Hair, in the time of Corona.
We didn’t have a cure for Corona. But it sure had a cure for us.
It’s like we were all swimming nicely in warm waters… when suddenly the tide went out, and all of humanity’s stark realities were there on display for most anyone to see. Startling.
Hair; We like it more than we knew
I probably didn’t think much about hair before Corona. My Dad and Grandfather passed a full head on to me, though Vitalis is no longer on the grooming essentials list. On a regular basis- monthly I’d say- most of us had some version of this routine (for men- women please add steps as you see fit). Call ahead to salon (or spa, or barber, whichever), to see how busy they are. Maybe book a time if it’s a weekend, or play weekday roulette if you’re lucky enough to have free time. Get near the salon and find parking. Pay. Get to the salon and check in. Take a seat and kill some time watching a Yankee game or EPL Soccer. (This is considered by some the “salon experience”, which is a well deserved retreat from our pressing worlds). Hop up for a cut that usually lasts 20 minutes, depending. The stylists have great social skills, and can chat up a client about anything from European soccer to steak dinners. That’s worth no small part of the value delivered. Hot towel, brush the stray hair, whisk off the cape, and you’re up to the till to settle up, usually in cash (which half the time requires a trip to the ATM). Tip and a smile, back to the car and you’re over.
Done right, with the right stylist, this is a really enjoyable bit of time. But it’s quite a bit of yours or my time, when you think of it. Like 90 minutes, give or take, depending on your location. Actually, kind of painful.
However, humans are very attached to our hair, and hair (usually) has to be tended and so we repeat this insane process for years, not knowing any alternative. But hair has a deeper meaning for many of us. In the Insta world we live in, grooming is elevated to a level not seen since perhaps the court of the Sun King – Louis XIV – no I was not there. How we look at the office (remember those), at business lunches and social dinners (another remnant of our pasts), and on Facebook, Insta, and related social media where most of the shots are of a face or above the waist (in my world at least). Being groomed has a deep connection to how we feel, like making your bed in the morning. It’s something you can control, more or less, and it can make you feel ready for the day – or the evening. When a famous 90 year old billionaire makes reference to his unkempt hair in the broadcast of his Uber-famous annual meeting, you know he speaks for many of us when he says “sorry for the way I look, I haven’t had a haircut for seven weeks and I wear a variety of tracksuits in my new home/office”.
The Scissors, in search of a new model
When Corona hit, salons were closed effective March 15 for a period of… no one really knows. And so Corona is predicted to kill a third of the salons in the area who may have been teetering anyways. And those that will and can re-open will face Corona restrictions and guidelines, from (sometimes) legitimate concerns for the well being of our neighbors and townspeople… In Connecticut, it looks like reopenings may be in June. In some states earlier, many later. Salons estimate that they will have about half capacity (due to distancing) at a time when demand is higher – and hair is longer- than ever. And many salons did not get PPP on account of having mostly independent contractors working for them. Safety procedures – masks, gloves, cleaning cutting tools, restrictions on hair dryers- will alter both the effectiveness and the experience for everyone. And the prices- will they go up because of demand? Or go down because 36 million people are out of work since the last time a stylist was in a salon.
It’s a hairy mess.
So how does a stylist make a living when the salons they called home-base is suddenly closed. Or, the salon is open except for the fact that every other chair is removed, and waiting lines are verboten. Appointments are made by phone call, and stretch 2 months out? Who is overseeing the kids for distance learning? And how much (something is deserved) is split with the house for rent on high street, insurance, and marketing. By the way, for anyone who had clients over say, 60 years old, they are less likely to go out in this. How is a stylist, the backbone of the whole salon business, expected to put food on the table?
I stumbled upon an Answer; Shortcut
I never thought of hitching a ride with an unknown driver to get around in any major city… until Uber. I never thought- much- about letting a flat on a business trip or vaca – until AirBnB. I never thought about turning every favorite restaurant into take out – until GrubHub or Seamless. And I never imagined one kitchen could cook multiple menus, optimized for delivery, in a cheap(er) location than Main Street- until Cloud Kitchens. And now, the way people have begun to think about haircuts may be changing. You don’t have to leave work (wherever that is), get transportation or parking, wait again, only to get a cut from someone you may not know, and pay well for the privilege.
Shortcut is an on demand app that matches clean, professional stylists with client for cuts in-home, in office, even in-hospital lobby. They have literally saved countless stylists who were losing their livelihoods, by providing the demand for their services that no salon can muster right now, or for a long time. You can download the Shortcut app now, and get a safe, stylish cut in your home. Or, if you’re a stylist looking for more work, download the Shortcut app now, and get busy again.