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As We Begin To Open Our Shops...

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

As we begin to reopen our salons and shops, we may be feeling an overwhelming amount of emotions this week. Excitement for the opportunity to greet and welcome our guests back into our establishments, the anxiety we all feel about making sure we feel safe (both employees and clients), and a whole new perception on how to elevate our "guest experience," without the amenities, normally provided when a client sits in our chair. Things will most certainly change, as we dip our toes into this new pond.

This week is opening week... June 1st is our official return date here in Connecticut, and countless hours of preparations have been made to ensure a safe, and successful opening for all salon and barber shops. Most of us working in this industry can attest to the fact that, this was one of the most challenging times we've been through both professionally and personally. While many of us are excited to return to work, there are still a few of us concerned about how different things will be. Everyone who has gone through this roller-coaster-of-a-ride, has literally been through hell and back in their own way.

We've rearranged our schedules to accommodate clients affected during this pandemic (some stylists having to make several calls, due to last minute changes from our state - thank goodness that's over with), some questioning whether they would like to return to this industry given the extensive list of guidelines we now must follow, others scaling back due to childcare coverage and some of us having our Amazon carts on auto-ship, in an effort to continually receive the tools and equipment needed to keep all of our businesses open and functioning. This has become our new reality and we aren't given a timeline, as to when this will be over. All we can hope for moving forward, is time and patience on our side, as we all support each other in what we now call our "new normal."

As we all make arrangements to ready our shops for what we anticipate will be a very busy few months, let's all remember that we are not robots. There will be times often enough, where we will feel stressed and maybe even claustrophobic with all that we have to do and wear. No salon environment will be the same as before, and breaks will be necessary for our own sanity, but most importantly for our own physical well being. It's okay to step outside and just breathe. We'll need it, especially for those of us putting in the extra hours to make up for lost time.

We are doing everything we can to adapt to our new changes, and I think for the most part our clients will be understanding. Some of them ready and willing to come and support our businesses, and some who are still hesitant to go out into public for fear of catching COVID-19. Either way, we all need to practice kindness. Everyone has experienced this hardship in different ways. This battle is far from over and we aren't in the clear yet.

Please, as we all try to regain some sense of structure and normalcy back into our lives, let's be there for one another and support each other. Our clients are looking forward to their visit with us, as we are looking forward to getting our hands into some hair once again. Rather than worry about all the things we must do, let's shift our focus and allow ourselves to be present in the moment. It's been over two months since we all left work. Let's come back with a vengeance. Let's take this industry by storm and show them we are stronger together.

I wanted to share a letter with you from a friend of mine, I had the privilege of meeting last year through a work connection at Meche Beauty Lounge. Her name is Marinella, her and her husband Jay own and operate Mari J Salon and Spa located in Plainville, CT. I thought her words truly encompassed the feelings we all might have as we begin to open this week.

Marinella's Letter...

I go through moments of excitement and fear of reopening now. I feel the longer I have to THINK about going back, the worse my anxiety gets. As the owner of the salon, I also worry about whether or not I am leading my team properly. Did I give them the right advice? Did I express too much of my own feelings to them? I need to hide more of that and lead in a way that shows them more strength. Instead, I try to be real with them. I don't know what the right answer is. I'm very much an "I have to get my foot in the door to know for sure, how I'm going to handle a situation." Physical action is the way I operate (I think most hairstylists are like that!). I need to see motions in action, in order to plan properly.

During quarantine, I spent many hours on the computer in zoom meetings and classes trying to get the right advice. I say advice and not education, because none of us including our educators have ever lived through a pandemic. Does anyone know the right protocols? I honestly think not. For me and my sanity, I had to walk away after awhile and do my own planning. Think on my own two feet. I felt the longer I stayed on the computer just "Listening," to people dictate the "New Normal," the more I went out of my mind. I started to physically plan the reopening of my salon, very early on while this whole thing went up in flames. Don't get me wrong, I got some great ideas and insight from all these classes and meetings, and they were certainly not a waste of time. However, when push came to shove, I had to take matters into my own hands and strategically plan for our reopening in way that connected with our brand. I had to use my own common sense and get things moving! I hope that makes sense...

This week will undoubtedly have its challenges, but both my husband Jay and I feel confident that we have all the materials and resources needed to open safely and successfully. Truthfully, we've always been adamant about keeping extra cleaning supplies on hand. Jay and I have always been sticklers about cleanliness, I guess you could say we're two peas from the same pod! The funny thing is, my husband always bought the gummy vitamin C's for the salon from BJ's, to help keep everyone's immune systems up. Even our employees will vouch for us, because as soon as someone sneezes or coughs, Jay is right there saying, "Take your vitamins!"

We are fully stocked with disinfectant, and have always practiced the required cleaning methods listed on the guidelines, set on the DPH website. From the very start, new and seasoned employees that work for us, are always a little surprised at how much cleaning we insist EVERYONE take part in. We have time built into all of our services to allow for proper disinfection. I believe it helped our team during one of our zoom meetings, reminding them of how ahead of the game we were, because of how much we already do in and around the salon. Of course, there is always room for improvement, and that is what this experience is going to teach us.

I have to say though, the masks and face shields are a whole different ball game!!! LOL...Trying to put the team at ease with that is difficult, because I'm honestly freaking out about having to wear them to. Not only are they a nuisance to wear, but they are hot, we feel claustrophobic in them, it's hard to breathe with them on, and I know I can't think straight when I start to overheat. This is a "New Normal," that isn't going to sit well with myself or my staff, or anyone for that matter. My concern right now is how people will handle the new runnings of the salon, when we really get the ball rolling. Will we ever, really get back to what we all know and love as "normal?"

At Mari J Salon and Spa, our focus has always been on how we make people FEEL, not just how we make them look; that is one thing that will never change. I think with the new modifications in place, such as waiting their cars, minimal talking in salon while doing hair (Lord help us with that one, we're all Chatty Kathy', by appointment only reservations and no guests allowed, will change the environment we work in, but never how we make our clients feel.

For myself, I really need to see and experience what will happen when we are with our clients this week. When my team is together once again, and how they are feeling, given our new standards of working behind the chair. Their input will help me to plan a little better moving forward. Everything I have prepared for has been to ensure the safety of our staff and our clients. That is what has been top on my list. I have an amazing staff, and the outpouring of support from other stylists and salon owners has been nothing short of incredible!

The people who remain in my circle, even if it's just through messages or by phone, that experience alone is indescribable. So much communication and encouraging words from Louise from "Beautiful People," a salon located in Cromwell, CT, my former co-worker and friend Kate who owns Meche Beauty Lounge in Wallingford, CT, their respect and showing they care about what happens to other businesses is HUGE in my book!

We have experienced the same discouragement, the same fear, the same anxiety and worries. To push the other forward when one of us lags behind, is a gesture of kindness and gratitude I am beyond grateful for. I appreciate them so much! I also want to thank them for all they do and for helping me throughout this difficult time. To those of you opening this week, stay safe and as always, stay healthy. To our clients with appointments this week, we are excited to see you and looking forward to your visit with us!



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