With hair, nail and beauty services closed indefinitely, stylists are turning to new ways to stay afloat.
Meister’s barber shop was expecting a banner year when, in February, clients began talking about an unknown virus moving through the world.
“It seemed like every client was bringing it up,” said owner Rob Baumiester. “The barbers of Meister’s were worried—not about getting the virus, but about spreading it. We talked as a team and shut the shop down a day before the city shutdown. It all happened fast. Now, we are all healthy and playing our part to social distance. We can’t wait to get back in the shop and get back to the grind, and we’re looking forward to the day when this is all over.”
Across the Delaware River, in Somerdale, Revolution Barber Company experienced a similar phenomenon.
“None of us at the shop were paying much attention to the news,” said owner Courtney Caruso, “but our customers were. Each day, the talk seemed more serious than the day before. Barbers have state-mandated sanitation requirements that we take seriously, but we wanted to get ahead of the curve. We bought more cleaning products, and made efforts to sanitize above and beyond requirements. Suddenly, nobody had gloves in stock and we knew there was a problem.”
Many of Caruso’s clients journey from South Philadelphia. She planned to expand her operation earlier this year and now has $10,000 worth of equipment sitting in a store in Blackwood that has never seen a customer. “If I had the loan money today, I’d pay my staff,” said Caruso. “It breaks my heart to see all that new equipment while they aren’t getting a paycheck.”
Many cosmetic services, from barber shops to beauty salons to nail shops, are making tough choices—and offering solutions—while local businesses remain shuttered. You can help your barber, beautician, and stylist in three ways.
1. Pay it forward during the COVID-19 Crisis
Halo Hair Salon, 1728 E Passyunk Ave. (Instagram: @halohairphilly) offers online gift certificates that customers can purchase towards future hair services or hair products.
Mockingbird Salon, 1822 S 13th St. (Instagram: @mockingbirdsalon) is offering online gift cards for future services.
Revolution Barber Company, 33 S White Horse Pike, Somerdale (Instagram: @revolutionbarberco) is offering gift cards at their Somerdale location for future services.
Styland Beauty, 1714 E Passyunk Ave. (Instagram: @styland_beauty), offers a free $10 gift card when you purchase a $50 card.
2. Support your stylist by buying product, or through GoFundMe
Hello Hair Salon, 1905 S. 13th St. (Instagram: @hello.hairsalon, email: firstname.lastname@example.org) is selling their popular line of LivingProof products by mail delivery.
Meister’s Barbershop, 1810 E. Passyunk Ave., is doing a GoFundMe for employees. “Everyone can support us by following our Instagram @Meistersbarbershop,” said Baumiester. “Click the link in our bio, to the Go Fund Me I set up for our barbers. All the donations go toward the barbers and not the owner. None of us a have worked in weeks and we are not sure how much longer it will be. They can use your support right now. Also, we have shirts, koozies, and pins for sale. You can DM us on our Instagram to purchase.
3. Support one another
Today’s Nails, 1504 E Passyunk Ave. (Instagram: @todays_nails) isn’t offering gift certificates or taking donations, but they are offering giveaways on Instagram through the COVID crisis. Each week existing clients can nominate those most affected by the crisis for free services. Owner Sylvia Dinh says, “We want to give back to our clients, both on the front line and who cannot work.”
What to expect when things return to normal
With so many clients and customers months behind on their haircuts, what can people expect when stylists re-open?
“The first thing I will do is cut my hair,” said Caruso. “I’m letting it grow out in solidarity with my clients. Be patient when we re-open. There will be outrageous demand. And, if you can, tip in cash rather than on your credit card. It helps both your stylist and the business.”
Baumiester agrees. “Watch for news about re-opening so you can get the appointment slot you need. There will be a rush of people trying to get their long hair cut off. To make it easier for us, consider the risk we will take when we go back. We get hundreds of people walking through our door each week and with cutting hair and trimming beards the odds are kinda stacked against us. We just hope all our clients are healthy, both throughout the crisis and before they see us get their mop cut off.”
Do you know of another South Philly-based stylist, barber, nail or beauty services business that’s paying it forward or helping their employees or others? Let us know in the comments below!