Celebrity hairstylist Riawna Capri, whose devoted clientele includes Julianne Hough and Selena Gomez, spent a year and a half planning her dream wedding. Everything from table arrangements to roundtrip flights to Mexico were booked for the mid-March event — but no amount of planning could have predicted the COVID-19 outbreak. Within just a few days, the dream wedding was off the table, along with Capri's source of income: her hair salon, L.A.'s Nine Zero One, forced to close its doors indefinitely.
Here, Capri shares the emotional details of her whirlwind week, and how she's still keeping her head up in spite of a postponed wedding and a small-business shutdown. The following interview was told to Megan Decker and edited for length and clarity.
Morgan, my fiancé, won't let me say the wedding is cancelled, so we say postponed. But it's the same thing: The wedding isn't happening right now like it was supposed to. It's sad, of course — I planned the coolest, raddest experience for all of my friends and loved ones, then we had to call it off a week before. I could go crazy thinking about all the time and effort that went into planning this thing, from staying up late to orchestrate flight reservations to waking up at the crack of dawn before work to design the table settings. Now, all that stuff feels stupid and trivial when you're considering what's going on in the world.
In the midst of all the personal grief, coming to terms with the fact that our wedding was off, came the secondary blow: shutting down the salon to help stop the spread of this crazy, scary virus. My co-owner Nikki [Lee] and I closed Nine Zero One on March 16, before any mandates to do so, but when we realized we had to for the good of our entire community. We felt it was important to set the precedent so other L.A. businesses would follow suit, which many did.
Following the salon closing, we had a Zoom meeting with our whole staff and talked about what's going on and how we can get through this time, however long it is. We're all creatives, and many of us don't have that 401(k) or financial cushion to fall back on. Our hairstylists now have zero dollars coming in, no income at all, so we made some changes to our business model to help them out.
First, within our Nine Zero One team, Nikki and I decided to waive our stylists' chair-rental fees — and take the hit personally — and increase their commission rate. If a stylist refers their client to In Common, our in-salon product line, through their own personalized link, that stylist gets 35% of the sales. The thought is, everyone still needs shampoo and conditioner, and instead of supporting mass retailers, why not buy it directly from your stylist and help them out?
We wanted to extend a hand to other stylists nationwide who might be looking for at-home learning opportunities, too, so we're offering free education videos on our Beauty Coach platform. We've also been bouncing around the idea of setting up a virtual salon service for our clients, where we can coach them through the at-home haircut and colour. You hop on a quick $25 FaceTime call with your colourist — a professional who knows your hair and your colour formula — and they give you personalized advice, from what to order to how to apply it. It's an opportunity for a close to in-person conversation, where we can say, "Walk towards the window, let me see how it looks in the sunlight," or, "Oh, you need the DpHUE Touch-Up kit in Medium Brown."
These aren't foolproof solutions, and this whole situation is scary as fuck as a business owner, but we're trying our best. To keep it all in perspective, I go back 11 years, to when my sister was in a car accident and she lost her left hand. I remember a medical responder told me if she had turned her steering wheel just two inches less, she would have gone directly underneath the semi-truck, been fully decapitated, and died. It was a defining moment, this realization that everything can be taken away from you in a single instant. I think that's kind of how a lot of people are feeling about the coronavirus: panic about losing everything.
We're all trying to look to the future — how long can we afford to live like this, with zero income and our bank accounts draining? For me, I'm just not doing it, because the truth is that no one knows. For today, I'm lying out in the sun, walking my dog around the block, and enjoying the time with my fiancé. It's funny because I told Morgan a month ago that I would love to have a week at home with her, with no work. These are terrible circumstances, but I'm trying to make the best of it.
With all this time, I'm going to plan an even bigger, better wedding for us. I keep thinking big picture: When this is all over, you'll have a newfound appreciation for that coffee from your local barista, dinner from your favourite local restaurant, and definitely your hair stylist.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the Public Health Agency of Canada website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.