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4 Salon Pros Share How the Pandemic Has Disrupted the Way They Work

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Ask any salon professional and they will likely be the first to admit that the entire salon industry was completely flipped on its head by the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 disrupted so much of the way they do business with the forced closures, constantly changing regulations, and the pressing need for PPE, driving many stylists and barbers to quickly pivot to survive these turbulent times.

With all the inconsistencies that salon pros have dealt with in the last 19 months, it’s hard not to think about the lasting impact that Covid-19 will have on the salon working environment. To get a better idea, The Tease spoke to salon owners and professionals to find out how they’ve been handling the changes to their work schedules throughout the pandemic and the adjustments that need to be made to the salon environment in the future.

Rachel Stefanik

Hair & Wig Artist, @hairpaintedwithlove

The Tease: How has the pandemic impacted your work schedule?

Stefanik: The pandemic severely affected my business all of last year as salons were closed for 9 months here in the Bay area.  Now that I am open again, I am so busy and booked until October. Everyone was so ready to get their hair done!

Do you find that you are working fewer and more flexible hours now than when the pandemic first began?

Stefanik: I am working all the time. I feel I am less flexible with my schedule. Not only do I do custom wigs, I also work full time behind the chair. I feel I have to be working all the time because I have to make up for all the money I lost last year. I drained my entire savings keeping afloat, so I’ve been trying to build that back up.

As a business owner, what changes would you like to see when it comes to the post-pandemic salon or barber environment?

Stefanik: I would like us as an industry to be taken more seriously. We provide so much for our clients, beyond haircuts and color. I definitely think people are more appreciative of hairstylists now and realize what a luxury it is to get their hair done. It has been stated by scientists and mental health professionals that hairdressers do wonders for people’s mental health. We are always there to listen to our clients and give advice. They are our friends, our family.

I do think the pandemic reminded us of all our training in sanitation and disinfection and what it means to have a cosmetology license. Sharing our education background with everyone definitely gives people more respect for those working in our industry. We must continue to share what goes into running our businesses, keep up with sanitation and disinfection so we don’t get shut down if the pandemic becomes worse again!”

Cruz Hernandez

Owner of G.E.N.T.S Barber Lodge, @ono_official

The Tease: How has the pandemic impacted your work schedule?

Hernandez: It’s been a juggle. From opening one day to being shut down the next along with various other requirements and variables, it’s been a lot to take in. Currently my schedule revolves around my child care and my child’s school availability. Taking breaks throughout the day and limiting my work schedule in order to make sure my child is not in need and is in a more than comfortable position. Thankfully, my child is a bit older and is an independent spirit where not much more than that needs to be done but, I also know I’m one of the lucky ones and there’s many other parents in our industry that are in less fortunate situations than myself.

Do you find that you are working fewer and more flexible hours now than when the pandemic first began?

Hernandez: I’m definitely working less hours than prior to the pandemic due to my childcare situation, but also when applicable and able to work around mine and my clients’ schedule, late nights or early morning are involved to be able to accommodate both our needs. It takes a well communicated understanding between the license professional and client relationship in order to be able to work through all aspects and accomplish the desired service or outcome. 

What do you believe that stylists and barbers are wanting from their employers, or just in general, when it comes to post-pandemic work schedules?

Hernandez: I believe there definitely needs to be flexibility. There’s a lot that has hit us all recently and I personally believe many people understand that aspect. It does take great communication for that. I, myself, have been on both sides of the phone call where it’s “Hey, ___ came up, can I reschedule? Can I cancel? Move the appointment to work with a different professional?” As long as you’re up front, open, and honest, I don’t see a reason as to why those options aren’t achievable given understandable terms. We are in the service industry and it is in our nature to serve. I understand businesses need to be run to a certain degree, but money isn’t everything and we are all still in this together. Be kind, be understanding, and listen with open ears. We don’t know the full spectrum of what each of us is going through.

Christiana Sayyah

Owner of Glitter and Geeks Salon, @glitter_artist

The Tease: How has the pandemic impacted your work schedule?

Sayyah: I work alone and have no employees. The pandemic has affected me by making my books more full and my waiting list longer. Since more people are working from home or have been over 2020, they are experimenting with vivid hair color. If those client’s working from home were in the office, they often would not have the opportunity to play with their hair color so freely.

I am also busier because I believe the pandemic has pushed even more people to social media to find a stylist. I’ve received most of my new inquiries as a result of Instagram hashtags and a few from Google searches.

Do you find that you are working fewer and more flexible hours now than when the pandemic first began?

Sayyah: I used to work 6 days a week because I wasn’t respecting my own self-care time and time off so I’ve actually shifted to 5 days in the salon since the pandemic began. I am busier and in higher demand, but I made the personal choice to work less. The extra steps of wearing a mask for 6-8 hours a day, extra work/stress.

What do you believe that stylists and barbers are wanting from their employers, or just in general, when it comes to post-pandemic work schedules? 

Sayyah: I think artists are wanting flexibility from their employers as everyone’s situation is different. Many with children and other obligations that have shifted since the pandemic began will need the grace from their employers to understand and work with changes.

Michael Mejia

Owner of Frank E’s Barbershop

The Tease: How has the pandemic impacted your work schedule?

Mejia: The pandemic has impacted my work in several ways. One way is the uncertainty of not knowing when I might have to close my shop again. Last year there was no definitive straight answer as to the how’s and why’s of closures and safety precautions. This brought about several issues of scheduling, canceling appointments, and then having to reschedule. Not only was this frustrating for me, but to my clients. In order to compensate, I sometimes had to work odd hours or on my days off.

What do you believe that stylists and barbers are wanting from their employers, or just in general, when it comes to post-pandemic work schedules?

Mejia: I think what anyone who does hair is looking for is consistent and reliable hours to work. One where they are busy, but have scheduled breaks so they are refreshed for every client. The balance of recouping some of the money lost due to closures, but keeping in mind the physical and mental toll working long hours takes on them. So, finding a good work/life balance in the salon/barbershop. The owners have a lot to do with that by the way they schedule their clients and scheduling breaks throughout the day for their staff.

As a business owner, what changes would you like to see when it comes to the post-pandemic salon or barber environment?

Mejia: Work and life balance. We must not only create a great environment for our clients, but for the staff as well. Making sure they have enough days off and breaks to be their best with every client. I think we have seen how much both the industry and the clients need each other. I would like to see more communication with the salon/barbershop and their community which they serve.The more we commit to the community the more value the community will put on our local salons/barbershops in times of need. 

Are you a salon pro who’s work schedules has been impacted by the pandemic? Connect with us below!