I’ve decided that my column to end 2020 has to be positive. Even “Dame Doom” has had enough gloom to last a lifetime – well, for one year at least. As I write, we are in a second national lockdown. It’s grey and miserable outside. Things are pretty rubbish, let’s be honest. Winter is looming and we have been closed down in the run up to our busiest time of year. Even for the most positive of people there is little to be optimistic about.
Uncertainty reigns: fear abounds. The future normality is a troubling thought – the care-free past seems like a dim and distant memory.
And yet, there is some hope. A heart-warming email recently dropped into my inbox. A client of ours from the shires tells me that we are missing a trick.
As salons prepare to reopen in early December, she suggests we should be reminding people of what they are missing out on if they stay away – that we should reach out to our clients and remind them what coming to a beauty or hair salon is really all about. Our client, Kate, shares that she recently had a small coterie of friends in her kitchen, all clients of the salon. They shared their visits to other salons and termed them as being the “casualties of a series of stuff-ups and terrible results” – which our team “rescued valiantly”. Moreover, she reflected on a recent salon visit where “apart from the joy of coming out looking so much better than when I went in,
“As salons prepare to reopen in December, we should be reminding people of what they are missing out on if they stay away”
I also felt better after a few hours’ respite from relentless Covid-19 anxiety. Maybe clients could do with a reminder that a visit to the salon provides a morale-boosting circuit-breaker that is much more than just the styling or treatment”.
She continues that the all-round fabulousness of a salon visit during these strained times could be argued to be good for mental health as well as being physically safe – providing a welcome morale boost which serves a dual purpose, helping to remind people that life goes on. And isn’t she right? With so much uncertainty, isn’t it nice (to paraphrase the TV show Cheers, for those who are old enough to remember) to go somewhere where everybody knows your name? Where else can we escape and feel near to normal? Or at least the normal that was before the pandemic.
Sense of escape
We are suffering hugely as a sector. Things are extremely tough. But if the words here help you in any way to remember the importance of what we do, how valued we are, how much what we do as an industry matters, then please, share them with your team.
It’s great to be able to do something positive to help – supporting children, victims of domestic violence, those struggling due because of redundancy, or mental or physical illness. Seeing people through their difficult times and holding their hand financially is so rewarding.
2020 has taught us a lot. It has showed us who and what matters. It has closed some doors and opened others. We know that in order to survive we will need to be leaner, meaner and stronger than ever before. Customer behaviour has changed. We are yet to find out if it will change back.
“Remembering why we do what we do, and the impact we have, serves as a stark reminder that we still matter”
We have learned that our sector needs its own identity, one of “personal care”. Trying to shoehorn us into the retail or hospitality sectors just doesn’t work; we are neither.
But remembering why we do what we do, and the impact we have, serves as a stark reminder that we still matter – perhaps like never before. All storms pass eventually. The sun always comes out again. And when it does, we see the new path more clearly than ever. Some things remain standing, some things will require rebuilding.
Reopening and planning for a stronger and more profitable 2021 provides us a chance to do just that.
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).
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