‘We’re stuck’ say hairstylists frustrated over lack of information on reopening their businesses

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Sarah Ankerman of Ankerman Artistry in Temecula opened up her new salon on Valentine’s Day, only to close its doors a month later due to stay at home orders that began March 19.

As Gov. Gavin Newsom recently said, California may be headed for Phase 2 reopening sooner than residents think; however, it won’t include hair salons, which would not be able to reopen until Phase 3.

“I think a hair salon or a small salon or one-on-one is a lot safer than people going to Costco and being around multiple people and not having really any control over the sanitation,” Ankerman said. “There’s no way you can wipe down every single product that clients touch, especially in a place like Costco.”

Ankerman’s business is what helps her provide for her family, she said.

“I have a 4-year-old little girl at home, and so that’s been really hard.” Ankerman said.

As a hair stylist, she is trained in safety and sanitation practices by the state board.

“Our business is one of the most regulated when it comes to ensuring our clients safety,” she said.

Jeanette Barragan of Fallbrook owns Seven Studio, 1410 S. Mission Road, in Fallbrook. Some of her first concerns upon hearing that they would have to close was how her employees would be able to support themselves without work, alongside concerns regarding sanitation that were similar to Ankerman’s.

“We’ve always been up to code just like hospitals because we are required to take a state board license, and for that we have to go through all the rules and regulations for disinfectant, sterilization, everything has to be submerged and sterilized,” she said.

Barragan said that clients before the pandemic were pretty considerate with not coming in if they were sick.

“Now that this is all going on, I assume they’ll be a lot more cautious,” she said.

Thankfully for Barragan, the landlord has worked with her rent.

“She sent us an email saying that our rent for May and June would be half off both months, so that’s alleviating,” she said. “If this goes on for who knows how long, there may be an issue.”

Jessica Ortiz works at Wild Hair Salon, 1430 S Mission Road, in Fallbrook, whose doors have also been closed since March 19.

“If you get caught or fined it’s $1,000,” Ortiz said. “Plus, they’re threatening to take away your cosmetology license for two years or indefinitely if you get caught violating the governor’s orders.”

Ortiz knows of some people who are still operating behind closed doors.

“For me personally, I’m a single mom; this is my sole income for my kid,” Ortiz said. “I’m not willing to take the chance of getting that $1,000 fine and losing my license because then how would I take care of my kid?”

Ankerman said she is worried that when things do return to normal, the hair industry won’t be the same and it will look different, potentially affecting the customer’s experience.

“It’s been recommended that stylists wear gowns, facial shields, gloves,” Ankerman said. “Wearing gloves and cutting hair is very, very difficult because the rubber grabs the client’s hair especially when it’s wet.

“It’s also being recommended that while the client is at the shampoo bowl, we cover the clients face, nose and eyes on top of them wearing a mask,” Ankerman said.

She said that she’s worried that clients will feel uncomfortable with this procedure and ultimately not get their hair done to avoid the hassle, instead try doing it themselves at home.

For Ortiz, one of the frustrations surrounding all the planning is that there really is no definite answer yet.

“We’ve been out of work since March 19 with no income, and we can’t qualify for assistance,” Ortiz said. “They’ve basically said just shut your doors, and we don’t know what to tell you.”

Lexington Howe can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.