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Changing and adapting to a "New Standard."

It's been about a month since we've closed, and our world has turned completely upside down. This pandemic has undeniably caused strain not only in our economy, but has impacted our small businesses in a way that's both crippling and disheartening. Salons nation wide, have been mandated to shut down and given an indefinite date as to when we can reopen, and some states have the green light to open their shops. There is no doubt in my mind, we live in a crazy time. This unknowing feeling of fear and panic, literally sucks the life out of everyone.

But here's the honest truth...we can continue to immerse ourselves with feelings of defeat, or change our mindsets and our habits and learn to adapt to this temporary, "New Normal." (Discretion: By no means am I insinuating to not acknowledge these feelings of sadness or defeat, because let's face it...we're human and we need to let them sink in, but we choose for how long.) As Nina Tulio, Salon Coach and Owner of 1N Agency, plainly puts it, "What you allow will continue." We have the power to CHOOSE. On Friday, I signed up to attend a webinar called "The NEW Standard,", hosted by Nina. To recap, she discussed how our industry has made drastic changes to include, accommodating our clients in a different manner by reaching out virtually and supporting them that way. Changing the way we connect with our clients and showing them, we still care.

When we passed our state board exams and officially became licensed professionals, we took on the role as service providers. The foundation of our business is building relationships with clients, providing a service...that is how we generate income. Lately, we've had to adapt and communicate on more of a virtual level these days. But guys, our clients feel it to. Without question, change is inevitably hard. But with change, comes opportunity...I posed a question to my fellow beauty professionals and clients, asking them how all this online education and knowledge has been beneficial to them. From a professional standpoint-if what they've been learning is translatable to their clients, and from their clients point of view-is the information they are receiving helping them to maintain their own hair care needs at home, during this pandemic.

Here were some answers I was able to gather from the commentaries: This particular one came from a client of mine, Nora who had this to say, "It's great to see our hairstylists staying connected with their clients. I've seen a few posts from other salon friends across the states and they are all feeling the set back. Social media has been a great communication tool, and the blogs have helped to keep us all informed. I love that my stylist is making an appearance online, keeping me updated on all that is happening, especially now." Our clients are receptive to the information we are teaching them. So being consistent online, truly is helping us to connect with our guests.

In retrospect, even at home while in quarantine, clients are looking for ways to feel beautiful and confident. They want to know how they can easily create hair styles that don't require too much time and effort on their part. A good friend of mine, Jen chimed in and had this to say, "I would love to see more hair tutorials that are quick and easy to do, and products that would best be suited for different hair textures." In a time where technology is prevalent and easily accessible, we now need to ask ourselves, how can we best service our clients? What is it they need us to assist them with while at home.

After considerable thought on who I could reach out to from a professional standpoint, my first thought was to get some insight from Kelli Chan, a fellow colleague and KEVIN.MURPHY educator. Here is a little bit of our a backstory...Kelli and I first met when we both attended a KEVIN.MURPHY training session in Southern California, two years ago. Kelli is the proud owner of Sweet Styling Boutique Salon in Vancouver, Canada. I asked her how her relationship with her clients has been since the shut down, and given the opportunity to learn from some of our industry's top educators, she responded with this, "I've been inspired to do KEVIN.MURPHY education (like we've been trained) but on an "easier DIY" level for clients. They just need to see the techniques and most importantly, the products to help them achieve self-styling." When it comes to styling hair, Kelli is both passionate and extremely talented in her craft. Since the start of this pandemic, Kelli has taken measurable lengths to keep her guests informed by starting a salon newsletter and provides quick DIY videos for those clients who message her directly. Her advice is this, "The key is to focus on YOUR people. Social media is just a way for me to let all folks know that I'm still staying busy and obsessed about hair."

For most of us, not being able to physically see and console our clients is heart-breaking. At best, we're about two feet away from our clients when working behind the chair. So to go through this period of time where social contact is basically non-existent for us, it is difficult for all of us to grasp. Since we can't be in the salon servicing our guests, we've all had to rely on virtual accommodations. Salon owners, stylists, educators and industry leaders have resorted to providing online classes to keep us in tune with what's going on. I don't remember who or what beauty brand posted it, but when I was scrolling through my Instagram feed one day, I came across this quote, "2020, the year we all played with doll heads." This statement is a true testament to one of the many ways we've had to adapt in the hair business. Just goes to show that when times change, we need to learn to change with it.

As this virus continues to put a temporary halt on our livelihoods, there is also the strain of having to mentally hold ourselves together. If we can't find balance and periodically check in with ourselves, to be present and in the right state of mind, we won't be able to effectively communicate with our clients. Being home has been challenging, especially for those of us that are use to constantly moving, while working. We've had to make considerable changes, in such a short amount of time, and adapt to this "new standard," very quickly. Anxiety levels are high, and like many salon owners, booth rental, barbers and suite owners, the stress of keeping a business afloat during this pandemic is scary.

With online classes being offered in hopes to raise spirits and provide valuable information, a lot of what we see being implemented in these webinars, is the importance of having the right mindset. Mindfulness plays a key role in all of this. Mostly discussing details of preparing to return to work, with specific guidelines in place to ensure the safety of ourselves and that of our clients. Kate Masse, owner of Meche Beauty Lounge, in Wallingford, CT mentioned that the classes she's been taking are more for how to prepare the salon for re-opening, mindset as a stylist/owner with self-care. The feedback after she's posted about attending a virtual class on the matter, has been positive to the effect of, "our clients love us keeping them in the loop."

Rachel Borrelli of Salon Le-Rae also located in Wallingford, CT, has noticed that when she or her team post anything about themselves on social media, she explained that, "Our clients love seeing what we're up to outside of work. Everyone is loving our "What our stylists are doing during quarantine," videos. I think that they just want to see us, and know we are all doing okay, hanging in there and most importantly, staying strong for them. We are all very family oriented, and I think that's what we attract. My team and I are all staying positive and hopeful for when we can all get back to the salon. We all want to return back to work, but with the safety of our families and our clients in mind, and by following the CDC guidelines for proper sanitation and limited hours."

Self-care is so important. Especially now, in making sure we show up consistently to let our clients know we are all safe and healthy at home. Showing up is half the battle, whether you are the one educating in front of an audience, logging on and attending a class, or providing tutorials for your guests in a time where things are left out in the open, with no specific timeline as to when we can all resume business as usual. We've all had to make sacrifices, a good majority of us are unemployed and the added stress of being home and not working, has definitely taken a toll on us. But the one good thing about working in this profession, in my opinion, is that as beauty professionals, we bounce back relatively quick and we bounce back hard. We've learned to adapt to changes that require more of a virtual presence and our clients are responding.

We are at our most vulnerable state right now. A lot of us putting ourselves out there, hustling to show our support, working behind the scenes, not knowing if we've done well or not...but the simple truth is we are present. We are consistently showing up and our presence is being noticed. Our clients, appreciate us keeping them informed. The benefit of us attending all these virtual classes, "Is the guidance we are providing our guests during a time when the beauty industry is at a stand still. It's helping people to feel somewhat normal if they can do their own hair at home." (Jeanine, client) As professionals, its a time where we have the ability to focus on our strengths and weaknesses, and come out better and stronger than ever. We are not strangers to change, we are constantly evolving, adapting and building a better future for ourselves, for our clients and for our profession.

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