Hair salons and other close-contact businesses were just moved into Phase 1, meaning they are now allowed to reopen with restrictions. Local hair stylist and make-up artist, McLaine Craig, explains what steps Halo Salon in Rossville, TN is taking to ensure their clients’ health and safety. In this follow-up to a previous interview, McLaine addresses new, unique challenges that local, small businesses have never had to face before.
See the transcript below.
Anna Bell: Hello everyone, I’m Anna Bell. I’m so thankful to have Halo Salon owner, McLaine Craig, back with us for a followup to our previous conversations. McLaine, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today.
McLaine Craig: Hey, I appreciate it.
AB: Yeah, we’re excited to have you and you know, hair salons are reopening. They’re scheduled for phase two of the back to business plans in Memphis, but in this area of Tennessee, the reopening of salons has moved into phase one, meaning you can reopen now but with restrictions. And that’s led to a lot of debate on social media. So McLaine, can we start off by just telling our listeners what steps are you taking to reopen Halo Salon?
MC: Sure. So we are super, super excited to get back into the swing of things. Kind of the first few things that we were looking at and waiting to hear from to make our decision was number one from the governor. We were really just waiting pins and needles to see what they were going to say. And when we heard the news about the May 29th and then it could have been May 6th, it was very, it’s very nerve wracking because we have our lot of people, you know, like banking on us being here or are we not? And so we waited to hear from that and our decision when they finalized that, is May 6th. And then we also have to go by what the state board of cosmetology says for us to do as well. So it’s kind of like two different governing bodies over salons. And so I also reached out to my state board inspector and the mayor of Rossville was very, very helpful for us. And with all of that information, we decided to go ahead and open on Wednesday.
AB: That’s so exciting. And it sounds like, you know, you’re having to talk to a lot of different people to just get the doors open. It’s not like you can just unlock the front door and say, come on in everybody, you know.
MC: Exactly. Yeah. It’s not going to be just, Oh, okay. It’s over with. Free for all. It’s very, very different. And we’ve kind of tried our best to navigate what that’s gonna look like for our business for the next little while.
AB: Right. I know. So many of us are anxious to finally get rid of that longer than usual quarantine hairstyle. We’re all rocking right now.
MC: Yes. Everybody is so ready.
AB: But what are your plans for appointments for the next few weeks? I’m kind of anxious to learn it from you. You know, about those that were pre-booked before COVID-19 or trying to book an appointment with you right now or even wanting to cancel an appointment. What is that gonna look like for these next few weeks?
MC: So we have kind of thought through all of these situations and really tried to be as fair about it as we can. You know, being out of business and missing hundreds of appointments and thousands of dollars lost out of our pocket. It’s very, very, very weird of a situation to try to figure out. We’ve never had to do this before, but what we’ve come up with so is yes, some of our clients have already booked out for the year or they book out two to three appointments ahead of time. That’s already on the books, still. And we have kept all of these appointments on our schedules through this time and so tomorrow when we open, we plan to go ahead and honor the appointments that are on the books and all of the people that had to miss their appointment due to us being closed. We are using those as they get first priority rebooking when we have openings and we are working a few Saturdays, we’re working later than normal hours to try to accommodate everyone. So that’s kind of what we’re doing with pre-booked appointments. And then the people that missed out that we had to cancel on.
AB: Man, I know you’re having a big so thoughtful right now about how to handle this, I’m sure it’s just, I’m sure it’s overwhelming. Has it been overwhelming for you?
MC: Oh yeah. It’s very, I mean, we’ve got people, you know, messaging us, calling us, emailing us just from all different angles. And I’m definitely tried my best because I’m the one that’s in charge of all of that. And it’s very stressful really, you know, everybody and their mama is like, I need my hair done. I need my hair done. And while we want to help everybody we possibly can, it’s just going to be near impossible to get a hundred percent of everybody back in. So we’re trying our best for sure. And what our biggest obstacle right now is for scheduling an appointment is our new regulation is we can only run on half of our fire code occupancy.
AB: That’s right.
MC: So that means that we can only have 14 people in the building at one time, which is definitely half of what we normally have. So it’s, that is very concerning as well.
AB: Yeah. I know. We’re all wanting to know what the new normal is going to look like, you know, especially for businesses and Halo Salon in particular. What is the new normal gonna look like when someone comes to visit, you know, what procedures are you going to have in place now?
MC: So we have, like the waiting area is closed, so we’re only allowing the person that has the appointment to step foot in the building. We’re doing like minor, like health screenings. We’re checking temperature, we’re washing hands. Everyone wears a mask, including ourselves. We will be wearing gloves the entire time. We also will be deeply disinfect everything on our chairs and our stations and all the tools we’ve touched, the shampoo bowl after every single person has been in that chair.
AB: Well ’cause I’m envisioning you like standing over, you know, the bowl washing someone’s hair. How would you handle those kinds of things. But it sounds like you’re, you’re thinking through that.
MC: Yeah, so we’re hoping that the whole mask, every, you know, client’s stylist wearing a mask, we’re providing masks if they do not enter with one for a fee. So we’re trying to navigate through all of these things. I’m sure after the first week or two things will change maybe or we may come up with a different, routine that may be work a little bit better. So we’re just still trying to figure everything out, but be as prepared as we can be.
AB: Such good thoughts. Okay, so McLaine, you know, talk to me, how do you feel about reopening? Do you have any nervous, anxious feelings? What is your good feeling about reopening?
MC: Yeah, so, you know, my first initial feeling when we heard the news was I was just so excited and I guess I’m a mixture of excited to see my people and get back to doing what we love and just being in my happy place again. And then I’m also kind of thrown in with a mix of just a lot of precaution and a little bit of nervousness. I know that not everybody’s comfortable coming to the salon yet, so that’s a reality for all of this. We actually have a few stylists that are not going to be starting on Wednesday, they’re going to take a couple more weeks with their children and see what that is looking like in the next couple of weeks. So even, you know, some of our staff isn’t coming back yet. So we are understanding that some clients definitely are feeling nervous about getting out and being around people and we totally, totally get that.
AB: And you’ve got young ones too, don’t you, McLaine? I mean, tell me how’s that been for you too? The salon is where you get to be you, you know, and that’s your happy place, like you said. Tell me about at home too. How are you juggling this now?
MC: Yeah, so I have two children. I have a daughter that’s nine and a son that’s five. And I mean, it definitely, I am nervous to step back in to more of the public just because of my family and what I’m around during the day and may possibly be taken back home to them. So, yeah, I am a little nervous about that and I’ll miss being home with them. And it has definitely been a sweet experience to have some extended time with my family that I’ve never really thought I would have after I was on maternity leave with them. So yeah, it’s been a sweet time and we’ve been working on schoolwork and working on our, you know, preschool work, getting ready for kindergarten for my son. And it’s been really good to be home, but I know like everybody is kind of ready to get back to normal.
AB: Oh, I know it. We’re all itching I think to get back to find some normalcy, you know, and getting your hair cut is one normal we’re all missing, so.
MC: Yes. So much better. It makes you feel so much better.
AB: No, it does. You walk out of there feeling like a new person and that’s a good thing. Is there anything else you’d like to add, McLaine, for those, you know, ready to find our way through this new normal. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MC: Yeah, I would love to just add, so for everyone trying to kind of make those baby steps back into our quote normal life and business for businesses, I really would encourage you guys just to stay patient with everyone and stay patient with the salons and stay patient with these small businesses that are able to open back up. I mean it’s really a time where we appreciate everyone’s business. We appreciate the support and the love that we get from all of you guys and we are definitely going to try to do our best and hopefully we don’t have another relapse. So yeah, I mean I guess this, you know, thank you everybody for being so supportive for us and all the different small businesses during this time.
AB: Yeah. Oh absolutely. I think you’re right. You know, just having patience, I think now that we’ve had all this time to kind of regroup at home, maybe we all will have a little more patience and get out and keep supporting our local business. And in one way if someone is nervous to come in, can we still buy gift cards from you?
MC: Yeah. Yep. We’ve got gift cards available and we’re still shipping direct to our clients for retail purchases. So we’re still doing that, and for those of you that aren’t ready to get out yet, we totally understand that and if you do have an appointment that you aren’t comfortable keeping, that is okay. We understand and we’ll try to work with everybody. But yeah, I guess certificates are still a great way a Mother’s Day coming up and teachers and everyone know that it’s a great little gift idea.
AB: Absolutely. McLaine, thank you so much for your time and your insight today. We certainly appreciate it and we’re excited for you guys, you know, opening your door soon.
MC: Thank you so much. We’re really excited to be open again.
AB: I know it. Until next time, I’m Anna Bell sending you well wishes as we all navigate this new normal.