Our roots are showing, our ends are split, our hair is out of control — we're all asking the same question: When are the salons going to reopen?
As New York City enters its second full month of shutdown, officials are starting to publicly discuss how the city will reopen, prompting salons to start preparing for the eventual day they'll open their doors to customers again.
One thing is for sure: once salons reopen, it won't look like it did before the shutdown.
Essentially, the decision to reopen all comes down to when New York City deems it OK for businesses to reopen and how salons respond to government-mandated protocols.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state's "PAUSE" will end May 15 for other regions like Upstate New York, and says the reopening will happen in waves or phases, with construction and manufacturing activities starting back first, followed by the opening of businesses on a case-by-case basis.
That determination would be based on "how essential a service does that business provide, and how risky is that business," said Cuomo.
"[Businesses] have to think about how they’re going to reopen with this quote-unquote new normal," he said. "Every business must have a plan in place when opening that protects employees in the work place and consumers if applicable, to lower the risk with social distancing."
Salons must adhere to CDC and OSHA guidelines in order to start taking clients again, which means masks, gloves and constant cleanings.
Natura Spa, which started its own lockdown on March 18 before the governor ordered it, shared a glimpse into what it will look like when clients come in for a service online:
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Hello, Natura SPA family! We've created this simulation to show you how we are preparing for the long-awaited green light from Governor @nygovcuomo @nycmayor @billdeblasio Yes, we are anxious and thinking about every detail necessary to keep our 12-year work legacy in Astoria with the same excellence it has always had, but addressing the new world hygiene standards. It hasn't been easy, but we are confident that these days will make us better people and professionals. The purpose of this video is to come up with ideas and help other salons in New York City to adapt to the new challenges that we are all experiencing. We want to hear your opinion about our protocol suggestion. Share your thoughts with us. Let's create a better Natura SPA together for our beloved NYC! *** Olá, família Natura SPA! Criamos essa simulação para mostrar como estamos nos preparando para o tão esperado sinal verde do governador Andrew Cuomo. Sim, estamos ansiosos e pensando em cada detalhe para manter o nosso trabalho de 12 anos em Astoria com a mesma excelência e higiene de sempre, agora atendendo aos novos padrões do mundo pós coronavírus. Nada disso tem sido fácil para nós, mas temos fé que esses dias nos transformarão em pessoas e profissionais melhores. Com essa simulação, desejamos também ajudar outros salões em New York City a se adaptar aos novos desafios que todos vivemos. Queremos ouvir sua opinião sobre o nosso protocolo. Compartilhe suas ideias e nos ajude a criar um Natura SPA cada vez melhor para essa cidade que tanto amamos! @nygovcuomo
"Every day, we receive phone calls from our most loyal customers asking when we will open up," Natura Spa owner Lilian Metzger tells us. "We have delivered beauty care products to their doorsteps with follow up video chats on how to apply them for the best effect."
But once they do open, Natura Spa staffers will have to wear face shields, gloves and protective suits and take clients' temperatures.
Each customer, who must have an appointment and arrive solo, will be given hand sanitizer, his or her own mask, robe and pair of gloves and plastic foot coverings. The salon and spa will also have acrylic walls installed on the front desk to protect staff and clients, according Metzger.
Edward Tricomi, celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Warren Tricomi Salons, has also massively changed the way his salons across the world will operate, starting with the Greenwich, Connecticut location, which opens May 20.
Like Natura Spa, each staff member will be equipped with a mask and clients will be given their own kits that includes a paper or plastic cape, a mask and their own personal hair brush. Manicure and pedicure clients will get their own clippers and top coat—all of which can be taken home, he tells us.
When someone comes in for their appointment, they are not allowed to have a purse or bag nor can they have someone with them. It can only be the person with the appointment who enters the salon.
Furthermore, Warren Tricomi, which has locations at The Plaza Hotel, on Madison Avenue and Downtown Manhattan, will be cashless and won't have a typical front desk. The only thing customers will have to do when they come in is have their temperature taken before they're escorted straight to their chair and stylist, who they will stay with for the duration of their appointment.
Where one salon has about 50 chairs, only 20 of them will be used at a time to stay in compliance, with one hour allotted for a haircut and about an hour-and-a-half for highlights, Tricomi says.
Each stylist station will be completely wiped down between customers, just like at Natura Spa.
"What we're actually doing is taking care of our clients and customer base and taking care of our staff," Tricomi says. "We're trying to give quality service to our clients and ease people's fears.
The masks and shields they'll wear are not too far from a NASA space suit, he adds with a chuckle. "When we get lemons, we have to make lemonade ... and make a candleholder—we have to get creative. We've thought about every single point of touch."
He says he's taking cues from how doctors keep things clean in an operating room, which is going to be a little harrowing to clients at first, but it's all about stopping the spread.
"First of all, to see everybody with masks on is going to be jarring," he says. "But we want to make healthcare workers' jobs easier, we don't want to give them more patients."
But that comes at a cost.
Tricomi says he's had to spend a lot to stay in compliance, buying everything from personal client kits to personal protection and santizing equipment. He expects to only get half his usual business, which will just keep the business afloat.
"It's like being on life support, we're not making money, we're not doing anything great, we're just maintaining until we come out with a vaccine or a protocol to reduce the spread," he says.
Tricomi says he's kept is close contact with all 280 employees via phone call a few times a week — and they're all hurting without work. Luckily, he was able to secure some loans to help keep things afloat.
Natura Spa has also been "severely affected" by the shutdown.
"So when we had to close, our entire income stream was cut off for most of our staff," Metzger says. "This was devastating for our staff especially since they have chosen this profession for their love of human contact and interaction and as a way of expressing their artistic and creative passion. For most of our staff, their work is their life and many of them struggled to find their way as they were searching for their path during their young careers. So not only has their livelihood been stripped from them but also their creative expression and way of life and on top of it all, they long for social interaction."
She says some of them have acted as virtual therapists to help their clients deal with all the anxiety of this epidemic and the spa has even started its own support group, which shares self-care videos and inspiration to get through the day. On Friday morning, local doctors and nurses from Mt. Sinai Hospital reached out to the spa to arrange some services for its staff in a safe manner, she said.
"My stylists jumped in excitement to have the chance to groom and nurture and give something back to the true heroes of our nation," she says. "I envision that a simple haircut or a blowout will have a deeper meaning in post-corona times. Human touch, grooming and the sense to care for another date back to Adam and Eve. It will be difficult to take spa services for granted in the [future]."
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