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Coronavirus makes deep cuts in the beauty industry

Columbia hairstylist tells us her first hand experience with the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting her job.

The stay at home order has many business owners in the beauty industry breathing a sigh of relief.

Until now, many salons across the Midlands were still inundated with clients. Others shut their doors already just to be safe.

After ten years doing hair in Columbia at her self-named salon, last Saturday, Robin Gottlieb closed the doors. 

"I felt the need to be socially responsible," she said. "In a building such as mine, where there are about 20 stylists and all of their clients and all of my clients --- I just didn't feel that it was safe to continue."

The beauty industry is a close contact business. From makeup, to hair, to nail care in this this profession, it's nearly impossible to practice social distancing.

"When we shampoo someone, our faces are right by their face," Gottlieb says, "When we're in front of them cutting their bangs, our face is right by their face. So, it's for my protection but also the protection of my clients and their families."

Health is not the only concern for stylists like Gottlieb. Her finances are also being affected.

"Until the city did the shelter-in-place, we were still responsible for our rent. So, not only did we not have income, but we are putting out a lot of money per week to just keep our doors open," Gottlieb shares, "We're 100% commission. There's no sick days for us so I think it's important that we're taken care of as well."

For right now, Gottlieb is one of the lucky ones. Her landlord is waiving her rent for the time being. 

According to the Stay-at-Home ordinance passed by the City of Columbia, beginning Sunday, people must stay in their homes and not travel to establishments that hold a city of Columbia business license unless they fall under the "essential service" list. Beauty salons, at this time, do not.

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"I am so grateful that the mayor and the city council stepped up to do the right thing to protect us," Gottlieb says, "We are not essential. We are not helping people medically, we are not feeding people, and we are in contact with so many different people and we touch them for a living! And no matter how good our sanitation practices are or how clean we keep it, we can't clean the air. I was relieved to see that someone had stepped up and the city protected us."

While Gottlieb patiently waits to open her shop again, she gave a last minute plea to those who may not be as patient:

"Please do not use box color on your hair --- we will get you back into our chair and take care of you…. Oh, and don't cut your bangs."

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One way you can help your local salon is by buying a gift card now to use later, to help them get by. 

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