Lessons learnt from reopening post lockdown
Maintaining a positive mindset, collaborating with other beauty professionals, and being ultra-careful in terms of safety and hygiene is what the industry should focus on while grappling with the economic fallout of COVID-19.
This is what emerged from the Professional Beauty webinar held on 30 July and hosted by the company’s commercial director, Phil Woods. Panelists were Jared Hines of the multiple award-winning Hines & Harley Men’s Grooming Lounge and Louise Pitot of Body Orchestra.
Said Hines: “When lockdown was first announced, we expected it to last only 21 days and planned to reopen the salon on 1 May. But then Government extended the lockdown so we had to come up with a plan of how to survive. We started looking at bringing in surgical masks and at how much damage hand sanitiser does to our hands. Because I already have my own men’s products for shaving and beards, I decided to develop a moisturising hand sanitiser. We focused on selling masks, hand sanitiser and our other retail items to try and get people back into their skincare routines.”
Since coming out of lockdown, Louise Pitot of Body Orchestra, a holistic beauty practice in Johannesburg that focuses on facials, nutrition and functional medicine, has been working from home, as the premises she was renting is undergoing renovations.
Said Pitot: “Because I’ve been working from home, my focus has shifted so I’m probably more relatable to home salons that don’t have staff. During lockdown I worked really hard to get the online side of my business going. I did a face yoga training course and am now qualified to teach this modality, which I can do online. Since reopening, I have compartmentalised my services in that I now only see clients on three days a week, and use the other two days for coaching and webinars.”
Both Pitot and Hines had stayed in regular contact with clients during lockdown to give skin and health care tips, with Pitot compiling special home care kits for clients, once she was allowed to retail.
“I needed to become more creative for some clients, who didn’t have the products that they usually rely on me for,” she continued. “My idea was to empower clients in terms of home care – so I shared information and videos on face massage, face yoga, gua sha and pressure points. The fact that I did this doesn’t mean my clients won’t want to come back to me, it means they will now have more trust in me as they see that I wasn’t trying to keep secrets from them.”
By the time that Hines & Harley reopened in the third week of June, there was a flood of clients. “It was mayhem,” commented Hines, “there was literally no gap for the first week and it was so nice to see that our clients were actually waiting for us to come back. That included the guys who did their own ‘corona cuts’ during lockdown, which we then had to fix for them. We did a lot of haircuts, facials and pedicures.”
Pitot’s experience was somewhat different. “Many of my clients contacted me and asked whether my other clients were self-isolating. They knew that I am careful but didn’t know if my other clients were being careful in terms of taking the necessary steps to avoid infection. My clients have come back almost systematically, but not every client has come back. I still have some who are being ultra-careful and waiting to see what happens. However, I believe that this will change with Spring approaching and I can already see that bookings have picked up.”
For Hines & Harley, the initial busy week has been followed by a continued flow of bookings, apart from a slight drop which Hines attributes to it being winter, rather than a coronavirus-related drop.
Neither Pitot nor Hines has had any problems with clients accepting the enhanced new safety & hygiene measures mandated by government. Rather, it’s been a case of clients happy to come back for treatments and appreciating that their therapists are taking such protective measures.
Hines stated: “As professionals, we take hygiene and sterilisation very seriously, so 99% of the things on the Government protocols we were doing already. We’ve always had social distancing in the shop as part of the environment.”
Pitot agreed that it’s was just a case of being super-careful. “For instance, I recently had a little tickle in the throat so cancelled everything for that week.”
There has been no necessity for either Body Orchestra or Hines & Harley to turn away clients whose temperature readings might be high, as those clients who felt sick cancelled ahead of time.
Said Hines: “Should we get a client in who has a high temperature reading, we would say to them: ‘We’re a bit worried about your temperature, so please go and get tested and let us know’.”
He noted that he thinks that the rest of 2020 will be similar in terms of business to what it is now, but that by next year, things should be getting back to normality. “I have a lot of positivity for the future and we’re looking at introducing some exciting new options for clients. Our plan is to open at least one other Hines & Harley branch, possibly next year.
Pitot expressed the belief that by this time next year, things should be back to normal. “I’m looking forward to collaborations with therapists who may be out of work because of the pandemic. For instance, I only do facials – I don’t do nail treatments, but some of my clients may want to go for nail treatments. So I would like to form little tribes of professionals so that we can refer clients to each other.”
Hines concurred: “We’re all in this industry together so, collaboration is so important. It’s all about uplifting the industry and making it better as a whole. I think that we have to be constantly positive. The world hasn’t come to an end, it’s just slowed down a bit.” (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)