Welcome to the Sister Shout. A series of articles about our members and things that happen around Cheshire. In this issue of Sister Shout, we'll be chatting with Big Sister Leanne. Leanne is a highly trained, exceptional hairdresser. Many of our Sisters visit Leanne now and she has a reputation as someone who you can trust to make sure you leave her peaceful and luxurious Rufus Court based salon with a haircut you love.
Tell us about how your business was doing just before lockdown started, were there any plans you had to put on hold?
Business was flowing well before March 2020, then from March as the pandemic became more serious, clients were dubious about having their hair done, resulting in cancellations and no new bookings. I also started to feel unsafe at work and took the decision to close at the end of the month. That decision was then taken out of my hands when lockdown was announced and I immediately closed, cancelling the rest of my clients’ appointments.
I did have plans to further develop my hair cutting skills with a course booked at the Sassoon Academy in London at the end of April. I aim to rebook this course when it’s safer to do so.
How did you cope with lockdown? The personal toll has been so very hard on many of us, especially when it comes to not being able to see family.
I felt I coped well with lockdown. I had my ups and downs like most of us, but overall, I kept a positive outlook. I was continually keeping in touch with my clients, keeping them up to date and organised with appointments for when I could return to work safely. Lockdown gave me time to reflect and plan ahead, figuring out what’s important for the future of my business. I also achieved creating ‘how to’ videos, giving hair tips and advice and posting them on my social media channels, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years but never found the time. So, all in all I made the most out of lockdown and took some personal time to be at a slower pace of life and enjoy that.
How did you feel about the support on offer for businesses during lockdown? On a local level and a national level.
I feel like the support for businesses has been quite reasonable both on a local and national level. I came across some local support groups on facebook, but chose not to engage with them as I felt happy and comfortable with what I was doing with my business during lockdown, with keeping an online presence. I think it’s unfortunate that some businesses didn’t meet the criteria for financial help and sad to see those suffer. I was lucky enough to meet the criteria and received some financial support. I am also very grateful for support from Rebecca Jayne, business owner of Rebecca Jayne Makeup Studio and Beauty, where I rent a chair and run my business from.
Has the Coronavirus crisis changed your relationship with your customers? For the better or worse?
I feel as though this crisis has changed my relationship with my clients for the better. It has brought us closer together, with a greater appreciation of one another. I kept regular contact with my clients during lockdown, which they all appreciated. There seems to be a sense of greater appreciation for hairdressers in general now, and in turn, us for our clients, because without them we’d be out of business.
How are you handling the restrictions being lifted? Tell us about any changes you’ve made to your business.
As the restrictions are being lifted, I’m trying to keep safe and be cautious, obeying social distancing rules whenever possible. With being in close contact services it’s impossible to keep to social distancing rules, but with the measures I’ve put in place to help keep clients and myself safe I feel confident that I am working safely. The changes I’ve had to make do restrict the number of clients I can see each day, with only one client in the salon at a time and appointments spaced out to give time for deep cleaning between clients. Clients are asked to sanitise their hands upon entering the salon or they could wash their hands if they choose to do so.
In the beginning it was mandatory for hairdressers to wear a visor and I also choose to wear a mask as well to protect my clients, then from 15th August it became mandatory to wear both mask and visor. I asked my clients to wear a mask from the start when returning to work, then from 8th August it was made mandatory. It’s been interesting adapting new ways to carry out services without being in the high risk area (face), by either standing behind or to the side of my clients but not in front where we’re face to face in close contact. Other changes include using disposable gowns and towels, removing magazines and refreshments and declining services if anyone is displaying signs of illness. Before clients arrive at the salon, they are asked certain screening questions to determine if they are well enough to attend their appointment.
I am also highly aware of all these extra disposable items I’m now using and trying to do my part for the environment by using biodegradable gloves and towels where possible.
I’ve adapted now to this “new normal” at work and feel the salon is a safe place to be.
Where would you like to see things this time next year?
I would like to see things back to being safe enough to work at normal capacity with clients. It would be nice not to worry about the threat of the virus in everyday life.
What do you hope to gain from your SisterHub network over the next 12 months?
To continue supporting each other and building the friendships we’ve found through this group of amazing entrepreneurial women, whether that be connecting through online meetings whilst we’re unable to meet in person, or through social media.
If you'd like to join SisterHub - click here
To learn more about the photographer of these amazing pictures - click here
Feel safe and secure in making your appointment with Leanne.