The coronavirus has changed the world in what feels like a million different ways. Universally peoples work lives have been completely turned upside down. Instead of going from an office every day, you may be working from home. Many are navigating new territory of parenting and homeschooling or being a first responder and working grueling hours under dangerous conditions. Many parents who work jobs considered “non-essential” find themselves unemployed. Small businesses are suffering or closing their doors temporarily or possibly permanently. For freelance artists, hairstylists, and salon owners the virus has all but completely shut down their industry.
I recently spoke with a local hair stylist, salon owner and mom of 3 about her recent experiences and how COVID-19 has disrupted her business and in turn, her life. Meet Ashley Irons, owner of Sage Studio.
Tell us a little bit about what you do?
I’m a hair stylist , I own my own salon suite at 59th Avenue and Bell Road called Sage Studio. I love what I do! It’s always been a given that hairstylists are “recession proof “ but we have found out that we are not “quarantine proof”. The resources that were to be allotted to us as small business owners did not pan out immediately. I recently received a $1000 grant from the Small Business Association. Which I am grateful for, but does not go very far.
How has your life changed recently?
I haven’t worked since March 16th. My family and I have been self-quarantining since. I had almost no clients for the two weeks prior to that though. Now I am a full-time school teacher! (along with everyone else right?!)
I’ve seen many different types of businesses going virtual, or modifying their services somehow. I imagine that proves to be difficult in your industry though. Have you been able to do that somehow?
I have been relying on social media more. I had to get creative. Fortunately for a period of time I was able to get professional products and sell them at a discount to my clients. But now, even the suppliers are closed.
I’m very grateful for my clients supporting my business while I am unable to work. I have had clients pay for services in advance. My clients that are still working fulltime and that are able, have been really trying to help as much as they can. I am so thankful for that.
Ok, let’s talk normal-ish life pre Coronavirus:
How old are your boys?
8, 12, and 18
What is your favorite family activity in Phoenix:
Anything that wears the boys out! Everything from outdoor parks to trampoline parks.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I was a square dancer in junior high with my grandmothers dance group.
Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you through parenthood?
I’m lucky that my mom was a special needs teacher in the Peoria School District. She helps me navigate the school system for my boys. One of my sons has special needs and it can be difficult to coordinate resources so I have her to thank for helping me with that.
How long have you lived in Phoenix?
I have lived here all my life! I’ve built my life around my friends and family here. Contrary to what people believe, many of us are natives, I think that our parents generation were mostly from out of state. Many of my friends went to the same elementary schools and lived in my neighborhoods. When I started to build my clientele I relied on the network I had built.
What do you love about it living here?
It’s home! I love it here and love watching the city grow.
For Ashley and most others in the beauty industry the question remains, when will they once again be able to open their doors? What will things look like for them once this is all over? There may be just a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel as there may be a lot of botched home hair cuts and overgrown roots post pandemic. (As tempting as it may seem don’t pull a DIY ladies!!) Ashley is uncertain of an official open date but will start taking clients when salons are allowed to open back up. She is among the majority that are putting the health and safety of their clients, loved ones and themselves first and foremost.
Here are some things you can do to help your stylist, lash girl, esthetician right now:
Share their work on social media! Do you have a killer selfie of the last time you got your hair done? Lashes looking lush? Skin glowing? POST, tag them, tell them how much you miss them and show them some love!
Pre-book a service! Although the date is not confirmed many places are taking appointments for late May/ early June.
Pre-pay for a service! If money isn’t tight for you right now (lucky you!) consider paying for a session ahead of time.
If you can’t spare the extra spending right now, consider a text, DM, email to just let them know you are thinking of them and look forward to seeing them in the near future.