Salon employees find creative solutions to stay connected with Pullman community

Stylists produce videos to teach clients how to cut bangs; sell hair bows, t-shirts to supplement some income

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COURTESY OF HEATHER MEYER

Labella Salon is still providing some services like pop-up curbside product sales. Labella employees are also producing educational videos for their clients like how-to videos on cutting bangs at home.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen reporter

On March 16, Heather Meyer went to work at the LaBella Salon like any other day. Then, she received a call saying all salons in Washington would be closed until further notice.

“As a business owner, my biggest concern was the health and safety of my team,” she said.

LaBella is an employee-based salon, Meyer said. Since the salon is closed, her employees can file for unemployment, which is not the case for many other salons. Usually, salon employees act as solo artists.

LaBella has been closed for more than a month, but they are still providing some services like pop-up curbside product sales which are contactless, Meyer said. The salon does not plan to sell products online because the website was not previously set up to do so.

In addition to product sales, Meyer and her team have been producing educational videos for their clients, like how-to videos on cutting bangs at home. 

When looking to the future, Meyer said she will hire an employee for the sole purpose of sanitation.

“For me, the smartest way to assure the safety of my team and the guests were to hire another employee,” she said.

Meyer said she expects client bookings to skyrocket once her salon is allowed to open. However, the client experience will not be the same with social distancing and new safety guidelines. 

The guidelines in Washington have not been set yet for salons, which leaves a lot up in the air, she said.

“Everyone will be a new person going back,” she said. “We’ve all had a reset.”

Meyer was a solo artist for several years, then she opened her own salon about six years ago. The salon was affiliated with Aveda Corp., which meant the salon had to be team-based.  

For example, she had to have a certain number of employees who have to be in uniform. The salon moved away from Aveda about two years ago, but Meyer said she still wanted to have a team-based operation. 

Not all salon employees in Pullman qualify for unemployment.

Diana De La Torre, a solo artist at Poppy Hair Salon, wanted to pursue cosmetology because it was something she could always picture herself doing. She has been working at Poppy Salon & Spa for two and a half years.

“I was really nervous about how I was going to be able to pay my bills because being an independent stylist, you don’t qualify for unemployment,” she said.

To supplement her lost income, De La Torre started making hair bows and t-shirts for Mother’s day using a Cricut machine. She made these items before the salon closed, but now she posts them on Facebook to sell. 

“It’s not like I’m making my income back, I only profit a couple of dollars from the things that I make, but every little bit helps,” De La Torre said.

In addition, she became an independent artist for Maskcara Beauty. 

De La Torre said although she cannot practice her styling techniques with clients, she has been using resources online to teach herself new practices with her mannequin. She has been practicing new colors, braiding and updos. 

De La Torre said she’s received an overflow of support from her clients, whether it is offering to purchase gift cards or pre-pay for services.

“I appreciate that because no one could have predicted what happened,” she said.