Due to the current pandemic conditions, new regulations in California severely limited nail salon operations to outdoor service. In the time before Covid, such a thing would have been considered insane and in violation of everything taught in cosmetology school. Sometimes it feels like the local government’s response for reopening the beauty and nail industry might cause more harm than good for business. Give it points for creativity but it’s more of a stop gap than a well considered solution. The impracticality leaves us all scratching our heads.
In Spring 2020, the State of California shut down salons among many other non-essential businesses in order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. As seasons changed and sweater weather gave way to sandals, bars and outdoor dining, nail techs all over the state continued to struggle. Then Summer rolled around and in July the beauty industry was given a green light to operate under makeshift outdoors conditions. The foundation of our training, specifically control over hygienic and sanitized spaces, was set aside. So what happens next? How as an industry are we to survive the pandemic? We are a resilient bunch. Sometimes we need more and we need to know how to ask for it. It will take a calculated and well-planned lifeline of understanding in partnership with local/state leaders to revive an industry worth an estimated $3 billion statewide, a value provided by the Pro Nails Association.
Working outdoors is unpredictable. A huge part of the problem for nail salons is temperature control. In the Summer, heat and humidity are not friends with you, your clients, or your nail products. Most nail products are temperature and UV sensitive. How are we expected to navigate through this crisis? The outdoor solution feels like an afterthought. It’s the equivalent of seeking long term housing and being given a tent or telling an ice cream shop to forego refrigeration. Yes it’s a solution but not really a solution for those of us in nails.
Without getting too political, the question we need to ask is, what is the balance between preserving health and safety versus prohibiting people of their livelihoods? Who should be responsible to gather information and provide real solutions for the state’s economy. It’s disappointing to feel like our state leaders are not investing the time to understand what our work needs to provide practical solutions. Businesses that have been built slowly over time have been dismantled in just a few months. The nail industry has long suffered from negative bias. Lots of people in our industry are suffering right now. We know because we see and hear it. The potential threat of the Coronavirus weighed against the reality of mental and physical health issues caused by financial stress is a battle we are all facing right now. Financial stress is the most painful thing anyone can experience. It leads to a decline in mental health.
Under layers of latex gloves, masks, and face shields, our nail community is begging for an open dialogue with their government leaders for a real path to both an economic recovery and keeping people safe. Entire constellations of salon owners and their employees are going broke. We are proud and know how to work. We are having to make tough decisions on how to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. It’s enough to drive you to insanity and it sucks.
We are not saying to disregard the seriousness of Covid and ignore safety precautions. Our organization is trying hard to keep people safe. We are prioritizing health and safety procedures just like our industry always has. State of California, please don’t turn a blind eye to our industry. We need each other and it’s time for us to have a serious talk.
*Please note that this Biz Talk podcast originally aired on August 2, 2020. This blog was written on November 6, 2020.
**This is an adaptation from our YN Biz Talk playlist on YouTube, BIZ TALK: OUTDOOR NAIL SALONS.
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