2020 has been a stressful time for most of our country’s small & medium sized businesses with a massive 85% of them closed to some degree throughout the initial COVID-19 restrictions and 34% shut completely during this time. The latter included businesses working within the Hair and Beauty Industry.
This industry is a sizeable one with 9,286 salons operating nationally, employing in the region of 26k and making a significant contribution €2,79bn to GDP. This is similar to the Irish Motor industry that contributed €1 billion from car sales to the Exchequer in the first half of 2019. Who would have thought?
Living and working with COVID – what does this mean for our hairdressers, barber shops, beauty salons and nail bars across the county?
On Monday 29th June, the industry re-opened and with that came a ‘new norm’. In preparation for re-opening our Government issued a ‘Return to Work Safely Protocol’ containing COVID-19 Specific National Protocol for Employers & Workers’. This wasn’t industry specific and so each industry was left to interpret and set their own guidelines for re-opening. HABIC Ireland (the Hair and Beauty Industry Federation of Ireland) worked closely with other industry bodies to establish a set of guidelines for both hairdressers and Barbers and a second set for beauticians. Following this, HABIC teamed up with Image Skillnet, providers of training and development programmes for the Hair and Beauty Industry, and a team of Environmental Health Professionals at Glantar to develop the ‘Hygiene Promise Salon Assurance Program’. This program was established to work with business owners as they re-aligned their way of doing business, managing their teams and servicing their clients along side COVID-19.
We caught up with Virginija, Owner of V-Styles at Be Unique Beauty Salon & Academy, Lower Main Street, Lucan Village who was one of the first salons in the country to receive the Hygiene Assurance Promise Award. Virginija, like so many business owners was propelled into a frenzy of safety protocols and a whole new way of doing business. Virginija realised that she needed all the help that she could get, and she applied for the fully funded ‘Hygiene Promise Assurance Award’.
Virginia explained, ‘’At our salon we have always taken pride in the safety of our clients and staff. This award has enabled us to reassure our clients, staff and visitors that we are maintaining our highest quality of hygiene standards, particularly in these uncertain times. The reassurance that is offers our clients is something that money just can’t buy.”
So what does the ‘Hygiene Promise Salon Assurance’ mean for the consumer?
At a glance, when a customer sees the Award displayed on the Salon window or framed on a wall indoors, they will feel safe and re-assured that the salon implements the necessary hygiene protocols to ensure their safety and comfort.
As we now live as a nation under Level 3 Restrictions and the constant threat of additional restrictions, it is all the more important that each and every one of us play our part to stay safe and keep each other safe. For now, we must all be patient, diligent and understanding of the immense pressure that COVID-19 is placing on small local businesses. Our advice – whether you are looking to get your nails done, or your roots – plan in advance, make repeat bookings as you go, observe all hygiene procedures in place, be patient with each other and continue to smile and chat – albeit from behind your masks.