coronavirus pandemic

Stylists Turn to Virtual Instruction While Salons Stay Closed

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Salons are in a tight spot. They’re watching some businesses reopen while they’re still stuck on the sidelines, waiting to be given the OK to open their doors.

Folks are getting anxious for their next snip, too. But are haircuts are really worth the risk?

A group of San Diego stylists is turning to an alternative to try and help their clients, but stay legal.

Salon Adair owner Chelsea Alva recalls the moment COVID-19 hit forced her business to close. She thought the down wouldn’t take long, but soon came to the realization she was in it for the long haul.

“it’s gonna be good, it's not going to take that long” she thought. “And every time the reporters get on TV and tell us what’s gonna happen next, it's like, oh Lord it might be longer.”

Alva was forced to shift her sights from her salon chair to teaching haircuts via virtual video.

“I went and bought jello cups and started weighing hair color,” she explained.

She showed how she's taught men to cut in increments by having them wear beanies while they cut.

“Everything below the ear, that's sticking out from the beanie is gonna be a number one,” she explained. ”And then we're going to go up a half inch and go to a one-and-a-half, and i'll stay on the video and face time you and make sure we don’t have a mistake here."

Alva said virtual cuts come at half the price but aren’t as lucrative as her salon cuts. She told us she was going to ride out the shutdown until clients started begging her for her to cut their hair. One of her clients even broke down into tears over what his new look was doing to his self-esteem.

“My hair is my identity, my hair -- I feel like a fool. I feel sloppy. I’m getting depressed,” he told Alva.

But while Alva misses her salon, she’s sure she’d rather instruct over video than risk someone's life.

“Clients are reaching out to me asking if we’ll do garage haircuts or backyard haircuts, but I feel like a salon would be a safer place to do this,” she said.

Color Collective Salon in North Park is also offering virtual cuts. They say they don't want this business model for the long term and are only doing it to help out their customers.

This week, the organization representing hairstylists and salon owners sued Governor Gavin Newsom and State Attorney General Xavier Becerra over state orders that leave their businesses closed. Right now, salons are included in Phase 3 of Newsom's reopening plan.

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