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 When clients first arrive at Sola Salons, clients must wait in their car until they’re called to come in.

When clients first arrive at Sola Salons, clients must wait in their car until they’re called to come in.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Salons reopen after being closed 3 months, see changes due to pandemic

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 22, 2020

SHELBY TOWNSHIP/UTICA — The world is seeing a lot of change, and even an experience at the salon is different than it used to be.

After three months of being ordered to close due to the coronavirus, salons began reopening June 15 with many changes to the way they operate.

Sola Salons in Shelby Township opened June 15. In order to help their employees, they did not charge rent to the workers who rent space at their salons. While they were not able to open, they also worked to try to get the state to allow them to reopen.

“Of course, we weren’t collecting rent. And our salon owners were out of work. Their clients couldn’t receive services. So it was a very stressful and uncertain time for all. I stayed in constant contact (with) our salon owners. (Updated) them on CDC, and state mandates, new guidelines and regulations. Thankfully, everyone was up to speed and ready for opening day. And their clients were eager to receive services again,” Rahnda Loussia, the operations manager for Sola Salons, said in an email.

When clients arrive at Sola Salons, they must wait in their cars until they’re called to come in.

“Our salon owners give themselves 15-30 (minutes) between clients to sanitize their studios,” said Loussia.

While inside the salon, clients and stylists will have to follow certain procedures to protect both clients and the employees. The salon is also cleaned with disinfectant.

“We are currently following all state guidelines and orders. Clients and stylists must wear a mask while inside of the building. Masks must stay on during the duration of their service. One-to-one ratio (client-stylist only). No congregating in hallways or on benches. Only one salon owner in the break room at a time. Our janitorial services use hospital-grade cleaning and sanitation products two times a day, concentrating on high-touch points. Some salons are taking temps at the door. That is up to the individual professional if they want to take that extra precaution,” she said.

Loussia said the salon has also installed sanitation areas.

“We installed hand sanitizers near high-touch points and near entrances,” she said.

With the new changes, Loussia said a visit to the salon is completely different than it used to be.

“There have been many changes implemented. Masks, hand sanitizer, even our hand soap had to be changed. No longer can a mother and daughter come in and enjoy their services together. The hallways were bustling (with) clients and salon owners. Chatting and laughing. Studio doors were open. Salon owners going in and out of each other’s salons to chat, share a joke or some products, that’s all gone for now. Now it’s all business. You come in wearing a mask, get your service and leave with your mask on. Stylists come in, do their job and leave. Although they are very happy to be back, working and earning an income, it’s definitely very different and new for us all,” she said.

Marvin Khemmoro, the CEO of My Blowout Salon in Utica, had opened for business only a few months prior to the virus outbreak and is seeing the effects.

“We recently opened as a new business September 12, 2019, waiting for the summer rush of new clients to acquire our services for summer parties, school prom, friend and family gatherings, weekend night outs, etc. Closing in mid-March 2020 and reopening June 16 really killed our summer projections,” he said in an email.

He said having to close in March for three months was a big challenge.

“We expected our business to start increasing April 2020 as summer season starts to open. We unfortunately missed that. As a new business, it was already difficult keeping up with expenses; as we build clientele, every day of revenue counts for us. Closing for the three months that was our prime time of our first fiscal year to attract new clients now has delayed those expectations to summer of 2021. Fourth-quarter holidays are unlike the summer season since clients are more likely to book services for the days of those holidays only, rather than the entire month,” Khemmoro said.

He also said that, with weddings and parties on hold, it has impacted their expected revenue and ruined bridal plans.

My Blowout Salon reopened one day after salons were allowed to reopen and has seen some regulars back in and new business, but Khemmoro feels that the public might still be skeptical about going out.

The salon is sanitized constantly, and precautions are taken to keep clients and employees safe.

He said the salon now sanitizes all salon chairs multiple times per day and keeps clients outside in their cars before appointments.

“We provide complimentary face masks at the front door in case clients don’t have one, hand sanitizer at every angle of the salon. We used to be open seven days per week. The governor suggested to close one day per week for deep cleaning, so now (we’re) closed on Monday. The only thing I think is upsetting is that this closing of three months, which would’ve been a turning point for our new business, has killed the rest of this year for us,” said Khemmoro.