Hairstylists Might Go Back To Work, But Their Jobs Will Never Be The Same
Hairstyling was a recession-proof profession — until a global pandemic changed everything.
"I know it seems silly to be hoping for an opportunity to help sanitize, but I just want to be in an environment to learn."
“We are still having plenty of interest in both our cosmetology and barber programs,” says Brittney Morales, director for Diamonds Cosmetology and Barber College in Sherman, Texas, which has taken all its classes online for the time being. “We are still enrolling students every month. Our industry is taking a hit now, but I have no doubt that it will bounce back as soon as we can open again.”
On top of that, Hill is participating in Olaplex’s affiliate program to generate a little money for stylists in worse situations than hers. She says the brand is currently paying 35% commission for any products stylists sell through a unique link on their social media. Jamie Garland, stylist and owner of B Society salon in Los Gatos, California, is doing the same.
Even with roadblocks, the hairstylists we spoke to remain confident that salons will reopen soon — and there will be plenty of color corrections and haircuts, thanks to isolation DIY jobs gone bad. Hill thinks it will change the culture of hair in a profound way. “Nothing will ever be the same,” she says, stressing that because work has always been so plentiful, many stylists in her community weren’t financially prepared to stay home.
As soon as I got to my phone, it was flooded with texts, calls, and voicemails from clients wanting to be the first appointment.
It’s a no-win situation that hairstylist Brent Johnson-Gage has been thinking about since March 14th, which was his last day in the salon before the shutdowns. Despite guidance from many health experts and mixed messages from President Donald Trump, Georgia opened many non-essential businesses this morning — including salons, barbershops, and nail salons — which puts stylists like Johnson-Gage in a precarious situation.
It's been a tough week for Johnson-Gage and his community, but he knows he made the right call. "Once I decided not to open, it was a huge relief," he says. The final straw, he explains, was the idea of trying to get ahold of personal protective equipment (PPE) that they would need to wear should they reopen. "The state board wants us to wear PPE, but our own health-care workers can't even get those supplies," he says, noting that through his wide community of hair pros in Atlanta, not one ended up opening today to his knowledge.
Other stylists and salon owners we spoke to are busy brainstorming measures for when they decide it's safe to open, including a no-guest or child policy, no double-booking for stylists, fewer assistants, and a split schedule that will limit hours and allow for a midday professional sanitization. One salon owner who wished to remain anonymous says that, unfortunately, these new protocols could mean higher prices for clients and fewer jobs for professionals.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.
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