Hands up if you whooped with delight when you heard hairdressers were reopening from July 15.
Most of us are heartily sick of our lockdown locks and in need of a bit of pampering.
Charlie Taylor, who owns salons in Perth and Dundee and has been a hairdresser for more than 30 years, explains why a trip to the hairdresser is so important, not just for the clients but for the hair stylists also.
“A trip to the salon is a huge part of people’s lives – for many it is the only time that they can actually switch off and have time to themselves. That in itself is an attraction – time out,” she says.
“Then of course there is the feel good factor. Hairdressers and therapists are in the business of making people look and feel great.
“The environment of hair and beauty salons is one that makes a client feel comfortable, whilst in that cocoon often clients like to confide in their stylist and hence often building a very special relationship together,” she continues.
“To be a good hairdresser/therapist you have to be a good listener and definitely a psychologist at times.
“It is very interesting how much hairdressing and beauty salons have come to the fore in the public conscience during lockdown – I feel the general public has realised what an important part of the community we are and I know for sure that our clients are really looking forward to coming back to us,” says Charlie, who has been Scottish Hairdresser of the Year three times.
And the stylists are keen to get back to what they love doing best.
“The creative side of hairdressing is what attracts most of us to the industry,” she says.
“I for one knew from an early age that I was not going to work in an office and wear a suit!
“I admire those skills but it’s not me. The hairdressing industry is hugely creative and you can take that to extremes if you want to.
“We are able to express our creativity every day and use it to inspire our clients and tell them our vision for how they could look. It’s a real skill. Not everyone has it.
“Whilst I do clients in the salon, myself and some of my team also do shows to the industry and our peers whereby we are allowed to push boundaries.
“It is amazing fun and really keeps you fresh and in the mindset for new ideas.”
Charlie admits lockdown has been a shock: “In 36 years of running salons we have only been closed one day due to snow,” she says.
“To be shut now for nearly four months has been difficult. We have tried our best to look after our great teams, keep our clients well informed of what is happening and take the opportunity to rethink some of our business plans and strategies.
“There have been two positives. One is the unique enforced time to reflect and plan forward and two is the way that hairdressing has been thrown into the limelight and, as someone who is a pioneer for the industry, that can only be good.
“We haven’t always had the recognition as an industry that we deserve.”
We all know that when salons reopen, things will look different.
“The common look of a salon will be clients and stylists/therapists wearing masks, the use of protective aprons and gloves for stylists, all equipment sterilised between clients, fresh gowns and towels for every client and touch free sanitiser dispensers,” says Charlie.
“The flow of clients will also be reduced to minimise footfall, with clients sitting two metres apart. There will reception screens and no coffees or magazines.
“This will be standard across all salons. What we hope and pray for is that this is a temporary change to how we operate and salons can resume normal business as soon as possible.
“We have regular Zoom meetings with our teams and whilst I think they have enjoyed some of the nice weather and having time to themselves, this has now gone on so long that they can’t wait to be reunited with their clients and each other.
“For a lot of clients this is an opportunity to perhaps think about a new cut or a new colour. We have done some great educational tutorials and are bursting with new ideas for post lockdown,” she smiles.
Stephen McCartney of The Cutting Room in Perth, started in hairdressing in 1985 at the age of 16, when his dad was a partner in Johnallan’s who had seven salons, including one in Perth and Dundee.
“Hairdressing is all about being creative and it has been very strange not having this creative outlet for over three months now but live webinars once a week during lockdown have helped.”
Stephen believes that not being able to go to a salon over lockdown will have had an impact on people’s well being.
“Clients not only visit the salon for a great haircut – it’s also a social event and, in this day and age, very much needed ‘me time’.
“The most enjoyable part of the job is making a difference to someone’s life – it really can have that kind of impact.”
Stephen reveals that while lockdown has been horrendous for business, there are also positives to be had.
“I think the public will see hairdressers in a different light now. I think there’s a chance we’ll be held in a higher regard and as a serious professional industry,” he muses.
Reopening naturally brings a lot of different emotions.
“Excitement about getting back to what we love to do, of course, but also the realisation that our clients will not get quite the same service that we pride ourselves on giving to our guests.
“These changes will include no seated face to face consultations, no drinks or magazines.
“Our staff will be wearing visors and gloves and we’re lucky we have 16 stations so can leave a station in between each guest,” he continues.
“They will only be able to come into the salon when their stylist is ready as there will be no waiting area.
“We will be skin testing all our colour clients as it has been three months since they have had colour applied.
“My staff are very much looking forward to getting back into the salon – they have all been amazing by extending their hours and days they normally work to make sure all their clients can get booked in.”