Marion County salons have been closed since a state of emergency was declared March 14, and the COVID-19 pandemic has made a substantial financial and emotional impact on everyone in the industry.
The government-mandated closures remain in effect until at least Monday when the current safer-at-home order is set to expire. However, salons are expected to be among the last businesses to be allowed to open because of the hands-on nature of the business.
Entrigue Salon & Day Spa owner DeeDee Neese said the salon has been closed almost seven weeks, and it’s been rough for her and her 10 employees. She said many of her employees just started getting unemployment and others haven’t been able to get it.
“It’s just been hard getting other government assistance. Even though (assistance) is out there and available doesn’t mean anything,” she said. “Most of my employees are booth rentals, and I depend on that to run the shop and pay the utility bills, insurance and things like that. Of course I can’t ask them to continue doing that, but bills still have to be paid. Mouths are still having to be fed.”
While some have been able to receive unemployment, several have been denied.
“It’s affected me greatly, especially because I’m a single mom,” Alyse Haynes, hairstylist for Analise Salon, said. “I haven’t been able to (get unemployment). I’ve tried to do it online several times and cannot get it to go through for self-employment.”
Haynes said she’s thankful she doesn’t have any outstanding debts and that her stimulus check has helped tremendously. However, with no set timeframe to return, Haynes said it’s been very stressful.
“I work with several girls who have been denied constantly that are not married,” Tease Salon hairstylist Alicia Rogers said. “It’s been extremely hard on them.”
Kitzy Davis, stylist and manager for TRES Salon, said it’s been difficult not being able to work, but she’s fortunate her husband, Timothy, has been able to keep his job. She said she hopes and prays salons are able to begin opening back up soon. TRES has been closed since the second week in March, and Davis said the owner isn’t making the stylists pay their booth rent until it can open back up.
Studio 98 owner Wendy Franks said the shutdown has had a big financial impact, especially because the bills haven’t stopped and property taxes and insurance payments are due now. Franks said she is looking into getting a small business loan.
A common thread among stylists was they miss their clients more so than the financial stress.
“I’m personally used to the interaction with my clients every day,” Entrigue hairstylist Rebecca Haygood said. “I talk all day long from 8 o’clock until 6 o’clock. Being at home I haven’t had that opportunity because everyone else is working. That has been a very big stressful situation. We miss our clients. They’re like family. It’s not just rush them in and rush them out. We know everything about them. Some of my clients I talk to more than I talk to my own family.”
Rogers said not being able to make her clients happy, which she said is just as important to her as making a living, has been difficult.
Franks said it’s been disappointing for customers when they call because they have to tell them they’ll call them back when the salon reopens to reschedule.
Haygood added a lot of clients may not want to go out in public to restaurants or to church because they haven’t been able to get their hair done. When salons do reopen, she said it’s going to be very difficult getting everybody in because most clients have set appointments.
While the shutdown has been a hit financially, Neese said there’s no way Entrigue will close down for good.
“I’m not going to be discouraged at all. We will bounce back,” she said. “It’s just going to take a little time.”
Neese has savings she’s been able to fall back on and owns the building Entrigue is in on Main Street, which she said is a big benefit.
Salons are governed by the Mississippi Board of Cosmetology and have strict sanitation requirements already, but the board has yet to inform stylists of what extra measures they’ll need to take when they resume operations.
“I personally have been online ordering disposable capes, special cleaning solutions to sanitize with and have been looking for disposable face masks,” Haygood said. “... We’ve all emailed the beauty board asking them to give us answers because you can spend a fortune trying to think what you’re going to need but they could come up with things we never even thought to have.”
She added every salon in the country is going to be trying to order safety supplies, which will likely lead to delays in shipping and could ultimately delay businesses reopening.