OSKALOOSA — Hair salons throughout Iowa have reopened with fairly broad stipulations.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation Friday, May 15 allowing salons to reopen adhering to a set of guidelines: 1. the customer capacity of a salon is limited to only 50% of a salons maximum legal occupancy, 2. clients must make an appointment ahead of time to be serviced, 3. salons must ensure that all customers are a minimum of six feet apart while being serviced and 4. salon owners should ensure that increased hygiene practices are implemented to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Unique Salon Owner Brenda Pape said while it is wonderful to be back working, the scope of her business has changed a lot with all the new safety measures she has now implemented.
Pape said she doesn’t require her clients to wear PPE, however, 95 percent of her clients where it anyway. As for her staff they taking several precautions before, during and after their interactions with clients to ensure everyone’s safety.
“Well number one, is wearing the mask,” Pape said. “Number two, we have to book extra time with each client. Salons have always had to adhere to sanitation rules by the Department of Public Health. With that being said, what we’re having to do now is, every hour on the hour we wipe everything down in the bathroom. Then we wipe our adding machines, or calculators, our phone. Anything that we touch, we sanitize. We have the clients use the hand sanitizer upon entering and then in between every client we have to spray down our chair and all of our surfaces.”
After allowing hospital-grade disinfectant sit for 10 minutes, they wipe everything down and give it time to dry before the next client is serviced.
Due to the time it takes to get everything sanitized after each use, Pape said she isn’t able to serve as many people as before. Because of this and after six years, a once discussed increase in pricing has become a reality at her shop to balance out the increase of expenses from sanitizing and decrease in staff availability. One thing Pape said she would like her clients to keep in mind is that their time off was not by choice.
“We did do a price increase, it has been six years,” she said. “We did not want to be off work and also, we can’t get everybody in the first week.”
According to Pape, Unique Salon’s clients have been very patient and generous. Although they have had to increase their prices, she said clients are still tipping and they are getting creative with the tips as well.
“Gratuity is always wonderful but I’ll tell you what, I’ve had some people tip me in Lysol spray and wipes and that makes me every bit as happy,” she said. “Those are worth the weight of gold right now.”
Not far from The Unique Salon, is The Eight Note Hair Parlour. Owner Lindsey Canon said she too is happy to be back working as she, like many other hairstylists, was not afforded the opportunity to collect unemployment. While things are different at her salon, Canon said it’s been great getting to see her clients again.
Canon agreed that the guidelines from the governor concerning the reopening of salons were vague. Having spoken to other stylists about the guidelines Reynolds mandated in her proclamation, Canon has been tending to the needs of each customer on a “client by client basis.”
“No one is forced to wear a mask if they don’t want to,” she said. “If they’re more comfortable without it, that’s okay and if they want me to, I have no problem doing so if that makes them more comfortable.”
Like Pape, Canon has also increased her sanitization practices by scheduling more time in between and with each client. After each use, Canon sanitizes her chairs and equipment to eliminate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“It seems like the majority of people have been really comfortable they don’t seem super concerned,” she said. “It seems like they’re not extremely worried, at least I haven’t seen. I would hope that being here by myself people would be comfortable with that. I put out all these things that I’m doing to keep it clean, just the routine after every client, and I hope that that gives them enough comfort that they want to come and get a haircut.”
In the event that a stylist is running behind schedule with a client, they request that the next person wait outside in their vehicle until they are called in to prevent the risk of having multiple people gathering inside the salon.
According to Canon, she plans to increase her prices June 1. Canon said she has been planning this increase for approximately 6 months prior to COVID, as she has had the same prices for 11 years.
Canon does not have any intentions of adding any surcharges for expenses accrued as a result of the pandemic.
Owners at the two salons expressed how grateful they are for their clientele and how thankful they are to have such a generous and supportive client base.
“I have very close relationships with all my clients, so it’s been great getting to see them,” Canon said. “Everything’s a little bit different, but we adjust and make it work.”
Reynolds also permitted tattoo establishments, barbershops, medical spas, tanning facilities, massage therapy establishments, campgrounds, race tracks, libraries, drive-in theaters and social and fraternal clubs to reopen in the same proclamation.