A wise woman once told me (thank you, mother) that the only thing certain about life is change; that we are all in a permanent state of flux without even knowing it. We might think we are in a regular routine, that everything is Groundhog Day. But the truth is, nothing is ever the same permanently. Everything is changing all the time, whether we notice it or not. And nothing will change that!
Learning to live with change isn’t easy (and it becomes harder the older you get). Attitudes, perceptions and behaviours change – and that’s just people. The world around us has altered beyond recognition in the space of a year. The Covid-19 pandemic has dragged our comfort blankets away from us, even if we are kicking and screaming behind them and trying to wrestle them back.
Sometimes change is enforced, like this, and sometimes subtle changes go barely noticed, but think about your routine this time last year and the adaptations you’ve made since then as a case in point. Your working hours may be different, as well as your attitude to mindfulness or exercise. You may even be thinking of moving, or moving on. Things won’t be the same, guaranteed, because that’s just not possible.
Client behaviours have altered forever. One full quarter after opening that has become uncomfortably evident. It’s going to take some time to get back to how things were pre-Covid-19, if we ever do. Never has it been more important for salon owners to share information, talk to each other, get validation and benchmarks on their performance and figures, and realise that they are not alone.
I would heartily endorse an open forum to share information like this. I set up my own salon owners WhatsApp group at the start of lockdown and it’s been a real comfort to know that we are all experiencing the same customer trends. I wish we could do this on a bigger scale; but only if we are honest and truthful (no posturing allowed… just a real and frank discussion). If only the ego could be parked at the door when we all get together as a profession, we could do so much more together.
The fabulous Caroline Hirons started her #BeautyBacked campaign in August (oh, the power of Instagram and the number of followers she has!) and raised almost half a million pounds for The Hair & Beauty Charity, of which I am a trustee, board member and past president.
Having been involved with the charity (formerly HABB) since 2005, it’s wonderful that we are able to ringfence resources to help those in the industry who have witnessed first-hand the devastating effect of coronavirus. As a board, we have “Zoomed” regularly since lockdown to look at the cases we are presented with by potential beneficiaries. The scale of support we have offered is something I am enormously proud to see, and with furlough coming to an end, I fear will continue to be much needed.
It’s great to be able to do something positive to help – supporting children, victims of domestic violence, those struggling due to redundancy, or mental or physical illness. Seeing people through their difficult times and holding their hand financially is so rewarding.
Diversify your offer
So, what of the future? Beauty will not be the same again for a long time. Research suggests that most grooming regimes were given an overhaul, and until the virus is a thing of the past and financial uncertainty behind us, we must face the fact that anything remotely considered “luxury” has been given a re-think. We are where we are. We can only adapt to the change we face.
I’m expanding the range of alternative therapies we offer because what is clear is that people are becoming more mindful, more receptive to embracing ancient practices and new age therapies, and more aware of the benefits these holistic treatments can bring – both physically and mentally.
“If only the ego could be parked at the door when we all get together as a profession , we could do so much more”
We’ve got a tough winter to come, and we won’t be out of the woods until spring. Sharing facts, figures and other salons’ data will be the boost we all need to get us out the other side of this. All the time we are unregulated, we have no central point to come together, which is why organisations like the NHBF are crucial. I’m proud to be their beauty ambassador. The only way out is through – we need to come together more than ever to win out. PB
Hellen Ward is managing director of Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa in London, one of the most profitable independent salons in the UK. She is beauty ambassador for the National Hair & Beauty Federation (NHBF).