It is unquestionable the impact that the past 8 months has had on our industry; we are an entrepreneurial, creative industry which houses so much talent. In this series, we speak with a number of regional hairdressers about their love of the industry, the impact of COVID, and what #ChopTheVAT would do for them.
We spoke with Ro Hair owner Rosanne Abell, and Jessie Gattiker a stylist based at Ro Hair with a wealth of industry experience and knowledge. Ro Hair was awarded Number 1 Salon in Cornwall in 2018.
What are your favourite things about being in hair?
Rosanne: I am extremely interested in what our hair means to our identity, especially looking at the history of British fashion. it’s interesting the way our hair makes us feel about ourselves in terms of confidence or hiding behind it as a comfort blanket. It’s an honour to be the reason someone leaves the salon with a spring in their step compared to the way they felt when they arrived. Personally I am most interested in working with our own natural hair textures and it suiting to our lifestyles, low maintenance is key in Cornwall.
Jessie: For me, hairdressing is a lot of fun. I love the fact I have to think about geometry, chemistry, and creativity all whilst also chatting to my clients about whatever may be going on with them. It certainly keeps my brain busy! I’m such a sociable person so I absolutely love hearing people’s stories, from all out scandals, to what they might be having for dinner, none of it ever bores me, and the fact they leave feeling happy is the icing on the cake.
Who is your hair icon?
Jessie: Hmmmm this is a tricky one, and I think it probably changes all the time. Right now, it’s Florence Given, she’s an incredible woman with the most amazing 70’s shag mullet to match. But my all time number one has to be Jennifer Aniston. I stan healthy, glossy classic hair, she has never veered too far off course, because she know exactly what suits her skin tone, and face shape and it never gets boring for me.
How has lockdown impacted your business?
Rosanne: Closing for a third of the year with little notice is a huge impact for business, still having rent and bills to pay over 90% of weddings cancelled in 2020 which would usually be a 3rd of my profit all lost. it’s also been a stressful time having to rearrange appointments and weddings, admin time for myself has increased considerably. We have also seen an increase of cancelations due to ill health or child care.
Jessie: Lockdown has firstly been a huge loss of earnings, an admin nightmare and also has stopped me from doing the thing I love everyday. So I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t been pretty heart wrenching at times, however I’m so blessed to have a client base who are very understanding, patient and loyal. I’ve never spent so long out of work since starting at 14 , but knowing I’ll be busier than ever when we return to normal is very reassuring.
What do you miss most since not being able to work?
Rosanne: Not being in the salon has had a social and emotional effect on myself, staff and clients. Hairdressing is a real care of the community industry and is a social hub to many clients, you can’t help but worry about their personal lives, as well as your own friends and family. Also when you have worked hard for most of your life having this taken away from you is very hard to adapt, you can feel quite anxious and a huge sense of emptiness.
Jessie: I miss being able to put my creative energy into something, I’ve found myself drawing and cooking ALOT. I have been dreaming about sectioning and bleach and balayage for the last few weeks so I’m looking forward to starting again. It really is my happy place, and nothing beats it for me! I am so lucky that my passion is also my job, and even on the most stressful days I still am smiling at the end of it.
What changes have you put in place to adapt to working through COVID?
Rosanne: We follow all government guidelines and refreshed the salon with greater safe guards. Longer appointments, no magazines or refreshments etc. A detailed email of what to expect during your appointment was sent with every appointment confirmation email.
Jessie: We have , like every other salon in the country, had to change aspects of our work. We now wear masks/visors/gloves all day, every day. Our clients have been asked not to arrive early, or bring anybody with them to their appointment. We have been going through hand sanitiser and cleaning products like no tomorrow and washing all of our gowns and towels in between every client. It has definitely increased our work load, but we work in a small space so it’s not too tricky to keep it nice and clean.
How would a cut in VAT impact your business?
Rosanne: This would be an enormous help with making the business cheaper to run therefore having a better cash flow for more security and improving the runnings of a salon. It’s proven to be a great help in the hospitality industry so why isn’t the hair and beauty industry receiving the same support?
Jessie: A cut in VAT would be a welcome relief I imagine. After not being able to work for almost half the year, my financial situation is definitely not looking as healthy as usual. I still have bills to pay and rent etc, so it would definitely be something to smile about in these times when it feels like our industry is on its knees.
Find out more about Ro Hair here.
Follow the salon on Instagram here!