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Owners and customers of hair salons, barbershops and nail salons are anxiously awaiting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to authorize reopening their businesses.
Due to the close physical nature of their professions, Abbott said it will be at least another two weeks before he gives the go-ahead.
But many San Antonio cosmetologists, like Vanessa Flores, who runs her own studio, don’t agree with Abbott’s decision to allow businesses, like movie theaters to reopen.
Bars, gyms, hair salons, barbershops still not allowed to open in Texas
“It’s kind of silly to me. Something like a movie theater is open and not something like a salon, where you can kind of control not so much traffic," she said.
Flores owns The Color Studio near North Star Mall. She is the only stylist there and already has plans to keep herself and her clients safe when she reopens. While she is used to double-booking and taking as many customers as possible, she says she will be limiting the number of clients and guests in the salon. She is also leaving time between appointments to sanitize.
Flores had plans to open a second studio in the coming months, but those plans have been pushed back since cosmetologists were forced out of work during the coronavirus pandemic.
“With our industry, if you’re not preparing yourself for these things you are really going to drown when something like this happens," Flores says her father taught her how to save rigorously. “So, fortunately I can survive for a couple months to still pay rent. But if this continues... probably not,” she said.
Daniel Macias worked with Flores when the two were first starting out in the business. They both built their skills and clientele in order to become independent stylists.
“It’s tough because going into my industry, there’s no such thing as sick days. There’s no such thing as sick leave. It doesn’t really work that way,” he said.
Macias works out of a salon in the Medical Center where he pays weekly rent for his workspace. Despite not being able to work, Macias is still required to pay that rent.
Under the $2 trillion Coronavirus relief package, those who are self-employed can now file for unemployment benefits but not everyone qualifies. Macias says he tried to file but was denied. “I think about it and I feel like there’s way more people who really need the unemployment benefit, especially people with families and people who straight up just got cut off from their job and they have nothing to go back to once after to solve them,” he explained. Despite a lack of any assistance, Macias remains optimistic about getting back on his feet once he returns to work. He says his clients play a big part in that.
During Abbott’s address on April 27, he candidly said he believes customers likely want these businesses open even more than the business owners do. Claudia Saunders can attest to that. She runs The Beauty Lounge on Broadway and says her clients are being patient, supportive and loyal during this time.
After spending hours in the salon, possibly every six weeks or so, clients in the beauty industry become more than just customers. For example, Saunders used Zoom to connect with clients to celebrate her birthday during quarantine.
“So that’s the type of bond we’ve built with our clients. We also miss that. It’s not just financially a hardship, but we miss the bonds that we created with our clients. It’s like a therapy session in the salon,” said Saunders.
Both Saunders and Flores have found small ways to supplement their income. Saunders is focused on selling hair extensions and salon-quality products to existing clients. “We sell the actual shampoos and conditioners and things they can’t find at H-E-B or Sally’s,” she said “The clients absolutely love it. They still feel like they have a little piece of the salon with them at home.”
Meanwhile, Flores has been putting together custom color kits for clients who need an easy fix.
These stylists have refrained from any house calls in order to protect themselves and others and are urging other beauty professionals to do the same.
“It’s just something that we’re all going through. And we all need to be smart and take precautions so that we are able to get back to work as quick as possible,” Macias said.
Governor Abbott says state and health officials are working on safety plans to get cosmetologists back to work. He hopes to have a plan in place to reopen salons, barbershops, nail salons and other businesses by May 18, during phase two of transitioning.
Update: Texas governor announces when nail salons, barber shops and gyms can open up
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