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Monday, April 22, 2024
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Scissors at the ready

Pierce Boyle, owner of Le Coiffeur in Martinborough, simulates hairdressing at Level 2. PHOTO/ARTHUR HAWKES

ARTHUR HAWKES
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As Wairarapa went under lockdown at the end of March, the last thing on anyone’s mind was their hair do.

But six weeks on, while we’ve become accustomed to the life adjustments that initially felt so alien, we can’t say the same about our hair.

For those who haven’t entrusted their significant other with the scissors, or opted for the boot camp crew cut, it’s been something of a growing concern since hairdressers first closed their doors.

In the past few days, salons have received scores of booking requests as the region approaches Level 2, but hairdressers like Michelle Pike, owner of Michelle’s Hair Salon in Masterton, have had to
remain cautious.

“Lots of people have been ringing and messaging me asking to be booked in on May 12,” Pike said.

“Hopefully we’ll be open, but unfortunately I’ve had to say we’re unsure when we can be.

“As soon as we know then we’ll ring all our clients.”

Pierce Boyle, owner of Le Coiffeur in Martinborough, said he had observed the same trend.

“When the government said we were going down to Level 3, with [the possibility of] Level 2 two weeks later, we received a huge amount of emails to book,” Boyle said.

“Everybody thought from May 12 that the salon would be able to reopen.

“But now there are so many breaches around the country, and we keep hearing the news that they might change the day of Level 2, so we might have to rebook them all again.”

Keryn Evans, owner of Shine Hairstylists in Greytown said the last six weeks had been “frustrating”.

“We’re frustrated that we can’t be working,” Evans said. “When you’re a hairdresser, you really love that interaction with people and we really miss that when we can’t do it.

“The problem is that your bills are coming in but you can’t work, so you can’t bring any income in.

“That’s been the hardest part: having your hands tied and not being able to work.”

Boyle also said that he’d found the lack of cash flow highly problematic.

“It’s definitely been a very hard time for us, since we started the lockdown,” Boyle said. “In April there has been a complete loss of income, zero revenue on the business.

“The community has been great though, everybody has been very helpful – but it’s been pretty hard on us overall.”

The wage subsidy policy has been received very positively among the region’s hairdressers and has meant staff could be kept on despite the drastic cut to revenue.

Evans said she found the application process “very easy and very quick”.

“I was mindful to apply as soon as I could, so I received it pretty early on in those first four weeks of lockdown,” Evans said.

“So that took a heck of a lot of pressure off me, knowing that I could look after my staff and pay them when everything else was so uncertain.”

Boyle also noted that the wage subsidy helped keep staff on the roster, but thought more needed to be done.

“The wage subsidy definitely helped, especially for our employees,” Boyle said. “It helped us to live on a day-to-day basis, but it won’t be enough.

“Once the subsidies stop, it will be a big hit on the business.

“For April we had no income at all, so we will have to rebuild that cash flow.

“We still have tax, GST, and other fixed costs to be paid.”

While all of the region’s salons have had a rough few weeks, everyone we spoke to mentioned that the warm community spirit had kept them buoyant.

“Because I’ve had more time at home, I’ve been able work a lot more on our social media and people have been leaving really supportive comments on our posts,” Evans said.

“People have phoned up or messaged and offered to ‘pay it forward’, and put x amount of dollars into the salon bank account, to prepay for when they can come in.”

Pike also noted that the community spirit had been a big boost at a turbulent time.

“It’s had its moments, its ups and downs,” Pike said. “But I’ve had a lot of support from our clients, which has been really fantastic – to know that they’re thinking about us.

“We’re really just looking forward to it all being over, and doing clients in here, and having our community looking good – and feeling good.”

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