The beauty industry has changed dramatically this year for many due to the COVID-19 pandemic as hair, nail and esthetician salons have had to manage a new normal while keeping staff and clients safe.
Some in the industry were forced to take time off, and some even eventually retired, leading to stylists reporting an uptick in new clients searching for a place to go.
For many, the answer has been to move their businesses to a boutique suite atmosphere, which provides a smaller setting that seems to be preferred by clients.
Dana Bailey Paul and Janice Reynolds, who had been with Hair Expressions for many years, decided to go out on their own. They rented a space in Studio Suites, a suite-style building in Cool Springs.
Both have been thrilled with how their clients have responded to the move. Paul and Reynolds keep masks on the entire time they are with clients to help provide a safe atmosphere.
“We felt our clients would feel safer in a smaller environment,” Paul said. “Many of our clients have been afraid to come in. After they see our space, they have been relieved of their fears and feel comfortable getting back to their normal schedules.”
Kim DiGiacomo has been with Sola Salon Studios, which has locations in Franklin and Brentwood, for 10 years. She too has seen new clients wanting to use a stylist in a smaller setting, and has gained new clients whose previous stylists have retired during the pandemic.
“My clients have mentioned that if I hadn’t had a smaller atmosphere, they wouldn’t have come back after we reopened if it wasn’t so small,” she said.
DiGiacomo and Sola Salon Studios have put an emphasis on making sure the entire facility is clean and safe.
“While Sola takes care of cleaning the hallways and bathrooms, I clean my studio by myself,” she said.
Steve Breuner, co-owner of Sola Salon Studios who’s based in Pennsylvania, said there is a pre-pandemic story and a post-pandemic story.
He and a fellow co-owner started the business for several reasons, including helping those in the beauty profession have independence through owning their own locations, freedom in setting schedules and providing service in a small environment.
“Since the pandemic, stylists were appalled by salon owners who weren’t following regulations, groups or people who couldn’t go back into a big salon; now we are crushed with demand and have waiting lists,” Breuner said. “All the salon drama vanishes. There’s no receptionist to tick off your clients, no listening to a room full of gossip — all that just disappears.”
Sola Salon Studios’ first salon in the area opened in 2009 in Belle Meade. They have plans to open two more soon.
Shelly Steadman has a suite inside Salon Boutique in Franklin across from Centennial High School for her business, Skin(ID)ology. She moved into her suite in July.
“The facility is new, clean and modern and bustling with a steady stream of clients and professionals,” she said. “I had been thinking about doing this and then never made the leap. With COVID-19, the choice became simple.
“I didn’t feel safe in a larger salon, and my clients didn’t either.”
Professionals in the beauty industry have been working with the Tennessee Department of Health for months to ensure their businesses are both safe for clients and can prosper.
Their procedures and practices seem to be working.