As retail to-go launches, stylists and salon owners ask for a timeline to reopen

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — With retail to-go beginning in stores across Texas on Friday, many beauty professionals are left asking, ‘What about us?’

“If you are not standing behind that chair or sitting behind that nail station, you are not making money,” central Texas stylist Sarah Johnson said.

As a single mom, she’s feeling the pressure.

“So to have my hands tied behind my back, so to speak, and not be able to do what I am here to do is very, very difficult. I opened my refrigerator this morning and I thought, ‘Okay, I’m not really sure where the next round of groceries is going to come from.'”

MORE: ‘Retail to-go’ in Texas starts Friday, how it will work

“It’s a little bit confusing. Especially because we have such high standards for sanitation that were already in place,” she said, adding that it feels unfair for stores to get back work while stylists are left waiting.

She said she understands the ability to social distance is more difficult in beauty professions, but thinks there are ways to incorporate safe-guards into their services — like the use of gloves and masks.

That’s why Johnson started a petition, asking the state to allow services to resume one client at a time, starting May 1. The petition now has more than 15,000 signatures.

MORE: Hair stylists and estheticians ask the state to allow them to resume serving clients on one-on-one basis

This week, Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, “Hair salons and shopping inside stores could be coming soon.”

Johnson told KXAN the comment gave her hope.

What she really wants, though, is a timeline for when cosmetologists and stylists can get back to work, so she can make a plan.

“So we can contact [clients] and get our schedule already made, so that we have some security once we do go back to work,” she explained.

Johnson said she wasn’t shocked to hear about a North Dallas salon owner opening for business in defiance of county and state orders to close. But she doesn’t agree with the move and hopes it doesn’t come to that in Austin.

“That’s not to negate what our government officials are strongly advising us not to do, or to do. We want to make sure we are following what they are saying, and what the CDC is requiring us to do,” she said. “We just want to know there is an end-game here.”

Haircut from home

Johnson said she’s even heard about stylists breaking the stay-at-home order to make house calls, which she doesn’t support.

A spokesperson for Austin start-up SpaDash told KXAN their business is built on the convenience of house calls, but they’ve stopped operations entirely right now.

“If everyone can just hang on, until it can be a little safer working environment,” Cara Wilbur said. “We’re excited to get back to work.”

She said as soon as the Governor allows personal care businesses to resume operations, they’ll be ready “that day.” That’s why they’ve been in constant communication with their stylists about what protective supplies they might need to be prepared, Wilbur explained.

She said when that day comes, customers can book an appointment through their app. Then a stylists will bring the salon to your home, with a sanitized, single use mat and a kit of styling tools.

Wilbur said they understand many customers may feel more comfortable staying in their home and interacting with stylists one-on-one, even after salons begin to reopen.

“You don’t have to necessarily leave your home to still be able to get a great, personalized experience.”

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