There is an air of expectancy in the industry.
We have a provisional start date! We’ve been included in a ‘stage 2’ criteria, which hopefully means someone somewhere acknowledges that the beauty industry works in clean environments and that we also adhere to a certain standard of hygiene. After all, don’t we always wipe down between clients, use clean towels, use disposable tools if we don’t own a magical autoclave? We were doing this shit as standard long before Covid-19 reared its ugly head.
Well, most of us were.
In the past 12 months, the beauty industry has been shut for over 8 months… and counting. We stopped. We started, stopped… Opened, closed… You get the idea.
This lockdown has been a long one, though not as long as the first, it’s certainly been a different animal. I’m not here to debate whether it was needed, the financial impact of it all, the long-term effects on this little island.
I am in lots of groups on social media. I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by lots of business owners from a myriad of backgrounds – not just the beauty/hair/PMU world. I take my cues from others. But, in our industry, there seems to be an air of… hesitancy. Fear. A dubiousness if you will.
Is it because it’s been three months since I picked up a set of tweezers? Is it because I know that I’m going to have to go through my products that have been sat idle, wasting, degrading? Is it because I know that I’m going to have to order more products with money I don’t have, just to be able to start again? Is it because I know it’s going to take DAYS to get through the wait list of names? Is it because I don’t know if I’m going to be closed down again? Is it because I’m worried if my clients will return – will they want to? There are so many unknown variables. But isn’t that a fact of life?
There are some of us out there who are keen to return to work. We can’t wait to open our doors once more. We want to hear the stories our darling clients regale us with. We want to work on your faces, bodies, hands, feet! We cannot wait to hear the cha-ching of card payments being made and feel the cash in our hands at the end of a working day. There are those of us who are bored. Bored of TV, bored of scrolling through the book of Faces mindlessly, bored of seeking out online courses to fill our time.
There are some of us who have started up new businesses, out of necessity, to survive, or because, actually, we were wanting a way out of the industry in the first place. We were sick of competing with people who so badly undercharged for the services that we trained for that they were strangling the industry. We were so fed up with putting in long hours when the job we once loved no longer fulfilled us. There are some of us who welcomed a lockdown as it gave us a break. There are some of us who have had to take on employed roles. There are some of us who won’t be returning to the industry. At all. Adios.
And there are the ones who are dreading the re-opening. We are overwhelmed at the very thought of opening the diary, of filling it with clients. Anxious at the thought of facing clients again, having to work in PPE. Bothered at the very idea of KNOWING that those first few weeks are going to be utterly, utterly mental as our beautiful clients, who have waited patiently and loyally for us to reopen our doors, flood in. How will we cope? Will we be good enough? Will people come back? There are some of us who, due the space and distance afforded to us via a lockdown, realise that whilst building up our little empire, we have become lost in the noise of it.
We have forgotten the importance of standing still, of breathing, of putting our needs before the needs of our clients. We realise that we have missed out on time with our kids for the sake of squeezing a few more quid out of the working day, and forgoing making tea for the family. Or sitting with a glass of a tasty beverage and enjoying a movie, chilling to music. Of just being.
We have forgotten the reasons why we are self-employed in the first place.
No matter the camp you fall into, you need to remember one thing:
Life is not a dress rehearsal – this is it. This is the real thing.
We get one pass.
Honestly? I’m a mixture of the three camps (there are bound to be other camps, of course!). I’m excited to return, to see my clients. I cannot wait to get some money in my bank – my credit cards are hiding in the corner of my purse, begging for mercy. I love what I do. I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the thousands of businesswomen around the UK. You are all killing it. But, I’ve had to take a paid job to survive in the past year. That made me appreciate my career in the beauty industry all the more. I’ve started a new business – out of necessity as well as desire.
I’m also wanting to preserve certain freedoms that I’ve now come to enjoy – time with the kids, time with my husband, time to walk.
Putting my health first. Prioritising me. There is no shame in that – even though as women, mothers, partners, wives, homemakers, teachers (for those of us who had to home-school – I toast you all immensely!), our needs are often at the bottom of that pile.
Whatever your camp, know that you are not alone. There is another woman out there, feeling just as overwhelmed, just as excited, just as ready, just as anxious as you.
Whatever your camp… You got this. You can do this. Good luck to all fellow women out there. You are definitely not alone.