Renovators trade shears for tools at Signature Style

Courtney Blankenship

After weeks of quarantining, social distancing, and business shutdowns, hair salons have been given the green light to open their doors on Monday, May 18, while adhering to new health protocols in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Christina Howell, owner of Signature Style hair salon in Pratt, said the salon has been fortunate to receive support during this time of crisis and took the opportunity of being closed to renovate the salon.

“The big reason I chose to renovate was so that my employees still could work and receive a paycheck since we couldn’t work behind the chair,” Howell said.

Renovations at the salon included repainting cabinets and redoing the walls, floors, and ceiling to make the most of the time being closed.

“We used all local for our renovations to support our community as much as possible through this,” Howell said.

Purchases for the renovations were made at Market 54, K&G Crafts, Home Lumber, Skaggs Ace Hardware, Memories, Thimesch Electric, and Pyle’s Custom Homes.

Since hair stylists are not able to adhere to social distancing due to the nature of their work, Howell said there are a variety of safety precautions that have been implemented to create a safe environment for both customers and employees.

“We are not allowed to double-book anymore, so that takes down the amount of people we can see each week---especially for like myself and another stylist---that’s our normal,” Howell said. “We double-book all day long, and so, that takes away 50 percent of our capacity right there, and we can only do appointments-only, so, no walk-ins.”

As a further precaution, high-risk guests are being invited to come to the salon from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m.

“The stylists and the guests have to wear masks the entire time, so there will be no lip waxes, no beard trims, no facials, no makeup during this time,” Howell said. “And personally, at our salon, we are implementing some protective shields as well because my stations are not six feet apart.”

Any service that involves taking masks off will not be allowed at this time.

If the protective shields were not there, Howell said she would need to stagger schedules even more, therefore, reducing the salon’s capacity greater than 50 percent. The shields are temporary and made out of plexiglass, so once social distancing is not as big of an issue in the future, the shields can be removed.

Even as hair salons have been given the chance to reopen, Howell said it is still scary to be a business owner at the moment---Especially if someone were to test positive for COVID-19 after being in the salon, which would result in employees needing to quarantine and the closure of the salon again.

Having now finished the renovation process, Howell said employees have been cleaning tools and resetting stations so that the salon is safe and fully ready to open on May 18.

“Our doors will remain locked during business hours. As soon as we’re done disinfecting our stations from the last guest, we will text our next guest that we are ready for them to come in and then also ask if they have a mask or if we need to provide one---then they’ll come in,” Howell said. “We’ll do the service, then re-disinfect. So, there are a lot of delays that are going to happen, like services are just going to take longer because of all the disinfecting that’s going to have to happen between services.”

Both disposable masks and cloth masks will be available for purchase with the disposables being sold for $1 and cloth masks for $6. If the COVID-19 situation continues and the demand for masks increases, however, it is possible the price could rise.

“We’ve actually made them ourselves,” Howell said. “We’ve used extra large hair ties that you would use as a ponytail, and those are the elastics on each side.”

Guests are encouraged to bring their own masks or to buy them at the salon, but masks need to be around the ears--not tied around the head--due to the nature of the provided services. The cloth masks sold at the salon are made by salon employees and are washed and placed into ziplock bags prior to sale.

“If they don’t have one [a mask], it’s going to be a very nominal fee. It’s like what it costs us,” Howell said. “I’m not here to make a profit on the safety of my guests and our team.”

In the last week, the Signature Style team has joined several webinars with the Moroccanoil company and with the Professional Beauty Association.

“Professional Beauty Association has set the standard across the nation, actually, for what salons are supposed to be doing during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Howell said. “And that is what the state of Kansas has forwarded to us as guidelines.”

The Moroccanoil company has been providing discounts to help salons start back up and even held a ten-hour Zoom call, during which they gave away thousands of dollars worth of products to certain salons in the loyalty program, including Signature Style.

“We received a $400 stylist kit, however, we decided to donate it back to another salon within our MoroccanOil loyalty family who has not had the opportunity to open since we [in Kansas] are one of the first states to open,” Howell said.

Although it will be about a 50 percent decrease in revenue due to not being able to double-book appointments and having to suspend services like makeup and waxing, Howell said she believes the salon will be alright.

Customers continued to support the salon by purchasing products and gift certificates to use for future appointments, which helped to generate some revenue despite the shutdown.

“They have helped keep us alive as well, and I appreciate that,” Howell said.

Those who want to schedule appointments at Signature Style can call the salon or send a message on any social media platform. Howell said she plans for the salon to open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

“It has been nine weeks, come Monday when we open our doors, and we are ecstatic to see everyone,” Howell said. “It is going to be very emotional for us, I have a feeling, and for our guests.”