After months of closures, salon owners are happy to open their doors for customers again as Ontario enters Step 2 of its reopening plan.
Lockdowns resulted in some salons closing permanently, but for one young NOTL salon owner the shutdown was a chance to spend time with his dying mother.
“It was bittersweet,” Stephen Cymba, 31, said in an interview.
About three weeks ago, his mother Katherine died of cancer but the COVID lockdown enabled him to focus on spending time with her instead of running his business.
“A lot of people said I must be bored because the salon was closed. but it kind of worked out in a weird way. I was able to be with and help take care of her in the end.”
Cymba has owned Simba's Salon in Virgil for the last two years.
His business now being open has provided him with a way to stay close with his mother.
“It’s good now to work, to keep busy and to honour my mom. She loved this place. So, the best way for me to get back to myself is honour her and make her proud.”
To keep up with customer demand, Cymba plans to start early and work late.
He said customers were surprised he has not raised his prices due to the financial challenges caused by multiple lockdowns.
“I’m not going to change my prices just because the economy's dipped. I’ve put my heart and soul into this place. I can pay for the cleaning products, people don’t have to compensate me for that,” he said.
“People are pinching pennies right now. I’m not going to ask more from them.”
Ontario officially moved into step two of the provincial reopening plan on Wednesday, June 30. Salons had been closed since April 8, the start of the third lockdown order in Ontario.
“It feels really good. We’re all happy to be back,” Hypnotic Hair Salon manager Kristy Lewis told The Lake Report.
Lewis said business is back in full swing. “It’s been a little crazy on the phones.”
Cymba has had a similar experience.
“I learned that I have a limit of 70 voicemails. So, that’s good,” the stylist laughed.
The lockdown forced Cymba to let go his employees so now he is running the whole operation himself.
On top of taking care of his clients' hair, Cymba is “the receptionist, I get to clean everything, I do all the orders and the laundry.”
That has not been a problem for him.
“It’s all good. I was doing it for other people, so why not do it for myself.”
But there is another responsibility that stylists have, as any frequent customer understands.
“I’m a therapist as well,” Cymba said.
People have been venting to him even more than usual due to the stress that COVID-19 has created, he said.
Cymba had been cutting hair for a decade at other salons until he opened his own. With restrictions lifted, people have wasted no time in booking their appointments with the young owner.
We’re booked “right into the rest of the month,” he said.
Prospective clients had best reach out to their favourite salon as soon as possible if they want a summer cut.
“Most of July we’re booked already,” Lewis said.
On opening day, Adrianna Rankin was getting her hair cut at Hypnotic. While it was nice to have her hair done again, she said she was even more excited to get her eight-year-old son in for an appointment.
“I tried to cut my son's hair. It’s just not the same when mommy does it,” Rankin said.
After the province moved to Step 2 a few days earlier than originally planned, some salons in town, such as Bliss Aveda Salon, were still closed on June 30. Bliss planned to open on Monday, July 5, an employee said.
For Lewis, the early reopening was easy to handle. She had more difficulty with the prolonged lockdowns.
“Following the news every week and hearing how it’s changing every single week has been a little difficult. But we are thankful to be open,” she said.
“There are some places that have gone out of business because they just couldn’t handle the pandemic. We’re thankful we have our clientele, who have all been coming back.”
Evan Saunders, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report