Salon owner Thomas Hills, like so many of you, found his wings well and truly clipped due to the Covid Pandemic. He had launched his salon TH1 Hair in 2004 in Surrey, and currently employs eight stylists on his team. Together they are regulars backstage at London Fashion Week while Thomas himself usually travels extensively as an educator for Revlon Professional, and is a commentator on trends and business advice. Lockdown lifted for salons in England in April 2021, and we invited Thomas to look inwards to his own salon world to share his views. We think you’ll find something resonates here for all of you. And this confirms again, it’s good to talk!
The big return
“Well, what a rollercoaster ride it’s been; I can’t say any of it has been easy, but we’re finally FINALLY back in the salon and boy does it feel good. It’s hard to look back on the last three Lockdowns and pinpoint just how you felt at exact moments: fear, anxiety, worry, lethargy – they’re all emotions every one of us will have felt at one point or another, in both a personal and professional sense, and while it’s reassuring we have all been in this together, it’s sometimes hard to achieve the clarity you once had, to feel the same as you once did.
“But we’re powering through none-the-less. It’s baby steps for us, and we started by taking on more of a team mentality. It’s not to say we weren’t one before, but now there is definitely more of an understanding that we are all in this together. It’s not so much this is my job and that is yours, but what we can do to get through this together, what we can do to achieve together and, for me, that is a huge positive to come out of all of this.
“I can’t say it’s been plain sailing though, far from it, we all believed the first Lockdown would be very temporary, which with hindsight was never going to happen. Maybe ignorance is bliss in some ways, but it has felt like a bad game of snakes and ladders at times – feeling we’re just getting out of the other side, before we go right back to the start again.
“I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about giving it all up at times. I’m not a defeatist, but it’s definitely made us all look at what we do and why we’re doing it. Everyone I know has re-evaluated their lives in one way or another. Luckily, after a lot of soul searching I know that at the core of everything is the fact that I love what I do, and that brighter days will return. I have always loved hairdressing and making people feel good and I love running a business that offers opportunities to others, too.
“Now we’ve had a month’s return back in the salon it feels like we have our heads above water again. Our clients are so happy to be back and we were thrilled to welcome them. Luckily for us, any new in-salon protocols along the way, although different, have never been too much of a struggle as, thanks to my OCD, our salon has always been renowned for being a clean, serene space and I have always been meticulous when it comes to ensuring that our sanitation protocols far exceed best practice. I’d go as far as to say it’s a standing joke with some clients, but it’s just in my DNA to be that way. This has definitely worked in our favour since re-opening and means we have been well-placed to respond to any of our clients anxieties, as some have definitely been more worried than others about returning to normal life.
The new normal
“But what is normal? For me and my team, and for all business owners out there, this is a new normal, that’s not very normal at all. Some of my team have struggled with mental health issues post lockdown and it’s been hugely important to me to reassure them that I’m there for them, and that we’re all in this together. Because at the end of the day we really are.
“I’ve also learnt that it’s not always what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. A great deal of my time has been spent planning for a very uncertain future, and redefining my business model to ensure it’s more financially robust. As a business we are slowly returning to our lighter, brighter pre-pandemic selves, however it has become clear that the customer has changed, and we need to change with them.
“And at the end of it all I still feel very fortunate to be part of an industry that’s resilient, creative and supportive. We’ve all had to step outside of our comfort zone for the greater good of our businesses and teams. We all owe a lot to our loyal clients and for them I’ll always be grateful.”
Thanks for your honesty and for sharing. We’re sure this experience it hits home for others, too. If you are struggling, or want to share and consider your experiences, do reach out. Hairdressing is a community. Don’t forget it.
If you need practical help for you or your team, https://www.hairandbeautycharity.org/
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