Best Practice: Heather Meredith, an Independent Stylist at Shapers Salon, Shares the Impact of COVID-19 on the Personal Care Services
As someone in the personal care industry, how has COVID changed the way you do business?
We spoke to Heather Meredith, an Independent Stylist at Shapers Salon who has been working in Easton, MD since 2015.
I am a self-employed stylist. Most of us independent stylists didn’t receive unemployment compensation until we were already back to work. Since I did not know if or when I would receive unemployment once we were permitted to open, I scheduled myself to work 55-60 hours a week to try to make up for the lost pay.
The nature of the salon services, and the proximity of the guest and stylist, naturally make this a high-risk opportunity for the spread of airborne illness. This brings on added concern. I find myself sanitizing twice between guests for my own peace of mind.
The reopening restrictions added burden, and cost, to an industry that is already heavily regulated regarding sanitization and cleaning protocols. Additionally, acquiring the cleaning supplies, PPE, and sanitizers needed for daily operations was difficult. Supplies were either out of stock, back-ordered, or slow to ship. Acquiring supplies for client services has been difficult, as well. Many of our supply sales representatives are still furloughed, driving more of us to order online, which is slow to receive. In turn, I’m sure this is taking a financial toll on the supply stores in Salisbury and Annapolis.
Due to the occupancy restrictions, and additional time to sanitize between each guest, I am only permitted to work at or below 50% capacity. As a stylist that regularly fills my schedule by performing services on two guests at a time, this has a direct impact on my ability to generate revenue. Coupled with the requirement of purchasing and wearing PPE, and purchasing additional sanitizers and cleaners, my take-home pay has decreased by more than 50% of what it was before COVID.
My salon guests are also required to wear a facemask from the time they enter the salon until they walk out the door. Additionally, we are following best practices and performing verbal screenings of each guest before they can enter the building. Due to the capacity restrictions, our waiting rooms are closed, so guests must wait outside until I let them know they can enter the building for their scheduled services. All of this changes the client experience taking it from a relaxed and fun environment throughout the client service to a more sterile environment.