Kelly Hunter is an award-winning hairstylist, Contessa finalist and owner of Salon Venator in Winnipeg. We caught up with Hunter to discuss what it’s like being a salon owner during the second salon shutdown, what salons are currently going through and advice on how to get through it all.
What is it like being a salon owner during the pandemic – particularly now during the second salon shutdown and it being during the holiday season?
These are extremely challenging times for so many. In regard to our industry, salons are feeling the impact and as a salon owner it is almost surreal. Never in our careers have we been forced to close, especially at holiday time!
How does the second shutdown compare to the first? Anything you learned from the first shutdown that helped you during this one?
The first shutdown was difficult but the second is much harder. The obvious financial stress is there, but there are added difficulties in trying to be optimistic and positive for the staff. Like so many other salons, we followed the recommendations and adapted to new protocols to operate safely. There were a lot of positive things that came out of the first shutdown – proper booking of clients and self-care just to name a few!
How does it feel to have your salon closed (again) after putting all the COVID protocols in place and for a salon like yours, which is an environment that offers a lot of privacy which works well for COVID times?
Having a second shutdown is really discouraging. Salons are one of the safest places especially compared to many of the larger stores that remain open! Having a private layout like my setup is the ultimate for safety, yet here we are shut down. It is quite heartbreaking as so many small businesses are suffering.
What kind of impact has the second salon shutdown had on you as a salon owner? What about your staff?
The second shutdown is such a blow – not only to the bottom line but mentally it’s very draining. It’s hard to be positive and encouraging to the staff who are stressed as well. As salon owners, we have so much pressure to keep it together and motivate the staff, they look to us for encouragement, so we really have to be strong.
Do you have any business tips or advice for salon owners who may be struggling during this time?
Stay strong! These are challenges that are new to all of us – now more than ever we should look to one another for support – it’s time to be there for each other and not be so competitive with one another. We are just doing what we can to survive this – we shouldn’t judge each other.
Any tips/advice for stylists during this time?
Stay motivated with education and take this opportunity to advance skills! Utilize social media – if this had happened even 10 years ago it would be a lot more difficult. Technology now allows these tools at your fingertips.
What are some ways salon owners and stylists can maintain good relationships with their clients during this time?
It’s so important to stay connected with your clients at this time. I see a lot of posts about salons going into lockdown and that clients will be contacted – but don’t wait to reach out to them! I found this an amazing way to maintain some sense of normalcy and keep in mind not all of our clients are on social media. A phone call or text speaks volumes to your clients.
Have you been offering or attending any online education sessions?
I’ve always maintained a belief in the strength of ongoing education. And we all have time now!
Has your salon been offering curbside pickup to make up for some losses during the closures?
I’ve been doing curbside pick-up and drop off. I feel like a delivery driver some days! But clients appreciate it and the support helps. It’s the perfect time to move old stock too – put small packages together and offer promotions on these. Who doesn’t love a package or free product!
What are some ways you’ve been keeping your staff and/or clients motivated and hopeful during this time? Any words of encouragement?
Keeping up contact with them and just checking in. We all are feeling the pressures of this in so many different ways. Just letting them know you are there if they need anything – not only is it rewarding mentally but the loyalty you establish is what will get your business through these challenging times.