Salon Operators at Breaking Point

Salon owners and hairstylists held a peaceful protest in Old Town Clovis to voice their frustrations with the current shutdown on Monday, Aug. 17. (Photo contributed by Sammie Glasby, Head to Toe Salon)

On August 17, marching down the streets from Bullard to Pollasky in hot and humid hundred-degree weather in the afternoon; salon owners, hairstylists, and even clients walked together in a peaceful protest in hopes that their voices would be heard.

It all started through an Instagram post and via text that circulated between Clovis salons sent by Anna Peters owner of Re: Treat Color and Hair Studio. About 50 people showed up and joined the march.

Salons, barbershops, gyms, and churches were shut down again on July 13 due to the surge of COVID-19 cases that spread across California. Almost five months after COVID-19 hit, salons that are independently owned are now facing a financial crisis.

Most hairstylists are independent contractors. That means they rely on finding their clientele for work, because of the circumstances in most cases, they are not allowed to receive unemployment. Hair salon owners believe if they cannot open soon, the industry may be looking at some salons that will have to shut their doors permanently.

“We were only opened for six weeks before getting shut down,” says Marcy Heinrichs, co-owner of Honey Hair Salon in Clovis, located on North Willow and West Nees Avenue. Heinrichs had just opened her doors on June 1, excited to start her new business.

To keep sustained; Heinrichs, the 11 stylists, and one esthetician are pushing products out like color kits that clients can use at home to touch up their hair in the meantime until their salon can open again.

Heinrichs recently participated in the peaceful protest along with other hairstylists; in the hopes of capturing the attention of local and statewide government officials to lift the shutdown.

“If it’s going to make noise, I’m going to do it again if that’s the only way to be heard,” says Heinrichs. She also said it was empowering to see other salon owners and hairstylists fighting for what they believe is their right to work.

Heinrichs said salons are hanging by a thread, “Independent contracting salons aren’t working, and it’s not fair…I can’t sit down, and I can’t be quiet.” If there is another protest and she hopes that there will be, she will participate again.

“I rent a private room. I have my own space, which is frustrating, because we are strictly one-on-one with the client. There is no traffic flow,” says Sammie Glasby, a hairstylist at Head to Toe Salon located at Fifth Street, in Old Town Clovis.

It has been a total of five months since Head to Toe has been closed. With the help of loyal clients, Glasby has received deposits for hair appointment when the salon does open again and is selling vegan hair care products on the side to make do.

Glasby also walked with fellow hairstylists despite the 107-degree weather. “We are not getting any recognition from Newsom whatsoever. Also, our state board of cosmetology, we are getting no support from them,” says Glasby.

She said that statewide, other salons are doing peaceful protesting to bring awareness in hopes that they can open soon and can get back to work.

“We are the cleanest industry. We disinfect after every client, and we do not reuse towels,” says Melissa Gonzalez, Hairstylist at Studio Bella Rouge on Clovis Avenue. All three hairstylists said that salons are safer than being in a Walmart or any essential business that is not properly social distancing.

“It’s destroying our industry,” says Gonzalez.

Gonzalez was only able to work for the two weeks in the salon when it re-opened before shutting down again. She has now made her side business, which is network marketing as an alternative income until the salon she works at opens.

The hairstylists are looking forward to marching down the streets of Clovis if they decide to do it again. They are looking for a bigger turnout with the help of more local salons getting on board to support the cause.

Tori Lavon is a Multimedia Journalist from Reedley, California. She received her Bachelor's in Mass Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcasting from California State University, Fresno. Currently, she is a radio intern at One Putt Broadcasting. On occasion, Tori has the opportunity to be on-air with talent. She is getting her start in media. She has a passion for reporting, photography, and videography. Tori also has a love for art; she loves to draw, paint, and does pottery on the side. One day she hopes she can be on-air talent at a radio station as well.