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Nail salons reopen to varying degrees of business

Some of the nail salons that reopened post COVID-19 lockdown have reported an initial influx of clients, with business slowing in the past two weeks.

Bella Vita Nail Art Studio on the West Rand reopened on 20 June, the day after government published the protocols that allowed salons to reopen.

Says owner Chantelle Ayres: “I was already prepped in terms of the regulations and ready to hit the road running the second we got the green light. The first three weeks of business were extremely busy, but since mid-July, business has been very slow.

“Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of clients due to them being serviced during lockdown by other nail techs, or them taking financial strain, or being in self-isolation.”

Prior to opening, Ayres hired a third party company to draft COVID salon safety protocols so that she could focus on getting the salon ready instead of focusing on admin. “I implemented very strict protocols in my salon, added all the necessary posters, a sanitation station, a perspex screen, etc. I sent out a notice to all clients detailing my salon protocols.

“As the only nail tech in the salon, I have scaled down from six clients a day to a maximum of four clients per day. This gives me an hour in between clients to clean my salon, tools and products thoroughly before the next clients arrives, The other reason for the long rest period is that any harmful particles in the air can fall to the floor, so I am using an ultrasonic humidifier.”

Booked diary

Winner of the 2020 Professional Beauty Award for Nail Salon of the Year, Plush Nails & Beauty in Roodepoort, reopened on 23 June.

Says owner Tania Biddle: “Although we are not as busy as usual, we are able to maintain a relatively fully booked diary. However, a few of our clients have let us know that they cannot come back for regular treatments just yet, as they are taking financial strain. I think there are also a few clients who will only come back once the situation with the virus has improved.

“Our clients are taking the pandemic very seriously and are letting us know if they cannot make their appointment due to experiencing flu-like symptoms, or if they have come into contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.”

Biddle notes that the new hygiene and safety protocols mandated by government have taken some getting used to. “We now book at least 15 minutes extra for each appointment to give our staff enough time to properly clean, sanitise and disinfect the salon. It also ensures that our clients won’t need to cross paths in the salon during each appointment, limiting exposure for everyone.

“We have strict rules in place and management keeps a close eye on this to make sure that protocols are being adhered to at all times.”

Plush Nails & Beauty has a team of three technicians, and only one client per technician is booked at a time and there is enough time to ensure that the client exits the premises before the next one arrives. The technicians are taking alternate days off, as well as practicing a strict social distancing protocol in the salon.

“Our clients were so excited to come back,” comments Biddle, “but I do think most people are nervous and some even feel anxious. Our main aim is to maintain a happy and relaxed salon environment where clients can feel safe. They appreciate that we are following very strict protocols with every treatment being done in the salon.”

Biddle reports that during lockdown, most of her clients removed their gel overlays themselves. “We sent all our clients a step by step guideline on how to safely remove their gel overlay. Once we were allowed to, we provided homecare kits, which clients could order from us and they were able to look after and maintain their natural nails at home.”

Slow start

Mary Thebe of @Peace Beauty in Kempton Park reports that as her salon, which reopened last month, is not as busy as she’d hoped, her staff members are still at home because they live far from work and are reliant on public transport.

“So I am currently doing all the services myself,” says Thebe. “Only if I have a family or a couple booked do I call staff members to come through. It has been tough.

“I book one client at a time unless if it is a family that comes for services. Business is usually slow for me during the winter season and since COVID-19 happened, it almost feels like we are out of business because business is slower than usual.”

Thebe finds that some clients who have come into the salon are still a bit nervous, while others have lost their jobs or had their salaries cut. “So even if they would love to book treatments, there are other more important priorities they need to handle. This time that we are going through is hard on a lot of people.”

Busy opening

Shades of Blue in Krugersdorp reopened on 29 June and was fully booked for the first two weeks.

“Unfortunately, we have also lost a few clients due to the financial impact the lockdown had on them and their households,” says owner Melissa De Wet. “However, this made space for new clients. Although this time of the month post lockdown is particularly quiet, it does give me the opportunity to be creative and challenge myself in competitions, as well as working on admin and training. I never had time to do this before.”

Prior to reopening, De Wet had to make sure all the hygiene and safety measures were in place. She continues: “Actually, the hygiene protocols were already implemented in the salon, the only thing needed was a sanitising station and a thermometer for client and staff temperature readings. We also had to get all of the paperwork in order as well as COVID-19 specific indemnity.”

Before the pandemic, De Wet used to have two clients booked at a time and provided services for between seven and eight clients per day, at separate nail stations. “Now, with the new regulations, I have decided to only help one client every two hours, to give me time to sanitise and wash the work area. This means between four and five clients a day, working from 9am to 5pm. We work on bookings only and at 50% capacity in any given timeframe to ensure social distancing.”

De Wet has found that many clients do feel anxious about entering the salon environment. “Most of them are not sure how to handle the whole situation, so the best we can do is just to guide them through the process and make them feel as comfortable as possible. It is extremely difficult to not offer coffee or tea in this cold weather, but it is all worth it to see your client’s face brighten up when she walks out of your salon with a brand new set of nails. It has a positive effect on them, as if they can face the world again.”

Impact of schools situation

Candice Rabie of Beauty Goddess in Mpumalanga opened on 9 July and finds that her business is doing well.

‘”I have noticed that some of my clients who are moms are not coming in for services because their kids are not at school and there is no one to watch them. Overall I am happy and I can already see the increase coming in pre-summer bookings,” states Rabie.

She has mixed feelings about the new safety and hygiene protocols. “The hygiene protocol was already in place in the salon but I struggle with the PPE part. I have no issue working with gloves and overalls, but the face mask and my glasses are not friends. In addition, I wear a face shield, which reflects light and distorts my vision a bit. However, with time I know I will get used to it, plus my clients feel safe and know I have their best interests at heart.

“About 75% of my clients are relaxed about coming into the salon. They know what to expect as I send out requirements for each client before their appointments. Having said that, there are those clients who are not so relaxed, as they have a loved one at home who might not survive if they get infected with COVID-19. However, it does help that I’m situated in a small town where the infection rate is so much lower than the big cities.

“I don’t have any staff working for me currently and I book one client at a time, to give me time to clean and sanitise in between.” (Report by Joanna Sterkowicz)

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