While there were 10 weeks off work for hair stylists and barbers, tresses did not stop growing.
Last week, Walla Walla County moved to Phase 2 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan reopening the economy following COVID-19-related shut downs. Arguably one of the most anticipated comebacks was for professionals in the hair business.
Barbers, hair stylists and other personal service providers across the county were in sheer delight as they picked up their shears again.
Josue Salazar, owner of House of Dapper at 420 W. Main St., said his first couple weeks were booked out immediately.
“It’s definitely been pretty busy,” Salazar said.
House of Dapper opened June 1 as many shops in the Valley opted to do.
Marcelle Baumann, owner of Halo Hair Studio at 1520 E. Isaacs Ave., said the time off was hard.
“It totally kicked our butts,” she said.
For some, the shutdown was not just a time without work, but a time without pay, too.
Samuel Martinez, at House of Dapper, said he was not able to get unemployment after repeated attempts until this past weekend — just a few days before starting work again.
“Ten weeks of nothing and not being able to work,” Martinez said. “It was hard.”
And what about that hair? Countless memes and jokes have been seen online of people doing their own does.
Now, people don’t have to cut corners anymore.
“Some guys are coming literally with three months of hair growth,” said K.C. Pratt, owner of Capital Barber Shop at 47 S. Spokane St. “There were a lot of home hair cuts, a lot of people waited though to see how long they could go.”
Salazar said a lot of his clients were able to get past the “awkward stage” of growing their hair out and begin experimenting, which has been fun.
“They were almost forced to let it grow and get it past that awkward stage and now they’re rocking it,” Salazar said.
Baumann also said her clients were finding things out about themselves in the process.
“My clients have realized through quarantine … what they can do,” Baumann said. “They’re like, ‘I didn’t think I could style my own hair.’ … It’s been really empowering to my clients.”
Of course, there are still some hairy situations.
“Almost everybody comes in looking like they have bushy hair,” Baumann said with a laugh.
The bookings have piled up for the shops, including a number of people coming from Tri-Cities, Martinez mentioned.
This first week of being reopen has been a blur for the shops, especially considering the rules and regulations they’re trying to follow.
“It was kind of daunting, the prospect of all of our new guidelines,” Baumman said. “But I was pleasantly surprised how manageable the rules were.”
Salazar said most of the requirements, such as sanitizing and cleaning thoroughly between clients, are things that shops should be doing anyway, although there’s the added wrinkle of social distancing and hand sanitizing for clients.
Pratt also said his shop was extra prepared because he started ordering extra sanitary supplies a few weeks before Phase 2 started.
But all agreed that there’s one thing that’s been the most cumbersome — masks.
“The most difficult thing is just wearing the mask,” Pratt said.
“Wearing the masks, definitely,” Baumann said. “That’s the most difficult one to adhere to.”
The stylists said the masks make your face hot and stuffy, and it can rub your nose or ears raw, depending on the style.
Not to mention, clients come in with masks, too. Salazar said his crew has opted not to trim beards for the time being.
Baumann said all of her clients have opted to come in wearing masks so far, but if they didn’t, she would have to place a towel on their faces while washing their hair to prevent water from the sink from splashing on them.
With all of the new practices, the owners all agreed that their people have been a cut above.
“It was a group effort by our team,” Baumann said. “We rocked it — it was a great week.”
Salazar said it’s taken everyone, including the clients, not trying to go against the grain.
“It’s been interesting but everybody’s been so cooperative,” Salazar said. “That’s the thing — we’re all on the same page and they’re not complaining.”
All voiced that they hope Phase 3 can come soon, but for the time being, at least mangy manes will get a chance to be tamed.