Making the cut: Area hair salons reopen with new restrictions

  • Kate Jaksik, owner of Glow Beauty Bar in Florence, gets ready to reopen. Beginning Monday, hair salons and barbershops were among those businesses allowed to reopen in limited capacities under the first phase of Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-part plan. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kate Jaksik, owner of Glow Beauty Bar in Florence, gets ready to reopen. Beginning Monday, hair salons and barbershops were among those businesses allowed to reopen in limited capacities under the first phase of Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-part plan. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Kate Jaksik, owner of Glow Beauty Bar in Florence, cleans the door handle and new waiting area as part of her preparations to reopen. Beginning Monday, hair salons and barbershops were among those businesses allowed to reopen in limited capacities under the first phase of Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-part plan. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Katrina Staples, co-owner of Sei Bella Salon in Amherst, holds a face shield at one of the five stations — down from six to allow social distancing — at the Boltwood Walk business on Friday, May 22, 2020. The salon will be reopening on June 2. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Katrina Staples, co-owner of Sei Bella Salon in Amherst, moves a couple of sheets of plexiglass that will be installed between stations. Photographed on Friday, May 22, 2020. The business is also reducing the number of stations, from six to five, for a reopening on June 2, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Katrina Staples, co-owner of Sei Bella Salon in Amherst, cleans one of the five stations — down from six to allow social distancing — Friday, before a planned reopening of the Boltwood Walk business on June 2. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The entrance to Sei Bella Salon is decorated with hearts for businesses and employees in the surrounding Boltwood Walk neighborhood and throughout Amherst. The salon plans to reopen on June 2. Photographed on Friday, May 22, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Katrina Staples, co-owner of Sei Bella Salon in Amherst, makes preparations for a reopening of the Boltwood Walk business on June 2, 2020. Photographed on Friday, May 22, 2020. The salon will be installing plexiglass dividers in a couple of areas, including between these two sink stations. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/26/2020 7:05:22 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Florence resident Kelly Mulligan said she was at first “a little apprehensive” when she made an appointment at Glow Beauty Bar to touch up her roots after going from brown to platinum blond hair in early March.

“Kind of like everyone is about getting out and back into the normal routine,” she added.

But Mulligan said her concerns were eased by the precautions taken at the salon on Tuesday.

“It was always super clean, very well-organized, but they’ve upped their game, and you could tell the changes that they’ve made,” she said, noting that she wants to support small businesses and their employees.

“These are people,” Mulligan said. “It’s hard to go without any revenue.”

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker released guidelines for the first phase of a four-part plan to reopen the state’s economy after restrictions imposed in March due to the pandemic closed or limited most businesses.

Beginning Monday, hair salons and barbershops were among those businesses allowed to reopen in limited capacities under the first phase, provided that they follow social distancing, hygiene protocols, staffing and operations, and cleaning and disinfecting regulations outlined in Baker’s plan.

These regulations include arranging chairs so that work areas are spaced at least 6 feet apart; improving ventilation in enclosed spaces; requiring face covering for all employees and customers; and limiting operations to hair services only, among other measures.

Glow Beauty Bar reopened Monday for hair services, and owner Kate Jaksik said staff will be going “above and beyond” to stick to health and safety directives.

Demand for the salon’s services have been “huge,” Jaksik said. The salon only had one client on Monday, which Jaksik attributes to Memorial Day, but starting the next day, she said, the salon was “fully booked out for the next couple months,” she told the Gazette Tuesday morning.

“We were already pretty solidly booked out with regular clients,” she said. Glow also has received “a ton of demand for new clients looking for a new hairstylist,” noted Jaksik, who believes that’s due to the fact that not all salons are choosing to immediately reopen.

Jaksik said she is “comfortable with the governor’s decision” to open hair services only at salons and personally ready to reopen Glow due to precautions the salon will take.

In addition to converting the outdoor patio to a waiting area, the salon has also taken measures such as installing High Efficiency Particulate Air filters and ordering a six-hour cleaning of the spa by Busy Bee-Cleans in Florence. The salon also occupies a 4,000-square-foot space, which Jaksik said has made adhering to social distancing guidelines easier and means that stylists can continue to use their four chairs as usual.

“The pace is slower, but we were really prepared,” Jaksik said, “so it’s seamless.”

While Glow has been able to weather the storm so far, business during the lockdown was “very hard,” Jaksik said, and most revenue at the time came from custom beauty bar boxes sent to clients after virtual consultations.

“That was the only way we were able to stay afloat, because we didn’t get any loans or grants until a few days ago,” she said.

‘Excited and nervous’

Sei Bella Salon in Amherst is among the businesses opening for hair service only in the near future, though co-owners Katrina Staples and Carrie Whiteman are choosing to wait until June 2 to give staff more time to prepare.

Staff members are “excited and nervous” for the reopening, Staples said.

“The biggest challenge is that all stations have to be 6 feet away from each other,” Staples said, adding that staff had to “totally rearrange everything” and limit the salon’s capacity from six to five chairs to meet this requirement.

Demand for the salon’s services have been high, Staples said, after she was initially uncertain if people would feel comfortable getting a haircut at this point in the pandemic.

Some people will not be comfortable getting a haircut for some time, she acknowledged, “and that’s something that we’re going to deal with for a while.”

Staples, who said she is uncertain if the state should begin reopening yet, has her own anxieties about resuming business.

“It’s been two months at home where I have literally gone nowhere, so to go back to work and be doing a job that is so hands on and there’s no way to stay 6 feet away from people, I am nervous about it,” she said. “But I feel like that’s what we have to do to keep our business.”

Her only income during the shutdown came from limited product sales, she said. The salon recently received a grant for small businesses in Amherst, which Staples said was “a huge help.”

In addition to some concerns about reopening, Staples is also “excited to be back in the salon and seeing our clients,” she said, adding that she feels well-prepared “to be giving the best sanitation possible, and the safest experience possible.”

One employee was not comfortable resuming work at this point, Staples said, but all other staff members will return, though some will work limited hours due to increased child care responsibilities.

The state regulations are “definitely necessary for everyone’s safety, for clients and ourselves,” Staples said. “But it is going to change our business and make it a lot harder.”

Tim Fisk, owner of Salon Herdis, had a soft opening Tuesday with measures that he referred to as “social distancing on steroids.”

During the first week back in business, the salon will operate with a limited number of staff, then regroup on Friday to evaluate what worked best and what can be done better. Salon Herdis will resume with its full staff on Saturday.

The salon, which normally has 10 stations open, will be able to service four to five people at a time under the guidelines and is “completely booked” at the moment, Fisk said.

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.

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