Kathy Lazier is a hairstylist who works at two different salons, The Phoenix Salon in Los Angeles and Freddie B Salon and Spa in Ventura County, California. She hasn't done hair since the middle of March, but she still tries to stay connected to her clients. Here's how she's doing it.
I had just come back from six weeks off for major surgery when the pandemic hit. I was feeling strong enough to do a few days off work, so I was only back for a week before everything shut down. As I think every hairstylist will tell you, it’s more than just a job. I’ve been doing hair for 35 years, and even before I got my license, I was cutting my dolls’ hair, styling my Barbies, and doing my friends’ hair in high school. It’s just natural to me. And as a hairstylist, you’re more than just doing hair. You’re a therapist, you’re a sounding board, you’re a confidant and a port in a storm. I can’t wait to get back to my clients, to hear their stories. I miss them, and I hope they wait for me.
We’re all isolated right now, so I’m trying to stay in touch with everyone. If I haven’t heard from one of my clients in awhile, I’ll send them a text just to see how they’re doing, if they’re hanging in OK. And some of them have called just to say hi and we’ve chatted and laughed for an hour, just catching up. It helps us feel a little bit normal, even in these strange times.
Helping with remote haircare
I set up an online store where my clients could get any retail that they may need, if they've run out of shampoo or conditioner or other products and putting packages together to just kind of help them through. I've also been doing virtual appointments for some of my regulars. I’ve set up a curbside pickup for their color formula and a little color brush and bowl. It’s all sanitized and disinfected, and it’s just enough for what I call the surfboard: Just up over their part and their hairline. You know, the money shot.
And then, after they’ve picked up their supplies, we make a virtual appointment for later on in the day. We have an hour's visit where I walk them through exactly how to apply it over video. I’ve got my own brush and show them how it goes, because some of them get really nervous. Then, once they’ve got the color on, we just sit and talk and giggle for an hour. It’s worked out fabulously. They love it, because it gives them a chance to visit and see another face and have some semblance of normalcy. And they get that element of self-care, too.
Taking care of yourself — and your hair
Because that’s the thing: Getting your hair done is self-care, and we all need that. We don’t want you to try and do a box color or cut your own bangs, but if you do, we understand. We know what it’s like. In solidarity with all of you, I’m not dyeing my hair until all of this is over either. I’m right there with you, and we’ll get through it together.
I’m lucky, because my parents have been able to help me out a bit through this. But we really don’t know when we’ll all get back to normal. The governor here in California has said it could be weeks or months. I haven’t applied for the Paycheck Protection Program yet because there are those who need it more than I do. But I can’t hold out for months. I don’t know what we’ll all do, but I’m in a very fortunate position right now.
Back to the new normal
In the salon business, we’re already in a good position to come back and keep everything sanitary and disinfected because cleanliness is a big part of what we do. In a way, it’s good to get back to the basics because sometimes, you rest on your laurels a little bit. At the salons where I work, one in Los Angeles and one in Ventura County, they’re small, and we’re already more than six feet apart. We’ll only be booking one client at a time, and we’ll probably stagger them to give us 15–20 minutes to fully clean and disinfect everything in between. That’ll be weird, because we usually double and triple book, to work on multiple people at a time. So maybe I’ll get to actually taste my lunch, for a change.
I can’t cut hair while wearing gloves, but I will wear a mask, and we’ll ask clients to wear a mask and only come in if they haven’t been exposed as far as they know. We won’t be doing eyebrows or facial hair grooming for the first little while, either. And it kills me to send my clients home with wet hair, but there’s some evidence that blow-drying spreads the virus, so we won’t be doing that either. Everything we can do for everyone’s safety, that’s what we’ll do.
Getting through it together
It’s going to be hard and it’s going to be weird. It’ll probably feel a little like a sci-fi movie, when we first come back. Before we shut down, I remember we were cleaning everything and trying to keep our distance as much as possible. We were already doing the elbow bumps, no hugging, and washing our hands constantly. Usually, if a little bit of hair falls on my nose, I’d just flick it away. But now we can’t touch our faces, so if I forget and do that, I have to go wash my hands. It’s an adjustment, but it’ll be worth it, just to get back to everything again.
I want my clients to know that I miss them so much. I want them to wait for us and come back when we do. And be understanding if we have to raise our prices a little bit, because I just dropped $100 on cleaning supplies, and we’re going to need to book fewer appointments and take all of these precautions to be safe. We value our clients more than they’ll ever know, and I can’t wait until we can see each other again.
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