Envisioning your arrival at the hair salon is sure to induce you into a meditative state of sorts: The creative atmosphere, a chic espresso, the ethereal smell of professional products, warm smiles, hugs and chitchat, normally. As businesses slowly begin to open back up, stylists and clients alike can feel a universal anticipation building in lieu of COVID-19.

When will the salon business resume and what will the new “normal” be?

Salon services are creative, scientific and intimate. The stylist-client relationship which has been regarded as therapeutic can no longer be considered just emotionally close. Now, in the age of the novel coronavirus, the stylist-client relationship is one that occurs within a distance of less than six feet. While eager to get back into the salon and offset any further financial hardship, stylists are going to have to practice extreme caution with the safety of both employees and clients in mind. When the green light is finally given for Palm Beach County to reopen hair salons, owner Lauren Donald has devised a plan with aforementioned in mind.

The Bond Street we used to know was always cheerful and bustling with plenty of people. Business as usual would consist of one client in the chair receiving a service, another with color processing at the processing table and yet another walking in for their imminent appointment. The salon would often operate with eight stylists at any given time, their personal assistants, general assistants, as well as front desk and management staff.  Now, we are looking at having to keep a ten person minimum in our space, including staff and clients.

The plan at Bond Street is to have four stylists working at any given time with one client per stylist in the building. There will be one assistant available, in the initial stages, to all four stylists to help with shampooing, rinsing color, keeping the salon set up and operating flawlessly. Add in one employee at the desk to check in, manage the schedule and take phone calls and you have your ten people.

Despite the dramatic memes recently featured on the internet of stylists highlighting with broom length color brushes, there is nothing in reality to be done about the close proximity of a salon service. To ensure the safety of everyone, Bond Street will require both stylists and clients to wear masks while in the salon. Masks curated from local vendors will be sold to anyone with such necessity. Stylists, assistants and desk staff will likewise wear gloves throughout their entire shifts and great care will be given to sanitizing the space before and after all clients. To minimize the spread of germs, beverages will cease to be served, magazines will be nixed from common areas and payments will be taken by phone to minimize hand to hand contact. 

Admittedly, it is a bit lackluster to envision the “new normal” inevitably coming with the salon’s reopening. Having to ask clients to wait outside, promptly six feet apart, for reception to let them in for their appointment is far less uncomfortable than laying in waiting. We miss our clients, our livelihoods and our camaraderie. The pandemic has left many stylists with no source of income and has likewise denied them unemployment benefits.

Let there be no doubt that we will gladly take any and all precautions to get back to what matters: providing forms of self-care and wellbeing for our clients and continuing to build such faithful relationships. No matter what the new normal turns out to be, the bond we have with them will always be both cherished and familiar. 

Laura Powers, 2020. Author retains ownership, reuse or reprint by permission only.

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