By Jessica Wallis
CHATTANOOGA, TN (mocsnews.com) – Following the release of salon safety guidelines prompted by the COVID-19 shut down, workers in the beauty and hairdressing profession have been at the forefront of the new challenges facing clients and stylists.
Since Tennessee has released the safety guidelines for opening hair salons and barber shops, some salon owners said new difficulties have surfaced when it comes to operating their businesses.
The state of Tennessee has recommended salons be limited to half capacity, clients and staff have to wear face masks, and all surfaces and tools must be disinfected between clients. These rules are the first of many guidelines that are allowing stylists to welcome clients back in their chairs.
Julie Smith, co-owner of Latida Salon in Cleveland, Tennessee, said her salon is taking all clients’ temperature as they walk in the door. In addition, no one can accompany clients during their visit and all clients have to wait outside the salon before coming in for their appointment.
“Most of my clients are absolutely compliant about wearing the masks,” said Smith. “They care for me and know we are enforcing the rules because we care for them as well, not just to be difficult.”
Kerry Dransoff, owner of Wild Honey Hair Studio in Chattanooga, chose to take classes to learn new skills and improve how she runs her business. She also took the downtime to evaluate her salon as a brand.
“I re-invented my business by rebranding and putting effort into what I wanted my image to be,” said Dransoff.
Smith and Dransoff said there are differences in the amount of business they can accept, compared to before the shutdown. All services at both salons have to be appointment only, eliminating walk-in clients.
“Guidelines have really affected my business,” said Dransoff. “I was used to double-booking and now we aren’t allowed to do that. So instead of taking six clients a day, I can only take three. I’m making half the income I usually am and now can’t even make up for the income I lost for eight weeks.”
Perhaps the biggest takeaway over the course of the pandemic, is how much non-essential businesses are valued by some.
“For the eight years I’ve been doing hair, I’ve had people downplay my profession,” Dransoff said. “Now, I feel like we won’t be taken for granted and people will appreciate what we do to make the salon a clean and safe environment. For some stylists, doing hair is ‘just fun.’ But for stylists like me, it’s my livelihood, there is no other option.”
Smith and Dransdorf both agreed the new guidelines put in place for the reopening of salons won’t be fading away any time soon. The two stylists believe that the results of COVID-19 will have long-lasting effects on the salon industry. Protocols such as wearing a mask and increased sanitation practices could be the new standard moving forward.
“This time has honestly shown me how valued we are and how happy I am to specialize in long term ‘lived-in’ color services,” said Smith. “Many of my clients were happy to wait and valued my overall health.”