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 Patrons wait outside on benches wearing masks, awaiting their turn for a haircut at The Korner Barbers in Farmington.

Patrons wait outside on benches wearing masks, awaiting their turn for a haircut at The Korner Barbers in Farmington.

Photo by Jonathan Shead


Barbershops, salons get back to business in Farmington, Hills

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 23, 2020

 MY SALON Suite stylist Sherrie Walker blow-dries a client’s hair the morning of June 15, the day salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen in Michigan.

MY SALON Suite stylist Sherrie Walker blow-dries a client’s hair the morning of June 15, the day salons and barbershops were allowed to reopen in Michigan.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

FARMINGTON/HILLS — After months of waiting, salons and barbershops across Michigan were given the green light by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to reopen June 15.

Salons, barbershops and other personal care establishments were required to close March 21.

“I have 25 suites, and all of them had been out of work for three months,” MY SALON Suite of Farmington Hills owner Sue Leja said, adding that she forgave rent for all her stylists during that period. “We were put out of income for three months.”

Since then, Leja and her stylists had been working on a “comeback plan,” which they were finally able to enact last week. The plan, which Leja said heavily focuses on heightened sanitation and cleanliness, isn’t an entirely new concept for her stylists and many others across the state.

According to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, to become a licensed cosmetologist in Michigan, an individual must complete at least 1,500 hours of course study from a licensed cosmetology school or work through a two-year apprenticeship at a licensed establishment.

“I think they have about 130 hours of their education based solely on sanitation and cleanliness. They come from a background that they’re used to being very diligent with sanitation,” Leja said.

With the doors finally open after three months, scenes and sounds around the salon — blow dryers, chatter and phones ringing off the hook — may have been familiar. Beyond that, many processes have changed.

At MY SALON Suite, clients are admitted by appointment only and are met at the door after a text indicates their stylist is ready. A 15-minute gap to re-sanitize rooms is now sandwiched in between two clients. Clients and stylists are both required to wear a mask and gloves. Leja added that her salon’s suite-style operation provides a “great environment for this type of service in this type of COVID-19 environment, because all our suites are in an isolated room.”

“Being in my own space, I can limit how many customers I have. I don’t have to worry about the 6-feet distance, and even with (my client) and I being close, with (them) wearing gloves and a mask, I don’t feel I’m at risk of getting sick,” said MY SALON Suite stylist Sherrie Walker. “It’s less stressful being in a smaller space and not having so many people come in and out.”

At The Korner Barbers in Farmington, many of the same safety precautions, like wearing masks and face shields for beard trimming, have been applied, and owner Dan Klawender has also set up contract tracing at his barbershop in case anyone were to test positive.

“There’s no appointments, just a sign-up sheet. When people come in, they put their name, their phone number and who they want to cut their hair. That way, we have a record,” he said. “Let’s say somebody does come that does have something, and we find out. I can look on (that sheet) and find out what day they were in, and who was in the shop about the same time so we can contact them.”

Klawender said his shop has stayed busy since it opened June 16, with customers waiting sometimes two or three hours for a haircut.

“Customers are excited to get in here, and they’re very patient,” he said. “We’re fixing some home haircuts and taking a lot of hair off of people.”

Klawender said he was slightly concerned with how smoothly he would be able to reopen his shop, but so far “it’s running really good.” He only had one customer his first week back who didn’t wear a mask in his shop.

“I didn’t really say anything to him, but ya know, he’s only one guy in three days.”

Klawender isn’t sure when he may be able to ease back some of the statewide restrictions in his shop, but he’s geared up to keep them around for as long as he has to, saying he wants to ensure his shop is doing what’s necessary to keep his clients comfortable.

Despite the hurdles of the past three months, and the restrictions still in place, he’s happy to be back in business.

“I’ve been working long hours, but still it’s been fun to get back in here and talk to the customers and hear their stories from the last three months,” he said. “We’re happy with the way things are going. I just wish it wasn’t three months.”