Thursday 28 May 2020

How a Virus is Destroying the Beauty Industry

I totally realize it's been THREE years !! since my last blog post.  Wow.  I've been busy teaching, mentoring and designing beautiful nails for my clients.  I was living the life, creating the perfect balance between business and leisure.  All was good.

And then Covid-19 happened.  

My income plummeted to zero in a matter of days.  I shut down my studio before the Durham Region public health order was issued.  All of my education classes from March through to May were cancelled.    I am relying on CERB to get me through to the other side.  My business does not qualify for any other government program, I don't have enough expenses to warrant CEBA, and I don't pay commercial rent.  

As if that weren't enough, my father-in-law passed away from lung cancer the end of March.  I was petrified of passing Covid-19 on to him.  He did not contract it thankfully.  

I'm one of the fortunate ones.   I'm home-based, my business expenses are very low, and I can get by.  There are many other beauty service providers who won't be so lucky.  

Consider the salon who has chair rentals - with no rent coming in from the stylists who rent those chairs to pay for their commercial rental space.  Or the estheticians who rent a room, or the nail techs who rent a table.  Zero, zilch, nada.   Do the salon owners keep paying their rent?  What about utilities, business insurance?  Will their landlords help them out with the federal rent subsidy?  How long do you throw good money after bad, when there is no end in sight? 

All of those lash artists, brow specialists, microbladers, permanent makeup artists, the waxers, nail artists, hairdressers, makeup artists,  aren't working right now because the Ontario government has told us to shut down (rightly so) and to do our part to flatten the curve.  Stay home.  Wear a mask.  Stay 6 feet apart.  How long do you think we can survive without an income?  Much of this employment is considered precarious.  Some of it is considered gig work.  Many are not actually employees at all, but "independent contractors" which is a whole other kettle of worms.  No EI deductions (therefore no EI eligibility).  Stuck between a rock and a hard place is an understatement.  Fallen through the cracks more like it.  Many of these artists will also rely on childcare in order to return to work, and that hasn't been addressed yet either.  

For those of you reading this far, I will be fine.  I'm sourcing PPE, additional disinfectant, and putting plans in place to be ready to reopen once I'm told I can.  It will be different in my studio, for sure.  Things will look....different.  The nails will be the same, same products, same process and hopefully same happy times with my lovely guests.   Am I nervous?  Yes.  My business is in my home, of course I'm nervous.  But I'm smart and I'm resourceful and I will take every precaution to keep myself, my family and my guests safe.  

But I wonder about many of my colleagues in the beauty industry, who have decided the stress of it all is just not worth going back to something they love.  They are torn between wanting to continue with something they are so passionate about, but nervous and wary based on their own personal circumstances.  The longer we are unable to work, the longer we have to worry and fret about everything.  Some will be forced to quit and find other work to pay their bills.  Some will lose their businesses.  Some will be unable to work at all due to the stress of everything.  

So to anybody who is a client, a future client, a wanna-be client or a client of somebody else's - please be understanding, patient and kind to your service providers once we can reopen.  We feel abandoned, misunderstood, and maligned.  We don't understand why some businesses have been allowed to reopen and we can't.  We understand the nature of our work brings us face-to-face with our clients, or in some cases within that magic 6-feet radius.  We get that.  But we are also well-trained in sanitation, disinfection and best practices within our industry.  We will be well-prepared with PPE (what little there is, has skyrocketed in price since the pandemic began).  Don't be surprised if there are price increases, or a PPE surcharge.  Don't be surprised when you are required to bring your own mask to your service, or pay for a disposable one-use mask to wear at the salon.  We are going to be required to do more to keep everyone safe, and that's not going to be free.   Most service providers will have no choice but to see fewer people per day to ensure the premises are well disinfected between clients.   Hair stylists for example, can stack clients in their salon (basically working on two people at a time - doing a cut on one client while a colour is processing on another).  This will be pretty much impossible now, because a stylist would need to change their PPE every time they approach a different client.  There will also be empty stations to ensure physical distancing can take place.  (I'm not a hair stylist nor do I play one on TV, I am just thinking about how salons are typically run).  So all that to say, everyone who makes it through, is going to be making a lot less money. So be kind.  

We want to get back to work, doing what we love, while we still can.  Nobody knows when this will end.  We're all in this together and we feel the love from everyone who appreciates us.  We can't wait to welcome our guests back safely!  

Stay safe,

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