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02 June 2020
Posted by in Business

My Lockdown Diary: “I’ve had to convince my clients not to dye their own hair!”

What has life been like for you during the coronavirus lockdown? We spoke to salon owner and mum-of-four, Máire Abbett, to find out how she’s adapted her business, the struggles faced by her self-employed stylists… and her thoughts on reopening.

The day the UK went into lockdown - 23 March - feels like a very long time ago. Especially when we haven’t been able to see family or friends… or go to work. So what has life been like for you over these past weeks and months as you’ve adapted to the new ‘normal’?

To find out, we’ve launched a blog series, My Lockdown Diary, which is focused on hairdressers, barbers, nail technicians and beauty therapists. We want to know how you’ve been filling your time, how you’ve kept in touch with clients and how you feel about the news hair and beauty businesses could open next month.

In the first of our series, we spoke to Máire Abbett, 36, who co-owns Zoo Glamour hair and beauty salons in Derbyshire.

“I didn’t believe it at first”

“When we started hearing about coronavirus we had no idea what was to come. The week before lockdown we started getting clients calling to ask if they could move their appointments as they were worried about coming in. My business partner Paige and I have got two salons: one does hair and beauty and the other just beauty. I’ve been a hairdresser for 20 years and we’ve worked really hard to get where we are. When it was announced we’d have to close, we were just in shock. I honestly didn’t think lockdown was going to happen. I’m quite a strong person and just get on with things, but now I’m wondering when it will end.”

“All our staff are self-employed and they were panicking as they’d heard of other salons still charging chair rent, even though the stylists can’t work.”

”I had no idea how we’d pay our bills”

“In the first few days after lockdown I felt so confused and worried about what was happening. How were we going to pay our bills? I’ve got four children and I’m pregnant with my fifth, so that was another worry, making sure the kids were all okay.

“In the first few days after lockdown I felt so confused and worried about what was happening. How were we going to pay our bills? I’ve got four children and I’m pregnant with my fifth, so that was another worry, making sure the kids were all okay.

Paige and I are company directors so we didn’t qualify for the employed or self-employed grants. Luckily, our local council was really quick to arrange the business grants, and they got them to us within three weeks. It covers the bills so we’re very lucky.”

“It’s been very hard for our self-employed stylists”

“All our staff are self-employed and they were panicking as they’d heard of other salons still charging chair rent, even though the stylists can’t work. We reassured them that we weren’t expecting any rent from them. But it’s been very hard for them having to wait until May to get the self-employed grant. That’s a long time without income.”

”We’ve adapted our business”

“Having four kids at home has definitely kept me busy… especially when my daughter fell off her bike and broke her arm. Thankfully, it was a quick trip to A&E! But as well as home schooling, I’ve been working hard on the business. We’ve added some hair stations to the beauty salon so we can offer both hair and beauty when we reopen. We’ve also redecorated the salons and I’ve been going in to run the water so we don’t get legionella - that’s the last thing we want to deal with at a time like this.

We’re accredited trainers so Paige has been creating and running online beauty courses. We’ve also been selling lashes, shampoos, conditioners and brushes. It’s not bringing in loads, but it’s better than nothing.

“Our customers have been amazing”

“We’ve kept in touch with our clients and let them know we’re waiting for government guidance on reopening. There’s not much more we can tell them at this point. Although I have had to convince them not to colour their own hair! We’re getting more messages now asking when they can book in, but I don’t want to say from 4 July in case that date doesn’t happen. It’s just a waiting game.”

“I’m confused about what will happen when we reopen”

“We’ve been looking abroad to places like Spain and France where salons were among the first places to reopen. I agree with that in a way: even before the pandemic we used hospital grade disinfectant, sterilised our equipment, wore PPE and used disposable towels. So for us, I don’t think we’ll need to make too many changes.

At my last antenatal appointment my midwife said they are advising women to go on maternity leave when they are 28 weeks pregnant. For me, that will be 4 July – the day we could be reopening - so I told her hopefully I’ll be working! She said as long as I felt comfortable and had my PPE, that would be fine.”

“I’m trying to stay positive”

“I’m trying to stay positive, but if this goes on into the winter then I think we’ll be in trouble. The beauty side of our business has been affected more than hair. We’ve missed weddings and proms. If we lose our Christmas trade as well, that will be a problem. But for now, we’re focusing on reopening. I love hairdressing and can’t wait to get back to work.”

Do you want to appear in our Lockdown Diary series? DM us on Facebook @SalonServicesUK or Instagram, @salonservicesuk

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