Beauty Reboot

Reflecting on how Coronavirus changed the local beauty industry


By Elizabeth Scinta


For three months, Louisvillians’ beauty routines halted; their hair grew long, their weekly blowouts were canceled and they adapted to the new normal. Not only were the clients thrown off by the sudden change, but salons across town closed their doors and quarantined away from their salon families for an undetermined amount of time. “One day you’re open and have 50 plus employees in here with over a hundred guests, and the next the parking lot is empty. It’s like flipping a light switch,” said Kelli Campbell, owner of Joseph’s Salon. Although the inside of her salon had to close, Campbell did not let that stop her from continuing business. Joseph’s Salon did curbside orders, over the phone consultations and assisted their employees in whatever way they needed during the unprecedented time. “We were open for the customers because we wanted to stay connected to them as much as we could,” said Campbell.

Clique Boutique was able to continue their online sales from their skincare line, Clique Beauty, during quarantine which helped them maintain their retail sales, according to Janna Flowers, owner of Clique Boutique. They also switched their Instagram, @cliquebeautyboutique, to be more educational featuring posts with how-tos and information on the best products for your skin type. “We tried to focus on educating and not selling people stuff because people were already feeling nervous about all the changes happening in their life. We tried to do anything for the community that came at no cost to them,” Flowers said.

Drybar employees participated in Zoom calls to hold on to their tight-knit relationship and brainstorm new ideas and products for the salon. “There were 28 staff members that had no idea when we were going to reopen. We’re one big happy family, so we did Zoom calls to stay engaged and help each other with the unemployment issue,” said Mandy Vine, an operating partner of Drybar.

Both of these salons used their time in quarantine to stay connected with clients and employees, but also began to plan how they would be able to open safely when Gov. Andy Beshear allowed it. Bennie Pollard, owner of NOVA Salon, used the time to look towards the future and how they can continue to improve his salon. “It was a weird time, a sad time and ironically a productive time. Sometimes when you’re super busy, it’s hard to sit still and reflect. But we were allowed that time to look at our processes and systems,” Pollard said.

For Lindsey Pincus and Allie Wood, co-owners of Cat & Lou Salon, this time was filled with a lot of anxiety, wondering if their new salon would get the chance to open. Scheduled to open April 1, their plans were halted when the city shut down. “We were a little behind to open in the first place, and it all slowed down because the contractors couldn’t all work at the same time [during quarantine]. It did give us time to prepare [for the opening], but for the most part, it slowed us way down,” Pincus said. When Gov. Beshear allowed salons to reopen on May 25, Pincus and Wood eagerly opened the doors to Cat & Lou Salon for the first time. “We were anxious about making sure we followed the regulations with COVID and it being a new business, but we are so excited to be in our space and have it the way we wanted. Our salon was already spread out, so hopefully, our clients feel comfortable and safe,” Pincus said.

Salons in Louisville also had to adjust the layout of their spaces and how a typical day would run due to the new regulations. This includes mapping out six feet of distance between customers, implementing a texting system instead of a waiting room, installing sanitization stations around the salon and providing face masks for customers, according to the Healthy at Work requirements.

Drybar also opened on May 25 with new safety procedures and a smaller capacity of 50% mandated by Gov. Beshear. Vine was happy with the busyness of the first day, even though business was being run a lot differently. Vine requires all clients and staff to wear a mask during appointments, get temperature checks at the door and they deep clean appliances and the space between every client. “We’ve got an abundance of supplies because I’m that kind of person, so we’re ready. We would not have opened if we didn’t have everything from hand sanitizer to masks for clients to a touchless thermometer,” Vine said.

Campbell waited to open Joseph’s Salon until May 27 to prepare her team for what a new normal workday would be like. According to Campbell, their priority is safety, so although there are new restrictions, Joseph’s Salon is doing the best they can to keep everyone safe. “The amount time it has taken to be somewhat successful and safe is exhausting, not to mention expensive,” said Campbell.

It’s difficult for the salons to adjust to the new regulations, but it’s also difficult for their clients. Three months without pampering can make many clients eager to get an appointment as soon as the salons reopened. With this mindset, all five salons had every appointment filled for their first day back. Although some clients are still a bit apprehensive to go out in public, most of NOVA Salon’s clients were happy to be back in the chair, according to Pollard.  “A large portion of our business is hair color. We were touching up lots of roots those first few weeks,” Pollard said. NOVA Salon has experienced a large growth in new clientele since reopening, according to Pollard. He’s hoping to grow his team and add five to six new hairstylists in the next six to eight months.

With Cat & Lou being a new salon, Pincus and Wood were eager to see how their clients felt about the new space in general. “Some clients have wanted to wait and ask what protocols we’re taking, and some are so excited to see you and get their hair done that they’re okay with wearing the masks and the new protocols,” Pincus said.

Flowers said the hardest thing about reopening Clique Boutique has been trying to rekindle the relationships they had formed with their clients before quarantine happened. The technicians have to be cautious about navigating their client’s feelings and giving them that same friendship they had before the new guidelines. Drybar, Cat & Lou, Clique Boutique, NOVA Salon and Joseph’s Salon said their clients’ general emotions are excited to be back in the chair getting a treatment they love so much. Being able to go back to their routine of appointments is helping them to feel like themselves again during an uncertain time. “Blowouts create happiness and confidence. Our goals are to create beautiful blowouts and happy people,” Vine said.

Some clients have taken the three-month hiatus as a chance to try something new with their hair completely, according to Pincus. Some are okay with keeping the grey in their hair because they’ve become used to it; others are ready to go back to the hairstyle they’ve always had. “At the end of the day, the hairdressing and beauty industry for a lot of folks hasn’t been taken that seriously. But hairdressers are extremely important, and it took this terrible event for people to notice this,” said Pollard.