Each year the annual Salons of the Year issue showcases the gorgeous imagery and salon facts about our 20 honorees selected by this national design competition.
Typically, the images for these are shot without team members or clients in the frame--allowing the viewer to focus in on the artchitectural elements, the sense of space and the beauty of the furnishings and design materials. This year, those motionless shots were all the more meaningful as the salons themselves were frozen in time--ther result of an unprecendented shutdown as a national sheltered in place from COVID-19.
As SALON TODAY released the finalists on salontoday.com in late April, the images roke through the viral news clutter offering viewers an important reminder of the significance of the professional beauty industry, while showing us a gorgeous light at the end of the tunnel--a reminder that someday soon, clients will return to our chairs, age-telling roots will be covered and scraggly end trimmed.
The lucky patrons of these splendid spaces will bas in these well-designed atmospheres, relieved to once again place themselves in the hands of their favorite professionals.
A Moment in Time
I am not sure I’ll ever face as surreal a time in my career as the last several weeks, when our team simultaneously judged and produced the Salons of the Year issue, while covering and supporting our industry through a historic crisis in the middle of an international pandemic.
Even before salons across the country were mandated to close, we sprang into action, doing our best to help salons, spas and beauty pros navigate the confusion. On salontoday.com we launched a resource portal connecting our audience to important national centers of information that tracked the pandemic, offered up health information and helped businesses file for financial assistance. Then, we developed a resource center, posting documents produced from industry trailblazers on everything from how to communicate to your landlord when you can’t pay rent to how to close your business, then how to disinfect your salon prior to reopening.
Collectively SALON TODAY and MODERN SALON produced eight webinars, with more on the horizon, each one specifically targeted to help our industry though each stage of the pandemic, with more on the horizon. (A special thanks to the sponsors and content partners that made these happen—ViviscalPro-X-XFusion by Toppik, Phorest Salon Software, Minerva Beauty, Phorest Salon Software, the Kao Salon Industry Recovery Initiative, STX Cloud, the International Salonspa Business Network and the Professional Beauty Association.
And, since the daily news seemed to evolve faster than I could write about it, I launched SALON TODAY Conversations, daily Zoom video interviews with owners and thought leaders around the country. (See page 8.)
Whenever our editorial team had a moment to come up for air, we’d focus on the long-term task at hand—determining our SALONS OF THE YEAR salon design winners. Normally, we huddle together in darkened conference room at our offices in Chicago, reviewing the applicant’s images one by one and discussing them in detail. This year, our offices were closed and everyone ordered to work from home. So, our Art Director Himanshu Suthar created a portal with all the images and each one of us judged from home.
Once the scores were in and I started focusing on creating the coverage in this issue, I realized that these images might mark a point in our industry’s history. Throughout these stories, salons are describing the efficiency of their space and the fun, communal aspects of selfie spots and beverage bars, color bars and dry bars. These same salons for at least the near future are going to have to consider social distancing standards, spacing guests in every other station, creating a flow through the salon where guests stay safely away from one another, limiting the number of clients and staff in the space at any one time, closing off the communal areas including reception spaces, providing personal protective equipment for staff and guests and conducting temperature checks.
While none of us know the long-term impact this pandemic will have on salon business or the future of salon design, here’s what I do know. This is a moment where the professional beauty industry can really shine. Denying clients of hair, nail and spa services for multiple weeks puts a spotlight on the incredible value of our professionals—not only to the clients they serve, but to those professionals themselves. And, while we’re educating today’s clients on the heightened safety and sanitation procedures each salon, spa and barbershop has in place, it’s a valuable opportunity to convince the public and our governing officials of the critical importance of professional licensure.