There is absolutely no doubt about it – the world is passing through a most challenging time with many people, businesses, and brands already having to adapt to a changed daily life and what is now a 'new normal'.
Ramani Fernando, the owner of Sri Lanka's biggest hair salon chain and a multi-award-winning hairdresser, knows only too well the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Sri Lanka and the hairdressing industry in general, from manufacturers, sales teams and distributors to individual hairdressers and their clients. Here, she gives her slant on the lock-down and her efforts to return life to 'business as usual' and talks openly about her outlook on hair, beauty, and fashion.
While haircuts, styling, colour changes, and other beauty services such as manicures and waxing aren’t the most pressing of all needs during a serious public health crisis, and some may see visiting a hair or beauty salon as frivolous and indulgent, maintaining personal care and appearances can, in fact, provide a positive outlet for a troubled community.
We live and work in a world where people judge your value in seconds or less. As I’ve always said, people strive to look attractive and maintain their appearance because when we look good, we feel good. Grooming is necessary to feel the best about yourself. A new haircut or a new hairstyle and you will be surprised to see how much a fabulous makeover can actually change how you feel. And that reflects on your attitude.
Every industry has been impacted by coronavirus shutdowns, but for hairdressers and other hands-on beauty service providers, it’s been devastating. As a salon owner, there's a lot of responsibility because you want to keep your staff and ensure that we could come out of this and be able to get back to a state of normalcy. Although there was a lot of pressure on me, I tried my best to stay positive.
After many meetings and discussions with the health ministry along with my peers in the industry here in Sri Lanka, we came around to the decision to reopen with limited essential services, provided that we adhered to protocols and regulations put in place in order to ensure the safety of our clients and employees.
Each country has to treat the question of opening up their economies differently, depending on their individual ground situations in respect of the Coronavirus. However, considering the massive damage lockdowns bring about in any economy, governments will be keen to open up certain sectors of their economies as soon as it is feasible and safe.
As for the Hair and Beauty Industry in Sri Lanka, representatives of the industry met with the Health Ministry professionals and high-ups and, after very meaningful discussions, agreed that the hair and beauty sector could open up initially, in a restricted way, following the guidelines of the authorities and expanding their services cautiously. Some allowance is given for services such as cutting hair, where social distancing cannot be strictly implemented.
Innovation in the hair and beauty industry is always taking place, and this has accelerated during the lockdowns. While most of these innovations would normally be forgotten with time, if industry professionals get interested in and work on an idea, it may catch on and prove to be worthwhile. Of course, with social media very strong on ‘do it yourself’ beauty tutorials, one cannot rule out some ideas being put to use regularly at home.
As I mentioned in my previous answer, after having implemented the rules and regulations laid out by the Health Ministry, we decided to provide the following services:
As for health and safety changes in the workplace, a client protocol has been posted on our social media platforms and at all our salon entrances which state all the precautions a client has to take before visiting the salon.
On arrival the client will be sanitised and has to have their temperature checked before entering the salon. Clients are accepted on an appointment basis only, and are only admitted once the stylist has sanitised his/her work station and is ready for the client.
The Coronavirus has put us all on the back foot and our focus now is to bring our businesses to a degree of normalcy. Having our salons opened is only the first step, and implementing the guidelines strictly is the most important challenge, so that all clients will feel absolutely safe and confident about visiting salons in the usual manner.
The future is still unknown and our thoughts are only of the present and trying to save jobs. We however are very positive that we will learn our lessons and come out of this a much better society. We are all in this together.
Ramani Fernando - 2 Minutes of Idle Chat
Ramani Fernando, thank you and stay safe.