Hair salons and spas in Bloomington-Normal are struggling with financial hurdles and layoffs after closing due to the pandemic.
Following Gov. JB Pritzker’s order to close nonessential businesses, hair salons and spas have shut their doors to customers to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Fox & Hounds Day Spa in Bloomington laid off 38 employees. Employees can seek unemployment benefits.
Owner Vicki Tilton said laying off her employees wasn’t ideal, but with the business being closed, there is little revenue being generated to pay employees.
“We cannot begin to cover payroll without anything coming in,” Tilton said. “These are service providers who produce the income and without them in there, we don’t have anything substantial coming in."
Tilton said one of her challenges with closing doors is staying engaged with customers. She said the business has offered gift certificates, curbside pickups, and tutorials on social media to help clients who are doing their own services at home to practice social distancing.
A potential concern for clients in spas and salons is the close contact with their stylists and estheticians. Tilton said she’s not concerned about customers' fear of returning to their business when doors reopen because of strict sanitation policies for licensing in the industry.
“Ninety percent of what that license is about is sanitation,” Tilton said. “We do practice really good sanitation and I think people trust us for that.”
Moda Salon and Spa is a booth rental salon that has five stylists and two estheticians who are independent contractors out of work.
Owner Julie Dunning said not being able to receive payments from the stylists and estheticians has caused financial hurdles. She started a GoFundMe posted on Facebook to raise funds for rent and utilities along with a small-business relief initiative.
“As a business, you can do a GoFundMe page. We submitted an application and if you qualify for being a small business, and you raise at least $500, then you’re eligible for a grant that they would match the $500 of what you have raised,” Dunning said.
Dunning said they have raised $2,500 so far. She said it would ease the burden on stylists to cover the rent for their booth space. Clients have also been offering to donate funds and help the business stay afloat during the closure.
Dunning said despite financial concerns, the business will survive the pandemic due to a loyal client base.
“People are going to be very ready to come in when this is over,” Dunning said. “From the people I’ve talked to, everyone kind of gets in a funk staying at home and you kind of start staying in your pajamas all day and not getting ready. I think people will be ready to start feeling good and not looking shaggy and getting back to some sense of normalcy.”
Dunning said a major concern for single, self-employed workers is paying premiums for health insurance.
“Health insurance premiums for the self-employed are outrageous as it is, and that’s one thing everyone has said you really need to keep up in this time is at least paying your premiums for your health insurance,” she said.
Dunning said Moda is providing orders and curbside pickups on their products sold in their salon. She said house calls for hair services are not being done to follow the social-distancing recommendations.
She said the best way for clients to help workers during this time is to support small businesses. She also encouraged clients to practice do-it- yourself hair care.
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