Salons Are “Inevitable Business,” Stylists Say
Not Allowing Indoor Services Is Harmful To Industry, California Stylists Say
California stylists and shop owners have been through the wringer. After most of the state was allowed to reopen for business, the state announced another forced indoor closure for many counties—but would allow outdoor service. The problem is that no chemical services or shampooing are allowed outside, meaning the bread and butter of most salons are prohibited. Here’s what’s happening in the state of California, and how stylists can fight back.
For a refresher on what’s been going on in California, click here. At this time, the majority of the state’s nearly 311,000 licensed cosmetologists and about 34,000 licensed barbers may operate outdoors offering services that do not require chemicals, haircolor or shampooing. Manicures, massages and some waxing services are also allowed.
“Chemical hair services and shampooing cannot be performed outdoors due to the inability to ensure adequate drainage and proper waste disposal,” the California State Board of Cosmetology & Barbering told BTC. “Currently, there are no plans to expand these rules. However, the Board continues to review and assess the situation.”
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As I stand alone inside my salon I do NOT stand alone behind thousands of hairdressers that need to be heard. How DARE you @gavinnewsom think our salons are less sanitary than the dusty, dirty, HOT conditions outside to work in. You allow us to do haircuts outside but did you ever think some of us make our living from color?! Now that you “allowed” us to work does that cut out unemployment for all of us hairdressers & barbers?!! I am hurting for our industry & will not stay silent! We went to school SPECIFICALLY for sanitation & cleanliness so maybe it’s time we all raise up & stand up & EDUCATE our governor because we are a force to be wrecked with! You may have taken our work away but you will NEVER take away our purpose & passion!
Salon Services are Inevitable Business
Though the state said it has given stylists the option to work, many California hairdressers don’t see outdoor haircuts and styles as an option at all. Forced closures have caused hairdressers to go “underground” to continue making a living.
“If anybody thinks that salon staff is just not going to work because we closed the doors, well—where there’s a will, there’s a way,” said Donna Bruner, owner of two booth rental salons in the San Francisco suburbs.
“It’s been happening all along,” said Anny Vandriel (@annyvandriel), who owns a 2,000-square-foot, 10-chair salon in Claremont, Calif., an inland suburb of Los Angeles. “Inevitably, we are going to be doing hair, whether we are allowed to be working inside or not. We’re doing hair no matter what.” Click here to read a real account of what it’s like to do “underground” hair.
That’s why Anny, along with Orange County-area salon owners and stylists Amber O’Hara (@amberoharahair) and Michelle Stevenson (@michellehair) started Inevitable Business, a resource site to help hairdressers make their voices heard and share information about government shutdowns that are threatening the salon industry. Click here for ways you can take action on the California closure.
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More ways to share your voice! Click on the link in our bio, go to “more ways to help” and check out these links. We need to keep speaking out so our collective voice is heard and we can REOPEN safely! #saveoursalons #masksonsafesalon #opencaliforniasalons #salonsaresafe #salonsareessential
Amber owns two salons, one of which is 22 chairs. Like shop owners across the country, she’s been losing staff and losing money, trying to negotiate rent and payments while her cash reserves are drained. When her salons were able to reopen, she spent thousands of dollars on personal protective equipment (PPE) and other changes to exceed state requirements and keep her staff and clients as safe as possible.
“What this shutdown has done is that it’s forced more people underground,” she said. “In both my salons, I have a general manager, assistant manager and facilities manager at each, checking to make sure protocols are followed. We are regularly sanitizing, mask-wearing, every other protocol we were required to put in place. Nobody doing that at a home salon. But I don’t judge it, I don’t fault them. I think that this point we are in a position where we have to do what we have to do to support our families.”
And operating secretly casts a stigma on an industry that’s already fighting for professionalism. “It makes us feel bad,” Anny said. “It makes us feel like we’re doing something wrong, when we’re only doing the thing we need to do to survive this.”
Outdoor Services Are Not Safer, Stylists Say
Understandably, many stylists were uneasy returning to work in the midst of a pandemic, for fear of contracting or spreading the virus. To mitigate risk, hairdressers expanded on their already extensive disinfection training and increased cleaning and sanitizing, spreading stations apart, wearing multiple layers of PPE and creating pristine spaces.
“We’re desperate,” said Jenn Malone (@jmalonehair), a colorist in La Verne, Calif. “We have invested the money to adhere to the guidelines. I know salons that have spent thousands on Plexiglass dividers and weren’t even able to work more than five weeks. Working outside is not sanitary. We need options…we’re not being taken seriously.”
When the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention released a report that two coronavirus-positive hairdressers wearing PPE didn’t spread the virus to any of their 139 clients, the salon community realized they could operate safely and still make a living. That’s why the mandate from the California State Board of Barbering & Cosmetology and Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom to operate outdoors only was such a devastating blow.
“They said it’s safer to do hair outside—we disagree. It’s safer inside,” said Michelle, who is now $20k in debt after trying to keep her 18-chair salon open through the pandemic. “I presented the option [to work outside] to my team, and they pretty much just laughed at me. I’m not going to bring my styling chairs out every day, so are we supposed to cut hair in folding chairs?”
“It’s not feasible to convert my business to outdoors only,” Anny said. “Our options are either out by a Dumpster with cigarette butts or outside a grocery store where people are shopping.” Fortunately, Anny has a backyard with a separate bathroom and gate entrance that is ideal for outdoor services, so she’s using that to take clients at home. She doesn’t want to, but she has to.
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I honestly debated on whether I am going to post my personal views on the Governor’s @gavinnewsom latest disrespect of the beauty industry but enough is enough!!! I was closed for 3months and to rebook clients was chaos. Alhamdulilah I have clients who are loyal, reopening was exciting & I was booked through October. Now I am not even sure when I can reopen to reschedule my clients. I, also have to address something else that has NOT been addressed, #muslim women ESPECIALLY women who wear #hijab CANNOT get their hair done outside. As hairstylist with 90% of my clientele hijab wearing muslim womxn, it’s not only unfair but discrimination to try and force womxn to chose between their beliefs and their beauty needs. I chose to have a @solasalons @solaorangecounty studio for privacy and luxury. @solasalons @solaorangecounty enforced all of the regulations like many other salons did & yet we’re punished?!? I cannot stand to see another salon or studio close or stylist leave the industry because they can’t work. The Govenor @gavinnewsom and his staff don’t understand how sanitation works. Asking beauty professionals to work out side or completely shut us down is punishing entrepreneurs. This is goes against all of the education I have received from beauty school & @cabarbercosmo board. #SaveOurSalons #worthup #muslim #hijab #CURLYHAIR #LAHAIRSTYLIST #BTS #Hijab #ochairstylist #hairstylist #yasmeendahdoul #losangeles #newportbeach #lagunabeach #KSA #MENA #OCsalon #pintresthair #hairgoals #curls #hijabsalon #hijabstylist #solasalons #arabcreative #arabstylist
“Our hands are tied behind our backs right now. We do have bills that we have to pay and jobs that we have to maintain and the bigger piece is that we already know that we can operate safely,” she said. “I don’t feel concerned in doing this because I know that we are able to keep them safe. If I say no to them they’ll find another stylist who can do it and I’ll lose my business.”
Amber started a petition after the second mandated shutdown to allow outdoor work, and already had permission from the city and her property managers to create an outdoor salon. She had a contractor and decorator lined up—but then the news broke that only haircuts and styling would be allowed outdoors, which was not the intention of her petition. “That’s not even 10 percent of our service menu,” she said. “The numbers do not make sense.”
Some salons are making the outdoor option work—but finding stylists who want to work outside has been challenging. Click here to read about Donna’s outdoor salon setup and how it’s going for her business.
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Stylists Feel The State Isn’t Listening
There is no data indicating that salons are spreading COVID-19. A recent letter from salon suite companies in California show that out of 6,000 stylists in salon suites, only 14 contracted the virus, and zero stylists spread the virus to clients. The CDC report about hairdressers further bolster the salon industry’s stance.
“Our governor has been so heavily reliant on science to drive his decisions, and here we have science that [shows] we are safe if proper PPE is used,” Amber said. “Nobody enforces anything, and we just got an automatic shutdown when numbers weren’t even from hair salons. I wouldn’t be as comfortable fighting for this if we hadn’t had that CDC report. I don’t want to be part of the spread, but it’s very clear that we’re not.”
“The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology understands the effect shutdowns have on businesses and is sensitive to that,” the state board told BTC. “The rules that are set in place are provided by the California Department of Public Health to protect the health of our licensees and their customers.”
With no end to the shutdown in sight, California beauty pros are feeling let down. “I don’t believe what we’re doing is essential for somebody’s life—but my paycheck is essential,” said Jen. “We’re getting thrown to the side like a trash industry…We take it serious, and we have put in the time to make [the industry] something different than it used to be. I don’t think any industry should be tossed to the side like that. It’s our profession.”
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Our salons have been professionally sanitized & disinfected ✅ styling stations moved more than 6 ft apart ✅ polycarbonate dividers between each station and shampoo sinks ✅ individually sanitized garment bags for guests clothing ✅ sanitized smock and capes ✅masks on all guests and team members no exceptions at all times ✅each styling station and shampoo bowl sanitized after each individual use✅ temperature check team and guests✅Automatic faucets and soap dispenser ✅ Hand sanitizer everywhere ✅ curbside waiting✅ Touchless check out ✅ working at less than 50% capacity to observe PHYSICAL DISTANCING and much more, our team has achieved the highest of safety measures and protocols✅ for the protection of our incredible team and our beautiful guests ❤️❤️❤️❤️ #paulmitchellpro @gavinnewsom @kevinfaulconer