The peak season for this industry has gone in vain as Pohela Boishakh has come and gone, Eid-ul-Fitr is almost here and Eid al-Adha is on its way, but without any celebrations due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis
Monalisa Chiran, a beauty salon employee, has not attended to a single client since the end of March. Yet, she has stayed in Dhaka till early May with hopes that the situation will improve and she can start working again.
As time passes, her waiting is prolonged. And after the prolonged waiting, she gets to know that the salon where she worked for the last fourteen years has announced to close down.
Without any plans for the future, Monalisa headed back home to Mymensingh. Now, she is waiting for the pandemic to end.
"I need to go back to Dhaka and start looking for a new job. I can't just sit back here and do nothing. I need to pay my landlord, my daughter's school fee, other loans and bills," a frustrated Monalisa said.
Like Monalisa, the whole beauty salon industry is in frustration. The peak season for this industry has gone in vain as Pohela Boishakh has come and gone, Eid-ul-Fitr is almost here and Eid al-Adha is on its way, but without any celebrations due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
Many beauty salons also had to cancel or reschedule summer wedding makeover appointments. However, their sufferings cannot be measured by the cancelling and rescheduling of the appointments.
Navin Ahmed, the owner of GALA Makeover Studio & Salon, said, "We've incurred financial loss of millions. My products are more expensive in comparison and expiring without being used. Few products are awaiting shipment but uncertainty looms."
Nonetheless, salons like The Powder Room have started providing services amid this pandemic and a few promising salons are planning to reopen after Eid due to requests from the clients. Reopening the salons now will be more like starting from scratch.
"Going to salons and taking beauty treatment might not sound safe given the situation, but it is a part of self-care. Beauty therapies actually take care of our body and mind and can only be arranged with the help of specialists. Thus, reopening salons is essential," said Farhana Kabir, executive manager at ATN & RK Software Ltd.
In order to ensure utmost safety against the deadly virus, renowned beauty salons are introducing hi-tech equipment such as infrared thermometers, disinfecting tunnels, alongside employing maximum hygiene protection and protocols, for both the clients and staff.
Services provided by these salons require intimate physical contact. As a result, few of the services will be omitted in order to practice social distancing. None of the salon owners are willing to put their staffs' lives in danger, informed Navin.
After beauty salons reopen, only a number of client's will be given appointments every day to ensure social distancing protocols are being maintained.
However, minimising the number of clients each day will not be financially profitable. "It is about sustaining in the market and bringing a change in the staffs' behaviour," Navin remarked.
Both the salon staff and clients need to understand and accept the fact that coronavirus is not going anywhere any time soon. Donning gloves, masks and personal protection equipment is mandatory for every employee in order to avoid health risks while running the business.
Experts have expressed concerns over maintaining the hygiene of makeup tools by cleaning them with a disinfectant containing alcohol. Vested quarters have become more conscious about this fact as few tools will also be heated right after being disinfected.
The local salons are following up with the hygiene regulations of salons from other countries that have already reopened. Salon owners are also focusing on training their staff properly for the current situation and avoid any untoward occurrences. Keeping in mind the economic condition of the clients, the salons have designed new pricing and discount strategy that keeps in check a client's wallet post-pandemic.
As clients are considering beauty needs as an essential, beauty salon owners are also encouraged to get back in business. Although the hygiene measures and strategies undertaken will help many beauty salons restart, the same cannot be said for smaller beauty salons of different neighbourhoods. Opening up businesses amid the current crisis is going to be costly and neighbourhood salons are not willing to invest.
Anika Bushra Rupa, proprietor of Ador beauty salon in Arambagh, said, "I cannot think of something bigger when I could barely clear my employees' salaries till March. Moreover, the clients here are not very eager. Therefore, I will reopen my parlour only when things get back to normal."
Navin has decided to deal with the situation positively and advised others to do so as well. "Until we start again, we will never know what is waiting for us. Many people are engaged in this industry and we cannot just let it down without giving it a fight," she said hopefully.