Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Jana Mathia
Gazette Editor 

Stylists want to go back to work

 

April 23, 2020



COLFAX–While every industry wants to get back to work, hair stylists and barbers have started a petition to get them back behind their chairs and provide their services.

"We were one of the first non-essential businesses to shut down," said Kelli Broeckel. Broeckel has been a stylist in Whitman County for more than 10 years, working at salons in Tekoa, Rosalia, St. John and LaCrosse.

"It's quite frustrating for us right now," said Broeckel. She and other stylists have signed a petition to Gov. Jay Inslee asking they be allowed to reopen for "one client at a time."

"We can use the same disinfection practices others follow," Broeckel said. By following sanitation protocols, wearing gloves and masks and serving one client at a time, stylists hope to get back to work. Usually stylists have more than one client at a time – one processing while another gets started and yet another possibly waiting.

"It's less exposure than people going to the grocery store," Broeckel said of the one client at a time endeavor.

According to Broeckel, she and her fellow stylists are in a tight spot without the help others are receiving. The majority of stylists are sole-proprietors or rent a booth at a salon which makes them independent contractors. Many attempting to get unemployment have found the dates pushed back or been denied. Nor can they apply for Small Business Association loans as those require the business have a minimum of three employees.

"For so many that's our only source of income," she said. Most of the stylist Broeckel knows in Whitman County are booth renters. They have their own business license and pay a monthly rent for their booth instead of a commission. With the drop in income, they can be unable to pay their rent and keep their spot.

Stylists like Broeckel are also concerned about their clients, especially the elderly.

"Some of us have worked decades to build our clientele," she said. "We really cater to the needs of our clients." Clients have begged her for touch ups or "kitchen cuts." She can't even give them something to do things at home as WAC policies prohibit her from selling chemical compounds.

Some of the elderly clients count on a weekly shampoo and style as part of their self-care routine as they may not be able to wash their own hair.

"That becomes a hygiene issue," Broeckel said.

Another aspect that may be overlooked is the importance of the industry in how people feel about themselves and how that feeds into their overall well-being. When people are not able to get the services that help them feel good about themselves and how they look, that can feed into depression.

"That's why the beauty industry has survived all these years," Broeckel said.

Broeckel shared the “One Client at a Time” petition to help raise awareness of the need for her industry to get back to work – both for the stylists and the public they serve. The hope is they will be able to go back to work when the dental field is, which as of early this week was anticipated to be May 18. There has already been talk amongst the industry of possible policies that may come up before they can go back to work. In addition to gloves and masks, they may be required to have fresh capes for everyone that comes in.

Just to get the green light to go back to work would be a huge reprieve, Broeckel said, willing to jump through a few hoops to get trimming again.

 

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