COVID-19: Our New Economic Reality

If you’re seeking comfort, look elsewhere. I’m a pessimistic realist and I’m not pulling any punches today. None of us has time to waste on carefully crafted introductions that state the obvious, so let’s get right to it: Now that COVID-19 has upended everything, what the hell do we do as individuals, employees, employers, small business owners, parents, and as an industry overall? What can we expect over the next few years?

We can’t tell the future, but we should all be planning for a variety of potential outcomes, the most threatening of which is extended economic strife.

Our future, if nothing changes.
“This is serious and this is real. We have to act now and act aggressive.”

Thus far, the government has been wrong about basically everything. Expect them to also be wrong about how long we need to distance ourselves from others and how long our businesses will need to be closed for. I consider their “15-day” estimations to be absurdly optimistic (and so do a lot of people far more qualified than me), given that defiant, ignorant people exist in disproportionate numbers here. Our government doesn’t have the authority or the capacity to enforce national quarantines nor have they yet approved a plan to pay anxious Americans enough to stay home.

What worked in China likely will not work here, so it wouldn’t hurt for you to assume that COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the pandemic will persist for much longer than projected.

Plan for the worst.

I good at my job because I’m pragmatic. I consider unexpected outcomes and unintended consequences a lot of other people miss. I’m able to foresee certain conclusions because I am always asking myself a series of questions, like, “Which behaviors does this policy/practice reward and which does it discourage?” and “If this compensation system were a game, how would I break it?”

Right now, the most important question every one of you should be asking is this:

Three months from now, which steps will you regret not taking?

Base your answers on the worst possible circumstances. I’ll help you identify those, in case you haven’t yet:

Those are your worst possible circumstances at this very moment. If all four of these things remain true, what will you regret not doing right now?

Don’t be caught with your ass in the air. Get ahead now. Every day counts.

I’m a human person. What do I do?

Stop circulating in the public. If you must, start contact tracing. Write down the names of every person you come into contact with each day and where you were in contact with them.

If you think contact tracing is too much work, you are circulating too much.

These records are invaluable to healthcare workers and the CDC when someone gets sick because they can be used to quickly track down the person who infected you and notify everyone you’ve been in contact with since.

I’m a business owner. What do I do?

Close your salon, even if your local authority hasn’t ordered it. A responsible government would have taken a cautious approach from the beginning. We haven’t. Instead, we wasted critical weeks and continue even now to put people at risk by allowing too many of them to mingle freely while a novel virus we understand less than dick about spreads like wildfire.

Because we work so closely with the public, we present a massive public health threat right now. Stop being part of the problem. Close up shop until tests and masks are freely available, the danger of overwhelming our hospitals has passed, and contact tracing becomes the rule for everyone.

Those who are unwilling to make sacrifices now will continue to exacerbate the problem, causing it to continue indefinitely.

The fastest way for us to get back to work is to shut everything down until we’ve identified and isolated the ill.

When it comes to finances, start researching the relief programs that may be available to you. This tool made by Forbes can help.

Do not—I repeat—DO NOT apply for ANY loans or lines of credit out of desperation. Harsh truth time: Even if you manage to obtain a massive loan (which is unlikely AF now that lenders are getting nervous), your salon could still drown in the multi-year economic wake of coronavirus, leaving you destitute.

You should only accept debt when you’re confident it’ll result in growth, enabling you to pay it off, otherwise you’re performing a blood transfusion on a dead man.

Never forget that unjustified optimism brought us to where we are today. “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Remember that? Feels like a lifetime ago, right? Don’t make the same mistakes our government officials made when you hear them trying to convince you that the economy will “bounce back.” The best a realistic optimist can tell you right now is, “Nobody knows.” Anyone telling you anything else about how COVID-19 will affect the economy is putting your livelihood at risk.

As a consultant, I can’t in good conscience advise salon owners to gamble their future on a recovery that likely won’t come in time for their businesses. If you have to cut your losses, cut them quickly and seek reemployment. Retreat now and live to fight another day.

Are there any alternatives to closing up shop? Totally, but it will require revolutionary thinking and ideal pre-COVID financial circumstances. Owners who were once competitors will need to join forces, partner up, pool resources, and work together. If you’re determined to fight to the death, start reaching out to like-minded salon owners and professionals to form strategic alliances now because the saying, “There are more than enough clients for everyone,” won’t be true when we all finally emerge from our homes.

I’m an employee. What do I do?

If you were laid off (or are sitting at home uncompensated), try to take advantage of state resources like unemployment. Instead of watching the news all day, think of ways you can work and generate an income outside of the industry. If you have an opportunity to pursue any of those options, I would advise you to take them. Now.

Do not “take one for the team” and work in the salon for free unless you genuinely want to and can afford to volunteer.

If your employer has earned some goodwill from you, try to extend some grace to them. This is uncharted territory for all of us.

I’m an employer. What do I do?

Whatever you can. Hopefully, you took my advice and stockpiled a bunch of cash in an emergency fund and have enough to compensate your professionals for a few weeks (at the very least). If you can’t, you owe it to them to communicate that immediately and give them the opportunity to find other work and/or seek employment elsewhere.

You should also research the relief programs that may be available to you. This tool made by Forbes can help.

How will this impact the industry long-term? Should I find another career?

Let me preface this with the following: I hope like hell that I’m wrong.

As much as I’d like to lift your spirits during this crisis, I can’t.

The fact of the matter is that we—as a nation—very likely are not organized, disciplined, or selfless enough to “flatten the curve,” “slow the spread,” or “eradicate” COVID-19. We’re already seeing our efforts fall apart nearly every step of the way so far. Unless something miraculous happens, our businesses and our incomes will be in jeopardy for a long while and our clients will be hesitant to return even after their income starts to recover.

The last recession, I clung to this industry like a drowning woman clings to a life raft, hoping that if I just waited everything out, things would get better. I told myself that I had invested so much already, it would be foolish to quit. I said, “Everyone needs haircuts! We’re recession-proof! Any day now, we’ll be back to normal. If I leave the industry, I’ll be betraying myself because I love this job.”

Please, don’t do what I did.

If I had to do it all over again (and it looks like that might be the case), I’d have found a position in any industry that could compensate me steadily so I could routinely pay my bills. Instead, I worked part-time at two salons (three, during off-season), averaging 90 hours per week and going anywhere from one month to six weeks without a single day off, yet no amount of hard work could close the gap between my pre-recession expenses and my post-recession income. I gave up my house and sold what I could. I lived for years without cable, internet, or a cell phone, cutting coupons and relying on sales to put food on the table.

I realized too late how nonessential our services are.
I didn’t have a backup plan.
I leaned in when I should have been dipping the fuck out…at least temporarily.

Back then, I rarely had more than $400 in my bank account. Sure, I survived, but it was stressful and I cried a lot. I was fortunate to have a job at all, let alone three. My managerial qualifications were likely the only reason I didn’t end up indefinitely unemployed like so many of my colleagues.

If you’re barely scraping by right now or are new to the industry and haven’t built your following, it’s okay to cut ties with for now, especially if you aren’t properly classified or legally compensated. In fact, if either or both are the case, I would urge you to start researching new jobs ASAP. Don’t waste time waiting and hoping, like I did. Weeks quickly stretch into months, and months into years. The longer you wait, the easier it is to justify waiting even more. (Our brains are real bastards.)

Not a single one of us owes our loyalty to this industry. There’s nothing noble or honorable about going down with the ship during a global crisis. Do what is best for you and your family. Pay your bills. Feed your kids. Come back when you can afford to. A lot of salons will be forced to close, but our services will always be needed in our communities.

As for the future, I expect, at the very least, we’ll be repeating the past. Because the 2008 financial crisis traumatized me for life, it’s still very fresh in my mind.

Here’s what happened:

  • Clients were laid off and quit coming to salons.
  • Salon owners slashed prices, engaging in price wars with local competitors that continued to drive down prices.
  • DIY products and video tutorials proliferated the market.
  • Professionals whose commissions constituted a large part of their wages quit to find employment elsewhere.
  • A large chunk of salon owners couldn’t cut costs or increase productivity to the levels necessary to compete with other salons or retail alternatives and were forced to close.
  • Beauty schools saw critical declines in enrollment levels, which caused many to cut programs or to close entirely.
  • Finding qualified employees became exceptionally difficult as people fled the industry and schools became less accessible. Salon owners also couldn’t afford to compensate professionals competitively at the absurdly low price points cash-strapped consumers demanded, making a difficult situation outright impossible.
  • The industry’s plague of labor abuses became even more commonplace, fragmenting our industry into a legion of microsalon owners who would rather work for themselves than be exploited, crushing the already ailing employment-based salon model. The increase in these abuses provoked me to start blogging about them in 2010.
  • Lacking the distribution provided by employment-based salons, salon-exclusive brands turned to retail outlets to move product. As we were already beginning to see our clients choose to buy from online retailers, this punch proved to be the final blow for many salon owners who relied on those retail sales to subsidize the salon.
  • Legislators pushed to deregulate our industry. (But that’s nothing new.)
  • A bunch of salon owners and professionals remained in denial about their economic reality for far too long, wasting valuable time “doing business as usual” when they should have been rapidly evolving in an effort to compete or dropping out entirely.

Nobody can say for sure how things will shake out, but I’m operating on the assumption that we’re facing a big hit that will impact us for a long while.

What I’m Doing

It became clear to me that COVID-19 was going to be a serious problem the first week of March. My family has been inside since. I never thought I’d be glad to be born and raised in the armpit that is the state of Florida but growing up in a place where state-wide emergencies are routine prepared me for this well (as did being nearly bankrupted during the recession). We have a bidet and cloth diapers, so my family of seven won’t exacerbate the inevitable toilet paper and diaper shortages. We’ve started a large vegetable garden to help curb our grocery needs. Thankfully, I eliminated my debts and saved aggressively over the last decade, so I can afford to expand my skill set by earning a nanodegree in full stack development online—just in case I have to change careers. I started the course a few days after we voluntarily quarantined ourselves. Both the immediate and long-term future are virtual so that’s where I’m focusing my attention.

I encourage you to also start thinking about your future and coming up with contingency plans, at the very least.

Honestly, over the last month, I’ve been a mess. I’ve been overwhelmed by the horror stories from professionals and owners that I’ve formed relationships with over the last decade. A lot of my consulting clients have only just recovered from the last recession and were finally building wealth. Nearly all are women with children to support. The thought of them losing everything they worked so hard for feels like a punch to the chest.

They busted their asses. They poured everything into their dreams. They deserved much better.

You all deserve better. That’s why I won’t lie and tell you it’ll all work itself out. That attitude ruined a lot of people for a lot longer than it should have fifteen years ago. If you currently know or suspect, based on your current financial situation, that you or your salon won’t make it—get out early.

WHAT DID YOU SAY?! Why aren’t you telling people not to panic?!

Because you should panic. While the media focuses largely on medical supply shortages and dehumanizes and diminishes the victims by constantly referring to “the numbers” (because god forbid we call them “people”), thousands of workers are losing their jobs, to the point that the White House is asking states not to release their unemployment statistics for fear of causing more market chaos. Businesses are already shuttering with no plans to reopen. Every day we go without aid to the people, their debts (and ours) accumulate. Meanwhile, the only option for business owners is to take out loans—if they can find and qualify for them.

If you’re holding out hope that the government will sort it all for us with bold, decisive action—stop. Thus far, they’ve done nothing to earn that trust from you.

What they have done a whole lot of is lying. That’s not even just my opinion. That’s a verifiable fact. Now, the same people who told you COVID-19 was a hoax are in charge of “saving” the economy. Call me cynical, but I wouldn’t be so quick to put my confidence in a positive outcome.

Panic, but channel that energy into something meaningful and productive.

I am where I am professionally because I tell the truth, regardless of how unpopular it could make me. I’m trusted because I genuinely care about the welfare of the people who work in this industry and want nothing more than to see us all thrive. I take my responsibility to all of you very seriously, which is why I’m here forcing everyone to acknowledge what no one wants to admit. I can’t advise anyone to sacrifice themselves on the altar of industry loyalty.

The facts are clear: the vast majority of beauty workers and salon owners will not survive this economic downturn.

I don’t want to hear a bunch of bitching in the comments. Don’t tell me it’s “too early.” I brought receipts. And don’t you dare tell me I’m being “negative.” This system has broken in ways we, as an industry, cannot fix. We have no control over any of this. Now is not the time to “stay positive.” Now is not the time to “wait and see.”

Now is the time to set our emotions aside, get proactive, and take our own bold, decisive actions to save ourselves and our families. We can mourn every single one of our countless losses later.

When I sat down to write this article, I wanted to be positive. I really did. The idea of publishing it has kept me up at night and I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I can stomach sharing it on the site’s social media accounts. The last thing I wanted was to kick at you while you’re down. I’m sorry, but where our industry is concerned, there’s little to be positive about.

Things don’t just look bleak, they look downright abysmal, and when your savings is dwindling and the bills are piling up with no resolution in sight, you don’t have the time to waste praying for a miracle. Brace yourselves.

No amount of motivational platitudes or positive thinking will alter the fabric of our new economic reality.

We’re facing an unprecedented stop in economic activity. If you’re a “ride or die” professional, great. Only you know what’s best for you, but keep your sunshiny, sugar-coated bullshit to yourself. While you try to will the economy into submission with the sheer force of your happy thoughts the rest of us will be facing a broken, traumatized populace that won’t be able to afford the luxury of our services for a long time and probably won’t be comfortable being in such close proximity to others when they finally can. If you aren’t taking this seriously by now, you aren’t paying attention.

I care about this industry but I care about people more. Many of you will have to make tough, agonizing decisions. A lot of you will have to leave. If you do, don’t worry—the industry isn’t going anywhere. It will be here when you get back.

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Tina Alberino
Tina Alberino
Beauty industry survivalist, salon crisis interventionist, tactical verb-weapon specialist, and the leader of at least a hundred workplace revolutions, Tina Alberino is known as much for her extensive knowledge as for her sarcastic wit and mercilessly straightforward style. She’s the author of The Beauty Industry Survival Guide and Salon Ownership and Management: A Definitive Guide to the Professional Beauty Business. When she’s not writing, educating, or consulting, she can be found overthinking everything, identifying problems people didn’t know existed, and stubbornly working to change the things she cannot accept.

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  1. I appreciate your honest assessment of the situation. I’m a Licensed Massage Therapist with 18 years experience. Within one week my business is gone. Once clients are back on their feet, they will be using their money (if they are lucky enough to have a job) on food, shelter and family. It’s a sobering reality but it is reality. Thank you for putting a spot light on our new normal.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one able to see the reality of the situation. I’ve heard that a lot are still in denial, arguing that the economic consequences are exaggerated and talking optimistically about V-shaped recoveries, as if that V-shaped recovery will come overnight instead of over the course of several years.

      The 2008 crisis was a V-shaped recovery.

      Right now, everyone is distracted by the virus. Once that passes, those in our industry who wasted these critical weeks in isolation may find themselves woefully unprepared to navigate an economic landscape that has no place for them when they emerge.

  2. Thank you, thank you for not sugarcoating the truth and likely future. I’ve been a hairdresser since 2004. In a few weeks I graduate with a masters degree in mental health counseling. I feel extremely lucky to be able to transition at this time to what’s unfortunately going to be a growth industry. Please take Tina’s advice and find a way to re-invent yourselves, even if it’s painful. Luck and love to all.

    • I am so relieved to hear that you’re graduating soon, especially since you’ll be filling such a critical role. A lot of people seem so caught up in the current that they haven’t even recognized how profoundly this will impact them later. Others are clearly in hard denial and seem convinced that everything will go right back to normal, despite all evidence to the contrary. Mental health counseling will be in high demand in the next few years, that’s for sure.

      • Thank you. And thank you for providing such critical education and advocating for beauty industry ethics through the years. Whenever I’ve thought “am I crazy or is this industry the problem?” You’ve been there to reassure me that it’s definitely this industry. You speak the truth, and you are very needed.

        • Thank you! I’m glad to help. That help looks a whole lot like busting windshields right now (which sucks) but failing to acknowledge this now would be such a disservice to the workers and salon owners who will be impacted.

      • This is a little off topic , but I can’t find anything concrete on If booth renters are supposed to be paying rent during the Mandated closure due to covid19? Does anyone know? I have lots of friends who’s salons aren’t charging them, yet mine is.

        • Hi! This is a fantastic question! I have answered it in a few other comments on several other posts, so I’ll copy/paste it here:

          In rental agreements between commercial landlords and tenants, there’s usually a force majeure provision that addresses circumstances where unexpected events prevent a party from keeping up their end of the deal. The affected party (in this instance, the tenant) would be entitled to relief, including a suspension of contractual obligations (in this instance, rent payments). Since salon renters are subleasing space and rarely have written leases at all (let alone professionally written lease agreements that contain force majeure clauses), those circumstances likely won’t apply to us–but if everyone who wants to stay out of costly legal battles should be pretending they do and doing their utmost to find a mutually acceptable compromise while we navigate the pandemic.

  3. This is a slap in the face to wake up! Thank you for your blunt advice. I have been doing hair for 20 years and have no benefits or retirement to show for it. I just finished school for a job in the medical field because my body and emotions were just so worn down from doing hair for 12+ hours at a time. I wish all of us well in finding new paths or careers for the future.

  4. I’m a massage therapist for almost 25 years and am 56 years old. I thought I’d be semi-retired fairly soon but never thought I’d ever fully retire…I have zero ideas how to navigate a post massage life. 😕

    • I felt the same during the last recession. I realized that I didn’t really know myself very well, or how I could fit into the workforce outside of the salon. Instead of figuring it out, I stayed in. I only realized later what a mistake it was. I could have saved myself a lot of grief if I had swallowed my pride and taken a job elsewhere.

  5. Thank you for being you (blunt, snarky, zero f*cks given)!!! I have been stressing out on how this is going to impact my nail career. Trying to think outside of the box of different angles to use my skills to generate income (press on nails, making cuticle oil/balms, etc….things I already do a little of, but not focused on), but keep coming back to the fact that if no one has jobs/income how will they be able to pay me. I’m seriously considering changing careers, but trying to find something with the flexibility that I love and need for our family. My husband farms, so he has long hours (especially during planting and harvest season) and we don’t want to leave our kids to someone else’s care if possible. You have reaffirmed everything I’ve been thinking. It’s time to get serious about changing gears.

    • I have a running list I’m working on, for ways professionals who are determined to ride this out can close the gaps in their income utilizing skills we already have. Press-ons and products are on that list, so are things like handpainted decals. What pisses me off is that I know for a fact that retailers are already ramping up production on home beauty kits. They’ll be rolling those things out in stores ASAP, just like they did last time around.

  6. I went on a panic interview My husbands daughter works at ALDI’s and said they were hiring. I asked her if there was like a stocking before the store opens and after it closes so I could limit my exposure and she said Oh yea. Well when I went for the interview those positions are not available, what they are looking for is ground zero cleaning people to work all open shifts. I was too embarrassed to say hell no so I said sure I’ll take it and immediately panicked when she said she would hire me. Thank God I didn’t have my SS card with me and I had to return with it…which I have not. I talked to family about it, I am fortunate my husband is still working and we don’t need my income per say. I though how selfish it would be to put others at the risk of exposure for my boredom and low self esteem issues to think I am not worthy if not contributing. I did however also apply at one of my local grocers for part time kitchen help. I too am wondering how much longer I can ride this beauty train. It has been a good run and I am thankful, but maybe it’s time to do something else. I have a passion for healthy foods and cooking so maybe this could be my next area of opportunity. Who knows, but as you say I am certainly looking forward and not back. Thanks as always for your candor xo

    • I’ve been scratching at the walls of my house. I also wish I could leave, just so I could volunteer somewhere and feel like I’m being helpful. I also tie my self-esteem to my productivity–constantly measuring my adequacy by my income and the amount of tasks I complete. It’s probably not a healthy habit, but I like to think it says good things about the type of people we are. We want to make sure we’re not being a burden and that we’re doing as much as we can for the people we love. There’s nothing wrong about that. 🙂 We just have to get used to the idea that staying inside is one of the best ways we can contribute right now, I guess.

  7. So many brutal truths here… I’ve been licensed since 1985 and have never seen anything like this. I spent 2017/2018 fighting breast cancer and 2019 rebuilding my business. This is a kick in the gut and I have definitely been thinking about reinventing myself.

  8. I’ve been thinking all these things for days now. I bounced back from the recession and I changed who my main clientele was because the last time taught me that housewives will not pay my bills. I’m mostly worried and unsure what to do about our salon lease with the building owners. I firmly believe this fall we’re all fucked when this virus comes back with a vengeance as a new version and shuts us down again. 80% of my clients want me to work out of my house and are begging me not to close. I feel lucky to have so much clientele with the funds to have nails but I’m not stupid enough to believe this will stay this way. Oh what to do! What to do! I don’t want to be a sinking ship, flailing about in the water 🙁

    • Be very communicative with your landlord during this time. I said this in an earlier comment, but it’s important to remember that we’re all victims to this thing. Nobody’s at fault. Therefore, we should all be partners in each others’ recovery. Your landlord doesn’t want to lose a tenant any more than you want to close. It’s in both of your best interests to reach some kind of agreement.

      • We sent an email To our landlord the very next day after I read what you whet I say. I had sent your blog post to my business partners and I’m blessed to say, not only are they awesome but smart enough to listen when I say hey, read this. We informed them we would send some money in good faith for our lease payment as we wish to get through this with an open line of communication. Luckily, they were responsive and are working with us to get through this crazy time. Thank you for your amazing words of advice and brutal honesty. Some of us are listening! 🙏🏻

        • That’s fantastic! Thankfully, a lot of my consulting clients are also conserving their resources. Some are preparing to scale down, anticipating at least a year-long slump while we wait for a vaccine. The smartest thing a salon owner can do right now (if they hope to continue to provide jobs and build wealth) is take this time to think strategically about how they’re going to operate post-curve and how they’ll generate revenue during an extended social distancing period. For my salon, this means creating a system where we can serve our clients (the vast majority of whom are seniors) in other ways, like picking up prescriptions and groceries for them or delivering meals. Pride, ignorance, complacency, and a refusal to accept reality during this time will bankrupt people.

  9. All of this! It is scary times but you are so on point! There was a time I was homeless, pregnant with my oldest daughter. I lived in the woods, finding ways to town to job hunt. I vowed to never end up there again. Later in life, I built my business broke with a dying husband who supported me 100%. Now in a time of such uncertainty and where many people, hell even myself, are possibly faced with these circumstances again, I know what I need to do and am willing to do. That is apply for a J-O-B(in Judge Joe Brown voice). I got to talking with a customer service rep at my auto insurance company and she gave me the site to apply for their call centers, working from home. She ended call with, “go for it, you know what to do!”

    • Stories like yours are exactly why I’m saying this today. The last time around, I was in my very early 20’s. I didn’t watch the news. I didn’t know that people had been warning of a recession for months. Really, this is for them more than anyone–those people who will later say, “I wish someone had warned me.” If someone is going to go through what a lot of us experienced, they should do so by choice, after they’ve been informed.

  10. I’m curious why you wouldn’t suggest taking advantage of the SBA disaster loan as a safety net? That way you can hoard your existing Salon cash until you can get back on your feet? Especially when most salons can survive with a startup loan when they initially open their business to begin with?

    • I’m glad you asked this here. It’s a really important question to answer.

      I’m not recommending it except as an absolute last resort for people who understand the risks. This isn’t your normal startup operation where you have patterns of data to assist in your strategies from the early planning phases. In this situation, people would be taking on debt in hopes that the economy will stabilize quickly when there’s nothing to indicate that will be the case and a lot of evidence that it won’t. History has shown that our services are luxuries cash-strapped customers don’t have much room in their budgets for during economic downturns. Our businesses come with exceptionally high overhead and we’re still struggling to get a lot of clients to understand that the prices they became accustomed to paying as we hustled through the last recession aren’t sustainable.

      Best estimates say we won’t have a vaccine for over a year. The doctors and scientists tell us we will likely see waves of infection until we do. As outbreaks occurred, our businesses were among the first to be forcibly closed, and I don’t think that will change. Even if it does change and/or we aren’t forced to close for whatever reason, our work requires us to be in close physical proximity and clients who are conscientious about avoiding infection won’t return until they know it’s safe. I just can’t recommend taking on additional financial stress, in light of those facts.

      Everyone will make their own decisions. Some will be far better positioned to survive this than others, but all should ask themselves to evaluate two possible versions of their future—one where the economy “bounces back” and one where it doesn’t—and ask themselves what they’re willing to risk, how much sacrifice they’re willing to make, and if they’re prepared to handle the potential strain of that financial burden indefinitely.

    • Until we have a vaccine or reliable treatment that significantly improves patient outcomes, I would suspect that it’ll continue to be a problem for all of us. Time will tell whether these stimulus efforts will turn the tide, soften the blow, or delay the inevitable, but I definitely wouldn’t advise renewing any long-term commercial leases, taking out any loans, or idly standing by to see how things shake out.

  11. Hi Tina , Obviously everything is very scary right now . I appreciate any information you can give me . I am a Booth Renter and the owner of my salon thinks that we should be paying rent during this time that our salon is closed due to the coronavirus .can she force us to pay her rent. I have no contract but would like to return to my job when the salon opens can you please help with advice

    • I would advise both you and your landlord to speak to her landlord about making some kind of arrangement to defer the rent until the crisis passes. The most unfortunate part of this–and the most important part to remember–is that everyone is being affected. Everyone. Including the landlord the salon owner leases from. During these times, everyone has to compromise and do what they can for each other. Communication matters now more than ever. Approach these problems as a team instead of opposing sides. Each of you knows the situation because they’re neck-deep in it too.

      The landlord likely doesn’t want to lose a tenant, especially if they were managing properties during the recession. It’s better to have some rent payment than no payment and an empty storefront, and the landlord knows it. So, have that talk, but remember that you’re all a team right now. This is nobody’s fault.

  12. I really appreciate this advice! I’ve been a therapist for less than two years and while being cautions and closing my practice prior to the state shut down, I was also trying to remain optimistic. But you’re right. This is going to keep coming basically until there is a vaccine. I was planning on paying my rent this month with money from my limited savings but realize that may be futile and my lease should be up soon so probably best to let it expire and focus on things other than my hands on practice!

    • The fortunate thing for us all–and I cannot even believe I’m saying this, since I’ve long been the biggest hater of rental in general–is that small-scale self-employment has expanded our options so much. So many professionals are renters or freelancers, which allows them tremendous flexibility. Leaving and reentering the workplace (or staying part-time) is so much easier now than it was a long time ago.

  13. I have been following this virus since December and knew we were headed into another recession. when a client asks me “ why don’t you open your own spa?” I explain that I was just like Annie in the movie Bridesmaids….. opened my own space right before the last recession…… here we go again. I will not make the same mistakes again.

    • Hi Tina!
      I love your articles they are so real, I swear you need a show! I’m an independent contractor in California. I can’t find ANY legal information in regards to whether it is legal for a salon owner to have boothrenters continue to pay rent for a space they cannot utilize.

      Do you happen to know if this legal? I am on a contract signed years ago, but there are no details stating I have to continue to pay if the salon is forced to close temporarily. I’m sure no one ever plans for that to happen.

      The landlord has also talked to the property manager, they aren’t budging on the rent.

      Thanks for all you’re research and info. Advisement would be much appreciated.

      • It is legal–and unfortunately, necessary for the landlords to charge. I’m among those who want to believe landlords can afford to front us rent for a month or two, but I know that’s not the reality for most salon landlords or even commercial property landlords. I’m not sure how much relief they’re entitled to in this situation or whether the SBA loan options would help them, but there are no laws (that I’ve heard of) that make it illegal for them to charge rent in accordance with existing leases. In rental agreements between commercial landlords and tenants, there’s usually a force majeure provision that addresses circumstances where unexpected events prevent a party from keeping up their end of the deal. The affected party (in this instance, the tenant) would be entitled to relief, including a suspension of contractual obligations (in this instance, rent payments). Since salon renters are subleasing space and rarely have written leases at all (let alone professionally written lease agreements that contain force majeure clauses), those circumstances likely won’t apply to us–but everyone who wants to stay out of costly legal battles should be pretending they do and doing their utmost to find a mutually acceptable compromise while we navigate the pandemic. At best, the fallout on social media would be extremely damaging, should clients find out they were charging renters during a crisis.

  14. I started and grew my business in 2008 but this isn’t about a recession where we have some power. We are powerless and can only wait and see what happens to our personal service industry. Paying for rent, utilities and other operational expenses for April without revenue is going to be the hardest month so far:(

    • You’re totally right. A lot of people are finding out they’re not as healthy, strong, or financially secure as they once believed. All signs indicate that they’re going to realize how powerless they are to correct the economy swiftly, too.

      • I appreciate everything you’re saying, but I’ve been a Boothrenter for 17yrs, Stylist for 25yrs, and I can’t make the same money and have the same hours anywhere else. Even though i pay my own Health Insurance, I own my own home and am Single. I also have an 8 and 11 yr old, and I can’t work anywhere else and still take my kids to school everyday, and pick them up 3 days a week. If you have any suggestions, I’m open to them. I’d love real benefits, a 401K, an actual retirement, shorter hour work days at the end of the week, less body pain, and “Real” Friends.

        • While silver linings don’t seem plentiful at this current point in time, I can find one: salons that have only been profitable because they’ve been abusing their employees will fail quickly. Workers who have discovered they’ve been misclassified as independent contractors will see and feel the consequences of their misclassification acutely, which likely means more salon owners will be held accountable for wage theft and tax evasion. Professionals who have realized suddenly that they aren’t as financially stable as they believed themselves to be will demand better from future employers. Those of us who have always had guaranteed wages and other employment benefits will prevail (if we can stick through this downturn), as many displaced workers (both renters and employees) desperately seek stable jobs.

          Honestly, I think the pandemic will decimate our industry for a year or so, but once that passes we should see a profound positive change. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.

          In the interim, I recommend looking into career or side business options that cater to your interests and strengths, but eliminate any that aren’t quarantine-proof. Good options for closing income gaps during the pandemic are obvious: delivery and errand running. Good options for post-pandemic careers include those that allow you to work remotely and won’t be hit hard during outbreaks when other businesses may be required to close, like web design, e-commerce customer support (phone/chat), or online retail. Ultimately, you’ll have to choose what best suits your lifestyle, but as a mother-of-five, any one of those three options will give you the flexibility and income you need while allowing you to work remotely. 🙂

  15. Hi Tina, I appreciate your honesty especially when you know it’s not what people want to hear. I would love your advice and your thoughts on what my next move should be. I just finished esthetician school and was about to take my 2nd exam before they closed the testing centers. I’m lucky enough to work for a makeup retail company right now that is paying me during this time at home. But now that I’ve been spending my time at home, I’m stuck here thinking, thinking about how I just put myself in school debt and the world is going to sh*t.
    I guess all I’m wondering is, should I pursue my esthetics career or should I try to find a career in something that is more “essential”?

    • I was in your position during the recession. I graduated in 2004, we started seeing a shift in late-2007, and 2008 hit us like a ton of bricks. Suddenly everyone was out of work. All but a few of the salons in my town were closed, so if you wanted to work, you had better hope you were on good terms with those two or three owners.

      I would recommend completing your exams, for sure. In times like these, you want as many credentials and options as possible. In this situation, we’re fortunate because so many companies are desperate for help right now, filling thousands of positions we wouldn’t ordinarily require. Take anything that will help pay your bills and take it quick.

      Honestly, after weeks of warning people and talking with others, I’m shocked at how complacent some people are. One woman was telling people to “sit back, enjoy the vacay, and wait for the busy bus to arrive.” I don’t think any of them realize how fast their savings will dry up without income. Some seem convinced that the companies they owe money to will waive their bills, when really the best they can hope for is deferment (which means they still have to be paid). As time goes on, those thousands of new positions are going to be filled. Those who sat and waited for that “busy bus” are going to regret the hundreds of compensable hours spent “enjoying the vacay.” Maybe they’re cool with waiting for checks from the government to arrive, but I think it’s unwise to count on that, especially since nothing has been finalized.

  16. Hey Tina Beena,
    I devoured this article like a starving wolf. Every single word is 100% on point. A few people told me, “You’re a pessimist, everything will be fine.” No, TF it will not! On March 19th, my Spidey senses were tingling like crazy, so I closed my 3 yr old, home based nail studio. My clients were understanding and didn’t flip shit.

    COVID-19 has decimated both of my income streams-nails and classroom based software training. In 2018, my nail biz hit the summer slump, so I picked up a PT job and now am working at home. Being at home is fantastic as I’ve been grinding since 2013. Gardening and taking free online classes makes me happy.

    While I enjoy being a LNT, after 7 yrs, I was severely exhausted and yearned to go back to school. This is a refresh/reset/renew opportunity. The VA will pay for my classes, so I’m researching web design, graphic design & Google certifications. Hell, the VA paid for Nail Tech school too. LOL

    Please keep sounding the “Wake Up” alarm. Some people have to be kicked in the ass before they wake up and roll out of bed. #YouAintGotToLieCraig (I mean Trump) LOL Miss ya and kiss the babies for me!

    • LOL! Yaqina! I miss you too! Someone needs to make #YouAintGotToLieCraig a thing. Immediately. Jason and I just watched Friday a few weeks ago. I swear, I could quote that movie backwards and forwards.

      I’m so glad you’re doing what you have to do to pay the bills during this crazy time. A handful of professionals I spoke to are spending this time relaxing, counting on the economy to simply go back to normal before their savings dries up. I don’t know how I can explain this in terms they can understand, but every compensable hour they waste is one they won’t get back…and the longer they wait, the faster their other options will dry up as other displaced workers fill those spots. But you know how it is–some people are in such hard denial they literally can’t see reality right now, even as the salons and retail stores around them start to close up shop.

  17. THANK GOD I FOUND YOUR WEBSITE AND ANOTHER REALIST I CAN ACTUALLY RELATE TO!!! I have been looking for thoughful input from other professionals in our industry but, like yourself, was hit with the “have to be positive” “don’t be a negative nellie” crowd to the point of vomiting. This is business folks! This is serious, AF, which is why I am looking for serious, thoughtful information/conversation so that I can make serious, thoughtful decisions. I am in awe at the amount of denial people are in about the economic magnitude of the current crisis. The fact that you are willing to discuss this crisis in a manner that is realistic and honest is nothing but honorable. I having nothing but gratitude and respect for you. I simply cannot express enough my appreciation to you. I am sorry that you have lost sleep over posting this “unpopular” point of view. It is a shame that more people in our industry aren’t taking the same stance as, in my opinion, it is harmful and irresponsible of them to advise others to stay positive and expect business to be better than ever soon! Can they guarantee that? NO. Anyway, thank you again for being true to yourself and to all who read and consider what you write. May we all have enough. ❤️

    • Ask those Positive Patties if their happy thoughts are paying their bills. I’m willing to bet they’re not.

      I’m also in awe of the denial, but I put it down to a few different possibilities:
      1.) These people have financial support or are financially stable enough to wait out COVID-19, or
      2.) These people are in legitimate denial, which is entirely understandable.

      This happened so suddenly that some people still can’t process it. I spoke with a woman who told me, “We’ll be closed for a week or two and then everything will be fine. It’s just being hyped on the news.” This was a month ago. Nonessential businesses are still closed in her state. I often wonder how those people who were so certain are handling things now. I’m normally pretty rational and stoic. I thought I had confronted everything and processed it, but I ended up pulling a Hoda last week while cleaning my bathtub. It seems like the realization doesn’t come at once, but in waves. You can be fine all day, feeling good and living your best quarantine life, but then you’re weeping into your coffee.

      Thank you so much for leaving this comment. It was scary to publish this because I knew there would be professional consequences that would likely stretch beyond the evident, but this absolutely is serious AF and I’m not here to play games with the livelihoods of others and can’t encourage them to gamble with their futures. All of the positive comments have made it clear that posting this was the right choice. 🙂

  18. This article resonates so deeply with me. Thank you for speaking your truth! I have 2 locations outside Chicago and laid off 38 W2 employees on March 15, 2020. As much as I want to be a positive servant leader, I’ve been telling my team, gently, things are going to be changing.

    Now, as an owner/operator (LMT of 20 years) anticipating being closed until at least June 1, trying to visualize how my business may or may not bounce back, I’ve got to start making some choices, and strategizing a plan B for myself. This is not a vacation. It’s not just a pause. Our industry is going to have a whole new set of protocols and policies to follow, different margins and price points, frequency demand changes… I am not one to wait and see how things shake out… I want to have options prepared AS they shake out. Thank you for the awesome article. You are my Corona spirit animal! 🦙🌎❤️

    • It’s been a heartbreaking month for a lot of salon owners but there’s definitely hope for the future for those of us who conserve our resources and lay that groundwork today. This will change our industry permanently. I have no doubt that face masks will no longer be optional in most–if not all–states, for starters. After we’ve produced a vaccine and things have mostly settled, I also expect to see a lot of lawmakers attempt to deregulate a broad swath of industries, including ours, to get people back to work quickly. We’ll probably see restrictions on house calls and home salons lifted considerably as well.

      It’s going to be a time of extreme change. The smart people won’t sit around waiting for a return to normalcy. They’ll be the ones orchestrating that change and shaping a new version of the industry–one that’s hopefully an improvement on the one we had before, lol. But we won’t be able to lead a revolution, come back stronger and leaner, and remake an industry if we’re living under bridges worrying about where our next meal is coming from, so yeah–a plan B is never a bad idea.

  19. Thanks so much for your candid remarks and observations. It really hits home for me.
    As a spa business owner / operator for 17 years and cosmetologist for 40+ years, I can honesty say that I really love and care for the industry, it’s people and their drive and compassion to provide the best for their clients.
    Since 1980, I have seen this industry take many twists and turns and I have been very close to throwing in the towel several times.
    I have had to reinvent myself more times than I can count. It’s with sheer will and a fear of failure that I have stuck it out for so long I think. My husband has been a godsend and a great support, helping out over the years, but I have really struggled to come on top, then get kicked in the teeth over and over again.
    At 58, I have slowed down some to working on clients part time and downsizing my business considerably over the past few years. I was not yet prepared to retire, to just keep on fighting, but after stumbling on your article I am strongly moving towards that conclusion.
    In the past 40 years I have pretty much seen it all (in its ugly truth). This industry has become increasingly fragmented with every man/women for themself. Back in the (olden) days, we all worked together to serve the clients as one big happy family (usually). Sure there was/is employment abuses, like in every industry, but when workers started to leave in droves thinking they could do it better than the current employer, with little or no business experience, the system was heading for failure.
    This industry fragmentation has just caused too much back biting, pettiness, jealously and ill will towards each other, how can it possibly keep going this way? We have failed as a community and turned into a dog eat dog mentality, bad mouthing the competition every step of the way.
    These are general observations of course, and there are some really great folks out there working really hard to survive. But over the years I have seen this dwindle and become the exception to the rule.
    I feel optimistic and really hope that the beauty business will survive this latest onslaught. But if we don’t all work together as a team, a community for the betterment of all, it’s going to be really tough for everyone.
    I for one, will be planning my exit strategy but will continue to look for (new) ways to volunteer my time, business mentor and help people feel more confident about themselves.
    Thanks again for all you do, for helping push me into reality and more importantly, the right direction. I really hope others will take heed and listen to your sound advise.

    (Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors)

    • Hi Christal! I really enjoyed reading about your journey and can relate to it a lot–especially about the fragmentation weakening the industry overall.

      While I’m not feeling great about the next 3-5 years, I feel extremely optimistic about our future, more so than I have in my entire life, precisely because it will force us to come back together. I’m hoping COVID-19 will be the fire that forges us into a stronger, more legitimate profession. I hope salon owners will come back to the game more serious about their businesses and that we’ll eliminate the “beauty school dropout” and “Steel Magnolia” stereotypes once and for all.

      So, while the next few years will be extremely rocky (perhaps too rocky to be worth weathering for those who were struggling financially to begin with), the future has the potential to be absolutely amazing…if we can get it together and do better.

  20. I think this article is an extremely empowering perspective. It’s one very likely and probable outcome. I’ve been in the industry for 39 years and have lived through its “ebbs and flows” like many who have been here for decades. What’s had many of us endure this industry for decades is our willingness to get creative and adapt to reality. I appreciate the authenticity and candor. Especially, “While you try to will the economy into submission with the sheer force of your happy thoughts the rest of us will be facing a broken, traumatized populace that won’t be able to afford the luxury of our services for a long time and probably won’t be comfortable being in such close proximity to others when they finally can.”

    Our industry has not confronted this particular challenge since the AIDS crisis in the 80’s when people stopped going to salons (and other public places) where there were gay men. This is exponentially more dire in its scope and combined with the economic disaster likely devastating to the majority of the industry. If you’re a survivor, love the challenge, have the stomach for it and are financially savvy this could also be the biggest opportunity of your life. Nothing like a healthy dose of reality.

    • I’m glad you brought up the AIDS crisis. I remember being told by a client that she changed her appointment to have me cut her hair because she didn’t want a male stylist. She said, “I don’t have anything against homosexuality, but I am concerned about AIDS.” This was in 2004–long after we learned about how HIV is (and is not) transmitted. I’m sure a minority of people still discriminate like that–and you’re totally right about this being exponentially more dire. It’s already becoming evident that a lot of people are going to struggle to feel comfortable being in another person’s breathing zone, at least until we have a reliable vaccine and better treatment options.

  21. Great points in this conversation… I’m left wondering WTF a leader in our industry is doing throwing gasoline on a fear based flame? Your life results are NOT the journey for the rest of the world. I see projection all over this article. How is it that the majority of this article is so dooms day? Seriously disappointed this conversation is lacking the potential of a better industry from the shifts we make now. Nothing in the future is true fact, that includes 3/4 of this article- any future is possible reliant on inspired action to pivot for a better result. Yes, it’s vital to assess weak spots in business and I’m not negating the hurdles we are all are facing… the goal needs to be a discussion on how to get creative in manifestos a better,more desirable future. I can see how ones dreams would fail with such a strong focus on terrible potentials. To those reading this, have awareness of potential future as a reference on the moves we need to make in order to create what we want. We absolutely have control of what we manifest. If we don’t believe and zero in on DESIRABLE results our salons will fail. Try to put wind in people’s sails. We all need a push towards something good. No time to waist, this can be whatever we make it.

    • Hey Abbey! (Before I debate with you, I have to tell you that I finally got that tarot set I was telling you about on Facebook last year and O…M…G… It’s beautiful. Took over 18 months for them to ship, but definitely worth it. 😀 Anyways…)

      There’s absolutely projection, and that’s because I’m a human person and this is a blog, not a textbook. There’s projection in every single thing I’ve ever written here. My experience informs my content. Nobody should expect bias-free information from a personal blog.

      You’re right though–this post is lacking the potential for a better industry–but you’re getting ahead of me because that’s my next scheduled article, lol. Personally, I see a TON of good coming from this (starting with the fact that a lot of exploitative salon owners are going to have a much harder time competing with those of us who are legally compliant) but I’m hesitant to point that out right now for fear of coming off as insensitive. I’ve been on the phone and emailing with my consulting clients constantly for the last month and have put together some great ideas for us moving forward, but all of those ideas are predicated on those professionals and salon owners being able to make it financially until we get there. It’s irresponsible to advise them to “sit and wait” in the interim.

      I’ll give the wind in a few weeks, I promise. Right now, I want those who are already on shaky financial ground to get their asses in gear so they won’t be pulled from this business forever by foreclosure and/or bankruptcy. When I post the article, I guarantee you someone will be in the comments complaining that it’s irresponsibly positive and tone deaf, lol.

  22. I’m just really confused about your stance here. You provide a consulting service for salons and spas, but think they should close? So people who’ve spent years building up trust and loyalty in communities should close full stop? My mother is a dentist and her work is being deemed as non essential now. Should she change her career to get a boring desk job taking customer service calls because its “pandemic-proof”? All the newbies you’re turning away from the field are really listening to you. This rhetoric is why we can’t get good people to work for the industry. I’m sorry you are so jaded and burned from the ’08 recession. You don’t have to project all of your insecurities onto other business owners. I feel for your staff that know you write these articles. They will see how you lead a ship through rocky waters: by jumping off in a one man lifeboat.

    • Let me clarify:

      I am not encouraging salon owners to close entirely or telling newbies to “turn away.” I am telling every individual to consider their personal circumstances and to do whatever they need to do to financially survive this–EVEN IF it means leaving the industry temporarily, putting plans for an expansion on indefinite hold, or delaying a long-term lease renewal. Major, risky decisions about your future shouldn’t be made during such uncertain times.

      To answer your question–if your mother couldn’t get unemployment and didn’t want to take on debt to pull through this, then yes, I would absolutely advise her to take a “boring desk job taking customer service calls,” not because it’s pandemic-proof but because it will pay her bills. I never said it was time for anyone to make a permanent career change, just that they shouldn’t count on everything to go back to normal any time soon and not to let their passion for this career pull them into a perilous financial situation.

      As for my salons, we’re fortunate to be in a very strong financial position with extremely low operational overhead, no debt, and enough savings to close and cover payroll for 2-3 months. We’re also flexible enough to change our salon’s focus temporarily to better serve our community. Instead of asking for people to purchase gift cards, we’re offering to run errands for our clients (the vast majority of whom are senior citizens). Nobody is jumping off any boats–just changing course for now.

      This “rhetoric” is not why we can’t get good people to work for the industry. As far as I can tell, I’m one of very few people encouraging others to think seriously about how they’ll support themselves until a vaccine becomes available and since this post is only a few weeks old, I’m pretty sure it’s had no effect on our industry acquisition rate whatsoever. I’m also not sure what kind of industry you’re experiencing, but I know a TON of good people who work in this business. However, if that were a problem we actually had, I’d argue that the abuses perpetrated by exploitative salon owners contributes significantly to it.

      If you want to sit around and wait for things to go back to normal, go for it. If you’re in the financial position to take that time–good for you! This post likely isn’t for you. If you read the comments though, you’ll see that not everyone in this business has the same privilege. Many were living paycheck to paycheck, have debts to pay, and have lost their workplaces for the next several weeks–if not months. Now, their bills are coming due and they don’t know when their checks will arrive or if their loans will be approved in time. This isn’t a joke for them.

      Would it be better if I composed a rosy fantasy about the future? I’m not sure who that helps.

      • I’m sorry dear, but you did NOT make any if that clear. Instead you encourage people to go more into debt to pursue careers that are pandemic proof. Your words hold weight and it’s clear you don’t respect the weight that comes with that.

        You’re more than welcomed to post another link to am article you wrote about abusive payroll practices by less than stellar salons. Your rhetoric is further underlying another reason for new practitioners to not enter the field.

        It’s also blatantly clear you don’t understand the way the small business bailout works. They are designed to be grants or “forgiven” loans… as long as you hold onto your staff for a certain period of time. Yes, things are taking longer than i would like. But where’s your encouragement about having conversations with your debtors about forbearance until the business is back up and running? I’ve personally dealt with two big organizations: HSBC and the SBA and both have offered forbearance programs that are fiscally responsible.

        If you think remote workplace options are hiring now, then you’re really diving your reading population down a rabbit hole. The house and Senate passed the CARES ACT, which allows people to collect their full paycheck while on unemployment.

        I think you’re doing a serious disservice to this community. There is no rosey future… It’s going to be hard. But as a loud voice in the community you have a responsibility to speak the truth and be helpful.

        • So, it’s my responsibility to speak the truth and be helpful, but only if that truth aligns with your definition of it?

          If you had read that post (or any of the 700+ comments), you’d see that I didn’t invent these problems. I’m informing both employed and self-employed workers about their rights. Informing people isn’t “rhetoric.” If you think providing people with the material necessary to make an informed choice is wrong, I don’t see how you can square that with the stance that it’s my responsibility to be truthful and helpful.

          I would also encourage you to look at the post dates. This article was not published the day you read it. While we do have options now that the CARES Act has been passed (which occurred two days after this article was published), it isn’t a magic bullet and it won’t be a great option for everyone. It is still a loan. It still has an interest rate that accrues after the first year. Misclassified independent contractors aren’t covered by the salon owner’s PPP, so they have to apply for their own loans. Forgiveness has conditions that some salon owners may not be able to guarantee. Grants may not be forgiven and expenses reported to the lender (under PPP) may not be approved for forgiveness. They aren’t just handing out money with no strings attached, and the regulations are still evolving. It’s not a magic bullet.

          You have your perspective and I have mine. Mine is informed by both being a salon owner right now, supporting them and working professionals for the last decade, and consulting for them. I’m well aware my words hold weight, and I stand by them.

  23. hi Tina,
    I have been a senior financial analyst at a well-known company for more than 7 years. Even though I receive very good benefits and good pay from this job, I always want to quit the job to open a Spa or a salon for myself. I know this will be an extreme challenging journey but if you work hard and smart, it will be very rewarding at the end of the day.
    So, to get myself ready for the big move, I have been looking into the nail and eye lash extension business and spent the last 6 months researching about the industry and read as many books as I could about this beauty industry. I feel very lucky that I found your two amazing books and I love every single point you make about this industry as well as how to run a salon legally and effectively. Honestly, your books did make me think twice about my decision with all the ugly facts about this industry which is not as pinky and rosy as it looks. However, I still really wanted to give it a chance because to me life is a journey, you won’t know where it would take you if you never try to step out of your comfort zone and follow your dream. I want to do it and do it the right way by taking very cautious steps by reading, researching and taking nail tech class. I hoped that doing all those together with my business skills would get myself ready for this journey.
    BTW, I just had a baby in November last year and I am taking use of the maternity time to enroll in a nail tech class. The plan is to get the licence in the summer and open my salon by the end of this year. Unfortunately, COVID19 has changed everything I planned for. I was hoping that we would have the vaccines by next year and when everything is back to normal I could proceed with my plan. However, this article completely changed my mind. I feel lost now not sure if I should go back to my job and wait a couple years then revisit my plan or just give up on it entirely :(.

    • The last I read, the earliest we can hope for a vaccine is looking like the END of 2021–not the beginning or middle. For most people, those additional 6-12 months is a game-changer because it’s the difference between barely treading water and outright drowning. At this point, I can’t advise anyone to pursue salon ownership, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be planning. For a lot of owners who would otherwise have gone into business as soon as they came across the perfect building, this time is a blessing. It’s forcing them to stop and think through their strategy. The time they’re spending on planning will pay off in the long-run when they finally do get to open. So, these salon owners, who would have failed quickly or struggled unnecessarily precisely because they didn’t spend much time at all planning, will now reap the benefits of both their planning and of the post-COVID landscape (which will certainly have less competitors in it).

      Don’t give up. Just consider yourself extremely fortunate for the timing. I have consulting clients who signed leases in the summer and fall and were preparing to open between January and March only to find they couldn’t due to shutdowns. Those business owners are now faced with the options of losing their whole investment or going into even more debt. Trust me when I say that I absolutely do not want anyone else to follow in their footsteps, ESPECIALLY not a new mom.

      A few weeks ago, I wrote this post about what our new future looks like, as an industry. I would strongly recommend reading it, as this appears to be what’s happening now with regards to reopening. For instance, in New York, salons are last on the list to be reopened, as we are incapable of social distancing. I expect they will not be the only state to approach reopening in this way, and I’m certain that we’ll be the first among those required to close as infection numbers periodically rise in our areas over the next year or two.

      Don’t give up on your dream, just reframe how you view the circumstances. I’m not an “everything happens for a reason” person, but there’s no denying that you were extremely fortunate to be at the phase you’re in. Use this time to sharpen your plan into the best version of itself. Absorb all of the education you can. Build a formidable savings so you can have an even stronger start. Then, when this is over, you’ll be ready to slip right into a space and take over your local market.

  24. Hi, Tina! I call all this situation BC & AC… Before COVID-19 and After COVID-19. Life we had BC is not same as AC. My business plan has been changed. I can’t run my business like i did BC. Clients’ visit cycle will be no longer the same, pending habit will be different. Their lifestyle will be different and priority has been changed. i will keep running my small studio, but I have feeling that i will have more slower time that i can use for side business. I am 53. So, like to slow down physically demanding job (hairdresser) and do something days that i can sit & work. Thinking about medical coder. Health industry is always the demand 😉 I appreciate this article. i feel the same as you do. It will be different game now on. It’s world wide problem. Even after COVID-19 become treatable, another one might come. Always have plan-B and plan-C. I am in this industry for 32 years. I survived all these years because I am flexible….


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