As Cayman’s domestic economy slowly returns to a level of normalcy, those in the personal-services industry, like beauty salons, barbers and aestheticians, say they are hopeful they will be given the green light to get back to work this month.
However, with no set timeline for the reopening of their services, they say it’s becoming increasingly difficult not only to plan ahead but also to stay afloat.
“I would say probably ‘very depressing’ would be the best words to describe it,” said master stylist Monikah Adeniken, who works out of Jen’s Beauty Box in George Town, during a recent Zoom interview with the Cayman Compass.
She said the past few months on lockdown probably have been, in the span of her 25-year career, the “most difficult time” she has experienced, especially the isolation from her clients, many of whom have become her friends.
“Really not having any idea about when we were going to be able to come back to work and being left in the dark for such a long time has been equally as hard, and also seeing my clients do their own hair box dye, their own hair … poorly has been very hard to witness as well,” she said.
Hoping for the go-ahead
Premier Alden McLaughlin has said previously that businesses such as beauty salons, spas and barbers carry the highest risk for coronavirus because of the close physical contact involved in their work. He said their services will be the last to be unlocked under government’s ongoing relaxation of COVID-19-suppression levels.
While he suggested that 22 June may be the date when those services could be reopened, he cautioned that this depends on the results from the ongoing screening programme of workers.
Adeniken said clients are already calling to make appointments.
“It’s kind of exciting to see that people are still willing to try and book appointments and support me,” she said, adding, “One of the things that has really overwhelmed me is how many people reached out to me to offer to pre-book services and prepaid for them. My clients have purchased gift cards to grocery stores for me because they’re still working, but I am not.”
While Adeniken said the generosity was appreciated, “it’s been hard for me to be in that situation, to have to be on the receiving end and not the giving end. But also it’s a really strong blessing and a token of what the women in Cayman are willing to do.”
For master hair-removal technician and aesthetician Hassmig Yasmine Kojayan, surviving the lockdown period has been stressful both on the job front and as a single parent of a three-year-old child who cannot not go outside to play or meet her friends.
She said she was worried about the future of her business and the impact of the lack of services on her clientele.
“With laser hair-removal services, they are very set times because we need to catch the hair’s inactive growth. So having to be closed for long periods of time has affected lots of people’s treatments as they’ve missed so many treatments in between,” she said.
A lot of her clients buy packages upfront, she said, which should see them from the start to the end of their services.
“It’ll be interesting when I go back to see how the hair growth has been affected. When you miss services, it hinders your results,” she pointed out.
Both women have said they are prepared to make whatever changes are necessary to open their businesses safely for clients and themselves.
They have both completed their Barbicide (products designed to clean and disinfect salons) education, which includes learning how to re-sanitise surfaces and items in relation to COVID-19 preparation.
“We’ve done all of our certification for that in the salon, each member of the salon has,” Adeniken said. “As a salon, we’ve already gotten it deep-sanitised, deep-cleaned. We have ordered an autoclave [steriliser] to come so that we can further sanitise and sterilise our items in our shop and we’ve already gone through cleaning protocols and how we are going to approach each client service.”
Apart from ensuring clients are seated six feet apart during each step of their treatment, Adeniken said, there will be limited blow-drying when customers are in the salon.
“We have a washing station … put into the shop so when people walk into the salon they can wash their hands in a sanitising station right there, so that they will feel comfortable coming in, and you sanitise in between every single client,” she added, saying masks and gloves will also be worn.
Kojayan said in her specialty services, sanitisation is already at a high level and she will be taking further precautions when she is allowed to return to work.
“I feel like if we are able to go to the grocery stores, I would like to be able to start going back to work; obviously, with some sort of precautions,” she said. “We want to make sure that everybody is staying safe, including ourselves, but I just would like to start going a little bit more back to normal.
“I personally wish that if we had more timeframes, we will be able to plan better.”