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A First Glimpse at our New Normal Inside Salons & Barbershops

Posted on May 11 2020

The verdict is in.

We’ve been imagining it. Anticipating it. Talking about it. Prepping for it. But how do we really know how things are going to play out once our shops are back open? Well, it’s happening folks. It felt like the day would never come, but it has.  Salons and barbershops are beginning to open all over the country and it’s music to my ears!  Our very own industry first responders have officially approached the front lines and have been turning to social media to dish out the dirt on what a day in the life of a stylist/barber truly looks like in today’s world. So naturally I’ve been scouring the internet to find all the tips and tricks to share with you here. Keep in mind every state and county will have their own rules and regulations, so make sure you are in compliance with what is required in your area.  

CLIENT ANTICIPATION

Christa Stephens, owner of Mavericks Barber Shop by Inviktus and Inviktus Salon's in Missouri has described her first week being opened as “Corona Christmas.” A 70-hour work week, back to back appointments, incredibly generous tips and pure exhaustion by the end of the day! But the question I think that is still on all of our minds: are the clients entering in a state of fear?  

From what Christa has seen, the answer is no! As long as you have taken the steps to prep your space and your staff to ensure the safety of all, your clients will be so relieved to have their hair back in your care the fear will no longer exist. And if you’ve done your due diligence, your clients should feel safer walking into your shop than they do walking into the local grocery store. 

COMMUNICATION

The most successful shop reopening’s that I’ve seen made sure to have excellent communication with their guests ahead of time. Emails were sent out with protocols such as bring your own mask/gloves or purchase at the salon for a small fee (not all states are requiring guests to wear these items), reminders that handshakes and hugs are unfortunately not allowed at this time, and a heads up if your state is requiring you to take temperatures before entering the shop. 

 A fun example I’ve seen came from Brittany Cyr, Operations Director for Lady Jane’s Haircuts for Men in Riverdale, UT who opened their doors on May 1st. She keeps a chalkboard sign outside her shop informing clients before they even walk in the door what to expect and what is expected of them. And aside from a few feisty clients here and there pushing to not comply, most everyone consents and is just simply happy to get a haircut.

ACCEPT THE FACT THAT FACE MASKS WILL BE NECESSARY

It’s a given that most of you will have clients banging on the door trying to get their spot in your chair, and of course we want to accommodate everyone as soon as possible. But something that you may or may not have thought about that could potentially slow you down is wearing the dreaded mask. 

Sure, by now we’ve all probably slapped a mask on to head to the grocery store and have briefly communicated with the cashiers behind the Plexiglas. But having a full-on conversation? It’s a whole different ball game.

  Sharon Tranter from Georgia sent a very sincere letter to all of her fellow hairstylists, shared on the BehindTheChair Instagram page after her return to work. “You must have breaks in between clients to remove masks as it’s exhausting; it feels like running in the sand. You must book a lunchtime. Yes, for maybe the first time ever you have done that. You will need time to breathe, rest and eat.” I have personally had experience with this since I have been back to work for a week now and let me tell you, wearing a mask for 8 plus hours is not fun. It takes getting used to, it can prove difficult to communicate through, and I’ve found every few hours I need to step outside just to take a breath of fresh air. ALLOW YOURSELF THE TIME TO TAKE A BREATH. The horror stories have already begun with stylists fainting because they are trying to do too much. Don’t let this be you! 

TO BLOW DRY, OR NOT TO BLOW DRY?

This has been a big topic of conversation. Here we are, taking all the precautions necessary to make our clients feel safe, and then we crank up the blow dryer only to be blowing hot air and lord knows what germs all around the shop. 

Van Council, Owner of Van Michael Salon’s in Atlanta, GA whose salons have been open since April 24th, came up with an effective solution for this challenge. His team is instructing all haircut only clients to come in with hair that has been washed within the past 2 hours. That way stylists have the option to flat iron and cut dry, or spritz the hair down to dampen before cutting. For color clients, after they have been washed they are set under the orbital driers so the colorists can see the finished product before sending them on their way. This practice may change over the coming weeks, but for now it’s a good option to consider.

Things have really changed for our industry and many others.  It's definitely not the world we left, but how incredible is it to see the passion and dedication of those adapting to this new way of doing business?  Let's continue to support each other, share our ideas and practices and focus on the ultimate end goal: getting our beauty and grooming industry back in action, better and stronger than ever before.

Liz Campbell

Detroit Grooming Director of Sales

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