Portage nail salon faces far-reaching challenges
PORTAGE – For years, The Nails Owner Jennifer Nguyen provided manicures to some of her patrons on a strict two-week schedule.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, however, Nguyen regulars got used to more sporadic dates – or not at all – as the pandemic resulted in capacity restrictions and temporary closures. Michigan nail salons were mandated to close on March 17, 2020, to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and were allowed to reopen again on June 15. .
Besides clients’ reluctance to resume in-person business or a loss of disposable income, or both, the beauty industry has found itself among a unique sector of small businesses affected by the pandemic.
In the first five months of last year’s lockdown pandemic, the founder of the London-based nail polish retailer Nails.INC Told Harper’s Bazaar that the company’s online sales increased 200%; and US retail sales increased 125% from the previous year.
People have replaced salon appointments with do-it-yourself beauty regimes – a change small business owners like Nguyen are still feeling.
“They’re used to living their lives without getting their nails done,” said Nguyen, who hopes it’s a slow re-emergence of nail routines instead of a long-term trend. “Business is slowing down. Even though the vaccine is out, I think people are still getting used to having their nails done.
Nguyen started working for her cousin at Nails in 2007 and has owned the salon since 2012. The 1,000 square foot boutique inside Crossroads The Portage shopping center has been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions. The store is currently limited to around six customers at a time, up from around 20 customers at a time before the pandemic.
“There is a lot of extra cleaning that we have to do before each customer arrives, so it takes a bit longer,” Nguyen said. “What we have to do is very slow and we can’t have someone sit and wait.”
Before the pandemic, 90% of Le Nails customers were walk-in, which is much more difficult to manage within tight capacity limits. The opening hours of shopping malls have also been reduced from three hours to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Nguyen said.
Additional unemployment insurance benefits also made it difficult to keep Le Nails staff, said Nguyen, who had 10 employees before the pandemic, but now has three and works overtime with her husband to stay afloat. .
“My husband and I have to be there six or seven days a week,” Nguyen said. “We have to be the workers and the managers, but we want to work there to pay our rent and our utilities. If I hire a manager or another worker to come, I won’t earn anything. “
Additionally, the costs of supplies such as personal protective equipment, rubbing alcohol and acetone needed to operate Le Nails have skyrocketed during the pandemic, Nguyen said. She also buys more tools and supplies than before when she could disinfect and reuse some of them.
“It’s terrible, but it’s happening everywhere,” Nguyen said. “I understand that is what it is, everyone has to limit their capacity.”
The challenges don’t end there. Nguyen was able to access federal funds to help small businesses, but she couldn’t have done so without the help of lawyer Crystal Bui, who is also the president of the nonprofit. Awareness of the Asian community. Nguyen speaks English as a second language – an additional barrier to funding COVID-19 aid for minority-owned businesses – and has reached out to Bui for help.
The New York Nail Salon Workers Association, part of the Workers United union, conducted a survey of more than 1,000 members which found that more than 81% felt excluded from government assistance during the pandemic, according to a report in MIT Technology Review.
Meanwhile, foot traffic in shopping malls has decreased, and Nguyen’s family is pushing her to look at other places. But she has been building her business in the current location for so long that it would be difficult to walk away, she said.
“The trade you do inside a mall is not the same as it was 10 years ago,” Nguyen said. “Because I’ve been here for about 15 years, I know a lot of clients. They are like my friends and family, my shop is like my kid, so I will try to hang on and hope we can keep going until business is more normal.