us have ever been through anything like this before,” she says. “I thought we would be closed for a few weeks.”

The past few months have been a rollercoaster for Stephanie and the rest of the owners of spas and salons in the area. Rumours were circulating about when they would be allowed to reopen. One day, they would hear that it wouldn’t be until the end of the summer, and the next they heard it was immanent.

Premier Doug Ford’s announcement last week that salons and spas would be included in phase two of reopening created a whirlwind for business owners, excited to get back to work, but also overwhelmed by the preparation needed to make sure they kept their staff and clients safe.

While the timeline of a few days may have been doable for someone with a one man show, Stephanie says that for spa and salon owners who have a staff to consider, it is going to take a bit longer to make sure they have all the proper policies and procedures in place. This includes juggling schedules to make sure they only have 2-3 stylists in at once, providing proper PPE like face masks and shields, and putting even more extensive cleaning and sanitization practices into place.

Stephanie says they will also be limiting the number of clients they see at a time, and doing their best to eliminate overlap. Instead of six stations, they will only be using three to four of them, to make sure to maintain physical distancing while serving clients. “It’s going to be a lot more challenging,” she says. “We’re going to have to work twice as hard for half the money.”

Clients will only be allowed to bring in a few personal items to their ap- pointment, and they will not be offered any beverages or magazines for people waiting. It is likely that they will also have to remove any decorative pillows and furniture and take products for sale off the shelves. “People should expect a sterile clinic environment, rather than a salon with funky uptown flair,” Stephanie says.

This is an overwhelming time for many business owners who are trying to adapt to the new realities of COVID-19, but it is especially difficult for those who depend on human interaction for their livelihood. Stephanie pointed out that hairstyling is often secondary to the experience of socializing with her clients at the salon, something that will be difficult with all the new regulations. Having experimented with cleaning her house in a mask, Stephanie says that it will feel like her stylists are working in an oven, and that it may be difficult for them to interact with clients in the way that they are used to.

“We are at a time that challenges this,” Stephanie writes in her blog, according to your stylist.com. “We are in a time of pause, panic, and uncertainty. A time that is a true struggle for those of us who survived from our social connections. Monetary concerns aside (if you didn’t have them before, you likely do now), social interactions with our clients is the fuel for our souls. It’s why your stylist keeps coming to work.”

Stephanie says that, as a business owner, she is having to find the right balance between appeasing the authorities and making sure clients feel that due diligence is being taken to keep them safe. She is also concerned about her own staff, who don’t want to bring anything home to their families. She says things have been crazy ever since the government announced that salons were allowed to reopen. “I have received 175 emails since yesterday and the phone has been going nonstop,” she said on Tuesday last week. They are currently working on re-booking their regular and elderly clients first, with a soft opening planned for June 22. “I would like to remind clients to be patient with their hairdresser,” she says. “We need patience from clients as we navigate this new way of doing things.”

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