I think we can all agree that 2020 didn’t really go to plan, did it? Hands up if you spent January excitedly telling your friends that 2020 was going to be the “best year ever”? Me. I did!

Why 2020 hasn’t been all bad for the salon industry

Well, we were somewhat sideswiped by this whole pandemic craziness. The thing is though, I actually think, in many ways, this year has been as positive for the salon industry as it has been negative. I know, I know. An outlandish statement! But, every cloud has a silver lining – and believe me, there are plenty from this year.

Spotlight on our contribution

As our beloved doors were shut and remained closed whilst others opened, campaigns sprung up all over the world to highlight the huge impact our industry has on the economy. Forbes estimates the industry is globally worth $532 billion; with huge numbers like these, we need to be heard and respected for our valuable contributions to the world economy.

We learned to step back

99% of salon owners suffer with ‘icandoitmyselfitis’. It’s a common complaint that we become the therapist or stylist, as well as cleaner, marketer, accountant, receptionist, HR department and toilet roll replacer; because we think we can do it better than anyone else. It’s almost like we suffer an industry wide allergic reaction to delegation! This time has given us a chance to re-assess how we run things and how we choose to move forward.

In my communities, I’ve seen a huge shift in mindset in our industry – with many salon owners choosing to move forward in a manner that gives them more freedom, time with family, and time to focus on the things that are important to them.

A chance to learn

As we found ourselves in the unusual surroundings of our homes with seemingly nowhere to go and just a Netflix account for entertainment, our naturally curious minds started to entertain the idea of developing our skills. Training schools took the initiative of taking their courses digital; allowing us to stream education straight into our homes.

Refresher courses and new skills were developed. We learned new business ideas. We had time to understand our marketing better, and we emerged more educated, skilled and prepared.

We found new ways to do things

As an industry, we’re massively fuelled by passion for delivering our expertise to those who need it, so Covid had little chance of stopping us doing what we truly love! We stepped up to the mark globally, changing how we helped our clients in new and exciting ways. Online tutorials, Zoom consultations, customised hair and skin plans, home facial kits, and virtual parties all featured on our daily schedules.

We got comfortable being on camera, we learned how to communicate in new ways, we stepped up in sharing our knowledge, and we did it in style. We proved that we are smart, strong and resilient.

Our voice has got louder

Open. Close. Open. Close. Frustration bubbled inside us as new restrictions were announced. Having to close the doors to our passion cut many people deeply. But from this uncertainty emerged a new agenda from us as an industry. We found a new, louder voice! 

All over the world, salons and brands joined hands to share our contributions and our level of professionalism. Petitions were signed and regulatory bodies united to find a way to help us safely move forward in business.

We’ve identified what’s missing

In such a hands-on industry, it’s often hard to understand the sheer importance of what goes on behind the scenes to build a strong business, and it’s so much more than just delivering a good experience to clients when they visit. As we physically found ourselves removed from our place of work, we realised how much of our business can be progressed using the technology available to us.

Online booking software surged in popularity as we realised that we had to update the way we communicated with our clients. Email marketing and a solid, consistent social media presence gave us an opportunity to connect with our clients in a stronger way, and we learned how to make our business work in a more streamlined, digital manner. 

A chance to pause

When I asked people in our community what they were grateful for in lockdown, one answer sat head and shoulders above the others. Time! Time with family. Time with children. Time to learn. Time to rest. Time to cook. Time to discover. Time to change. Time to get to know ourselves again. I’ve seen a wave of salon owners emerge stronger, fitter, happier and healthier, simply because we had a moment to pause and take a breath.

We rediscovered our passion

For many of us, salon life can be all consuming. Whether we’re on the floor or behind the scenes, all the moving parts that must work together to create the businesses we have, means our roles can be chaotic. And for some, our ‘why’ gets pushed aside.

Most people don’t open a salon to be crazy busy 80 hours a week. We open salons because we are passionate about what we do, and why we do it. This moment gave us a chance to pause, reflect and rediscover the fire and passion we had for our businesses. 

Clean, clean with top hygiene

Crazily, when the world was going mad over additional hygiene, cleaning equipment and sanitisers, we calmly re-opened our doors with little PPE fanfare. Our industry was already pretty much Covid compliant and our systems were already in motion to create hygienic environments each and every time a guest walked through the door. In a time when safety was key, we shone brightly – and we’ll continue to, beyond the pandemic. 

We know our role in helping with mental health

As Covid hit, we initially rode it out, bravely embracing unpolished nails and greying roots. But then, it became apparent that many of our clients visited for so much more than a root touch up or a quick shoulder rub. For many people, a trip to the salon gave clients some time out, a chance to reconnect, a moment to take a breath, and a chance to practise self-care.

It gave our treasured guests time to talk, to step away from ‘life’, and to focus on themselves.

As we continue to shake off the outdated reputation that salons are just about painting nails and gossiping, we can stand tall and show that we, as an industry, make a valuable contribution to the mental health and wellness of our communities 

We know the brands we want to work with now

As we temporarily stopped our trade, we looked to the brands we’ve worked with and invested in for years, for guidance. With little to no money coming in, and uncertainty around grants and allowances, we expected support from the businesses we’ve remained loyal to.

Product suppliers, software providers, banks, landlords – we needed a helping hand from those we have put our trust in, and there has been a clear divide on which brands valued their clients.

Huge, international brand suppliers closed their doors and shut their phone lines. They demanded higher monthly minimum orders, and sold retail direct to our clients – undercutting salons and leaving us out of the clients’ journey.  

And then, there were the others. The businesses that stood up for us, supported us, and allowed us to take a pause. Suppliers that worked hard to bring us value, ideas, inspiration, and positive content, without expectations.

I’m proud to be one of those businesses, and I’m proud to write for Timely, who went the extra mile for the industry throughout Covid. A brand that created so much value to those who were clients; but also those who weren’t.

Final reflection

For me, 2020 has been a time to shift and refocus. To redesign our businesses. To reselect those we wish to be in closer alignment with. We’ve emerged stronger, fitter and more resilient. We’ve learned technology, systems and social media platforms. We’ve overcome fears and worries. We’ve found new ways to do the things we love.

As we head into a new year, we can do so holding our heads high as an industry. An industry that survived what many didn’t. And we, as an industry, should be proud.